Thinking about something different but still want to stay in Europe, how about learning how to ski for your next family holiday? Europe is the number one destination for skiers all over the world. When skiing any of the thousands of slopes that Europe’s mountains have to offer, you’ll be among total novices and Olympic meddlers alike.
But, it’s also important to keep in mind that the right holiday destination can make or break a potentially wonderful experience for the whole family. There are lifelong happy memories at stake here. So you have to make sure to choose your location and resort carefully. You don’t want to spend your family holiday dragging your kids’ skis all day.
The good news is, there are tons of options. But with so many options, how do you choose where to take your family? Well, you’ve come to the right place. In this article you’ll find a list of the five most breathtaking destinations in Europe for your next family ski holiday.
Avioraz, Portes du Soleil, France
Avioraz boasts modern architecture that create a striking contrast with the cliffs below. It stands at 1800m and was designed in the 1960s. The architects who designed Avioraz were trying to make a bold statement, and they succeeded; the result being a fantastical, wooden hodgepodge of modernist angles and silhouettes.
This unique resort is more utilitarian than anything, which is a total pro if you’ve got your family in tow. It’s built at altitude on an actual slope, making it ideal for ski-in/ski-out lodgings. You’ll find that slopes and pistes are very accessible, as they all run right through the resort, with lifts also centrally located.
Another great point is the fact that this resort is an auto-free zone, with parking available under the town or on the outskirts. Don’t worry! There are plenty of transport services available from the Geneva airport, and most find that this is actually easier than driving a car themselves.
Families love that Avioraz is compact, so you never have to walk very far to get wherever you need to go. Also, that fact that it’s built on a slope makes it so that you don’t have to hike uphill to reach the lifts. You can also check out the other resorts in Portes du Soleil, which offers some of the most breathtaking destinations for family ski holidays in Europe.
Something to keep in mind: Avioraz is great if your whole family wants to spend most of their time at the resort skiing. That’s because there isn’t much to do other than ski, and the prices for such activities in Morzine are quite high. Otherwise, in Avioraz, you and your family with enjoy over 600 km of runs, in a wide range of ability levels.
Pros of Avoriaz
- Slopes for all levels
- Good lift conditions
- Good snowfall
- Free of cars
- Ski-in, ski-out accommodation
Cons of Avoriaz
- Shorter runs
- Relatively expensive
- Doesn’t boast traditional Alpine resort charm
Note: If you are looking for a more traditional, charming Alpine resort, this is NOT the place for you!
Saas Fee, Switzerland
Saas Fee is situated at 1800m and is near Zermatt but far less crowded. The village has all of the Alpine enchantment you could want, and features striking peaks as a backdrop (perhaps most notably, the Matterhorn). This resort was actually named one of Switzerland’s most family friendly ski resorts, probably helped by the fact that a number of nursery slopes are located just outside the village.
Saas Fee is an ideal choice, especially for those families travelling with younger children. Since there are no cars allowed in the resort, families are free to stroll around and take in the charming ambience.
This resort also offers world-renowned ski schools, and non-skiing activities for children who aren’t ready to partake.
Older kids will also not be disappointed, with a world-class halfpipe for the already experts and entry level jumps for those looking to hone their skills.
If you have lots of beginners in your family, you’ll want to make sure you stay near the southern end of the resort, because that’s where the nursery slopes are.
Saas Fee is a great place to also take a day off of skiing. While exploring the area, your family will enjoy a whole mountain reserved for snowshoeing, and spots designated to skating and curling. You can also go hiking, explore ice caves and cross country ski if that’s more your thing.
Pros of Saas Fee
- Breathtaking mountain landscape
- Lots of snow
- Charming town
- Great for beginners and experts
Cons of Saas Fee
- Small piste network
La Rosière, France
La Rosière features classic chalets located at 1850m and a short walk away all of the pistes and lifts. It also boasts ample snowfall, and features those captivating mountain views you and your family are seeking.
This resort is great for beginners, as there are free lifts in the main part of the village and plenty of blue runs. Intermediate skiers will also not be disappointed, as they can hone their skills on the challenging red runs.
The advanced skiers in your family will want to take advantage of the off-piste offerings. For this, you can take the lift from La Rosière to Zittieux Freeride area.
Since La Rosière really is family-friendly, there isn’t a whole lot of nightlife, but if you did bring the sitter and are looking for a fun night out, there are definitely a few good options.
Pros of La Rosière
- Quiet and family-friendly
- Lots of beginner slopes
- Lots of sun and snow
- Wonderful mountain views
Cons of La Rosière
- Snow turns to slush on the south-facing slopes
- Not a lot of off-piste options
Alpbach, Ski Juwel, Austria
If, for you, breathtaking scenery includes vast pine forests set against a striking mountain backdrop, all topped with a glittering layer of snow, then Alpbach is your place. This family-friendly resort is complete with a lovely church and a village comprised of traditional wooden chalets.
At Alpach, the beginners in your family will enjoy nursery slopes close to the village and excellent ski schools. The advanced skiers will love the challenging black runs, especially on the Wiedersberger Horn at 2025m and plenty of off-piste areas.
This ski resort is generally quieter than the average resort, but there are definitely places you can go if you are looking for a night out. Most families come here to enjoy the charming atmosphere and the breathtaking views.
There are also non-skiing activities available, such as tobogganing, hiking, boarding and snowshoeing.
Pros of Alpbach
- Charming village
- Made for families
- Not too expensive
Cons of Alpbach
- Not many advanced opportunities
- Must catch a bus to the slopes
- Not snow-sure
Flaine, Grand Massif, France
Flaine does not lack for awesome skiing opportunities, but if you’re looking for charming chalets, forget it. Well, at least in the center of the village. After the original cement buildings were constructed in the 1960s, resort owners soon realized that families preferred more traditional villages, which have since been constructed in the village suburbs.
This resort has earned its rank as a top resort for families, due to its good value and convenience. It is close to the Geneva airport, and quite easy to drive to. All of the lifts are close to the accommodation, and the accommodation mostly consists of self-catering apartments.
Flaine is a snow-sure resort and features plenty of runs for intermediate skiers. You can also purchase more economical ski passes for the beginners in your group who will plan on staying near the nursery slopes.
The experts in your family will enjoy plenty of challenging off-piste opportunities, meant to be tackled with a guide.
Pros of Flaine
- Slopes for all levels
- Good value
Cons of Flaine
- Not great aesthetics
- Not very active at night
Tips for skiing with family
- Book ski schools ahead
- Bring snacks to the slopes to save money
- Only buy ski gear for advanced skiers in your group, otherwise borrowing and renting is a great option!
- Book self-catering chalets
- Make time for breaks from skiing
These are just five of some of the best family ski destinations available in Europe. They have been chosen due to the availability of beginner slopes, and general family-friendly layout. You’ll have to decide what’s most important to your family—whether it’s charming aesthetics, epic views, convenience or lower prices. Whatever you decide, you’re sure to find the right resort for you and your family. Happy travels!