Has the recent cold snowy weather made you want to jet off to see more snow and ski down the mountains. Don’t worry you do not have to jet off too far as Europe has some of the best snow and slopes in the world – great for honing your ski skills but tough for deciding on which destination to visit for your holiday. From the places with the best snowscapes, to the locations with the most stand-out descents, check out the best ski runs in Europe for pros, beginners and families.
Ventina in Italy
Whether you’re new to skiing or have been doing it for years, everyone can enjoy the experience and beauty of Ventina. What you get with the Ventina piste is a long descent and shallow gradient that allows you to truly take in the incredible mountainscape around you. Although, your legs might feel like spaghetti after tackling the 11km run.At Ventina, there’s a total, gentle descent of 1,430m and — ideal for novices, families and groups.
Piste 4 in Sweden
The Riksgränsen ski resort is home to Piste 4 — found in the Arctic Circle. Fancy trying it out? You’ll have to time right if you want to try it. Based in the Swedish Arctic Circle, the lack of sun means you can only ski here between mid-February and mid-summer. However, if skiing under a midnight sun sounds like your thing, Piste 4 is where you need to head. If you like a bit more out of your skiing then a smooth downward glide, you’ll love the natural bumps of Piste 4. Plus, if you give it a try, you’ll actually glide into Norway before looping back around during your descent!
Grand Couloir in France
The only one classed as a ‘run’ in the area on the piste map, Grand Couloir is the broadest — and often simplest to tackle — of the three Courchevel couloirs.Although easier than its neighbours, the steep path leading from the cable car station in La Saulire to Grand Couloir can be treacherous when icy. 900m in length with a maximum slope gradient of 85%, once you arrive, the Grand Couloir presents a decent challenge to even the most experienced of skiers. You also have potentially huge moguls to contend with, which can make the beginning of your descent the riskiest part of your experience. Once you’ve glided by these tricky snow bumps, the slope will open up and the remainder of your descent should be a relatively smooth delight.
Mont Fort in Switzerland
If you want a challenge that you have to build up your stamina, technique and overall fitness; how about the Swiss Mont Fort? To tackle the altitude and skiing challenges presented by the 3,329m Mont Fort, you need decent skills and a strong nerve. Found in Verbier — arguably the continent’s most luxurious and party-centric resort — Mont Fort provides a 1,300m run from top to bottom and is generally considered the most challenging of Verbier’s pistes. On top of the amazing ski experience you’ll enjoy, there are also fantastic views to take in after you reach at the summit. Although, if you really want to take advantage of this breathtaking landscape, try skiing at dawn to enjoy the spectacular sunrise over the mountaintops.Peppered with moguls to dodge and memorably steep, you’ll need at least intermediate skills to make a success of Mont Fort.
The Streif in Austria
Beware; never try the Streif if you’re skiing level is at beginner or intermediate. One of the most feared runs in the world, the Streif is found on the Hahenkamm mountain and hosts one of the most hazardous races in the World Cup This run offers a 3.3km descent and you’ll have to compose yourself quickly, as you’ll be forced to navigate maximum 85% gradients at a speed of around 80mph. In fact, the run is so iconic that a documentary film was made about it — Streif: One Hell of a Ride — in 2015.
Aiguille Rouge in France
Found in the Les Arcs resort and with a length of 8km, the Aiguille Rouge is the highest peak in the area. Also named the Red Needle, you can experience a vertical descent of over 2,000m on this run, which is classified as black at the top and red once you get a third of the way down. Fancy seeing Italy during your French ski holiday? At Aiguille Rouge, you get a panoramic view of the Italian Alps that is simply breath-taking.
Harakiri in Austria
Any ski run that is named after a Japanese suicide ritual requires expert ski skills. At 1,500m in length, this Austrian piste is often icy in the centre, with easier-to-grip snow around the edges. Found in the resort of Mayrhofen, the Harakiri piste is the steepest groomed slope in the world with an average gradient of 78%.Tackling the speed and gradient of the Harakiri is no simple task. Experts say to keep your weight on your outer ski and try to slow down when possible to reach the bottom vertically! Also, don’t be surprised to see skiers tumble down the entire run…
Hidden Valley in Italy
Many skiers take a ski holiday because they love the beauty and tranquillity that comes with being on a mountainside far away from city life. If you’re one of them, Hidden Valley is a paradise. Skiing here will make you feel completely isolated from the world as the Dolomite peaks tower over you. Starting at the peak of Lagazuoi, which is around 2,750m in height, you get to experience a smooth descent. Not only that, but there are also glimpses of frozen waterfalls and riverbeds to spot as you glide. An excellent run for novices and one of nature’s best stress-busters!
Lauberhorn in Switzerland
The Lauberhorn run is another tough challenge in our list of top European ski runs. Supposedly the fastest run in the World Cup, you start from the 2,500m summit and travel 4.5km in just two and a half minutes. On your descent, there’s a 130-foot jump that catapults you into the air to contend with, and you’ll reach speeds of around 99mph — enough for g-forces to come into play. Exhilarating and unforgettable, if you have the skills to cope with it.
Pas de Chavanette in France
Finding it tough to choose between skiing in Switzerland and France? Meet in the middle by visiting Pas de Chavanette. This memorable run is frequently named the ‘Swiss Wall’ and is a famous 200m ski run based at the heart of the Portes du Soleil ski area on the Swiss-French border. One of the most exciting runs in the world, Pas de Chavanette features rapid drops, with some angles being so steep that you might struggle to see what’s hurtling towards you as you descend. Here, you get an ungroomed skiing experience. However, be aware that the level of difficulty relies on the time of year you visit. Try it on a decent layer of snow and you can weave and glide effortlessly. But beware when the run is icier and bumpier — expert skills and emergency stops will be required.
These are just a few of the amazing ski runs available on the continent. Check out holiday deals online for good prices or get in some practice beforehand with a lift pass for an indoor slope in the UK.
Skiing is something which I would love to do maybe when Jess is a little bit older we will be able to get her on the indoor slopes in the UK. We hope to live not too far from one and then it may give us the final push we need to jet off to the slopes with real snow on them.
Have you visited any of these destinations?
This post is sponsored