Many of us are looking forward to hitting Europe’s ski slopes this winter, with plenty of resorts to choose from. Not everyone wants to ski though, so we’ve put together five top destinations that can please skiers and non-skiers alike of all ages – along with some reminders to stay safe in the snow and find the right travel insurance, no matter what activity you go for.
Top 5 destinations for winter snow holidays
1.Les Gets, France
A family-friendly Alpine resort close to the border with Switzerland, this is considered an ideal place for both beginner and experienced skiers. With 650k of piste skiing available there is enough to keep the wannabe Franz Klammers occupied, while the nursery slopes are full of British ski schools. You can hit the saunas and bars for the apres-ski later on.
Set deep within the Arctic Circle, Tromso is good not only for skiers but also for seekers of the elusive Northern Lights. There’s never a guarantee they will appear, but a full night-time view of the Aurora Borealis is high on anyone’s wish list. Add to that a full range of family-friendly activities like dog-sledding, reindeer safaris and various snowsport alternatives to skiing and you can see why it is so popular.
Reputed to be one of the best destinations for non-skiers, the whole family – from kids to grandparents – can enjoy a snow holiday together at Avoriaz. Winner of the Best Family Winter Resort awards, this upmarket, car-free resort perched on a cliff is full of indoor and outdoor activities to keep children busy, with plenty for those in the family who want to spend their days tackling the pristine slopes nearby.
Picture-postcard scenes in the city of Mozart make for a heady winter destination, whether or not you’re heading for the nearby slopes. There is still time to make it there for Europe’s oldest Christmas market, while for those in search of thrills and spills the Alps lie just south of the city, with activities like sledding, skating, snowboarding and cross-country skiing in Saalbach and Hinterglemm.
Situated in Bolzano, the capital of Italy’s German-speaking area South Tyrol, Kronplatz is the gateway to the Dolomites. Not only a fine destination for skiers, with 43km of slopes, it offers tobogganing, ice skating over frozen lakes, and plenty of child-friendly ski activities. There is plenty to see off-piste too. Piazza Walther hosts Bolzano’s spectacular Christmas market, and the 5,300-year-old man – Ice Man Otzi – is on display in the local Museum of Archaeology.
5 tips to stay safe and snow-wise
Whether skiing like a pro or sledging down a fun run, it pays to take care to stay safe.
- Wear and use the right gear; suitable boots, gloves and headwear, and don’t rely on old and dodgy equipment if you’re taking part in snow sport activities.
- Make sure you pack the right things in your days bags; food & drink provisions, plus a good mobile phone if you get lost and emergency contact details.
- Don’t forget the sunscreen – it may feel cold, but you may also be in the glare of the sun all day.
- Keep a close eye on the weather reports and stay inside if it looks too dangerous.
- If you ski or similar activities, take lessons and get guidance only from qualified instructors.
Get the right travel insurance
The other thing to remember is to make sure you have the right insurance cover to protect you in case of all sorts of ski falls, snow tumbles and wintry mishaps. While the EHIC (European Health Insurance Card) can provide free state healthcare across the EU and Switzerland, it is no substitute for full cover for emergency medical care, and won’t help you with other forms of insurance cover such as lost luggage or theft. A good travel insurance policy that clearly covers you for whichever activities you’re taking part in is essential.
How and when do I compare travel insurance?
Remember that the best time to buy travel insurance is usually around the same time you confirm your holiday. Leave it too close to your departure time and you run the risk of voiding part of your policy such as cancellation costs – for example if the weather forecast predicted it would be too poor to travel.
Try not to dive into the cheapest deals, but compare them to suit your family, your medical history and your activities.