How to plan the perfect summer ski holiday

best skiing holidays summer 2024 how to plan ski trip resort
Skiing in summer can be a good chance to escape the crowds on the beach - Andy Parant/Tignes

As the mercury continues to rise, you’d be forgiven for thinking it is time to trade your skis for a sun lounger. However, the summer months can prove to be a unique time to visit the mountains and enjoy time on the pistes in the world’s highest ski resorts, while the masses flock to the coast.

Despite climate change continuing to take a toll, about a dozen resorts, with their highest slopes set on a glacier, still open for skiing in the summer season.

What’s more, 2024 is looking like it should be one of the best for summer skiing in recent times. At the end of the winter season, in May, the snow was lying nearly six metres deep on some glaciers. There’s also been fresh snowfall reported on Alpine and Scandinavian glaciers at the start of June.

Generally set at 2,500m or higher, these glacier ski areas benefit from the low temperatures at altitude, especially at night. Expect an early start – the lifts usually open from 7am – with icy-hard smooth groomed runs first thing, warming through the morning, before the ski day ends in the early afternoon. What’s open will vary from a few kilometres of runs to 25km at most, with a mix of blue and red slopes. You’ll also find summer terrain parks and the occasional black run if you’re in search of a challenge.

Tempted to spend your summer break in the mountains? Here’s everything you need to know. For further inspiration see our guide to summer holidays in the Alps.

Can I stay out on the slopes all day?

Some glacier areas in Norway have similar opening hours in summer to winter, but most gear them around optimum conditions – which can mean opening as early as 7am and closing at 2pm.

Do ski schools operate in summer?

Definitely – glaciers are great places to hone skills on summer ski courses, most hosting ski racers and freestylers during the summer. Check out resort websites for links to schools, and to specialised camps that run during the summer. Independent providers such as The Warren Smith Ski Academy,  Snoworks and the European Ski & Snowboard School all run courses for British skiers.

Are lift passes the same price as in winter?

Resorts offer similar types of passes to the ones available in winter, but at cheaper rates in recognition of the more limited areas. Many work in tandem with a separate visitor pass that gives access to a whole range of summer activities.

Is there any off piste?

While you’re unlikely to experience fresh powder in the summer, catch it right and conditions can be smooth and flattering, thanks to the melting and freezing of old snow when the weather gets warmer. But you’ll need to stay on the marked glacier pistes regardless, off-piste dangers include glacial crevasses so it’s imperative you stick to the trails.

What about terrain parks?

Any glacier area worth its salt puts a lot of work into its terrain park, making up for a more limited ski area with enough kickers, rails, pipes and boarder/skicross tracks for all levels to while away several hours – and enabling you to perfect tricks in soft conditions. The parks often attract pros for training sessions, making great viewing.

What is there to do after the slopes close?

You could just relax and breathe in the fresh mountain air… But you’d miss out on activities from the more usual hiking, biking, golfing and swimming, to the wild and weird, from sliding down a ramp into an Alpine lake through aerial trekking to bear watching. As many activities are free with a ski or visitor pass, it’d be rude not to.

The best resorts for summer skiing in 2024

Tignes, France

Opening dates: June 22 to July 21 2024 (depending on the snow conditions)

From the resort’s renovated welcome station, the funicular train from Tignes’ Val Claret area accesses up to 20km of lift-served slopes for all standards on the Grande Mötte glacier, including a terrain park, up to the high point of 3,456m. The glacier is also home to an open-top cable car at 3,000m, which operates in the summer months and gives visitors the chance to take in some of the most breathtaking views in the Alps as it travels over the glacier.

Fill your afternoons with a smorgasbord of other activities at no extra cost – the My Tignes card gives access to up to 40 activities from tennis and golf to beach volleyball and pedalos, plus Acroland on the Tignes lake. Here you can throw yourself down a choice of ramps (on skis, bike or just your stomach) before flipping into the icy waters. Next to the lake in Tignes there’s also the Lagon sports centre with pool. The card is available in three-, seven-, 14- or 21-day versions costing from €21 (aged 14 or older, staying in resort accommodation) for the three-day pass and can be purchased online in advance or in resort on arrival.

The My Tignes card also gives access to the 220km of runs in the huge bike park linked to neighbouring Val d’Isère, where the Pisaillas glacier is open from June 8 until July 5 for summer skiing. You can also buy a Bike Park day pass on site for €19 if you don’t want to purchase the My Tignes pass. The French and other international teams will be training in Tignes ahead of the Paris Olympics which begins in late July.

More info: Read our expert guide to Tignes here.

tignes best skiing holidays summer 2024 how to plan ski trip resort
Tignes' Grande Motte glacier hosts ski courses in the summer - Andy Parant/Tignes

Hintertux, Austria

Opening dates: Year round

Hintertux, Austria’s only year-round ski area, usually offers 20km of varied pistes in summertime, the highest reaching 3,250m. There’s also the Betterpark with a 120m superpipe, boxes, table tops and rails with freestyle lines for all levels, as well as a fun slope filled with obstacles for kids (big and little) to enjoy.

Inside the glacier is the Nature’s Ice Palace with ice chambers to explore, and under that a deep cave into which the resort runs daily tours with a guide around its stalagmites and stalactites. It’s also possible to ride in an inflatable dinghy through a tunnel cut through the ice. Add adrenalin with mountain biking, ice climbing and hiking. There’s also a kids’ playground with tubing and a bob run at the base of the summer slopes at 2,660m.

The Zillertal Activcard (€120 for six days) gives pedestrians and cyclists (there are 1,300km of cycle trails in the Ziller valley) one daily cable car ride on lifts up and down the valley, along with free access to swimming pools, valley buses and trains, plus discounts on other attractions.
More info:

Saas-Fee, Switzerland

Opening dates: July 8 2024 to until April 27 2025

In summer the lofty 3,600m Allalin glacier in Saas-Fee, accessed via cable car and funicular train, boasts 20km of pistes and two lines of kickers in the freestyle park, plus a hip jump, rails, boxes and superpipe. There’s a revolving restaurant and ice grotto at the top, and the Chill Out Zone at the park’s base, with its music and couches, is a comfy gallery for getting inspiration from the pros.

Other organised activities in the resort range from aerial trekking through the forest to wine tasting. Overnight guests in most resort accommodation receive a free Saastal Card which includes  unlimited travel on all cable cars (excluding the Metro Alpin), plus a range of discounts, including on ski passes and in mountain restaurants. Some accommodation providers don’t offer it free but charge a maximum of CHF3.80 a day.

More info: Read our expert guide to Saas-Fee here.

Zermatt-Cervinia, Switzerland/Italy

Opening dates: The slopes remain open year-round. Since June 30 2023 they can be accessed from either side of the international border thanks to the completion of the Matterhorn Alpine Crossing.

Zermatt and Cervinia share a ski area, including glaciers, that enable skiing every day of the year from the Zermatt side. A total of up to 23km of runs on red and blue slopes in the shadow of the Matterhorn is accessible from Cervinia too. From summer 2024 Zermatt has promised more of its summer terrain will be open to recreational skiers, with less reserved for teams training. In summer 2023 the ski area added the SnowXperience Plateau Rosa Adventure Park at the Testa Grigia border crossing, which offers summer beginner slopes and fun snow activities like tubing for non-skiers.

At the top of the ski area there’s the Matterhorn Glacier Paradise for close up views of the classic mountain, a restaurant serving Swiss and Italian specialities and the Glacier Palace, where visitors can take a lift 15m down inside the glacier, check out ice sculptures, try out an ice slide and finish by squeezing through a crevasse. If you buy a lift pass for more than three days on the Zermatt side, it includes local biking lifts as well as the ski area.

More info:; Read our expert guide to Zermatt and Cervinia here.

Matterhorn Alpine Cross
The Matterhorn Alpine Cross improved access to the year-round glacier - Zermatt Bergbahnen

Les Deux Alpes, France

Opening dates: May 1 to July 7 2024

Les Deux Alpes’ glacier ski area changed its summer opening dates in recognition of the impact of climate change in 2023. It now opens as soon as the winter season ends and remains so until early July.

The high-altitude area offers a total of 11 runs (nine blue, one green and one red) served by 17 lifts. There’s also a huge 18-hectare freestyle area with a halfpipe and superpipe, airbag, hips, rails and big air jumps, and a dedicated beginner slope with several ski schools running lessons. This year the resort is stressing that its summer ski area is popular with

international ski snd snowboard teams for summer training and notes that parts of its area will be reserved for training. Recreational skiers are advised to check live information on the resort website.

Le 3200, the restaurant on the glacier, is open all summer. On average, there are just 1,500 people a day on the glacier in summer, compared to 10,000 a day in winter, so it’s the perfect opportunity to hone your skills or take a coaching course.

The lift pass also gives access to the bike park, with 103km across 26 descents and 10 lifts that can transport bikes. Other activities in Les Deux Alpes include sunset E-bike rides and breakfast paragliding - plus there’s a skate park.

More info: Read our expert guide to Les Deux Alpes here.

SNØ, Oslo,

Opening dates: Year round

It’s possible to take a summer city break and go skiing, on snow, indoors, in more than a dozen European locations. Several indoor snow centres in the Netherlands, Norway and Germany have built hotels next to their year-round slopes and covered their vast roofs and neighbouring carparks in so many solar panels they’re self-sufficient in green energy. It’s also worth noting that whilst a short indoor snow run is inevitably a little dull compared to the fresh air and stunning views of the Alps, some are up to 600 metres long and served by indoor chairlifts – more than three times the length of the longest British indoor snow slope.

Oslo’s SNØ centre, located 15km east of the city, opened in 2020. The building was designed to generate more green electricity on site than it uses and exports its excess production to power neighbouring buildings. It has a 500m main slope with varied terrain for all abilities and, in a unique design, more than a kilometre of cross-country ski trails on a separate path suspended from the ceiling. There’s a fun park with rails, jumps and boxes and a beginner’s area with a Magic Carpet lift. A two-hour pass costs from NOK 290, a day pass NOK 390.
Norway also has three small summer ski areas at Stryn, Folgefonn (Fonna) and Galdhöpiggen so an indoor-outdoor Nowegian multi-centre summer ski trip is possible. All three glacier areas open in May and are currently posting the world’s deepest snow depths. They do not have fixed closing dates, deciding depending on conditions, but Stryn often closes by late June, Folgefonn at the end September while Galdhöpiggen, boasting Scandinavia’s highest lift, usually stays open to early November.

More info:

Great Britain

Opening dates: Year round

From the Snow Centre in Hemel Hempstead near London, to the UK’s longest indoor slope at Chill Factore in Manchester there are snow-sport facilities across the country.  In summer they’re popular with ski schools who host training camps for beginners or those keen to scrub up on their technique before the winter rolls in. More than 60 dry ski slopes are still popular too in the summer months, including larger slopes in Edinburgh, Halifax and Glasgow. That’s how Dave Ryding and many other British ski stars got started.

Read our guide to skiing in the UK and the best centres and slopes here.

The article was first published in June 2021, and has been revised and updated.