Skiing can be an incredible family activity, and there’s no better place to enjoy a family ski holiday than in the incredible mountainous regions of Europe.
Ski resorts serve as fabulous holiday destinations for many families during the winter months. Offering not just the opportunity to ski and snowboard, but to enjoy the fresh air of snow-filled mountains. Add in tobogganing, ice skating, gondola rides and exceptional amenities and activities, you have a complete winter vacation in one spot.
You can find arguably the best ski resorts in the world for families in Europe (and often much cheaper than their North American counterparts). From the Alps to the Scandes, each mountain resort in Europe is unique and boasts of numerous different trails and opportunities to learn how to ski; beginners to experts are catered for at all these incredible European ski resorts for families.
This post is part of our series Discover Europe – find more kid-friendly destination inspiration
Where to find the best family Ski Resorts in Europe
Although there are dozens of ski resort towns in Europe, we’ve narrowed it down to 12 ski resorts we think you should try this winter with kids. We’ve included some popular classics that will never let you down, plus some lesser-known resort towns if you’re after something new and unique.
Europe in Winter – Before You Go
Please bear in mind current COVID travel rules before booking your vacation in Europe this winter.
The ski season in Europe can be quite variable, depending on where exactly you are heading. Generally speaking, ski resorts start to open by end of November and start closing end of March. However some, which we’ll detail below, have much longer seasons, making them family favourites as some of the best conditions can be experienced during the February half term, or even into Spring and the March school holidays.Don’t forget all the important things you need to pack! Winter travel, especially to the snow, throws up a whole load of extra items you’ll need to pack for your family vacation – grab our family ski trip packing list here.Always take out travel insurance when you book a family vacation. Not only can this cover you for cancellations and delays, but with add on policies, you can cover you family for winter sports too. We use and recommend World Nomads.Travelling from outsie the EU but don’t need a Schengen Visa? Learn more about upcoming changes and the new European Visa waiver program – ETIAS.
Now let’s jump into it! We bring you the 12 Best Family Ski Resorts in Europe to try this winter.
1. Zermatt-Matterhorn, Switzerland
Famous for its 3900-metre drops, Zermatt is the highest winter sports area in the Alps. It has a distinctive outline and looks pristine from afar because of the Matterhorn serving as its backdrop. The 360 km of slopes and 54 lifts make it one of the best places to start your European skiing experience.
The great thing about Zermatt is the wide range of good ski schools and snowboarding lessons on offer. You are certainly not locked into one provider and there’s a great range of lessons to suit different ages and abilities. Wolli’s Park for beginners at Sunnegga is a highlight for families with five magic carpets and a huge range of activities making it one of the best European ski resorts for families.
Other than skiing, your family can enjoy winter hikes, sledging, ice skating, visit the Matterhorn Museum – or how about learning more about curling? A highlight for kids is taking the Gornergrat Bahn (train) which will take you to heights in excess of 3000 metres to admire the Matterhorn!
How does skiing 365 days a year sound? Great right? Zermatt-Matterhorn Ski Resort offers year-round winter for the ardent ski-enthusiasts. With guaranteed snow conditions all the year, you can plan your vacations even out of the traditional winter season and give your family a truly memorable snow experience.
2. Åre, Sweden
Only a few hours from the country’s capital, Åre is one of Sweden’s most popular resorts and is regularly listed as one of the best ski resorts in Europe for families. Every winter, thousands of Swedes and foreigners make their way to the Åre Ski Resort for its incredible family offerings.
Åre is home to Sweden’s largest downhill skill area – with 42 ski lifts and 89 slopes. Some runs extend up to 6km! There are five recommended children’s areas to choose from giving families plenty of variety, as well as four recommend trails where children can go skiing for Fika! Learn more about this fun special Swedish treat for kids here!
Often used as a location for the Ski World Cup, Åre Ski Resort is very much alive with activities beyond skiing. It has become a place where you can find music, culture and fun outdoor activities such as hiking and camping (maybe better left for the summer months!)
Are Ski Resort remains open from November to April, providing up to a half year of skiing opportunities.
3. Skistar Trysil, Norway
The Skistar Trysil is one of the largest alpine ski resorts in the world. At the Trysil, you get 78 kilometres of skiing over 68 slopes with 32 lifts in operation over winter. The skiing areas are divided into four. With woods, snow parks and mountains, the Trysil has many activities that cater to beginners and expert skiers.
Children are not left out at this resort. The Trysil has something awesome in store – a famous snowman named Valle. Valle is a kid-friendly snowman and keeps the younger children occupied with games, contests and other fun activities.
Also, there are great ski schools available for children who would love to learn how to ski. The Trysil also offers child care services, so it is a perfect location for your European ski holiday, for the skiers and non-skiers in your family!.
4. St. Moritz, Switzerland
You can’t plan any European family winter vacation without considering a visit to St. Moritz. St. Moritz is an Upper Engadine town in the Swiss canton of Grunbaden – divided into three villages; Dorf, St Mortiz Bad and Celerina.
Having hosted numerous Winter Olympics, St. Moritz is one of the prime spots for winter sports in Europe. It is the resort that made winter family vacations look idyllic!
Whether it is cross-country skiing, snowshoeing or sledging, St. Moritz has the facilities for all of these attractions. Downhill skiing is a favourite; There are plentiful ski schools and winter schools abound around the region of St. Moritz itself, as well as child care services if parents want to hit the slopes on their own.
Non-skiers often enjoy the hikes on St. Moritz or fast rides on the safe trails of the St. Moritz-Celerina Olympia bob run.
When you are done with the outdoor activities, there are great spots for dinner and dancing at St. Moritz. The Snowli, located at the base station of the Celerina-Marguns gondola lift in Celerina is often touted as a family favourite.
5. Zugspitze, Germany
Colloquially referred to as the top of Germany, Zugspitze also means mountain peak in German. This high point in Germany has remained a favourite for all skiers. Zugspitze hosted Winter Olympics in 1936 to prove it. Rising to 2900 metres, it offers a 360 panoramic view of the area around it and 20kms of slopes with 10 lifts.
From the high points of the Zugspitze, you can see the unfolding of the Garmisch-Partenkirchen and the range of 400 mountains around it. It is a view to behold, especially from the AlpspiX viewing platform.
Cable car rides and nature hikes are not the only adrenaline-inducing activities in the Zugspitze; downhill skiing and skiing contests also abound in Germany’s most popular ski resort.
There are eight ski schools on the Zugspitze, ready to take in students who want to experience the Kandahar downhill. There are also restaurants that provide Bavarian cuisine and shops that cater to whatever a skier needs.
Zugspitze arguably offers one of the best European skiing experiences with a long season that runs from mid-November to May.
6. Courchevel, France
Offering one of the most premium ski experiences, the Courchevel comprises six different worlds in one. Birthed from Saint Bon village, Courchevel has expanded its offerings across five other locations. Each of these places offers unique winter sports activities for your outdoor enthusiasts.
The resort offers the finest skiing experiences. Outdoor activities at the Courchevel also include ski jumps, hiking trails, hand gliding and hot air balloon adventures. You and your family can ride on the snowmobile and partake in as much tobogganing as you can stomach.
The Saulire cable car can take you up to the heights of 2700 meters, where you can see the majestic visions of the Courchevel.
There are plentiful ski schools in Courchevel, with magnetic safety vests, accessible chairlifts and luxury accommodations, your family can truly kick back and relax in the safety that is assured.
Unlike other resorts, the Courchevel has its own exclusive airport (CVF), so vacationing at the Courchevel can be easier for families than many other resorts due to its accessibility (although it’s also ranked one of the most difficult to land at airports in the world!)
7. Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy
The Italian Dolomites are a famous holiday region in the country, and for skiers, the jewel is the Cortina d’Ampezzo – also known as the Queen of the Dolomites!
Comprising of superb ski terrain, Cortina Resort started to attract visitors after the Winter Olympics of 1956. The Cortina was the preferred winter resort for years. Ski enthusiasts trooped in from all over the world to enjoy the abundant gifts in Cortina.
Downhill skiing is the core icy activity of this resort. The ski trails at Cortina connect to the ski resorts around it, and there is a bobsled trail lit up at night for safe sledging.
Cortina boasts of several entertainment venues and chic stores where guests can enjoy a unique shopping experience. Part of its Olympic-grade terrain has been adapted for beginners and intermediates to ensure fun for family members at any level.
You’ll find a great range of ski schools available in Cortina d’Ampezzo, making it one of our top choices for a family ski vacation in Europe.
8. St. Anton am Arlberg, Austria
St. Anton am Arlberg is often praised for its hard snowfall and incredible piste. There are 89 lifts operating mid-winter with over 300kms of slopes on offer.
If there’s anything consistent with children, we know how much they love rides. At Anton am Arlberg ski resort, your kids will find a Ferris wheel waiting for them. For adults that love rides, they can take the gondola on its way up and witness the fabulous view of the region.
St. Anton provides a European Winter Wonderland tailored to kids. The multifunctional sports centre offers numerous activities for your family to take part in and a trampoline hall that is popular and safe for young kids.
On the slopes, there are several skis schools to choose from, with ‘Hase Hoppl’, or Hase the Hare leading the way. Kikiclub offers a weekly program of events, as well as ski lessons.
9. Hafjell, Norway
If you drive north from Oslo in Norway, along the E6 highway, one of the most kid-friendly resorts lies a comfortable 3-hours drive away. Hafjell offers three locations where children can play in the snow and learn to ski.
Hafjell is one of the best ski resorts for beginners in Europe. With a ski school taking kids from as young as 3-years-old and a well-stocked ski rental, kids of all skill levels can learn how to ski during the winter and as they get stronger, they can test their moves on increasingly challenging slopes.
Various slopes proportionate to different ski levels are available at Hafjell’s Ski Park – there are 18 lifts and 33 slopes to choose from. Hafjell also offers the most extensive cross-country trail in Norway.
This Norwegian resort is active from mid-November to Mid-April.
10. Val d’Isere, France
The Val d’Isere is a high-altitude valley resort with a ski terrain with an altitude of 1,550 metres at its lowest. This quality lengthens the season at the resort, up until May. Visitors can ski into July at its 3000-meter peaks. Over 150 ski lifts serve the terrain at the Val d’Isere.
Val d’Isere’s terrain is adaptable to skiers of all levels, including older children. Child-sized skis are available at the shops, and there are gentle downhill slopes exclusively set aside for families that younger children can learn on. In addition, there are snow play areas set aside for your little ones and ski kindergarten.
The Travelator is the most loved family activity. It is a magic carpet that rides downhill and avails to youngsters of the thrills of high-altitude skiing.
11. Feldberg, Germany
The Feldberg Black Forest forest is about 1500 meters high and poses the most elevated point in Germany outside the Alps. Felberg is a national reserve with acres of trees and a small resort known as the Feldberg area. Having lower altitudes than the Alps, it has a relatively short season starting mid-December to mid-March. However, the freshness of the air in the Fedberg area makes up for it.
The mountain has several managed inns and hotels for visitors who have come for Feldberg’s fruits. Skiers can enjoy the ski trails that run 50km long and reach up to the black level. Feldberg is the largest ski resort outside the Alps and is fitted with cable cars and view you can appreciate from everywhere.
Ski guards are available around the clock for skiers.
Skiing is a fun way to spend your vacation and take in the beauty of the world. There are few things as relaxing as eating up the white snow as you slide downhill.
12. Kitzbühel, Austria
Last but certainly not least, picture-perfect Kitzbühel in Austria. The walled village of Kitzbühel houses fabulous frescoed buildings, great hotels and lovely shops similar to other resorts. It is far cheaper to vacation in than other European resorts. The inns at Kitzbühel are family-run, and the locals are friendly. Visitors often comment on the homely delicious tastes at the restaurants around.
Surrounded by healthy mountains, forests and healthy air, Kitzbühel holds something for skiers and non-skiers. There are 170 kilometres of pistes that join into SkiWelt that adds another 280 milometers. Ninety lifts serve both pistes.
Kids are well looked after in Kitzbühel with the “Bärenland” kids’ area set aside especially for younger guests. The Kitzbüheler Horn Snow Park offers a kicker line, the Audi Quattro Fun Slope and the KitzSki Family Park for junior skiers to show off their jumps and tricks.
We hope you’ll want to the European winter ski resort that’s just right for your families need. Whether you are beginners simply looking to test your skills on the slopes, or a family of experts looking for an outdoor challenge, you’ll find it all in Europe’s best family ski resorts.
Looking for more family travel inspiration?
Family travellers looking for a little more inspiration, you may also be interested in:
Helpful? Save this to Pinterest for future inspiration
© Our Globetrotters | Feature images CanvaPro