Perhaps you didn’t get as much time on the slopes as you’d wished this year. Nasty weather may have hindered your travel plans or that four-letter word spelled w-o-r-k may have kept you from spending time honing your skiing skills. But take heart! It’s not too late to book travel to some of Europe’s top ski locations, where the snow is so good that you can ski straight into the late weeks of spring.
Skiing in the spring is a treat for a number of reasons. First of all, the crowds are generally lighter so that means shorter lift lines and more room to have fun on the slopes. Additionally, accommodations are priced lower, so even reservations at a 5-star luxury resort won’t set you back as much as it would during the thick of winter. Happily, however, the après ski scene is – in general – just as good, with plenty of visitors eager to enjoy a little night life after a long day on the slopes.
Below we’ve compiled our list of the 5 European spring skiing destinations we love most. It’s not too late to make your reservations!
1. Zermatt, Switzerland – Thanks to Zermatt’s very high altitude (nearly 13,000 feet at its highest), the snow sticks around for a while, usually straight into late April and even May. During the winter, Zermatt tends to be extremely cold and not so sunny – as one might suspect – but in the springtime the sun is high in the sky and the temperatures are much more comfortable for skiing and other outdoor activities. There’s also summer skiing on the glacier, so if you get there after May, there are still opportunities for you to enjoy your favorite sport.
2. Livigno, Italy – One of Italy’s highest ski resorts, Livigno – located in the Italian Alps near the Swiss Border – is an upscale resort where it’s normal to ski until May. With pistes rising to about 10,000 feet, it offers thrill after thrill and is ideal for skiers of all levels. It also boasts a super terrain park for snowboarders and, as such, often attracts a younger crowd or families with children. In addition, Livigno holds tax-free status, so food, drink, and other wares are far less expensive than at many similar resorts.
3. Are, Sweden – Are is the largest ski resort in Northern Europe/Scandinavia and it really is quite beautiful. Skiing there is different than skiing in the Alps, and because of its location, skiing at the end of May is not unusual. Considered Sweden’s main center for alpine skiing, it boasts 100 pistes and more than 30 lifts, allowing for the handling of large crowds without much fuss. The off-piste areas are stellar, but there’s also plenty of beginner slopes for kids and the inexperienced. Heli-skiing is available as well and there’s a fun terrain park, too. And it seems the Swedes like to party hearty as there’s plenty of après ski opportunities when the sun goes down.
4. Val Thorens, France – Part of the humongous Three Valley Ski Area, Val Thorens is the highest ski resort in all of Europe, so it’s easy to understand why the snow sticks around for a while, usually until at least mid May. Most of the ski area sits above 2000 meters (about 6,500 feet) and the resort offers not only great traditional alpine experiences but also telemark, carving, off-piste, ski touring, and a great terrain park for boarders. At night in the Three Valleys area, you’ll find everything from wonderful restaurants and bars to bowling, cinema, and spectacular live concerts.
5. Saas Fee, Switzerland – Located in the Canton of Valais, Saas Fee offers great downhill skiing with access to nearby glaciers, where you can enjoy summer skiing. The local car-free village is charming and, in the spring, seems to attract endless sunshine. Overall, Saas Fee is a lot less cosmopolitan than Zermatt, so it’s ideal for those not looking for the pretentiousness common in the really upscale resorts. That said, however, it still offers top-notch accommodations and an excellent après ski scene.