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Choosing a ski destination to suit the whole family is tough. Will there be enough nursery slope space for the kids, but also tricky enough runs to keep the more seasoned skiers busy? Will your accommodation be close enough to the piste to avoid long treks home at the end of the day? And – maybe most importantly – what food options are there nearby, and will your kids deem any of them good enough?
Eight key things to consider when you're booking a family ski holiday:
- Are the runs suitable for the abilities and ages of all who'll be skiing?
- What off-slope activities are available?
- How far is everything from the accommodation itself?
- What are the après-ski options, and are they suitable for the whole family?
- If you're flying, how far away is the resort from the airport?
- Do you want to stay in a hotel, self-catered, or a ski chalet?
- What are the ski school options, and how much do they cost?
- What childcare is available outside of ski school?
During 2019, there were 253 mentions of “ski holiday” or “family ski” on the Mumsnet forums, and we've compiled the best tips and tricks into this handy guide. Read on for the best ski holiday destinations for the whole family.
Our ski guide is pretty France-heavy, but that's only because French skiing is near-on perfect for families travelling with children. Thanks to its nearby location, there are no long flights, and a lot of the resorts can even be reached by train. Be warned – because of the convenience and accessibility, France is often more expensive than other countries close by.
Why not try:
1. Alpe D’Huez
One of the resorts accessible by train, and with plenty of pistes and plenty of sun, Alpe d'Huez is consistently recommended by Mumsnetters as a great resort for families of mixed abilities. Beginners will appreciate the many nursery slopes, while those with more experience can consider a run down the Sarenne – the world's longest black run.
“It's a lovely open, sunny resort with other activities available as well. A nice ice rink and a swimming pool that is both indoors and outdoors – you can swim through to the outside, roll in the snow and jump back in again if you're bonkers like me.”
“It's brilliant for kids. Easy access to a big bowl of nice green and blue routes, but it's also easy for you to get further afield quickly and still back in time for the ski lessons finishing.”
2. Les Deux Alpes
Perfect for a family of first-time skiers, Les Deux Alpes has lots of options for easier skiing without compromising on a lively atmosphere with plenty to see and do. It's also popular as lots of the easier, beginner runs are at the top of the mountains – meaning you get to take in spectacular views right from the get-go. Everything is also really close together, including a heated swimming pool (entry to which is included in your ski pass), ice caves, and parapenting (if you can stomach it). Equally, don't be put off if you're a seasoned skier: there is access to an off-piste area if you're after a challenge.
“Les Deux Alpes often has reasonably-priced deals and the baby slopes are fantastic for learners and available without a lift pass. Once they progress, the glacier offers really easy, confidence-building terrain along with nice cruisy blues. There are jolly bars in town too.”
“I just got back from Mark Warner in the Berengere in Les Deux Alpes. The hotel is lovely, the food is fab, the nannies fantastic and it's right on a green piste so ideal for kids who are learning.”
3. Puy St Vincent
If you're travelling with young children, Puy St Vincent is hard to beat. It's a pretty resort town with some of the cheapest ski passes in the Alps. Mumsnetters rave about its compact size, excellent facilities and all-round family friendliness – the lack of nightlife isn't an issue if you've long left behind your clubbing days (nostalgic sigh).
“Just back from Puy – it was an absolutely fantastic first skiing holiday with the family. The ski school teachers were first class and the children couldn't wait to get there. Yes, the resort is small – but it's cosy and feels secure. My husband is a seasoned skiier, but even he admitted that there was plenty that kept him amused. The resort restaurants were also friendly and not pricey at all.”
4. Val d’Isere
A close-by neighbour to Tignes (also loved by Mumsnetters), Val d'Isere is definitely one of the most expensive ski resorts on this page. But there really is so much going on there, it might just be worth that little bit extra. With a whole host of non-ski activities, including the giant Centre Aquasportif, grandparents, small children, and the generally ski-averse will have plenty to do. It's known for being a little bit trickier, though, so be wary if you're travelling with newbies and intermediate-level skiers.
“Val d'Isere is an excellent choice, but watch out for the blue runs back into the village – they're really hard and should be red runs, so it's often best for beginners to go back down on the lifts.”
“I was in Val d'Isere earlier in the year. There are lots of good activities for grandparents and kids – the Aquacentre is especially good.”
Known for being that little bit cheaper than France but still full of character and fun, Italy is a great bet for families. It's more laid-back than a lot of other ski resorts, and has truly breathtaking scenery – particularly across the Dolomite mountain range. Italy is also well-known for its sunshine, meaning you're likely to get a clear day on the slopes.
Why not try:
5. Passo Tonale
Family-friendly and – klaxon – easy on the bank balance, this small Italian resort is a good option for beginners and early intermediates, with plenty of not-too-challenging slopes within easy reach. It's a purpose-built resort so there are a few bars and restaurants to choose from, though it's definitely not a resort that sells itself on nightlife.
“My son went in early April and, according to the Ski Club of Great Britain website, it had the best snow covering of all the resorts they cover worldwide. He's not a beginner, but it was chosen as good for both beginners and intermediates.”
For the proper Alpine experience, look no further than Cervinia. It's located high-up enough for season-round snow, and sits right alongside the ever-impressive Matterhorn: a 4,478m-high peak. Not all the slopes are difficult, allowing the less ski-sure to learn in stunning surroundings. Although there are some particularly long runs, there isn't the greatest variety – you can cross over to the Switzerland side of the mountains, though, and try out the slopes at neighbouring Zermatt.
Related: get your hands on more great travel discounts with our exclusive offers for Mumsnetters
“Cervinia in Italy is good for beginners, and the Ventina red run is my favourite ever piste, with 14 km of varied terrain. Competent skiers can also ski over the Zermatt side if they exhaust Cervinia. Lovely hot chocolate and Bombardinos!”
When you think of skiing in Austria, you probably think of Alpine lodges, tree-lined slopes and the occasional oompah band. But did you know that they also have the best ski lifts in the world? The ski schools are also great – renowned for running morning and afternoon sessions, not just one or the other.
Why not try:
Part of the Ski Juwel ski area, Niederau is the perfect destination if you want to learn to ski in Austria. The nursery slopes are really central, and there are lots of options for easy runs, too, so you won't be skiing the same route over and over. There are also loads of other snowy activities on offer in the area, including sleigh rides, perfect if younger children (and older ones, too, even if they won't admit it) get tired on the slopes.
“For four years running we went to Niederau – a lovely place for the little one to learn, and the transfer time is just under an hour. Not a big resort, but there are plenty of places to have a slope-side lunch and drink.”
8. St. Anton
Although relatively expensive, St. Anton is a fun, lively option for your family ski holiday. With pretty much guaranteed snow and easy ski connections to surrounding slopes, it's a surefire bet for good skiing, but is probably best suited to more experienced skiers. It has its own station, so is fairly easy to get to by train, and the town itself is easy to navigate. Plus, it has a history museum which includes the history of skiing – a great way to add a bit of culture to your holiday.
“We had a great time in St. Anton. The local ski school was excellent and the ski area very varied. I also remember the lovely mountain restaurants. It has a bit of reputation of a 'party' place at night though, so be wary of the noise (i.e. the location of the chalet).”
“Mark Warner in St. Anton is fantastic – excellent food, excellent childcare, friendly staff, cosy and friendly atmosphere, and we loved the skiing. If you go, ask about the nearby restaurant you sledge down from – have never laughed as much.”
While it may be the most expensive of European ski countries, Switzerland also has plenty of ski history packed into its slopes. Although widely known for its daring verticals and high, steep mountainsides, it's also home to resorts perfect for families and younger children – with many even boasting dedicated slopes and ski lifts just for beginners.
Why not try:
9. Saas Fee
High and snow-covered, Saas Fee is popular with the intermediate ski gang. It's a pretty Alpine resort, with plenty of après ski to boot. There are off-slope activities too; try your hand at dog-sledging, hike the glacier, or go swimming or skating. It's also another resort accessible by train.
Related: find even more Mumsnetter tips and tricks on the Skiing talk board
“It's on the other side of the mountain from Zermatt, but without the crowd and the uber-high prices. The lift pass includes other smaller resorts easily accessed by bus for a change of scene, and it's possible (though you'd need an early start) to day trip to Zermatt.”
Often overlooked, Germany actually offers some of the best-value skiing in Europe – particularly in the smaller resorts. It's also a lot quieter than its neighbours, meaning it's perfect for first-timers and younger children, and the slopes are also more gentle – although this does mean you have to travel a bit further to find more challenging and varied routes.
Why not try:
10. Garmisch Partenkirchen
One and a half hours' drive from Munich, Mumsnetters speak highly of this resort in the Bavarian Alps, combining three mountains. Comprising two towns, with Partenkirchen retaining a lovely Alpine village feel, there's lots of choice for places to go and things to do. You may need to head up the mountain for snow late in the season.
Related: stay stylish on the slopes with the best skiwear for women
“For my husband, who normally skis in France or Switzerland, Germany was a bit of a revelation – relaxed, well-organised and reasonably priced. The town of Garmisch itself is a proper Bavarian town rather than a ski resort, great for shopping and eating with all the amenities you could want.”
Nestled in the peaks of the Pyranees, Andorra is a perfect location for those wanting to learn to ski from scratch. Never fear, however – there are plenty of options for more seasoned skiiers too, making Andorra a great spot for a mixed-ability group. As a bonus, even the gentlest of slopes are at high altitude, so you don't have to miss out on the stellar views.
A great option for very small children, Arinsal is great value and has a soothingly laid back, village feel about it. With great crèche, ski school, and childcare options, plus an intriguing snow garden, younger children will never be bored. It's also tucked away from Andorra's party resorts like Pas de la Casa, meaning you don't have to worry about Andorra's 'lively' reputation.
“We've just come back from Arinsal in Andorra, which was our first ski trip. The childcare was amazing with really lovely, enthusiastic staff, and my four-year-old loved the snow garden. It was perfect for his first time, but if I went next year I would definitely book ski school for him.”
“We go to Andorra. It’s really family friendly with great skiing. Cheaper in terms of food, drink and lift passes than other areas in Europe.”
As the prices hike in the Alps, why not take a trip to one of Mumsnetters' favourite (and cheap) hidden gems – the Czech Republic? It's also particularly good for cross-country ski trails (if that's your thing) and mountain hikes, meaning there's also lots of adventuring to be done away from the piste.
Why not try:
12. Špindlerŭv Mlýn
The largest ski resort in the Czech Republic. You'll need to arrange your flights, transfers and accommodation separately, but Mumsnetters reckon the winter sports resort of Špindlerŭv Mlýn is definitely worth the extra effort. Suitable for both beginners and more experienced skiers, there's plenty of activities on and off-piste too, including bobsleighing and sledging runs. Children under six ski for free, with passes for under-18s greatly reduced.
“It's about two hours from Prague by car or you can transfer by bus I believe. About 1400 metres altitude but I think you're pretty much guaranteed snow in March. Most of the runs are red but there are a few blacks too. Lift passes and accommodation are much cheaper than Western Europe.”