Christmas is always a special time of year, and what better than a festive celebration up in the mountains!
Enjoying a break in any ski resort over Christmas mixes skiing with a winter wonderland of beautifully decorated alpine resorts and a festive celebration everyone can enjoy.
The most important choice is the resort so check out our list of the best alpine ski resorts for Christmas skiing.
The Family Choice
Resting on a quaint little forestland of Eiger mount, up in central Switzerland, Wengen is well-known for its December holiday ambience, traditional fairs and yummy local delicacies. Combine all that with Wengen’s internationally renowned Lauberhorn ski races, downhill runs and slaloms, and you will figure why the place is so popular with ski-loving families in the first place.
Expert skiers will surely love the place too. The Lauberhorn is considered one of the most challenging – and charming – downhill races, as well as the longest one included in the FIS World Cup circuit, stretching for almost five km. Note also that Wengen hosts “The Downhill Only Club”, one of the oldest alpine ski clubs in the UK.
If you have small children and toddlers to worry about, then you shouldn’t. Wengen’s core is nothing but a puffy, snow-covered playground, with several gentle slopes, ideal for them to master the basics without fear of bumping with rushing skiers.
Wengen boasts a number of great toboggan runs too, most of which are specially designed for families.
The “I just want to ski” Choice
Demarcating the Three Valleys region, the world’s most extensive lift-linked ski area, Courchevel is just perfect for people who want nothing more from their holidays than skiing all day long. With 600 km of runs stretching ahead and more than 170 lifts to move you around, you will find Courchevel the perfect gate to a dreamy skiing vacation.
Still, if you plan to take with your friends or family that do not share your enthusiasm for day-long skiing sessions, the local Aquamotion centre, with its indoor and outdoor pools, surfing area, climbing wall, saunas, steam room and hot tub will surely keep them happily occupied while you enjoy your sharp turns.
Courchevel, of course, is just one of the skiing resorts in the area but has gained a reputation for its exquisite snow conditions, mainly because of its north-oriented local slopes. Making things even better, the terrain’s diversity caters for skiers of every level of ski and experience. Still, intermediates are probably the most favoured ones, at least in the slopes around Courchevel. Locals do their best to preserve the run in excellent state, grooming them again and again as soon as light dies out.
Bear in mind that Courchevel is actually a cluster of smaller villages, namely Courchevel Le Praz, Courchevel Village, Courchevel Moriond and Courchevel 1850, all connected by an excellent bus service which is free of any charge whatsoever.
Of the lot, Courchevel 1850 serves as the primary lift hub. Along with its ice rink and fitness centre, it attracts most of the visitors in the area, particularly high-end skiers coming from abroad; that is why most locals hardly mention the “1850” part when referring to it.
On the other hand, the other ones offer lower prices for equally decent accommodation – although Christmas is hardly the time span to look for bargains!
The Luxury Choice
Megève was first picked as a winter resort by royalty for its inherent skiing advantages and natural beauty. If it suited them, it could hardly let you down.
Picturesque cobbled streets and squares, the illustrious annual Swarovski tree decoration, high-end shopping, shiny hotels and luxurious accommodation, along with several of the world’s finest mountain spas often outshine Megève’s excellent skiing conditions, but certainly, make it the most sophisticated and stylish option in our list.
The resort is famed for its exquisite cuisine too, having no less than five Michelin-awarded restaurants, two of which boast the three-star accolade (the highest possible!), while Après bars serve their wine with great views of the Mont Blanc.
A pinch of ski mentions is necessary. Megève’s slopes are quite extensive, suiting best inexperienced and intermediate skiers. There are three main ski areas, the Rochebrune, Mont d’Arbois and the Jaillet, all accessed through cable cars.
There is a chance though of having the weather conspire against you and snow coverage hasn’t reached proper level till Christmas, since Megève stands at a relatively lower altitude than the other picks on our list.
The Relaxed Choice
Holding sway over the Ötztal valley in Tyrol, Austria, at an altitude of more than 1,900 metres, Obergurgl never has issues with snow conditions. In fact, it is considered the most reliable non-glacial resort in the country snow-wise, even in late November.
Obergurgl is part of wider ski resort area, with the equally famed Hochgurgl standing at the other end. Ever since the Top Mountain Crosspoint opened there in 2015, this quaint old resort has risen to eminence as one of the best relaxation skiing resort in Europe, attracting mostly families and returning visitors who prefer coupling great skiing with seclusion instead of wild après ski recreation.
The slopes are just perfect for people who love gentle sliding and wish to learn a few tricks before moving to more challenging runs.
Val Thorens, France
The High-Altitude Choice
Closing our list, we can’t help it but return yet again to the Three Valleys and present, this time, the highest resort in this vast skiing haven, and the highest across Europe.
In Val Thorens, you can start skiing as soon as you step out of your bed, and snow conditions are simply excellent during Christmas.
As already mentioned, such a vast territory obviously meets the needs and fads of all sorts of skiers and snowboarders, with intermediates getting the lion’s share, at least around Val Thorens. Widely known are the routes crossing through Les Menuires and St Martin de Belleville, along with the local terrain park, which is annually used for both national and international events. A new blue route has been recently added to the almost exclusively black and red runs, starting at Cime de Caron and stretching down for more than 3 km, with a 570-metre vertical drop, along with a black one in the so-called Boismint area.
Accommodation and food hardly need any reference from us, ranking among the best in the Alps, and including Michelin-starred restaurants and five-star hotels. Après ski and recreation gets a lot wilder here, attracting mostly youngsters, students and couples who hate going to bed early.