Best European Ski Destinations for Beginners

Going skiing for the first time can be a daunting prospect. There’s so much to consider when booking, such as buying the right skiwear, hiring equipment, organising an English-speaking ski school, and the major consideration – where to actually go! Finding somewhere beginner-friendly is vital so that you can build your confidence in a safe and varied environment. Here’s a list of top European ski destinations for beginners, to help you on your way:

Saalbach-Hinterglemm – Austria

The internationally known resort of Saalbach-Hinterglemm has over 200km of piste and with an altitude of 2100m is one of the most snow-reliable resorts in Austria. Almost half the pistes (31 in total) are easy blue runs, making this a great choice for the novice skier. The Hinterglemm area offers the best facilities for beginners out of the two villages, with large nursery slopes, three baby-lifts and a nursery area separate from the main slopes. In Saalbach there is a good, wide area of south-facing nursery slopes, the Turmwiese, which is serviced by a 6 person chairlift. As you progress from the nursery slopes, you can take the Kohlmaisgipfelbahn from the bottom, up to the south-facing Kohlmais mountain, from where you can ski down a choice of two blue runs back to the bottom.

Ski Destinations

Ski Destinations

Zell-am-See – Austria

The ski area of Zell am See and Kaprun covers 138km of pistes and has an impressive altitude at 3029m. With the security of the Kitzsteinhorn Glacier, great conditions are guaranteed for both early and late season, with some easy blues to be found on the glacier as well as the more difficult runs. There are 21 blue runs in the area in total, with many easy slopes for beginners at the Kaprun Maiskogel area and Zell-am-See Schmittenhöhe area. Austrian ski schools are renowned for being patient and friendly so this a great choice for your first ski trip.

Grandvalira – Andorra

Much extended and improved, Andorra offers fantastic value for skiers and is also duty free. Grandvalira reaches an altitude of 2640m and is the largest ski resort in the Pyrenees. There is over 210km of skiing across 6 interlinked areas – Pas de la Casa, Grau Roig, Encamp, Soldeu, El Tarter and Canillo.  There are great facilities for beginners and dedicated nursery slopes throughout the area, but the majority of easy slopes are accessed at Soldeu and El Tarter where there are two large areas designed for beginner skiers at Els Espiolet, and Riba Escorxada. Beginners will soon be able to progress to the gentle slopes above the resort.

Ski Destinations

Ski Destinations

Les Deux Alpes – France

With an altitude of 3600m and the benefit of its glacier, Les Deux Alpes is one of the most famous resorts in Europe and a popular choice, offering some great skiing with over 220km of piste. It’s especially good for beginners as some of the easiest slopes are located higher up on the glacier area, meaning the novice skier can experience high altitude, snow-sure skiing. There are an impressive 17 green runs and 47 blue runs out of 96 in total, meaning the choice is plentiful – there’s even a great 12km blue run designed to test beginners.

Ski Destinations

Ski Destinations

Serre Chevalier – France

A firm favourite with UK skiers, Serre Chevalier is one of the largest ski areas in France, offering over 250km of piste at a top altitude of 2830m. There’s a vast array for beginners with all four sectors of Serre Chevalier having their own nursery areas, along with having easy higher runs to progress to through the week – some of the best greens are found by taking the Fréjus gondola at Villneauve. Serre Chevalier has an excellent lift-system and sunny slopes, but can get busy at times, so if you can travel during off-peak periods, such as mid-January, you’ll benefit from quieter pistes.

Ski Destinations

Ski Destinations

Folgaria – Italy

Folgaria offers great terrain for beginners with wide ski slopes across the resort and half of the pistes (20 out of 40) being blue runs. The resort has a top ski altitude of 1750m with over 100km of mostly tree-lined pistes. Also, most of the runs are protected by snow-making cannons so you can ensure good snow coverage whenever you travel. The ski school is friendly which is always reassuring for beginners. The best area for novices to practice is situated between Costa and Ortesino with easy, long and wide slopes accessed by chairlifts. There are also seven magic carpet style lifts for beginners in the resort, which are great for building confidence – ski lifts can be extremely daunting when you’ve never skied before! Many of the intermediate runs are lovely and wide, so beginners that progress well during the week can move on to these.

Ski Destinations

Ski Destinations

Passo Tonale – Italy

Passo Tonale is one of the highest resorts in Italy with the highest lift at an impressive 3069m. The Presena glacier, along with the resort’s fantastic snow record, means the ski season here usually runs from November until late April, making the resort a great choice especially if you want to travel at either end of the season (although skiing on the glacier itself is more suited to intermediates and advanced levels). The best terrain for beginners is in the Tonale-Sud area where you’ll find lots of easy slopes and there is also a practice area in Pontedilegno at the base station.

If you wished you’d learnt to ski when you were younger and you have children, then a cost effective way of giving young people the opportunity is through a school ski trip. Hundreds of physical education teachers in the UK, lead school trips through school ski companies such as Select School Skiing every year, linking their trip to the PE GCSE curriculum – look out for letters home from school advertising the next trip. But it’s never too late to learn…take the plunge next season and try one of these beginner friendly resorts to ease yourself in – once you’ve tried it you’ll want to return year on year!

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