European ski resorts offer some of the most exhilarating experiences in the world for skiers of all skill sets. Having options is great when it comes to any holiday, but it can make choosing the best place for you and your group tricky.
So, how do select the perfect ski holiday destination?
To help, here is a selection of the best ski runs in Europe to help you choose the perfect skiing destination for you:
To start, let’s look at one of the world’s most revered and feared ski runs — Harakiri in Austria. Found in the resort of Mayrhofen, the Harakiri piste is the steepest groomed slope in the world with an average gradient of 78%. Named after the samurai ritual of suicide and a startling 1,500m in length, this Austrian piste is often icy in the centre, although, there is easier-to-grip snow around the edges.
Make sure you get enough skiing practice before booking! Apparently, the start of your descent is the worst on the Harakiri and it’s advised that you keep your weight on your outer ski and try to slow down when possible to reach the bottom upright. Also, don’t be surprised to see skiers tumble down the entire run.
Slowing the pace down slightly, next in our list is the beautiful Ventina run in Italy. What you get with the Ventina piste is a long descent and shallow gradient that allows you to truly take in the incredible mountainscape around you. Although, your legs might feel like spaghetti after tackling the 11km run.
As you descend the 1,430m run, you have the joy of experiencing unforgettable views — perfect for groups and kids.
Time this holiday correctly, and Riksgränsen ski resort’s Piste 4 could be the best skiing getaway you’ve ever had — and you’ll even glide into and out of Norway as you loop around! Based in the Swedish Arctic Circle, the lack of sun means you can only ski here between mid-February and mid-summer. However, if skiing under a midnight sun sounds like your thing, Piste 4 is where you need to head.
Similar to the Harakiri, the Streif in Austria is a difficult but unforgettably exciting ski run. It’s found on the Hahenkamm mountain and hosts one of the most hazardous races in the World Cup — an ideal location if you want a white-knuckle challenge. Are you prepared for a high-speed 3.3km descent? You’ll have to compose yourself quickly, as you’ll be forced to navigate maximum 85% gradients at a speed of around 84mph.
Pas de Chavanette
This 200m ski run is based on the French-Swiss border. Also known as the ‘Swiss Wall’, Pas de Chavanette offers an ungroomed run — although the level of difficulty depends on the time of year and conditions.
If you’re into drops and angles, Pas de Chavanette is your destination. Visit when there’s a decent layer of snow and you can weave and glide effortlessly — but watch out for when the conditions are icy and bumpy.
Based in France and the tallest peak in the Les Arcs resort, the views you’re privy to when visiting Aiguille Rouge will stay with you forever. Also called Red Needle in English, this run is classified as black at the top and red once you reach around third of the way down.
With a 3,226m descent, you have plenty of time to experience the beauty of your surrounding landscape as you descend Aiguille Rouge. There are multiple lift pass options available for the Les Arcs resort depending on age, holiday duration and skillset, so research your choices to make sure you get the ideal type for you and your group.
Into high-speed runs and want to put your recently honed skills to the ultimate test? Visit the Lauberhorn in Switzerland! Supposedly the fastest run in the World Cup, you start from the 2,500m summit and travel 4.5km in just two and a half minutes.
You may be shocked to learn that you could potentially hit speeds of up to 100mph as you tackle the mighty Lauberhorn! On your way down, there’s also a 130-foot jump that catapults you into the air to contend with. However, it’s an exhilarating experience — if you can handle it.
If you fancy taking it down a notch, why not head to Grand Couloir? Grand Couloir is the only classified run on the piste map, although it’s the broadest and easiest of the three Courchevel couloirs.
From the start, you’ll have to contend with large moguls, so make sure you’re prepared. 900m in length with a maximum slope gradient of 85%, you must navigate the steep path leading from the cable car station in La Saulire — dangerous if the conditions are icy. Once you’ve tackled these tricky snow bumps, the slope will open up and the remainder of your descent should be a smooth delight.
You must be brave, bold and fit to take on the 3,329m Mont Fort! Found in Switzerland’s Verbier — arguably the continent’s most luxurious and party-centric resort — Mont Fort provides a 1,300m run from top to bottom and is generally considered the most challenging of Verbier’s pistes.
It’ll take four cable cars to reach the summit, but it might be a nice idea to try skiing at dawn to experience the sunrise over the mountains. Peppered with moguls to dodge and memorably steep, you’ll need at least intermediate skills to handle Mont Fort.
If isolation and tranquility are essential elements of your skiing holiday, Hidden Valley is your haven. Hidden Valley begins at the peak of Lagazuoi (2,750m) and features a gentle descent scattered with sights of frozen waterfalls and riverbeds. An excellent run for novices and one of nature’s best stress-busters.
This is just a small collection of the many ski runs available for skiers of all abilities — check out more online before booking!