Biggest Ski Areas

The Biggest and Best Skiing on earth.

Three Valleys

When discussing the world's largest ski area, the question...

Great for:

  • Families
  • Groups
  • Non skiers

Beginner

Intermediate

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Snowboard

Portes du Soleil

Between two wonders of the Alpine world, Mont Blanc ...

Great for:

  • Huge ski area
  • Ski-touring
  • Families

Beginner

Intermediate

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Snowboard

Paradiski

The legendary Paradiski is one of the biggest and...

Great for:

  • Glacier skiing
  • Snow sure
  • Après ski

Beginner

Intermediate

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Snowboard

SkiWelt

One of Austria's biggest linked ski areas, SkiWelt Wilder ...

Great for:

  • Families
  • Intermediates
  • Couples

Beginner

Intermediate

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Snowboard

Matterhorn

This Swiss-Italian marvel is a big old stretch from Zermatt to Cervinia ...

Great for:

  • Groups
  • Hiking
  • Off-piste

Beginner

Intermediate

Advanced

Snowboard

Dolomiti Superski

With iconic craggy peaks, cruisey groomers and world-cup descents...

Great for:

  • Scenery
  • Foodies
  • Huge ski area

Beginner

Intermediate

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Snowboard

Espace Killy

Reputedly one of the most beautiful ski areas ...

Great for:

  • Families
  • Groups
  • Non skiers

Beginner

Intermediate

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Snowboard

Ski Arlberg

This is where the legendary Hannes Schneider developed skiing as ...

Great for:

  • Groups
  • Off-piste
  • Non-skiers

Beginner

Intermediate

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Snowboard

4 Valleys

The biggest ski area in Switzerland has a seemingly endless amount...

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  • Groups
  • Families
  • Non-skiers

Beginner

Intermediate

Advanced

Snowboard

Milky Way

A ski holiday to the Milky Way includes over 400km of pisted ...

Great for:

  • Intermediates
  • Families
  • Groups

Beginner

Intermediate

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Snowboard

Top 10 Most Popular

Stay in one of the world’s biggest ski areas and you certainly won’t fall short of places to ski. Covering the size of small countries, these places are crammed with more pistes, powder and parks than you can shake a ski pole at.

From big towns to tiddlers, some resorts have been purpose built on the mountainside, while others are age-old settlements huddled in the foothills. There’s often as much to do in resort as there is on the mountains, for a smashing week all round.

Top Ten Biggest Ski Areas

The world’s ‘largest linked ski area’ comes with a fine set of stats to back up its claim: 600km of corduroy, 4 glaciers, 25 accessible summits... Eight French ski resorts call the Three Valleys home, and together they see more skiers and snowboarders than any other ski area on the planet. First there’s Courchevel: glitz and glam are the order of the day in 1850, while the lower villages adopt a more low-key, homely vibe. Next along (and in the middle of the whole area) is Meribel - a British favourite, chalet-centred resort with awesome après ski at the one-and-only Rond Point. Brides Les Bains is an old spa village (with cheaper digs than the bigger towns) and alongside La Tania and old-school St Martin, it’s one of the smaller, quieter bed bases. Head up and you’ll find the purpose builds, cheap and cheerful Les Menuires and lofty Val Thorens, which beats all other European resorts in altitude at 2300m. Last stop’s little Orelle – connected to VT by slopes, lifts and a terrifyingly fun zip line... Joining them all’s this epic ocean of pistes, powder, mountain huts and state of the art lifts – we’ve been skiing here for yonks and we’re still finding new things each time we return.

It might be the ‘Gateway to the Sun’, but the Portes du Soleil holds the key to far more than a healthy dose of Vitamin D. There’s snow as well as sunshine, and we get to enjoy a whole lot of the good stuff on 650km of fine corduroy. Seven French and six Swiss resorts make up the area, with the main ones found on the French side. Morzine’s the biggest and most central; a bundle of chalets surrounded by trees with shops, bars and restaurants galore. Smaller Les Gets is wonderfully old-school Savoyard, and being sandwiched between Lake Geneva and Mont Blanc, the views aren’t bad either… Taking top spot in altitude rankings is car-free Avoriaz - less of a looker, but the doorstep skiing’s a dream and higher slopes = better snow. The whole area came about in the 60’s, the brainchild of local ski champ, Jean Vaurnet, who saw the attractions of a cross-border network. Skiing between two countries never grows old, but the best thing’s the Franco-Swiss influence on the restaurants you’ll find all over the mountains: last time we checked there were so many that you could visit a new one each day over a dozen ski holidays…

The arrival of the Vanoise Express (the biggest cable car in the world) joined one big happy family in the Tarentaise valley – linking the diddy Peisey-Vallandry villages with the purpose built titans of Les Arcs and La Plagne. They share a whacking great 425km blueprint of pistes with fabulous variety, from tree-lined groomers to mighty mogulled challenges and of course oodles of the Paradiski’s signature wide, cruisey runs. This area has some of the finest conditions in the Alps, with 70% of it staying cool and snowy above 2000m, two skiable glaciers and over 800 snow cannons to provide a top up if needed. When it comes to choosing your base for the week, the options are just as impressive in terms of diversity and quality: Les Arcs alone is made up of four villages, with La Plagne’s totalling ELEVEN – apartment blocks, cute chalets, fancy hotels, you name it.

Up in the Northern Kitzbüheler Alps, this is Austria’s largest linked ski area. 280km of pistes ripple around the nine resorts here, each as charming and traditional as the next and all within an hour’s drive of Innsbruck Airport. We love Ellmau and Scheffau for quiet family holidays, while Hopfgarten and Soll are just the ticket for adventurers – slap bang in the middle of the area under the mighty Hohe Salve Mountain. Soll’s also our top pick for après ski: Whisky Muhle’s parties are the stuff of legend and there’s a huge night skiing area for alternative night-time ventures... Westendorf is snowboard central, with the ‘Boarder’s Playground’ snow park above the village, and also allows for a cheeky exploration of famous Kitzbühel, only 20 minutes’ drive away.

This Swiss-Italian marvel is a big old stretch from Zermatt to Cervinia… And it’s one of the highest, prettiest ski areas on the planet. Zermatt dates back more than 500 years and is a resort with impeccable pedigree: grand hotels, luxury chalets and more gourmet restaurants than you can shake a napkin at. Born in the early thirties, Cervinia’s a little more ‘low key’: a patchwork town of chalets, hotels and apartment blocks with hearty Italian restaurants and pub-centred après. Both have speedy access to Europe’s highest slopes: the ‘Klein Matterhorn’ area to the Swiss or ‘Piccolo Cervino’ in Italian is handily placed between them at a soaring 3883m. Thanks to a socking great glacier, this area is so snow sure that it stays skiable in the height of summer. It’s also where you’ll find the legendary Gravity Snowpark, plus some cracking views of the Matterhorn (not to mention hundreds of other glorious peaks). The rest of the 360km ski area is still incredibly snowy - you’ll ski some of the best off-piste, moguls and steeps around on the Swiss side, while Cervinia’s beginner and intermediate skiing is tricky to beat.

Italy’s Dolomites are one of the wonders of the natural world - even UNESCO says so - and skiing face-to-face with these craggy, orange giants is something you won’t forget in a hurry. Covering a stonking 1200km of pistes and 28 snow parks – the ski pass unlocks twice the amount of the 3 Valleys but tends to cost about half as much. Altogether, there are 12 ski areas to discover, including Val Gardena, Val di Fassa and Alta Badia which in turn have a number of deliciously traditional ski resorts huddled inside them. Of all the resorts, Cortina’s the best known: a chic town whose CV includes big events (World Cups and Winter Olympics), film cameos (The Pink Panther, James Bond…) and a long list of famous visitors (from Tolstoy to Clooney). At the other end of the spectrum there are places like Pozza, dinky old farming villages that ooze peace and quiet. It’s not all lift linked, but that’s not to say you’ll spend hours commuting – you can tour the whole Sella Ronda (an iconic circuit of 4 valleys and 3 provinces) on skis and lifts, and the linked Val Gardena area has 175km of pistes on its own. The Marmolada Glacier (near Arabba) hoards the best snow, and with snowmaking covering 97% of the whole thing, Mother Nature’s got a good sidekick.

Named after ski god Jean-Claude Killy, this is the skiable expanse of two of France’s greatest resorts: posh party town Val d’Isère and sport-central Tignes. Val’s the more traditional of the two, with cosy wood and stone chalets, while Tignes is newer, purpose-built and higher at a heady 2100m. 300km of groomers, 2 snow parks and some of the world’s finest off piste terrain are shared between them – and the area has one of the longest ski seasons in the Alps. It’s all thanks to a stellar army of 2 glaciers (Pissaillas above Val and La Grande Motte in Tignes), 800 or so snow cannons and the fact that most of the ski area’s well above 2000m.

This Austrian ski area is where the legendary Hannes Schneider developed skiing as we know it - and it just happens to have shedloads of snow (a whacking great 7m on your average year), world-beating après and some of the finest off piste we’ve ever skied. Together, the 340km of groomed runs and 200km of powder trails make this one of the Alps’ more challenging ski areas - all set to the fine backdrop of the Tyrolean Alps. St Anton’s king in these parts: a jazzy town with legendary mountain bars making it Arlberg’s (also the world’s) après ski capital. It’s lift-linked with St Christoph’s high-altitude handful of hotels and the area’s tiniest village, Stuben. If we’re crowning Anton King, Lech is without doubt his Queen. Now also lift linked, this is by far one of the prettiest resorts in the Alps and shares a fabulous collection of spas, restaurants and hotels with ski-in, ski-out neighbour Zürs.

Switzerland’s biggest ski area, the 4 Valleys joins Verbier, Nendaz, La Tzoumaz, Veysonnaz and Thyon with 412km of ski runs. Verbier’s by far the most famous, with wild après ski in the likes of Le Farinet and some of the world’s most sought after chalets (Branson has a pad here and the royals are regulars). The other resorts are smaller and more family oriented (often cheaper too), but all have that gorgeous choc box charm we love about the Swiss Alps. New skiers will love the quality of the gentler pistes, but it’s more experienced snow lovers who’ll really get the most out of the area: Only a trifle of ski areas can hold a candle to the off piste here. Mont Fort’s a slice of powder heaven, and the fearsome Bec de Rosses is used as the final stop of the Freeride World Tour. The area’s signature itinerary runs hog more of the finest descents – marked and avalanche protected but left gloriously ungroomed.

There’s something seriously cool about being able to ski between two countries, especially when one of them’s the land of pizzas and pasta… 400km of pistes join six resorts in the Milky Way (or Via Lattea in Italiano) – all fabulously family friendly, with super access to the slopes. The whole plot had an impressive nip-and-tuck for the 2006 Olympics, meaning you’ll find speedy lifts and super powered snow canons every which way. All but one resort can be found on the Italian side: Sauze d’Oulx has some of Italy’s best après ski, while Sestrière - the first purpose-built village in the Alps - is the highest of them all at 2035m. In a snowy bowl between them you’ll find pretty Sansicario, accessed by the Olympic Women’s Downhill run. Then there’s the chic chalet centre of Pragelato (home to Club Med) and the old, cosy village of Cesana. Claviere (one of Italy’s oldest ski resorts) sits right by the border; cross over and you’ll shortly reach Montgenèvre – a sunny, traditional base flying the flag for France.

These ski areas and their resorts rank among the largest ski destinations in the world, with a huge amount of pistes, accommodation and activities on offer.

To narrow your search to a specific country, see our lists of the biggest ski resorts in France, Austria, Italy and Switzerland.


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