Do you love to ski? Have you ever wanted to ski the European Alps? If you do, you are in for quite a treat. This is where skiing as we know it was invented and perfected. The oldest and most well documented evidence of the origins of skiing have been found in modern day Norway and Sweden. The earliest primitive carvings are that of a skier holding a single pole, located in Rødøy, Norway and have been shown to date back to around 5000 B.C. Why not visit the home of skiing and pay homage in person? Add a car rental in Norway to make it even easier to get to and from the mountain.
There are hundreds of ski resorts littered from Slovenia in the east, straight across the center of Europe into France. From large resorts that can accommodate thousands of visitors to much smaller, quaint, sleepy-type villages. Because of this diversity you’ll find a resort for every level of skier.
The Arlberg, Austria
“The Arlberg” is a mountain range in Austria between the towns of Vorarlberg and Tyrol. The mountain range consists of five picturesque towns, which primarily exist and are sustained because of ski tourism. The resorts are St. Anton, Lech, Zurs, Stuben, and St. Christoph. The largest and most well known is St. Anton, resting deep within a valley along the main east-west rail and highway route across Austria, giving it a prime location. This is a popular destination for the younger, more aggressive skiers and snowboarders. Because of this, there is a very vibrant and exciting night life after the lifts close down for the day. High above St. Anton sits St. Christoph, a small, quiet hamlet build around a 14th century hospice originally built to aid wayfarers trekking across the pass.
Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy
Cortina d’Ampezzo is a town in the Southern (Dolomitic) Alps, located in Veneto, a region of Northern Italy. Nestled in the heart of the Dolomites in an alpine valley, it boasts the prime location for winter sports. Perhaps this is why it was chosen to host the 1956 Winter Olympics as well as various world cup events and movie shoots. Most of the 1963 classic The Pink Panther was filmed in this town, as well as one of the famous ski scenes from the James Bond thriller For Your Eyes Only. The town is renowned for attracting the upper class and Europe’s aristocracy.
Chamonix is located in south-eastern France in the Rhone-Alpes region. It was host to the very first Winter Olympics in 1924. The resort sits at the base of Mont Blanc, Western Europe’s largest mountain. When you visit, be sure to see Mer de Glace, one of the largest glaciers in continental Europe. It can even be skied upon! It is accessible by the Montenvers rack railway, whose station has a fantastic view of the glacier. You also won’t want to miss the highest cable car in the world, the Aiguille du Midi cable car, which reaches a breathtaking height of 3810 meters or 12,500 feet!
Jungfrau Region, Switzerland
The Jungfrau, which means maiden/virgin in German, is one of the main summits in the Bernese Alps. This region is located between Bern and the cantons of Valais in Switzerland. This mountain region forms a massive wall around the Bernese Oberland that many feel is one of the most iconic views of the Swiss Alps. This area became one of the most visited locations in the Alps in the early 20th century after the construction of the Jungfraujoch railway. The railway station is the highest station in Europe at 3,454 meters (11,332 ft) above sea level.
Portes du Soleil, France/Switzerland
Portes du Soleil is a collection of more than a dozen small and medium sized resorts only a two hour drive from Geneva. You can purchase a regional lift pass which gives you access to over 200 lifts, making this one of the largest ski areas in the world. There are over 650 km of skiable trails spread over 14 valleys in an area of about 400 square miles. There are a total of twelve resorts, seven of which are French and five that are Swiss. It’s no wonder that this area is such popular ski vacation destination for so many.