An instructor's guide to Europe's ski resorts

Nov 7 2022

aerial view of Kitzbuhel

Gliding through snowy European landscapes is an extraordinary experience whether it’s your first time or your hundredth. Our instructors at Calshot Activities Centre are passionate about making sure you have the best experience possible if you’re hitting the slopes this ski season, so we’ve compiled a list of our favourite ski resorts in Europe to get you started on planning your next alpine adventure.

the slopes at St Anton
a skier on the slopes at St Anton

Best for family fun: St Anton, Austria

Our instructor George Long had this to say about St Anton, one of the founding members of ‘Best of the Alps’, a group of 13 phenomenal alpine destinations.

“St Anton is great for all ages, with ski schools and a whole host of activities on and off the slopes. Not only is it easy to get around the town and enjoy the views, but there are plenty of bars and restaurants with delicious hot food ready to go! I would highly recommend this place for either a weekend getaway or a big family trip."

a skier on the slopes at Cortina
the slopes at Cortina

Best for stunning surroundings: Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy

Referred to as the Queen of the Dolomites, Cortina d’Ampezzo offers world-class skiing against the backdrop of a UNESCO World Heritage Site[CA1] . The mountains are enveloped in the UNESCO area, which is wonderful place to hike and discover gorgeous green valleys, forests, beautiful lakes, canyons and waterfalls. The resort itself has a 120km ski area containing 86 pistes, 95% of which have snow-making capabilities[GE2] , guaranteeing a snowy slope throughout the ski season.

Cortina has a rich history of world-leading competitions, with the 2026 Winter Olympics due to be the third time the Olympics has been hosted there. This means that Cortina excitingly offers technically challenging pistes where both Italian and international Olympic athletes have trained. Part of its Olympic-grade terrain has even been adapted for beginners and intermediates, so you can enjoy the quality of Cortina’s slopes no matter your experience or ability level.

With stunning canyons, high mountain pastures, forests, lakes and waterfalls, the surroundings provide plenty of enjoyment and inspiration for the non-skiers among us. It’s only natural, then, that the resort has also hosted exceptional intellectuals like Ernest Hemingway and Vittorio Glassman.

Find out more about Cortina’s unique and monumental beauty.

a skier on the slopes at Kitzbuhel
a house in Kitzbuhel

Best for daredevil dramatics: Kitzbühel, Austria

Kitzbühel is one of the largest ski resorts in Austria, with eight renowned ski schools and 233 kilometres of downhill skiing, featuring 46 blue (94 km), 32 red (67 km), 18 black (20 km) runs.

If you’re looking to watch pure talent and skill in action, Kitzbühel’s the site of the Hahnenkamm World Cup Races. The Streif is the world’s most notorious downhill racecourse, pushing internationally ranked athletes to the limit for a weekend each year. Full of daredevil jumps and unforgiving grade steeps, the races are an unmissable winter event.

If that’s not for you, you can explore the delights of ice stock sport, winter hiking, tobogganing or cross-country skiing. Or, if you prefer a change of pace, the romantic medieval centre of frescoes and picturesque pastel townhouses make the car-free town a gorgeous place to spend time apres-ski. It even has a casino if the adrenaline-rush of skiing has left you feeling lucky!

Find out more about Kitzbühel ski resort.

the slopes at St Moritz
a skier on the slopes at St Moritz

Best for sunny skiing: St Moritz, Switzerland

Spectacular St Moritz was one of the first skiing resorts to open and has since held two Winter Olympic Games and five Alpine Ski World Championships. The area has a phenomenal 87 pistes that all are at World Cup standards, and a 230-kilometre cross-country skiing network. With an average of 322 days of sunshine a year, the weather is sure to be perfect for your trip.

Home to the challenging Engadin Ski Marathon route from Maloja to S-chanf, ambitious skiers can test themselves on this infamous 42km route. Or for a slightly shorter but equally thrilling experience, you could also try the 5km Palüd Lungia trail between St. Moritz and Silvaplana/Surlej filled with steep snowy climbs and tricky descents.

St Moritz also provides a magical opportunity for you to stay out late on a night-time trail. The illuminated routes are a wonderful way to continue skiing cross-country until well after dark.

Find out more about the sunny St Moritz.

aerial view of St Moritz

The piste (!) de résistance of winter sports

Now you’ve had a run-down of the best places to go skiing in Europe, it’s time to get your skis on and get this snow on the road. If you want to get some practice in before you set off, head over to The Slope at Calshot to get some hands-on experience on our dry slopes. You can hit the slopes for the first time guided by one of our supportive and encouraging instructors on our beginner courses, or take an improver course to level up your skills before you go.