Travel Guide: Go Skiing in the Best Winter Sports Destinations Worldwide

Skiing and winter sports in general are a way of enjoying the colder seasons – a time when some people don’t feel like doing any kind of exercise outside. Working out generally helps the brain to release hormones like adrenaline, epinephrine, and norepinephrine. Those can help us feel happy, and the more we work out, the more our brains will release. (However, keep in mind that there’s an optimum for everybody and too much is never good.)

Moreover, there’s scientific evidence of outdoor winter activities helping your body in the process of building vitamin D. And vitamin D is a nutrient you need to fight off germs. While some people think that working out outside in the colder months is disadvantageous to your health, there is evidence of it helping to reduce the chances of getting a cold or the flu.

So, what are you waiting for? Here are twenty of the best locations to go skiing or do any sort of winter sport in the entire world. And they are even a blast in the summertime, since you can go hiking, mountain biking, or rock climbing during the warmer months as well.

Whistler Blackcomb, Canada

Aerial photography of the mountain tops in Whistler
Credits: Lance Anderson / Unsplash

Most of you might have already heard of Whistler. It is Canada’s premier ski resort and, even more than that, it’s the largest winter sports area in North America. Skiers of all levels can ride on more than 200 slopes with 37 lifts. There is even a three-kilometer peak-to-peak gondola from the top of Whistler Mountain to the peak of Horstman Glacier.

The height of Canada’s Horstman Glacier makes it possible for visitors to ski (or snowboard) all year-round. Views from the top and going downhill are immaculate, with mountain tops surrounding beautiful, turquoise lakes. If you’re not a fan of winter sports, you always have the opportunity to go on one of the countless hikes to explore the surrounding areas.

And, by the way, if you’re not much of an outdoorsy nature lover, totally fine, Whistler Blackcomb is just a 2-hour drive from Vancouver, the . Furthermore, there are many full-service resort villages in the area, nearly all of them including spas and all kinds of wellness and beauty possibilities.

Courchevel, France

The mountain top of Courchevel by night
Credits: Mila Di Bella / Unsplash

Courchevel, France probably isn’t the best choice if you’re a beginner, or even a lower-end intermediate. On the contrary, people visit Courchevel in search for snow thrills and adrenaline rushes. It is the world’s largest alpine ski domain with over 600 kilometers of slopes (150 of them being alpine ski terrain), 10 summits higher than 2,500 meters and more than 60 interconnecting lifts.

Fortunately, there’s at least four meters of natural snow every year and the whole area is being taken care of at a top-notch level. In conclusion, the off-piste skiing experience is absolutely unheard-of as well.

Courchevel is home to one of the most difficult black runs in the entire world and, moreover, to a former World Cup Downhill run called Jean Blanc. If all of you expert skiers, snowboarders and thrill seekers aren’t getting goosebumps right now, what??

Besides all that, there are countless superb restaurants (several of them are Michelin-starred). And, most importantly, the après-ski experience is out of this world.

Zermatt, Switzerland

View of the snow-covered mountain top from Zermatt
Credits: Manuel Hodel / Unsplash

Admittedly, you won’t get the most beautiful views in all of this ski area. However, it is the highest winter sports area in the Alps and has the greatest vertical drop in all of Switzerland. And you can see the peak of the Matterhorn, so, at least there’s that.

You have around 350 kilometers of trails and the longest downhill run, which is around 25 kilometers long. It reaches from the Matterhorn Glacier down to Zermatt. Moreover, the Zermatt snow park is perfect for snowboarders and freeride skiers to test out their limits and learn new skills. And, at the same time, the off-piste experiences are absolutely stunning, and you can immediately try out all the skills you’ve just acquired.

If, again, you’re not the biggest fan of winter sports, or you just want to try something new, there is a 178k mountaineering route from Zermatt to Chamonix, which is called the Haute Route.

Vail Mountain Resort, Colorado

Man on his skis on Vail Mountain
Credits: Glade Optics / Unsplash

The Vail Mountain Resort is the biggest ski resort in Colorado and also one of the largest worldwide. Nearly nine meters of prime snowfall guarantees a next level skiing experience. The whole area includes 5289 acres of skiable terrain with 31 lifts.

Moreover, there are three terrain parks in which you can test different terrains and acquire a new skillset to impress the people around you. Or to just be proud of yourself.

Aspen Snowmass, Colorado

Person with their snowboard on top of a mountain in Aspen
Credits: Joshua Sukoff / Unsplash

Aspen Snowmass is also located in Colorado. Although not as big as the Vail Mountain Resort, Aspen Snowmass is top-notch. It is a combination of four ski areas: Snowmass, Aspen Mountain, Aspen Highlands, and Buttermilk. 5,500 acres of land with over 3,000 of those covered in snow.

There are slight differences between the different areas. For example, Buttermilk has been hosting the Winter X-Games ever since 2002 and has a lot of different terrain and parks. Aspen Mountain is strictly for intermediate and expert skiers. The majority of the slopes are black or double-black. This area is also home to the Aztec Run, which is the Women’s World Cup Downhill Run. Aspen Highlands is solemnly for experts.

This might sound a little overwhelming, and as if everything is focused on upper-intermediate and experts. However, there are many areas for newcomers or lower-intermediate scattered around the ginormous Aspen Snowmass.

Val d’Isere, France

Aerial view of Val Thorens
Credits: Joan Oger / Unsplash

If you’re into winter sports and skiing, you might know of Jean-Claude Killy. For those of you who don’t: he is somewhat of a skiing legend. He won three Olympic gold medals, six World Cup titles and the overall ranking in the Ski World Cup twice. Why am I talking about him? He’s from Val d’Isere, and this ski area became famous as he did.

There are 300 kilometers of interconnected ski terrain with the Tignes skiing area and 150 ski lifts. It is possible to ski at heights of up to 3,450 meters, and until June or July on the Glacier du Pisaillas.

Admittedly, it is mostly for experts, or at least experts can make the absolute most of the slopes and the off-piste slopes.

Cortina D’Ampezzo, Italy

View of the top of the mountain in Cortina D'Ampezzo
Credits: Daniel Seßler / Unsplash

The Cortina D’Ampezzo is surrounded by a beautiful setting of five mountain peaks. The whole area is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Cortina D’Ampezzo hosted the 1956 Winter Olympics and has over 400 kilometers of skiable terrain. And it is more diverse than some of the ones mentioned before. There are slopes and runs for experts, but also for intermediate. There is even an Olympic rink for ice-skaters.

Tiny tip: the Dolomiti Superski Pass is an absolute bargain compared to surrounding countries and ski areas.

Telluride, Colorado

Panoramic view of Telluride, USA
Credits: Jonny Auh / Unsplash

Telluride in Colorado is one of the highest skiing areas in the world. Its base begins at 2,662 meters and lifts can carry you up to a height of 3,814 meters. There are over 2,000 acres of skiable grounds. Whether you’re an expert, an intermediate or an absolute beginner, there are slopes for every level.

Niseko, Japan

View of the snow-covered mountain top in Niseko, Japan
Credits: Marek Okon / Unsplash

Skiing on the slopes of a volcano?! I hope not one of you thinks that’s not absolutely extraordinary. In Niseko, Japan, you can ski with the breathtaking view of Mount Fuji. For those of you who don’t know Mt. Fuji, think of this one painting of a great big wave painted in Japanese style. Mt- Fuji is painted in the back. If this absolutely extraordinary description didn’t help, how about you take a look at this?

There is an extremely great backcountry area and many snow parks, as well as many opportunities for tree skiing. Because of the surrounding peaks, the powder is dry, and temperatures are low. Obviously, skiing conditions are exceptional, but you might want to wear an extra layer of clothing.

For all of you non-experts, more than two thirds of the terrain is for intermediate and beginners, so there are opportunities for everyone. Furthermore, you can go heli-skiing, cat-skiing, snowmobiling, snowshoeing, or visit one of many hot spring spas.

Chamonix, France

Panoramic view of a mountain chain mirrored in a lake in Chamonix
Credits: Robin Gaillot-Drevon / Unsplash

Mont Blanc. Highest peak in Europe. 4,807 meters. Low temperatures and dry powder. What are you waiting for?

There are many different runs and slopes for all different levels, and the off-piste opportunities are incomparable. The Grands Montets reaches from 1,235 to 3,300 meters and is the expert run with the greatest height difference in the world. Moreover, Les Houches is a World Cup piste of 3.5 kilometers and a 870 meter vertical.

St. Anton, Austria

Aerial view of Arlberg in St.Anton, Austria
Credits: Florian Alber / Unsplash

St. Anton was the first ski club in 1901 and has wonderful Sonnenkopf views. 280 kilometers of slopes with heights of up to 2,800 meters include some of the most challenging pistes in all of the alps. Which is why it’s mostly for experts and upper-intermediate.

However, the Arlberg lift pass offers access to 340 more kilometers of access and more levels of skiing.

By the way, après-ski in St. Anton is absolutely wild.

Kitzbühel, Austria

Panoramic view of the mountain chain surrounding Kitzbühel
Credits: Annelie Riggo / Unsplash

Kitzbühel is a ski area which is pretty much in the middle of Innsbruck and Salzburg. It offers luxurious, as well as cozy and warm accommodations for all budgets.

The skiable terrain covers 170 kilometers of slopes. One of them is an 85% vertical called the Hahnenkamm, which is the most difficult downhill race worldwide. Bichlalm, on the other hand, is mostly known for riders and freestylers, so there’s something for everyone.

Furthermore, Skiwelt is close by, which includes nearly 280 kilometers of slopes.

St. Moritz, Switzerland

Panoramic aerial view of St. Moritz and the mountains surrounding
Credits: Sepp Rutz / Unsplash

St. Moritz in Switzerland is mostly known for its glitz and glam. The social scene is popping, and you might even meet one or the other VIP while you’re here. However, the skiable terrain is not to be neglected. The area hosted two Winter Olympics and five Alpine World Ski Championships, the latest being in 2017.

The grounds are strong for intermediate skiers and boarders, yet around 30% are black pistes. Moreover, there’s lots of great off-piste terrain.

Park City Mountain, Utah

Panoramic view of Park City, Utah
Credits: Dakota Corbin / Unsplash

The Park City Mountain area is a combination of Park City Resort and Canyons Resort, but they still keep their separate base areas. Both combined offer over 7,300 acres of skiable terrain and over 50% of steep black fall-line canyon runs.

The Canyons area is more suitable for experts since it offers a greater variety of challenging slopes.

Cerro Catedral, Argentina

Panoramic view of Cerro Catedral
Credits: Pablo Bugani / Unsplash

Cerro Catedral is in the middle of the Andes, which are the tallest mountains outside the Himalayas. Not only is the skiing opportunity exceptional, but also the surrounding views. There is plenty of snow from June to October, but the skiing conditions are best from August to September, since the smallest number of visitors come around this time.

There are 11,500 skiable acres and 300 verticals with stunning off-piste and tree-skiing opportunities. And, on top, the backcountry can be accessed by lift.

Deer Valley, Utah  

Cable car over Deer Valley
Credits: Kara Kavalec / Unsplash

Deer Valley in Utah is all about customer service. Slopes are perfectly groomed, ski storage is free, lodges are luxurious, dining is fine, and there’s a limit of 7,500 skiers per day. Obviously, the price is high, but if you want the perfect luxurious skiing experience, this might be the right fit for you.

You have great intermediate slopes, but also around 37% of diamond black runs. Deer Valley hosted the 2002 Winter Olympics and Bald Mountain has many black and double black slopes.

Madonna di Campiglio, Italy

View of the mountain top from Madonna di Campiglio
Credits: Jochen val Wylick / Unsplash

There are many stereotypes about the people who come to Madonna di Campiglio for skiing. Mostly, women all seem to wear fur coats, Gucci, and everybody wears perfectly matching attire. Even goggle straps are matched to their mittens. In Madonna di Campiglio, you will get the real-deal Italian alpine experience with 150 kilometers of slopes in the Dolomites.

And even though it sounds hella expensive, it’s a bargain compared to nearby French areas.

Morzine, France

Snow-covered mountain tops in Morzine, France
Credits: Sam Bark / Unsplash

Morzine is one of the biggest ski areas in the world with over 650 kilometers of lift-linked pistes between France and Switzerland. Yes, there are a lot of skiers every day, and yes, there are occasional stagnations, but believe me, this skiing area is worth it.

And Morzine isn’t only beautiful in the winter, mountain biking in summer is also a very popular activity.

Obergurgl-Hochgurgl, Austria

Obergurgl, Austria
Credits: Radek Kozák / Unsplash

Obergurgl and Hochgurgl are twin resorts with challenging high alpine runs, but also laidback blues and reds. Moreover, there are many off-piste and tree-skiing trails.

Although it’s a wide area, it is not touristy and most definitely not cliché. Prices are cheap compared to previously mentioned areas, and most importantly: if you get a three-day pass, you’re automatically granted entry to the complete Ötztal area. The Ötztal area also includes the mega ski area, Sölden, which is absolutely worth a visit. During the day, but also at night.

Why should you visit one of these places?

For all you winter sports lovers out there, I guess it’s obvious why you should visit even just one of the previously mentioned skiing areas. They are top-notch of all skiing (and snowboarding) areas in the whole wide world. The slopes are long and variable and the views you get from up these mountains are absolutely immaculate.

And for all of you who never thought of trying winter sports, try to imagine the following: you’re getting up early, eating breakfast, getting ready and heading outside to catch one of the first lifts up the mountain. Once you’re up there, you put on all your things to start. As you head down the fresh slopes, you see the most wonderful views of the surrounding mountain tops and the valley down below. And during all that, the sun rises behind you and there are small fields of fog spreading a mystical feeling. Life’s good.

Feature image credits: Hanna Viellehner / Unsplash

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