When to Ski Europe

Brenta Dolomites, Italy.
Aosta Valley, Chamois ski resort, Italy.
Skiing below the Matterhorn in January.
Mid winter blizzard in Davos, Switzerland
Cold February snow in Austria.
Early morning at Lenzerheide, Switzerland.
Deep powder in France.
Beautiful Aletsch Arena, Switzerland.
Scoring the goods at Sainte Foy, France.
Great snow at Tignes, France.
Perfect powder at Kuhtai, Austria.
Arosa ski resort, Switzerland.
A gloomy day at Laax, Switzerland.
The Tarentaise valley, France.
Wonderful snow in Austria.
St Moritz Switzerland skiing.
Heavy blizzard at Lauchernalp.
Les Arcs lunchtime crowd!
Apres ski time.
Soaking in the rays at Madonna di Campiglio, Italy

When to Ski Europe

Eskimo Freeride Cat Skiing Tours

Europe Ski Resorts

Ski Andorra

Grandvalira Ordino Arcalis
Pal Arinsal

Ski Austria

Alpbachtal Wildschoenau
Axamer Lizum
Damuels Mellau
Diedamskopf
Gastein
Hintertux Glacier
Hochoetz
Hochzeiger
Innsbruck
Ischgl
Kaprun
Kitzbϋhel
Kuhtai
Lech
Mayrhofen
Moelltal Glacier
Obergurgl-Hochgurgl
Oberperfuss
Obertauern
Patscherkofel
Pitztal Glacier
Schlick 2000
Skicircus Saalbach
SkiWelt Wilder Kaiser Brixental
Soelden
St Anton
Stubai Glacier
Warth Schroecken
Zell am See
Zurs

Ski France

Alpe d’Huez
Balme Tour Vallorcine
Bourg St Maurice
Brevent Flegere
Chamonix
Courchevel
Grands Montets
La Clusaz
La Plagne
La Rosiere
Les Arcs
Les Houches
Megeve
Meribel
Montgenevre
Sainte Foy
Serre Chevalier
Tignes
Val d'Isere
Val Thorens

Ski Georgia

Gudauri

Ski Italy

3 Peaks Dolomites
Alta Badia
Aosta Valley
Aprica
Arabba Marmolada
Bardonecchia
Bormio
Cervinia
Chamois
Champorcher
Cortina d'Ampezzo
Courmayeur
Crevacol
Dolomites
Gitschberg Jochtal
Kronplatz
La Thuile
Livigno
Madesimo
Madonna di Campiglio
Monte Cavallo
Monterosa
Oulx
Pejo
Pila
Plose
Reinswald
Sestriere
Tonale
Val di Fassa
Val Gardena
Via Lattea

Ski Macedonia

Popova Sapka

Ski Norway

Lyngen Alps
Svalbard

Ski Russia

Elbrus
Gazprom
Gorky Gorod
Kamchatka
Rosa Khutor

Ski Spain

Baqueira Beret
Espot
La Molina Masella
Sierra Nevada

Ski Sweden

Riksgransen

Ski Switzerland

Aletsch Arena
Andermatt Sedrun
Arosa
Belalp
Bivio
Brig
Brigels
Chur
Crans Montana
Davos Klosters
Engelberg
Gstaad
Jungfrau
Klewenalp
Lauchernalp
Laax
Lenzerheide
Rosswald
Saas Fee
Savognin
St Moritz
Verbier
Zermatt

The second question asked about skiing Europe after 'Where is the best place to ski?' is 'When is the best time?' There are a few rules of thumb, spelt out below.

When is the Best Time to Ski Europe?

Europe has a large population in close proximity to the Alps. To maximise the enjoyment of our Europe skiing experiences, the main factors we consider are:
  1. Crowds;
  2. Snow quantity & quality;
  3. Open lifts & terrain;
  4. Price.

Factors 2 & 3 are often beyond our control due to mother nature, but crowds can make even the greatest powder snow day a disappointment. So we try to avoid crowds AT ALL COSTS.

The other lovely element associated with when to ski Europe, is that one can be safe in the knowledge that iti is possible to ride a ski lift and schuss a piste every month of the year. Read on to find out where is best and when.

Best Times to Ski Europe with Low Crowds

It should go without saying that sleeping in until 10am & starting skiing at 11 is not a good crowd avoidance strategy. Dress for the cold, get to first lifts & let it rip for a couple of hours of bliss. Have an early lunch & then hit it again when everyone else heads in.

In a broader sense the following is rule of thumb for the best times to ski Europe with low crowds:
  • November & December before Christmas;
  • January after the first week;
  • Middle two weeks of March; and
  • April whenever Easter isn’t!
Times to absolutely avoid if you don’t like too many humans sharing your powder:
  • Christmas / New year period (everywhere);     
  • French school holidays – particularly when Zone C (Paris & districts) is on holiday (mainly for French ski resorts);
  • *Weekends.; 
  • Mid to late February (It is high season in ski resorts for a reason!).

*A general rule for any self-respecting Powderhound is ski backcountry on weekends & avoid the resorts. (*Note. Saturdays are often a change over day though, so if the nearby local population isn’t large, can be surprisingly good in a few remote resorts.)

Europe Skiing Month by Month

Europe is the only place in the world that has lift assisted skiing all year round. Here is our guide to tick off the ‘I skied every month last year and avoided the crowds’ list.

December

Christmas in Europe at the snow fields is huge. Prices are up & crowds are aplenty, but it can be a magical time to visit, especially as a family. Expect decent snow mostly everywhere, however it can be hit & miss. Austria is generally a very safe bet. Italian resorts are particularly nice with their night markets.

Early December can see huge snowfalls in the southern Alps. If snow hits the south, look at Serre Chevalier and Montgenevre in France pre-Christmas.

Hintertux Glacier & Zermatt (& Mölltal Glacier) are open. As is Saas Fee. You will notice a theme here.

January

From the start of the second week in January to the end of the month is this Powderhounds favourite time to ski Europe. Prices are low, accommodation is plentiful, temperatures are cold & the crowds are non-existent. By the middle of the month ski resorts everywhere should be firing on all cylinders.

January is the best time to ski the Austria ski resorts with low bases (600m+) at many of the smaller should have snow and the valley runs should be open. Resorts like Krippenstein, Loser, Tauplitz, Hochkonig, Zell am See plus a host of others south of Salzburg are worth a massive ski safari.

As it is quieter after the first week of January, it can be a good time to hit some of the Austrian mega resorts like in the Zillertal (Mayrhofen etc), Skicircus Saalbach, Ski Arlberg (St Anton, Warth Schroecken), Ski Welt and Alpbach.

Similarly the huge Tarentaise valley ski resorts in France are good in mid-January. Tignes, Val d'Isere, Les Arcs, Sainte Foy & the Courchevel are ripe for the picking.

Hintertux Glacier & Zermatt (& Moelltal Glacier) are still open! As is Saas Fee.

February

Snow packs are deepening. Generally, the start of the next ‘high season’ will coincide with the beginning of the school holidays, so know that the price of lift tickets and lodging will go up accordingly. But not everywhere.

Ski the Via Lattea (Sestriere, Oulx etc) in Italy for best value lift pass price in western Europe.

As resorts get busy in the Tarentaise (time to avoid the French mega resorts), head instead to the small resorts of the Maurienne valley (La Norma, Valfrejus, Bonneval etc).

In Italy check out the Aosta Valley’s quieter resorts like Crevacol, Pila & La Thuile. Down south, head to Spain & Andorra for something different.

In Switzerland, the smaller resorts like Brigels in Grisons & Belalp, Lauchernalp in the Valais are the go to locations.

Hintertux & Zermatt (& Mölltal) are still open!

March

Everywhere is glorious, but the Dolomites are particularly nice in early March. Resorts above the Arctic Circle (like Riksgransen, Abisko & Bjorkliden in Sweden) are just fully opening.

The Mont Blanc massif (Chamonix and Courmayeur) is at its best towards the end of the month but can have loads of humans in the backcountry.

Freeride routes in Switzerland around Verbier, Davos Klosters, Andermatt Sedrun, St Moritz. Monterosa in Italy can be amazing in March.

Hintertux & Zermatt (plus Moelltal) are still open!

April

The vast majority of ski resorts will close in the first two weeks of April. The sun is out, snow is soft, days are long, and partying is definitely on. April can bring some huge snow dumps to the higher elevations, but expect lots of milder temperatures and ego corn snow.

Turn an eye to a ski tour along the Urner Skiers Haute Route between Andermatt and Engelberg or on the Monte Rosa massif from Alagna.

Heliskiing in Kamchatka in far east Russia and in the mountains near Riksgransen in Sweden & the Norwegian backcountry in the Lyngen Alps is in full swing.

Hintertux & Zermatt (plus  Mölltal) are still open!

May

Scandinavia is the place to go for midnight sun skiing. For something completely different, try Riksgransen in Sweden. In Norway during a big snow year, resorts like Hemsedal are open into May and the small but reliable Fonna Glacier opens in late April until the end of summer. Most Scandinavian resorts are closed by the end of May.

Party central Ischgl ski resort in Austria will be having its last hoorah, as will Andermatt, Engelberg & Val Senales.

Hintertux & Zermatt are still open! Sadly, Pitztal Glacier & Moelltal Glacier close in the middle of May (Mölltal only for a month) – they deserve a break!

June

Depending on the quality and quantity of the snow during winter and spring, several of the higher elevation resorts will still be open. Glacier based resorts and those with north facing terrain above 2500m are still a good chance.

June can be the best time to ski the backcountry around Zermatt (& undertake climbs above the lifts up to the summit of Elbrus in Russia to get away for some adventure).

While some Austrian glacier resorts are just closing to skiing for the summer (Kaprun-Kitzsteinhorn, Stubai Glacier et al), several high elevation ski resorts with small glacier are opening for a short summer ski season. Tignes and Val d'Isere in France, plus Cervinia in Italy are open.

The very strange resort at Passo Stelvio in north east Italy opens up in summer as the snow pack decreases(!) to a reasonable level for summer skiing. It closes in early winter as snow levels become unmanageable – go figure.

Hintertux & Zermatt are still open! Yay, Moelltal Glacier opens in the middle of June.

July

High altitude Glacier based skiing is all the go. Val d’Isere closes its short summer ski season. Saas Fee in Switzerland opens up its glacier skiing and doesn’t close until April!

Hintertux Glacier & Zermatt (plus Mölltal) are still open!

August

Fairly lean times but Hintertux and Zermatt (and Moelltal) are still open! As is Saas Fee. Tignes closes its summer skiing.

September

The Austrian glacier resorts including Kitzsteinhorn & Stubai Glacier will be trying to open as will Val Senales and a few other high glacier based resorts in Italy.

Hintertux and Zermatt (and Mölltal) are still open! As is Saas Fee.

October

More glacier ski resorts are all starting to open like Soelden, Pitztal Glacier, Kaunertal & Tonale. Non-glacier ski resorts like Obergurgl-Hochgurgl and Kitzbϋhel are opening.

Hintertux and Zermatt (and Moelltal) are still open! As is Saas Fee.

November

By the end of November, many ski resorts are operating, although some will only be on weekends and with limited lifts. Try the larger ski resorts of Andermatt, St Moritz, Verbier, & Cervinia.

Hintertux Glacier and Zermatt (plus Mölltal) are still open! As is Saas Fee. Yep, Hintertux and Zermatt are open all year, Moelltal Glacier does 11 months.

And now its just getting cold again for the snow to drop into the low valleys. YAY - winter is back!