Resorts for Non-Skiers

Where there’s SNO much more than skiing.

Zermatt

Glacier skiing, high altitude terrain, stunning panor...

Great for:

  • Groups
  • Off-piste
  • hiking

Beginner

Intermediate

Advanced

Snowboard

Chamonix

Traditional mountain resort, varied, high altitude t...

Great for:

  • Groups
  • Off-piste
  • après ski

Beginner

Intermediate

Advanced

Snowboard

Kitzbuhel

World's most difficult run, Romantic Austrian charm, ...

Great for:

  • Groups
  • après ski

Beginner

Intermediate

Advanced

Snowboard

Levi

Bucket list destination , Meet Santa, Great food

Great for:

  • Families
  • Beginners
  • Non-ski activities

Beginner

Intermediate

Advanced

Snowboard

Avoriaz

Recent €200 million improvement, Top snowboarding d...

Great for:

  • Freestyling
  • Families
  • non-skiers

Beginner

Intermediate

Advanced

Snowboard

St Moritz

Stylish town centre , High-altitude glacier skiing, G...

Great for:

  • Late-season skiing
  • Non-skiers
  • Couples

Beginner

Intermediate

Advanced

Snowboard

Cortina

Spectacular scenery , Olympic resort , Friendly local...

Great for:

  • Intermediates
  • Off-piste
  • Families

Beginner

Intermediate

Advanced

Snowboard

Whistler

Largest ski area in North America , Consistently vo...

Great for:

  • Groups
  • Families
  • Non-skiers

Beginner

Intermediate

Advanced

Snowboard

Val d'Isere

½ of Espace Killy, Fantastic après, Traditional cho...

Great for:

  • Families
  • Groups
  • Non skiers

Beginner

Intermediate

Advanced

Snowboard

Bad Kleinkirchheim

St Katherin and Römerbad baths , 4 and 5* spa hotel...

Great for:

  • Non Skiers
  • Intermediates
  • Luxury

Beginner

Intermediate

Advanced

Snowboard

Top 10 Most Popular

With good local food, crisp mountain air and some of the finest views in the world’s photo albums - you certainly don’t need a penchant for the piste to fall in love with a ski resort, and many these days are devoting as much energy to what’s off the slopes as on them.

None of our favourite mountain spots are going to give non-skiers the cold-shoulder, but with the longest, prettiest walking trails, furthest reaching bus networks and shops and restaurants to rival the big cities, the following have gone one further to make a ski-free week in the mountains a spectacular one.

Top 10 Ski Resorts for Non-Skiers

There’s a throwback feel to car-free Zermatt, which started life as a base for early Matterhorn climbing expeditions – and is mightily proud of the fact. It’s gone as far as to dedicate an annual “mountain film festival” to the peak and based a surprisingly gripping museum on the tragedy of the first climb, holding tonnes of walking tours to recreate early expeditions. Ascents aren’t half as rare these days, and you don’t have to pack rope and crampons to get to the top- the highest cable car in Europe takes you up the Klein Matterhorn to a view across 100 miles. Not that Zermatt is stuck in the shadow of the mountain – an international spotlight currently shines on lots of very contemporary restaurants, like the experimental Michelin Heimberg and magical Bodega Bacchus. They’re only half the reason this is known as gastro-paradise - this wouldn’t be Switzerland without warm wooded cafes like Cafe Biner, in which to slump after a day’s shopping on the Bahnhofstrasse. Don’t miss Merkur, the chocolatier or the “Cow Shop” for all your bovine-related needs...

This may be better known as a destination for those looking to ski their socks off, but don’t let this blind you to Chamonix’s non-skiing potential. There’s no need to be strapped to planks to get out on the soaring local mountains - take the cable car up the pin-like Aiguille du Midi for views of Mont Blanc that a camera won’t do justice. From here you can descend into Italy for an afternoon soaking up more European chic in Courmayeur. The old Montenvers cog railway is another must, which takes you to the stunning Grotte de la Mer de Glace ice cave. Closer to home, Cham’s hamlets and villages are linked by beautiful flat walking paths through the pines for a final pre-dinner walk before rounding off the day in one of 70 restaurants (this is the second-most-starred region in the French Michelin Guide). As a year-round town with a reputation for après, local drinks are also in full flow – Brasserie L’M’s house speciality, hot apple laced with Grand Marnier, works as a nightcap or your first drink of the night.

It’s immediately obvious why so many fall for this medieval town - where cobbled and blissfully car-free streets coloured like Neapolitan ice cream extend as far as the eye can see. You could spend a week wandering about with a camera. Not that you’d want to miss out on a local specialty, the shopping in the central district. It’s here you’ll find the designer dens responsible for the Kitz’ glamorous reputation (helped by its annual Polo cup and fur-clad clientele). Just don’t be star-struck into missing out on the local ceramics and woodcarvings – pieces of this historic mining town you can take home with you. If you haven’t already overdosed on historic charm, Salzburg’s little over an hour away, where the perfect day involves chocolatey, nougaty Mozartkugel and concerts in the Mirabell castle. When you’re all cultured out, take to the mountains with a torch lit night walk or a free guided hike – before resting up in one of the Aquacentre’s physio-thermal cabins.

Northern Finland has acquired something of a reputation as the place for toddlers to meet Mr. Klaus, but behind the original tinsel town there’s a thriving market of activities for adults, teens and tweens too – like dog sledding, reindeer safaris, snowmobiling and visits to the socking great Ice castle. Temperatures are pretty nose-numbing in this neck of the Lappish woods – but that’s actually a positive, meaning the most hotel complexes have incorporated lots of indoor spas... Take the Levitunturi hotel, which has 17 themed pools complete with light and music displays, a safe environment where older children can disappear for hours while adults melt into deliciously hot saunas. The ace up Levi’s sleeve, an entirely natural phenomenon, are the famously elusive Northern lights, which locals lead you on guided tours (snowmobile, snowshoe, husky ride, you name it) to up your chances of sighting.

If ever a resort deserved the Best Family ski resort reward, it’s this one, which scooped up the gong in 2013 – thanks substantially to the sheer number of its new off-the-slope activities. Segways are the only wheels allowed in resort, a pretty thrilling way of getting from A to B which, if you’re hooked, you can take on tours through the hills. New sub-tropical Aquariaz water park and the Village des Enfants are great areas if you’re here with family, where squirts can splash and schuss while ma, pa, grandma and grandpa look on proudly. Helicopter tours, meanwhile, will take you higher over the Portes du Soleil than the mountain ever could – where it’s great fun to play a snowy “where’s wally?” with skiing family members. For a spot of winter walking, opt for the Pedestrian Pass, which lets you loose on trails from the Ardent and Super Morzine Gondolas as well as a number of chair lifts.

You could close the Corviglia ski area and the vast majority of the St Moritz residents wouldn’t bat an eyelid - they’re here for the tasty gourmet morsels, Europe’s highest shopping street and Hanselmann’s nut torte. It’s always been this way - we doubt Coco Chanel was often caught schussing back from the snow park... So while this is where it all began for skiing, non-skiing activities have grown the most through the ages. When the lake freezes solid, enjoy spectator sports like the Cartier Polo World Cup and cricket on ice; take afternoon tea in one of the top hotels (whether or not you’re a guest); tour the national park with a warden; and don’t leave without taking a train ride on the UNESCO listed Rhaetian Railway.

Besides the snow and the lifts, there’s not much to identify photogenic Cortina as a ski resort. The average schedule here doesn’t find spare a single minute for skiing – there are just too many castles to tour, cocktails to drink and treasures to procure. Done properly, shopping on the Corso Italia is something of a sport anyway – involving weaving in and out of one-off boutiques, cruising designer brands, and taking regular pit stops to avoid injury (this is the land of Prosecco and espresso, after all). Intrepid sorts can strike out further, with a web of bus routes to places of interest, like the WW1 tunnels at Lagazuoi or nearby Venice (time trips for when any skiing members of your group make a day trip to Cinque Torri or a Great War ski tour for stories to share when you reunite). Many of the mountain restaurants are easily reached without skis, so if you’ve come with skiers, score brownie points by arriving early and bagging the best seats in wayside huts like Rifugio Lagazuoi.

Coming to British Columbia just to ski is a bit like visiting London and clinging to the Central line. BC was born a beauty, so the idea behind many of its extra-curricular activities is to get guests out in its unforgettable scenery. Sightseeing circuits like Treetrek tours – up on canopies high in the trees – are legion and if we only had an afternoon here, we’d take one of Sightline’s Motorcoach’s for a whistle-stop tour of the surrounds. The Peak 2 Peak gondola connecting Whistler to Blackcomb is the newest to the team, and far from your average commute. We’ve seen many a skier torn between getting off for North America’s largest ski area and staying on for the return leg... Explorations here don’t have to involve leaving your seat – take your taste buds places they’ve never been before with one of the Crystal hut’s waffles (go early in the week - you won’t want to realise what you’ve been missing at the end), follow up with one of several Whistler tasting experiences, where you can learn to open a champagne bottle with a sabre (if you want to)... When you’re feeling a little roomy, a jaunt to the Scandinave Spa (3 acres of steaming outdoor pools) will steam you back to size.

While the rabble-rousing Folie Douce has put Val D’Isere on the map for its après scene, its sister restaurant La Fruitiere has had decidedly less airtime. Heaven knows why! The terrace here gets as lively and friendly as the bar. The biggest draw’s its humongous cellar, where a “cellarman” brings you samples of wine and cheese from France’s 4 corners. This is just a taste of an ensemble of haute cuisine spots which make this resort heaven on earth for non-skiing foodies. Try a tasting menu at La Table de l’Ours (worth every centime) or in the L’Atelier d’Edmond bistro and take some advice from the maestros – lunches tend to be less busy and less expensive. Further down the price scale, patisserie Maison Chevallot is said to be the finest in France and runs pastry classes to school you in the art of filo and fillings. To save you from growing to mountainous proportions… the tourist office do pedestrian lift passes which access some spectacular walks through the pines at the top of the cable cars. Guided snowshoe hikes are also popular and tours of the town offer a glimpse of a spectacular local history. When it’s time to wind down, choose between the bubbling oasis of the Aquasportif centre’s Spa World, bridge at Maison Charvin or the local cinema. Big-time resort that this is, the town centre closes weekly for light shows, ice sculptures, live music and stalls for a treat before another scrumptious dinner.

Contrary to English usage, the “bad” in this resort’s name means anything but “unsatisfactory”. It’s the Deutsch for “bath” or “spa”, a reference to the area’s bubbling hot springs. These are channelled into two public bath complexes, and have put the resort on the map as a place to cure you of your aches and pains. The St. Kathrein Thermal Spa’s the family favourite, with fun features like a mud pool and water jets, while the Römerbad is 3 floors of stress-busting, brow-smoothing facilities. When you’ve limbered your limbs in either of those, stretch them on 60km of Nockberge mountain trails, which manage to climb high without getting steep, and gaze over heart swelling views of Carinthia. Warding off any symptoms of cabin-fever, it’s just a 35km bus ride to Villach, where you can shop until you drop into the plush seats at Lagana - where there’s a menu of the most delicious things.


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