We’ve rounded up a list of the best ski resorts in the world, from the stylish and glamorous Europe to famous North America and the mighty Japanese Alps.
Whether you’re looking for family-friendly skiing, black-run thrills, amazing scenery, exuberant après parties, fine dining, upscale shopping or just a bit of Alpine charm to warm your curls, the world’s best ski resorts have it all.
Situated in the picturesque canton of Valais and almost entirely surrounded by towering mountains, Zermatt is without doubt the glitziest and most famous ski resort in the Swiss Alps. Dominated by the iconic Matterhorn (4, 478m), the beautiful mountain village has everything you would expect from an upscale ski resort and even more: amazing skiing, awe-inspiring scenery, first-class dining, and a sophisticated mix of shopping and entertainment.
With its 200 miles of marked trails and nearly 365 days of snow, Zermatt is the place where you’ll find the largest summer ski area in Europe. Moreover, apart from its glitz and glamour, fashionable clientele and high-end restaurant scene, the village is surprisingly idyllic, and has more than its fair share of chocolate-box charms: narrow streets lined with traditional alpine architecture, horse-drawn carriages and ingenious battery driven vehicles, charming boutiques, museums, alluring ski chalets, rustic establishments serving delicious fondue and cozy wood-panelled bars with excellent live music.
Nestled at the feet of the northern Japanese Alps, Hakuba welcomes winter sports enthusiasts with seven ski resorts where the perfect mix of breathtaking scenery and abundant snowfall makes for impeccable ski and snowboard conditions. More than 200 different trails, both smooth and vertical, invite skiers and boarders of all levels to have fun and refine their skills.
Moreover, Japan’s premiere ski destination has a fantastic après ski scene, as well. Once the lifts shut down for the night, visitors have the opportunity to unwind in one of the numerous onsen (natural hot springs) sprinkled throughout the area, or get a true taste of Japanese culture by participating in traditional tea ceremonies, craft workshops, origami or cooking classes. There is also a nice selection of museums and art galleries to keep you entertained during your stay. Some of the finest include Hakuba Historical Folk Museum, the Saegusa Art Gallery, the Olympic Museum, and the tiny, yet pretty impressive Salt Road Museum.
Ranging from snack bars and typical Izakaya (local pubs) to top notch restaurants serving all kinds of fancy menus, Hakuba’s excellent variety of dining options is designed to suit all tastes and budgets out there. For an authentic experience, make sure you’ll try some local specialties such as soba (thin buckwheat noodles) and sake (Japanese rice wine).
For nightlife revelers, Hakuba has a wonderful array of bars, clubs and pubs to choose from, whether you’re into some serious partying or just chilling out with your friends.
Aspen, Colorado, USA
With its lovely mix of history, nightlife and fabulous skiing, Aspen is undoubtedly the most glamorous ski destination in the US. But this picturesque Colorado resort in the Rocky Mountains is clearly more than just a playground for the rich and famous, it is a charmingly provincial mountain town full of character and beautiful architecture.
Surrounded by four excellent ski areas, this mountainous wonderland offers skiers and snowboarders of all levels more than 335 trails to choose from. Easily accessible from the city centre, Aspen Mountain is the perfect choice for expert riders, providing plenty of black-diamond trails. Reaching an elevation of 12, 392 feet, the nearby Aspen Highlands offers terrain to skiers of all abilities, and so does the Snowmass, a resort located 12 miles from Aspen. A little less challenging, but equally delightful and endowed with the longest terrain parks in the area, Buttermilk is the best option for boarders and beginner skiers.
Aspen’s historic downtown plays host to an exceptional range of shops, funky bars, high-end restaurants and galleries.
St. Moritz, Switzerland
The oldest ski resort in the world and one of its most expensive, St Moritz attracts its visitors with a spectacular and pretty unique mix of sunshine, culture, natural beauty, world-class skiing and cosmopolitan atmosphere. Mainly popular among jet-setters and social elites from all over the world, the handsome resort town lies in Switzerland’s picturesque Engadine valley as the epitome of style, class and sophistication.
With so many distractions, however, people often forget how good skiing actually is in this luxurious mountain resort. Selected twice to host the Winter Olympic Games, St Moritz boasts four ski regions with over 350 km of organized slopes. In addition to downhill and Nordic skiing, the area offers excellent opportunities for skating, snowboarding, bob run, cricket or polo. Other attractions include Olympic ski jump, horse racing on the frozen lake, stellar shopping and dining, as well as a great choice of gourmet and music festivals.
Under the shade of the sensational and deadly Mont Blanc, the dazzling white pistes, the absolutely fantastic après-ski scene and the lively streets of Chamonix make for, quite simply, the Mecca of mountaineering. Its excellent ski regions cater for all tastes and abilities, and offer both on-piste and off-piste skiing and snowboarding terrain. Some of the most famous include the Vallée Blanche - a spectacular 20km off-piste glacier route, the challenging Grand Montets, the family-friendly Les Houches, and the utterly picturesque Brevent-Flegere near the city centre. All these are easily accessible thanks to Chamonix’ advanced network of over 60 lifts.
Although many consider this mountain resort in the French Alps to be the winter sports’ capital of the world, skiing is not the only attraction in Chamonix. The town itself is charmingly traditional and the ride up to the mighty Aiguille du Midi is one of the highest and most breathtaking in the whole world. Moreover, shopping, dining and entertainment opportunities abound, offering something for everyone.
One of the finest off-piste resorts in the world, Verbier lures celebrities and winter sports fans from all over the globe with its lovely mix of world-class skiing, boisterous nightlife, and Swiss alpine charm highlighted by the chocolate-box chalets that dot its stunning mountainous landscape.
The stylish resort lies in the heart of the sunny Bagnes Valley, in Switzerland’s canton of Valais, and is part of the world-famous 4 Vallées ski area. Best suited for experienced skiers and filthy rich travelers, Verbier is clearly no place for light-hearted vacationing. It is, however, an excellent spot for those who want to ski hard, party hard and spend up big.
Quaintly located on the banks of the river Lech, in the westernmost land of Austria (Vorarlberg), the mountain village of Lech am Arlberg has grown into the country’s most exclusive ski resort. Being one of the snowiest ski areas in Europe might be one of the reasons, but the charms of Lech go far beyond its climate and posh clientele.