One thing many skiers want when they go on holiday is to escape the drab, urban town and cityscapes we are so used to seeing and instead marvel at the much more striking and beautiful scenery that can be found in ski resorts. From idyllic little Alpine villages to towering majestic mountain faces, this list of top scenic resorts will help you decide where you should plan to go this season.
1. Kitzbühel, Austria
If you’re an avid viewer of world cup skiing, particularly the Downhill discipline, then you may know Kitzbühel for the treacherous and outright terrifying Hahnenkamm downhill race. However, don’t be fooled Kitzbuhel is far from treacherous, it’s quite the opposite.
Kitzbühel is renowned as one of Europe’s most visually striking Alpine towns in the heart of Tyrol. Traditional cobbled streets wind through Kitzbühel’s benevolent medieval town centre, lined with picturesque hotels, bars and restaurants which have stood for centuries. This resort is like taking a stroll in a bygone Tyrol town.
Fortunately, the ski lifts aren’t as ancient as the town itself and you can expect to find high-speed chairlifts and gondolas that will take you to the peaks of the surrounding mountains, offering stunning views of Kitzbühel and the teeth-like Wilder Kaiser Mountains.
2. Mürren, Switzerland
Mürren is a small Swiss skiing village in the Jungfrau region of Switzerland’s Bernese Oberland and is quite simply one of the most delightfully attractive resorts in the world.
Set on the mountain side opposite the mighty Eiger, this petite car-free village offers a true Alpine experience and instils the feeling of being wonderfully isolated in a charming resort that you would expect to find on the front of a postcard. You can expect to find Mürren dominated by rustic wooden chalets and some of the most jaw-dropping views of the Bernese Alps.
Mürren is perfect for skiers looking for a real traditional skiing village with magnificent scenery and authenticity.
3. Cortina, Italy
Cortina is the Queen of the Dolomites and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and it isn’t hard to see why. Completely encircled by the breathtaking Dolomites, nestled in the valley of the river Boite, Cortina offers a 360 panoramic view of the stark limestone peaks and craggy towers of the majestic mountains.
Cortina itself is over a thousand years old and is a wonderfully attractive Italian town bustling with stylish, yet traditional, architecture. Cortina has great skiing, but it’s not the reason why most people visit. Two thirds of Cortina’s visitors come for the shops, the style and the scenery instead of the slopes, this luxury ski-resort is a fantastic place to enjoy the finer things in life. Take in the striking views whilst carving your way down the pistes or relax with an aperitif and enjoy the magnificent orangey-pink hues that grace the mountain face at sunset.
4. Lake Louise, Canada
Set deep in the historic Banff National Park and part of UNESCO World Heritage Site, Lake Louise is not just a formidable ski area but also a completely unique and pristine Canadian wilderness that offers a wide array of beautiful scenery.
Set beneath the Victoria Glacier and overlooking the frozen Lake Louise you can expect to find Lake Louise hamlet, a very small settlement, and some undoubtedly unforgettable scenery. From the top of the lifts you will see spectacular views of the surrounding Rockies mountains and maybe even spot the distant Mount Assiniboine, a Matterhorn-esque peak.
Being one of North America’s largest ski terrains, at over 4,200 skiable acres, you won’t struggle to find dynamic backdrops in this largely untouched landscape.
5. Heavenly, Nevada
If you’re looking for a ski resort which offers great views of two opposite biomes, then Heavenly in Nevada will surprise you with some truly contrasting scenery. On one side you have the cold, powdery slopes of northern Lake Tahoe, overlooking a huge sapphire lake and covered with luscious green flora and on the other side the parched, sun-baked plains and crags of the Nevada desert.
Heavenly makes for extremely beautiful scenery even whilst your skiing, with the slopes teeming with trees you will find yourself weaving through backcountry forests overlooking the majestic Lake Tahoe, you may even spot a resident black bear if you’re lucky. Heavenly Village at the base of the mountain makes for a unique stay; with plenty of shops, classic American diners and a vibrant live music scene, Heavenly village has a true American downtown feel.
Craig Burton is Managing Director of Ski Solutions. Ski Solutions is the UK’s original ski travel agent with over 30 years’ experience in delivering high-end ski holidays to Europe and North America.