When we travel the world, there are an endless range of activities to do that it can be really hard to choose where to go and what to do. Sometimes, our decision can be made up for us via various reasons. These could be the seasons, the time of year, our friends, cheap flights, the weather, sports events etc. For those who have lived in Europe, or even visited Europe in the winter time, they will be aware that adventure holidays are not always about the summer sun. In fact, many parts of Europe have freezing winters, and I have lived in a few of them and visited a fair few more, including January in Finland, Christmas in Poland and St. Petersburg just before New Year.
With that in mind, Winter means snow in many parts of Europe and when the snow comes, it’s time to head to the mountains. All over Europe there are an endless selection of ski holidays and resorts we can head to. Some countries and locations might even surprise you. It is not just Norway, Sweden, France and Switzerland that will surprise you when it comes to ski-ing. For the adventure ski-er, check out this list of great ski resorts scattered all over Europe, some are more unusual and unknown but all will bring pure pleasure to ski-ing fanatics.
The magnificent Bieszczady Mountains are a mountain range that run from the extreme south-east of Poland and north-east of Slovakia all the way through to western Ukraine. The gateway to Bieszczady begins in the village of Olchowiec, itself a picturesque and tranquil spot. Poland has boasted two world ski-ing heroes over the years – Kamil Stock and Adam Malarz and many of Poland’s budding ski-ers head here hoping to be the next big thing. Tarnica is the highest point in Bieszczady and of course a challenge to hike up to. It also provides you with scintillating views into all three countries – Poland, Ukraine and Slovakia – weather permitting of course. It can get really cold here in winter time so be sure to wrap up warm.
2.La Tania, FRANCE
France is of course also famous for ski-ing and has many different ski resorts. Located in the south east of France, not far from the Switzerland and Italy border sits La Tania. This is a prestigious location which spans 3 valleys. It is one of the most famous and beautiful ski resorts in all of Europe. La Tania is located in between Courchevel and Meribel and offers skiers a fantastic choice of options within these gorgeous mountains and valleys.
The height at La Tania reaches up to 3,200m and the area contains over 2,000 snow cannons. La Tania also has quite a lengthy ski season, which runs even until late April, where snow is still prevalent due to the region’s north facing posture. This is the heart of the French Alps and deserves to be seen. You won’t be disappointed.
3.The Pyrenees, ANDORRA
When I backpacked to Escaldes Engordany, Andorra La vella and Ordino in 2014, I loved the country. For those into ski-ing and country counting, this place is a double bonus. You can fly into nearby France or Spain and cross the land border to Andorra for a ski-ing adventure.
Most of the mountains in Andorra are pretty rugged, the highest being the Coma Pedrosa at 2,942 metres (9,652 feet). The country itself is already lofty, with even the capital city being located at a high altitude. The average elevation of Andorra is 1,996 metres (6,549 feet). Also the country is not as small as some people think. Yes it might have a low population of a mere 77,000 but it has some huge mountains, forests and has a size of 468 km². The country is also a tax haven as well as being one of Europe’s premier ski-ing resorts.
4.St. Anton am Arlberg, AUSTRIA
Austria gets in on the act with St. Anton am Arlberg. This is a well-snown (excuse the pun!) ski resort with a fantastic reputation amongst skiers. St. Anton am Arlberg, often shortened to “St. Anton”, is an Austrian village in the Tyrolean Alps. It is frequently referred to as the gateway to the Arlberg ski region. Even more interesting for ski-ers is that many actually believe this is where ski-ing all begin. Many sources refer to St. Anton as the “cradle of alpine skiing”.
Because of this, it is not just the ski-ing itself that is recommended here. The superb Museum St. Anton am Arlberg chronicles local ski history in a traditional chalet, a worthwhile place to visit. Lifts and cable cars provide access to the slopes of Valluga and Rendl. The village is also known for its lively après-ski scene.
St. Anton Am Arlberg is renowned for the best free-riding ski-ing in Europe. However, is is also popular with beginners too and there are plenty of places to start your ski experiences here in the home of the sport itself.
It gets dark early usually in winter and this allows for some truly awesome bars at night, where both ski-ers and non-ski-ers mingle, drink and party. The bars can get busy at 4 p.m. but if you are a ski-er don’t overdo it – make sure you are up brave and early for another epic day of ski-ing. Recommended bars are the Mooserwirt and the Krazy Kangaruh.
Another entry from France onto the hit list of great ski-ing places in Europe is Tigres. Many other ski resorts will be jealous and in awe of Tignes which is a truly magnificent destination. For downhill and off piste activity, it is one of the best in France, in Europe, maybe even in the world. There is a fast ski lift system to take you high up to enjoy the views. There are glaciers to look down on over the sensational Grand Motte.
6.Tatry Mountains, POLAND
In the south west of Poland, you can get to experience the country’s highest mountain, Rysy, which is one of the Tatry mountains (also known as Tatra, Tatras). These are in the Carpathian mountain range and form part of the land border separating Poland from Slovakia.
As well as boasting great mountains here, there is also the chance to sleep in Zakopane, home to Poland’s famous protected Oscypek cheese (made from sheep’s milk). Also aside from ski-ing and snowboarding, the Tatry mountains are incredible for backpackers and hikers with many famous hikes here, including to Morskie Oko.
So hopefully this quick list makes you ready for a truly rewarding ski-ing adventure and for enjoying travelling to a new and unusual place.