The 20 best ski resorts in the world – according to you

·14-min read
Val d’Isère - Val d’Isère Tourisme
Val d’Isère - Val d’Isère Tourisme

Here at Telegraph Travel, we’re always telling you which ski resorts are best for this or that, from the most convenient ski-in/ski-out places to the snowiest spots for early or late season.

But now we've decided to turn the tables and let you decide on the top resorts for a change. Analysing our data from the 2019/2020 ski season, the last time many of us were able to visit the slopes, we’ve come up with a list of our top 20 most-read resort guides. We crunched the numbers for each of our holiday guides, as well as checking how they fared compared to previous years.

In this year’s chart French resorts dominate, taking seven out of the top 10 spots, but resorts in Austria continue to increase in popularity, while Italy holds steady. Ski-in/ski-out choices sway the pick of the best, as does, as always, snow-sure reliability.

If you’re planning your first post-lockdown trip to the slopes and looking for the best resorts don’t take our word for it – here are the top 20 resorts according to you, Telegraph readers, in reverse order...

20. Lech, Austria

The only new entry in this year's chart is from Austria. Lech adds an extra slice of glamorous to the pick of top resorts – few resorts have a more exclusive image. But despite its international reputation, and no shortage of five-star living, picturesque Lech remains true to its farming origins. The village may be set at a modest altitude of 1,450m, but each year the resort receives up to twice as much snow as some of its French rivals – confirming our readers’ demand for snow-sure ski holidays. It’s also a big hit with intermediates, who will find the terrain a lot more friendly than in the linked resort of St Anton, which is covered by the same Arlberg lift pass, Austria’s largest interconnected ski area.

lech ski area - Josef Mallaun/Lech Zürs Tourismus
lech ski area - Josef Mallaun/Lech Zürs Tourismus

19. Kitzbühel, Austria

The second of an increasing number of Austrian resorts on the list and standing firm at number 19 is Kitzbühel, the resort famed for the Hahnenkamm, the meanest and scariest downhill race on the World Cup circuit. Away from the crazy race weekend each January the resort is a piste pussycat, with 233km of its own slopes best suited intermediates and experts. For 2021/22, skier can try the longest ski circuit in the world, thanks to a new a connection between SkiWelt and KitzSki, going from Going am Wilden Kaiser, across to the Kitzbühel Alps to Hollersbach in the Hohe Tauern, never using the same slope twice and covering a 34.7km round trip. Off the slopes Kitzbühel’s medieval silver-mining centre, with its heavily buttressed walls and delicate painted frescoes, rightly deserves its reputation as the most beautiful ski town in Europe.

kitzbuhel - Michael Werlberger
kitzbuhel - Michael Werlberger

18. Val d’Isère, France

Holding steady at number 18, after dropping a momentous nine places in last year’s chart is Val d’Isère. According to our resort experts more Britons get their winter-sports fix here every year than anywhere else in the world – and with good reason. Both terrain and town add up to what is essentially the ideal ski resort. Linked to neighbouring Tignes to form a ski area of 300km of pistes and 75 lifts, the French resort offers high quality, snow-sure slopes for everyone from complete beginner to veteran powderhound. Its long season stretches from the end of November into the first week of May thanks to snow cover that is reliable throughout the season, backed up by one of the largest snowmaking facility in Europe. Add in its raucous on-the-mountain après courtesy of the Folie Douce, and its attractive and sophisticated town centre and you have a true all-rounder of a resort.

Val d’Isère - Christopher Rost
Val d’Isère - Christopher Rost

17. Méribel, France

There are plenty of reasons to love Méribel, another non-mover in our chart, not least for its pretty, chalet-style architecture, wooded surroundings and friendly, village atmosphere. But the prime reason is its central position within France’s huge Trois Vallées ski area. To the east are the resorts of Courchevel and La Tania, and to the west, Val Thorens. Together with Méribel these combine to make one of the largest linked ski areas in the world, with more than 600km of pistes. As well as a number of famed local establishments, Méribel has its own on-slope Folie Douce bar for still-in-your-ski-boots après, and in recent winters has celebrated the opening of a number of exciting new hotels, including Le Coucou and Refuge de la Traye.

meribel
meribel

16. Mayrhofen, Austria

Dropping five places this winter is Mayrhofen, the third Austrian entry in the chart. For decades the resort has been one of the most popular resorts in the Alps for Britons, on one plank or two. Holidaymakers have been coming here for more than 100 years and for the locals providing hospitality is a way of life. The ski area has 134km of runs and 53 lifts – and a reputation for reliable snow throughout a long season, with the runs mostly between 1,650m and 2,500m.

Mayrhofen - Steiner Patrick
Mayrhofen - Steiner Patrick

15. Tignes, France

Another destination with guaranteed snow and ski-to-the-door convenience on tap is Tignes, which drops three places this year. The resort offers a combination of enviable snow cover, a variety of impressive terrain and a season that lasts most of the year, making it one of the most dependable winter destinations in France. This snow-sure gem, which is made up of five separate villages, offers good conditions right from October to May and (weather dependent) opens during the summer too thanks to its stellar altitude and glacier slopes. It shares 300km of pistes with neighbouring Val d’Isère to which it is linked extremely smoothly.

tignes - istock
tignes - istock

14. Avoriaz, France

After entering the chart last season Avoriaz has dropped just one place showcasing our readers’ continued lust for snow-sure and ski-in/ski-out convenience. The resort has a quirky charm, and the majority of the accommodation has direct access to the slopes of the massive French/Swiss Portes du Soleil ski area. The purpose-built neighbour of lower-altitude Morzines makes a good base for easy access to the ski area and it is particularly popular with snowboarders, with no fewer than five terrain parks.

avoriaz - Bruno De Hogues
avoriaz - Bruno De Hogues

13. Courchevel, France

Climbing three places and upping the luxury credentials of our chart is one of the world’s most famous upmarket resorts, Courchevel, which gives access to the largest linked ski area in the world – and more Michelin stars than you can shake a stick at. There's terrain to suit everyone from beginner to expert – who will particularly enjoy the opening of a new 3.2km black run this winter, the Éclipse, which will host the World Ski Championships in 2023. Many visitors never feel the need to leave the Courchevel valley, which comprises of 150km of runs, despite having the rest of the ski area (totalling 600km) to explore. There’s just as much to do off the slopes as on, with a packed calendar of events and facilities such as the Aquamotion centre below Moriond.

courchevel - Getty
courchevel - Getty

12. Sauze d’Oulx, Italy

The relatively unheard of Italian resorts of Sauze d’Oulx entered the chart at number 10 last season, and has now dropped two places. In the 1970s and 1980s, Sauze had a reputation as a sort of Magaluf with moguls, where pub was more important than piste, and many of its strong British youth following never made it on to the snow before midday. These days Sauze has cleaned up its act. The charming Italian village that it once was is back on form, with an attractive, cobbled centre. What’s more the prices here are roughly a third of those in premier French resorts like Courchevel and Val d’Isère, so eating out and entertainment needn’t cost a fortune and a number of leading British operator now have the destination on their books.

sauze d'oulx
sauze d'oulx

11. Cervinia, Italy

Climbing four places but just missing out on a place in the top 10 is one of Italy's most snow-sure destinations, Cervinia, which gives access to 360km of slopes that it shares with neighbouring Zermatt, across the border in Switzerland. Staying here means you can explore one of the world’s best ski areas at a fraction of the cost of opting for the pricey Swiss side. New for this season visitors can cross the border with or without skis, with the opening of the Alpine X cable car, connecting Plateau Rosà directly with Klein Matterhorn. Even if you don't venture over to Zermatt, Cervinia and the linked village of Valtournenche provide a wonderful snow-sports playground, dictated by the easy gradient of the seemingly never-ending slopes.

cervinia - iStock
cervinia - iStock

10. Zermatt, Switzerland

Speak of the devil… The only Swiss resort in this (and last) year’s chart is Switzerland's most famous winter destination, which brings together every Alpine cliché – from its views of the world's most photogenic mountain, the Matterhorn, to its narrow streets lined with wonky, weathered chalets. As a ski destination, especially for families, intermediates, experts and ski tourers, Zermatt, which shifts back just one place in the chart, sits up with the best. It has snow-sure slopes from late November to the end of April, making it a wise early and late season choice.

zermatt
zermatt

9. Les Arcs, France

Retaining its place in the top 10 is Les Arcs. Linked to La Plagne across the valley via a two-decker cable car, this French resort offers 425km of slopes to explore if you buy the whole area lift pass. This massive ski area, which has a good snow record, offers a variety of terrain, but specialises in long, wide, well-groomed reds for smooth cruising. Les Arcs itself offers plenty of choice in terms of accommodation, from the purpose built Arcs 1800 and 2000 to the charming, traffic-free Arc 1950, made up of chic self-catering apartments, plus a new luxury chalet complex, Bear Resort, operated by VIP Ski this winter.

les arcs
les arcs

8. Courmayeur, Italy

This lovely old village at the foot of Mont Blanc remains the highest-ranking Italian resort. Just beneath the entrance to the tunnel on the Italian side of the world-famous mountain pistes in Courmayeur are limited but there is plenty of challenging off piste, superb restaurants, and a lively nightlife. Eating and partying are the alternative occupations to hitting the slopes here and Courmayeur prides itself on its gastronomic qualities. Its proximity to both Geneva and Turin airports makes it a popular destination for weekenders from Britain and other countries, while wealthy Milanese and other city-based Italians arrive in their hordes on Friday afternoons in high season.

courmayeur
courmayeur

7. Les Deux Alpes, France

Creeping up one place is Les Deux Alpes and as a snow-sure stalwart, with skiing and snowboarding on piste possible for much of the year it reaffirms the lust for guaranteed white cover. Weather dependent, the resort opens its high-altitude glacier from mid-June to the end of August and again for French half term week at the end of October, before firing up the lift system for winter from the end of November until late April. Couple that with some of the most vibrant après in France and the delightful lower village of Venosc (linked by gondola, but not by piste), and it's clear why Les Deux Alpes is a firm British favourite.

les 2 alpes - Luka Leroy
les 2 alpes - Luka Leroy

6. Alpe d’Huez, France

Just like its closest neighbour Les Deux Alpes, Alpe d’Huez has also moved up one position in our chart – few resorts in the Alps match it for its suitability for skiers and snowboarders at both ends of the skills graph, as well as in the middle. Alpe d’Huez has a large 250km ski area and reliable snow cover, plus a long season that stretches from early December to late April. What’s more it is easy to get to, being a 90-minute drive south-east of Grenoble, the nearest airport. There is a wealth of other activities on offer here, making it popular with non-skiers and families, including ice driving, climbing, swimming, skating, dog sledding and snowshoeing.

alpe'dhuez - Jocelyn Chavy
alpe'dhuez - Jocelyn Chavy

5. La Plagne, France

The mega French resort of La Plagne secures a spot in the top five for the second year in a row. The resort, which celebrates its 60th anniversary this season, has 225km of marked runs of its own and a further 425km as part of the giant Paradiski linked ski area, which it shares with Les Arcs and Peisey-Vallandry. La Plagne is made up of no less than 11 separate “villages” scattered across a giant and largely gentle plateau, meaning if you’re considering a holiday in La Plagne, its essential you work out exactly where you’d like to stay – Belle Plagne and Plagne Centre are the main hubs of the resort. Most of the accommodation is purpose built, but the three low-lying traditional farming villages, Champagny en Vanoise, Montalbert and Montchavin on the edge of the ski area, offering a more charming experience.

la plagne - Elina SIRPARANTA
la plagne - Elina SIRPARANTA

4. Morzine, France

Just missing out on the podium is Morzine, in fourth position. As well as being a ski resort, this popular British resort, just 75 minutes’ drive from Geneva, is a proper little Alpine town that has a year-round life stretching far beyond having fun on the mountains that surround it. Morzine remains the capital of the 650km Portes du Soleil ski area, and is a great base to explore, despite its relatively low altitude of 1,000m. A popular spot for families, it offers a host of alternative activities to skiing and snowboarding, including ice-diving beneath a lake, nature discovery tours, snowmobiling, tobogganing, snowshoeing and shopping. There's also a world-class ice rink and a large swimming pool.

morzine
morzine

3. Val Thorens, France

Trading places with Morzine and stealing its medal in the process is Val Thorens, Europe’s highest ski resort. The village, which sits at 2,300m, opened over 40 years ago as an ambitious experiment in concrete, purpose-built resorts. But down the years it has developed into a much more aesthetically pleasing place, with a justified reputation for quality slopes, fine dining and lively après. With slopes up to 3,230m, the top point of the whole 600km Trois Vallées ski area, the resort's lofty altitude ensures that decent snow conditions prevail from late November until early May. It’s a great base for exploring the Trois Vallées, but locally, Val Thorens alone claims 140km of varied pistes – most suited for beginners and intermediates. This winter sees a new lift connection between Val Thorens and Orelle in the neighbouring Maurienne valley (often dubbed the ‘fourth’ valley), in the form of a fast, two-part gondola lift – ‘Orelle’ and ‘Orelle-Cime Caron’ – which takes 20 minutes from Orelle village to the top of Cime Caron above Val Thorens.

val thorens - iStock
val thorens - iStock

2. Chamonix, France

The top French resort in our chart, Chamonix trades gold for silver this year, as our readers’ second favourite resort – solidifying itself as a world-class resort. The French hotspot hosted the first Winter Olympics in 1924 and has re-emerged on the freeride wave as the capital of all-mountain skiing. This steep-sided valley, draped with tumbling glaciers beneath a crown of rocky spires, is where snow sports and mountaineering meet. Ski instructors and mountain guides come here to qualify, and every dedicated skier and snowboarder puts it on the bucket list to see how they’ll measure up to the challenge of what Chamonix calls simply “le grand ski”. Yes, it has beginner slopes and intermediate cruising too – but the real draw is for advanced skiers, and Telegraph readers, looking for a real challenge.

chamonix - Salome ABRIA/OT-Vallee-de-Chamonix
chamonix - Salome ABRIA/OT-Vallee-de-Chamonix

1. St Anton, Austria

After a 12-month hiatus from the top of the podium (following four years as undisputed champion), back in poll position is Austrian favourite St Anton. It’s not too much of a surprise that this resort, renowned around the world for its wild après and even wilder expert terrain, regularly appears in the top of the charts. Frequently rated among the top five resorts in the Alps, St Anton is located in Austria’s giant Arlberg ski region, one of Europe’s snowiest areas, boasts 340km of pistes, 200km of off-piste itineraries and over 55km² of challenging off-piste terrain. In addition, it has a highly efficient lift system and an attractive town bursting with stylish hotels, chalets and restaurants. And, come après time, it doesn't get any better than St Anton.

st anton - TVB St. Anton am Arlberg
st anton - TVB St. Anton am Arlberg

Does your favourite resort make the list? Share yours in the comments below.

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