Within hours you could be schussing down some of Europe’s best snowy slopes
As the festive season arrives, do you feel an urge for snowy vistas, cosy lodges and après-ski? But how do you maximise your fun in a minimum amount of time? By choosing a destination airport with quick transfer to the resort. We’ve picked five fabulous destinations in Europe with good connections and plenty of après-ski action. Perfect for making the most of your precious days off this winter.
Morzine, France Why go? For its picturesque authentic Savoyard village with secluded spots on the outskirts.
Ski highlights Morzine is one of the 12 resorts of the Portes du Soleil region, which has a whopping 650km of runs. The Morzine Les Gets sector has 64 slopes (nine black, 27 red, 23 blue and five green) and 49 ski lifts. There’s world-class glade skiing in the area, too.
Après-ski Known for its nightlife, there are plenty of bars and restaurants where you can sample the local cuisine of melted cheese raclette or matafan (thick pancakes). Le Tremplin hosts the Après Party on Wednesdays from 4pm to 7pm, and for late-night carousing, try Le Crepu 1000 or Le Dixie, an Irish pub for a great craic with an Alpine twist. That’s something you don’t get at home.
What else? Rock the Race (Saturday January 31) is a parallel giant slalom race followed by a mega après-ski party, and DropZone (Saturday February 7) is an electronic music all-nighter with a light show, live acts and DJs. Rock the Pistes (Saturday March 14 to Saturday 21) is billed as a ‘radical new music festival’ with concerts staged in various mountain settings of the Portes du Soleil. www.morzine-avoriaz.com
Why go? Nicknamed ‘Ibiza in the snow’, this party town is a hedonist’s heaven.
Ski highlights 238km of pisted runs, plus a new €40 million (Dhs183 million) gondola cable car to whizz skiers swiftly to the summits. Ischgl’s five-month snowsure boast is down to its altitude (1,377 to 2,872m) and position in the Silvretta Alps, plus the 1,100 snow cannons that ensure the runs are always kept in good shape.
Après-ski Definitely for ‘ski hard, party hard’ types. Frolics can be found at the Schatzi ice bar, featuring dancers in Alpine peasant get-up, the only Pacha nightclub in the Alps and the Trofana Alm bar-restaurant, a long-established party favourite.
What else? Famous for its opening and end of season concerts, which in the past have enticed Robbie Williams, Elton John and Katy Perry. This year’s opener on Thursday November 27 is James Blunt. There’s also the ‘Shapes in White’ snow sculpture exhibition (Monday January 12 to Friday 16) and the snowboarding World Rookie Finals, Friday April 3. www.ischgl.com
Why go? This chic resort is the place to see and be seen.
Ski highlights 192km of snow sure runs, accessed by more than 100 lifts, cable cars and gondolas. The scenery is spectacular: from the 3,330m summit of Mont Fort there’s a vista of snowy mountain peaks all the way to the Matterhorn and Mont Blanc.
Après-ski As well as a host of mountaintop bars, including the quirky Igloo du Mont Fort, the town has great nightlife, with bars, clubs and live music.
What else? The final race of the Freeride World Tour Xtreme skis and snowboards into town on Saturday March 28, while amateurs get to challenge the pros in the Verbier High Five on Saturday April 11. www.verbier.ch
Why go? This elegant Belle Epoque spa town is the most snowsure resort in the Pyrenees.
Ski highlights With 40km of runs, 11 lifts and 11 snow cannons, Cauterets is especially good for beginners and intermediate skiers. There are also cross-country skiing and snowshoeing trails amid the stunning waterfalls of Pont d’Espagne.
Après-ski There are plenty of bars to choose from, including Le Ski Bar, where you can grab a mixed drink and crêpe. The hottest party place is the Royalty Café, for live music and DJs.
What else? A good mix of shops and bars, plus great architecture to admire. The International Freeride Film Festival is on Wednesday December 10 to Saturday 13, and you can soothe aching muscles at the amazing Bains du Rocher spa. www.cauterets.com
Why go? It’s a charming medieval town with excellent skiing, matched by gourmand cuisine.
Ski highlights 100km of pistes from beginner to advanced and 21 lifts. It’s part of the Mont Blanc ski area, with access for expert skiers to the Vallée Blanche, the famous off-piste run into Chamonix.
Après-ski The Italian-French mash-up gives the town a cosmopolitan feel. Think chic late-night bars – Caffè della Posta and the lively Bar Roma are favourites – rather than throbbing nightclubs.
What else? The cuisine is excellent, including some great wood-fired pizzerias, and there’s good shopping, too. Other activities include curling, dog sledding, snow biking, golf on snow, paragliding and snowshoeing. www.lovecourmayeur.com