Where To Find The Best Skiing In The Alps

The Dreamiest Alps Skiing Vacation

By Amanda Mesa | Published on August 1, 2023

Most skiers will tell you that few resorts in the world can offer an experience quite like skiing in the Alps. Known for its jagged, sky-piercing peaks, incredible snowfall and charming villages, this region is the definition of a winter wonderland during the coldest months of the year. Skiers and snowboarders love the abundance of terrain and cutting-edge infrastructure that resorts in the French Alps and Swiss Alps have to offer. That said, there's plenty more to do in this awe-inspiring part of the world than carve lines down the mountainside. From exploring forest trails at your own pace on cross-country skis and taking romantic sleigh rides over idyllic, snow-covered fields to sipping mulled wine by the fire and savoring fine alpine cuisine at Michelin-starred restaurants — Europe's leading ski resorts and ski towns offer a truly one-of-a-kind experience for those seeking a bit of wintertime magic in the mountains. The best part? You can easily reach these destinations on a Europe cruise.

Everything You Need To Know About Skiing In The Western Alps

Let's start with the basics — where are the Western Alps? The Western Alps are part of the greater Alpine range of mountains. They run north from the Mediterranean coast through northwestern Italy (the regions known as Piedmont and the Aosta Valley), southeastern France (the region known as Savoie) and Monaco to reach Switzerland's Valais region, which includes Lake Geneva and the Rhône Valley. Parts of the range are referred to by different names depending on their location: The Maritime Alps rise up close to the Mediterranean Sea, the French Alps are within France, and the Swiss Alps are located within Switzerland.

When searching for the best places to ski in the Alps, that depends on who you ask! France, Italy and Switzerland each boast world-class ski resorts with top-of-the-line lift and gondola systems, plenty of accommodations and diverse terrain. Italy also offers a great mix of terrain and ski towns with their own unique vibes. Where you ultimately choose to ski in the Alps depends on your ability level and what kind of atmosphere and experience you're craving.

The best time to visit the Alps for skiing also depends on the resort you're interested in. In France, the ski season typically runs from late November until late April, though some resorts in the French Alps stay open into the first week of May — a great time to cruise to France. In Switzerland, most resorts are open for skiing from mid-November until late April, though it all depends on snow conditions. The resorts in the Italian Alps don't boast as long a ski season as the resorts in France, but spring skiers will find several options still open at the end of April and even a few into early May. For the best snow, though, January and February tend to be safe bets no matter where in the Alps you're traveling to for a ski vacation.

Book Now

Have the ski adventure of a lifetime when you cruise to Europe.

The French Alps Ski Experience

Skiers seeking gnarly off-piste runs and plenty of steep terrain flock to the Chamonix Valley, one of the most coveted places to ski in the French Alps. It features a vertical elevation of over 2,000 meters and is home to the iconic Vallée Blanche, the world's most famous off-piste run. While it's best suited to adventurous skiers, Chamonix also offers groomed runs for all abilities. Its convenient proximity to Geneva's airport makes it a popular choice for quick and easy Alps skiing getaways.

There's also Megève, part of the greater Evasion Mont-Blanc ski area. With more than 400 kilometers of on-piste skiing, it's home to what many skiers call the best slopes in the entire Western Alps. Families in particular like this resort, as it offers plenty of activities for non-skiers to enjoy, too, such as world-class shopping, delicious dining and lots of medieval history. There aren't any large, mass-market hotels or restaurants, either — the vibe here is understated, intimate and exclusive.

Situated just five kilometers from the Italian border in the beautiful Vanoise National Park is Val d'Isère — easily one of the best places to ski in the French Alps. The aesthetic here is stunning: Charming, traditional chalets rub shoulders with sleek, modern lodges, all boasting dazzling views of the towering mountains that make up the resort. Val d'Isère also shares a ski area called the Espace Killy with the nearby resort, Tignes, offering visitors access to more than 300 kilometers of runs. Winter here isn't just about skiing, though — you can also look forward to film and music festivals, ice skating, Nordic trails and more during the snowy winter months.
France's most famous ski resorts are all a long way from Paris, but you'll find plenty of other wonders nearby to fill your rest days when you aren't chasing powder. In the nearby town of Annecy, a stunning medieval castle and fairy-tale canals await. You can also head just a few hours west to Lyon, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and beautiful city known for its stunning historical architecture, or travel southeast across the Italian border to Turin — a cultural hub that's home to an abundance of palaces, opera houses, art galleries, theaters and more.
Europe's leading ski resorts and ski towns offer a truly one-of-a-kind experience for those seeking a bit of wintertime magic in the mountains. The best part? You can easily reach these destinations on a Europe cruise.

Exciting Skiing In The Swiss Alps

Without a doubt, some of the most famous ski resorts in the world are nestled along parts of the Western Alps that run through Switzerland. Davos is the largest in the country. At 1,560 meters, it's also one of the highest Alpine resorts in Europe. It comprises five large and diverse individual ski resorts stretching from Pischa to the Rinerhorn. It caters well to intermediate skiers, though the Davos Klosters ski resort offers plenty of off-piste terrain that will thrill more seasoned skiers. Davos is just a two-hour car ride from Zurich International Airport, and just two hours and 40 minutes by train.

For those craving a healthy dose of glamour and a good chance of celebrity sightings, St. Moritz is a top locale for some Swiss Alps skiing. With its abundance of five-star hotels, high-end boutiques and Michelin-starred restaurants, it's certainly not the most affordable option for skiing in the Alps. Aside from its reputation as a playground for the wealthy — and royalty — St. Moritz is also known for its spectacular terrain. It has hosted the Alpine Skiing World Championships four times and the Winter Olympics twice. Its high elevation all but guarantees great snowfall all winter long.

If you're looking for a more off-the-beaten-path escape, Andermatt-Sedrun is a great option for incredible skiing in the Alps. As the biggest ski area in the heart of Switzerland, this resort once flew under the radar and is quickly growing in popularity — though It's still more down to earth than ritzy spots like St. Moritz. It sits 1,444 meters above sea level and accumulates deep, fluffy powder all winter long. If you like steep, leg-burning slopes and challenging terrain, this is the perfect Alpine ski resort for you. If you're more of a beginner or a cautious intermediate, or if you're traveling with little ones, this resort also offers a few areas with wide, gentle slopes and child-friendly lifts.
While Switzerland is best known for skiing in the winter months, this stunning country offers even more than skiing. If you're staying in Verbier before or after your Europe cruise, you're just a quick drive from beautiful Lake Geneva (or Lac Léman) to the northwest and the famous Matterhorn Mountain to the southeast. Geneva is well worth a day trip to see its lovely waterfront and immerse yourself in its rich art scene. And if you're visiting St. Moritz, Davos or Andermatt-Sedrun, definitely set aside some time to explore nearby Zurich, a bustling cosmopolitan oasis that offers endless ways to fill a few days.

A Dreamy Ski Trip To The Italian Alps

About five hours northeast of Milan Malpensa Airport and two hours from Venice by car is Cortina d'Ampezzo, another world-class ski area nestled in the part of the Western Alps known as the Dolomites. This is Italy's best-known — and, some would argue, best-loved — mountain resort. The beauty of the Dolomites is unlike that of any other part of the Western Alps. The peaks here are especially jagged, and the rock itself forms broad, shelf-life mountains due to its unique geological structure. Unlike some of the alpine resorts in France and Switzerland, Cortina d'Ampezzo is more laid back but still luxurious — some of Italy's most prestigious fashion boutiques are located in its ski towns. You'll see plenty of families, enjoy lots of sunshine and have your pick of four distinct ski areas offering different experiences.

If Cortina d'Ampezzo is Italy's chicest, most exclusive ski resort, Val Gardena wins the prize for "Best All Around." Composed of three picturesque villages, this fan-favorite area in the Italian Alps offers something for everyone — upscale hotels, cozy inns and traditional guesthouses, plus a melting pot of cultures. In addition to Italian and German, locals here speak Ladin, an ancient language primarily spoken in this mountainous region. Lift facilities in Val Gardena connect visitors to Dolomiti Superski, the biggest skiing carousel in the world and home to runs for every ability level.

This region offers lots to see and do beyond hitting the runs. If you have the time, tack on an overnight stay in Venice before or after your cruise. Romantic Verona is also just a few hours away from the ski resorts. As the setting of Shakespeare's iconic play "Romeo and Juliet," it's home to stunning medieval and Renaissance architecture, lovely cobblestone streets and some truly crave-worthy Amarone Risotto.

Now that you've gotten an overview of some of the best places to ski in the Alps — as well as when to visit and what to do when you aren't making your turns on the mountain — take the next step in planning your best ski adventure ever.

Written By

Amanda has written for Royal Caribbean since 2017. She also covers travel, lifestyle, food and beverage for Indulge Magazine, the Miami Herald and PureWow. She's traveled extensively around the world, enjoys building unforgettable itineraries and loves introducing readers to lesser-known Cynthia J. Drake is an award-winning freelance writer in Austin, Texas, whose work has appeared in Good Housekeeping, Wine Enthusiast, House Beautiful, Southern Living, Cruise Critic, AAA, Texas Monthly, and others. She specializes in writing about food, cruise travel, family travel, and off-the-beaten-path destinations. destinations.

Get Royal Deals, Sign Up Today

Previewing: Promo Dashboard Campaigns

My Personas