The season is here again as winter sports enthusiasts flock to the slopes, but where are the best places to…
Well, we’ve nearly had one more trip around the sun, and as we’re well into the cold and dark nights, the weather’s turned bad and jack frost nips at your nose – we need to make the best of it. And one way to banish those winter blues – is to get involved in winter sports. It’s one of the best ways to keep fit and release those endorphins during the long dark. It doesn’t matter what you’re into, whether it’s skiing, snowboarding, tobogganing, snowshoeing or snowballing – or if you just go along for the après ski. Winter sports holidays are filling up thick and fast as people head for the slopes until the very last snow has melted. We have done a bit of investigating to bring you the best places to go for winter sports this year.
Quite possibly the snowiest country on the planet, we’d be crazy to miss out Canada in a rundown of winter sports locations – and it boasts some of the best resorts in the world. Arguably the most famous and popular is located north of Vancouver, in British Colombia. Whistler has become a by-word for ski resort excellence, attracting people from all over the world and of all ages – it’s a great place to take a family if they’re just starting out on the slopes. The peak-to-peak gondola is the longest and highest in the world too – and not for those with a nervous disposition!
Like Canada, France is a country overflowing with world-class winter sports locations, and it’s always a challenge to pick just one as they continue to vie for the top spot each year. We’ve gone for Val d’Isère in the French Alps, located not too far from the Italian border. It’s ideal for the intermediates out there, but there’s plenty of challenging runs for the experts too. The region is one of breathtaking beauty, and with the season running from November to May each year, you can really get your money’s worth on the mountain. There’s a whole host of entertaining events to catch annually, as the slopes are guaranteed regular sprinklings of fresh powder which always attracts the pros to come out to play.
Winter sports are not exactly the cheapest of pastimes, and a full holiday on the slopes can cost a pretty penny when including mountain passes, equipment (if you don’t have your own) food, drink and accommodation. This is where Bansko in Bulgaria comes in. They’ve been making a name for themselves each year as the premier budget option for snow seekers around the globe, easily competing with the big boys of Europe while not shirking on quality. And not only that, but Bulgaria itself is a great country to visit in its own right. It’s an extremely affordable, the people are very hospitable, and food better than you might have been informed! Well worth a look if you’re tightening those purse strings.
You can basically take your pick to top quality winter sports resorts all across Austria, but we’ve gone for St Anton – purely because of its world-famous après-ski experience. As well as having challenging runs on and off-piste for advanced and expert skiers and snowboarders, the town has something of a reputation for knowing how to start a party. The facilities here are second to none, with one of the finest lift systems in the world, an abundance of luxury accommodation, and top eateries to match. And if that didn’t sell it enough, it’s located in one of the snowiest regions in Europe -so you’ve got a good chance you’ll always be waist deep!
Home of the southern Rocky Mountains, the state of Colorado is no stranger to the great outdoors and it has been attracting winter sports enthusiasts for decades. It’s a playground for the rich and famous too – and you might well spot the odd celebrity jinking down the slopes. The resort itself is open year-round for summer hiking, biking and camping, and it’s home to the USA’s winter X-games in January. The surrounding scenery is absolutely breathtaking, and the town of Aspen itself is full of charm. There’s a real sense of community here too, and when you’re done on the slopes for the day there’s no shortage of entertainments well into the evening.
When stunning scenery is at the top of your list, look no further than Switzerland. Zermatt ski resort is the most famous in the county – if not the world – and for good reason. Here you can ski and snowboard in the majestic shadow of the Matterhorn. One of the world’s most recognizable and iconic mountains, the Matterhorn’s distinctive shape towers over the on and off-piste runs – and it’s viewable from pretty much anywhere in the region. There’s also traditional alpine accommodation at it very best – in the home of traditional alpine accommodation! Be warned though – you’ll pay for the privilege here as it’s one of the most expensive locations on our list.
Finally, a real wild card entry– but one that seriously deserves to be mentioned. Kyrgyzstan might not be your first choice when booking a winter sports break, but that needs to change. The Karakol ski resort is still relatively untouched by the western masses – considering it’s a good six hours drive from the nearest airport – but that means there’s hardly anyone there to enjoy some of the best powder you’re likely to find in the world. And at 15 euros for an adult day pass to access some stunning, unadulterated, fresh runs, you’d be mad not to consider giving central Asia a look for your winter sports fix.
Yes, we know we’ve missed off some killer resorts and some big players in the world of winter sports – but that’s life, man! It’s a real mixed bag here though, so we think there’s something for everyone, all over the world, suited to every budget. So, let’s hit the slopes – and don’t forget to bring your gloves!