Best ski resorts
Many of Europe's best ski resorts are easily accessible by car, and lots now cater well for families. Some offer childcare for infants from three months old, as well as crèches, ski tuition for children and toddlers, and even babysitting services.
Here's our round-up of the best spots for skiing and snowboarding, as well as expert advice for driving in snowy conditions and more.
Les Arcs, France
Encompassing five resorts in one, Les Arcs offers skiing, snowboarding, snow-shoeing, and has a Snowpark. There's good snow on the high nursery slopes, a free beginners' lift, and even a children's area at Arc 1800, with magic carpet lifts and a secure toboggan run.
Les Gets, France
The village offers good skiing for all levels and is a quieter resort than many counterparts. It lies in the Les Portes du Soleil region of the Alps, and consists mainly of runs for beginner and intermediate skiiers. Les Gets offers award-winning childcare services and is ideal for families.
Although this Alpine resort is famous for its après-ski, Méribel is also great for families. Along with Courchevel and Val Thorens, it forms the largest, busiest ski resort in the world. Méribel is the only single resort to offer 15 high-capacity gondola lifts, and it has 685 snow canons to boost coverage. For non-skiers the resort boasts a new fitness and wellbeing centre, offering a gym, spa and massage area.
Val d'Isère, France
This resort is as famous for après-ski as it is for skiing and snowboarding. As well as two snow parks, an ice-rink, more than 300km of runs, and two glaciers, Val d'Isère is home to an array of bars and clubs. Happy hours run at some venues from 4pm until 7pm and many offer live music. Try the hotel bars for a more upmarket alternative to some of the more boisterous hostelries on the main drag.
Serre Chevalier, France
Suitable for beginners and expert skiers alike, Serre Chevalier is a South-facing resort in the Hautes-Alpes area of France. It's quieter than many ski resorts with a less frenetic nightlife scene, making it ideal for those with children. It also boasts natural hot springs that service a naturally heated swimming pool.
Live bands and DJs entice a stylish young crowd into the many bars, pubs and clubs at Verbier, although late-night entry fees can be as steep as the nearby runs. There are places to suit all, with pubs offering après-ski shots, bars for pre-and-post-dinner drinks, and plenty of late-night dancing spots. During daylight hours, why not try tobogganing, snowshoeing, or even paraskiing?
St Moritz, Switzerland
Arguably the world’s most famous skiing destination, this stunning resort benefits from more than 300 days of sunshine every year. With more 5-star hotels than you can shake a stick at, St Mortiz offers luxury and great skiing in equal measure. Oh, and you can also enjoy a little celeb-spotting while you’re at it. Just remember your wallet.
This large ski resort offers countless bars, nightclubs and eateries, as well as 101km of runs and excellent off-piste skiing, and is a big hit with young Brits. The bars start to get lively in the afternoon and stay open until the early hours. Mayrhofen is also home to Snowbombing – a major music festival held every April. Headline acts in the past have included Fatboy Slim, The Prodigy, and Pendulum. Besides boarding and boozing, there are igloo parties, an outdoor forest area, snow discos, mountain stages, fancy-dress street parties, and an arctic hotel with an outdoor snow spa.
St Anton, Austria
This lively resort has a legendary party scene and offers challenging slopes to boot. The motto here is "ski hard, play hard". It attracts expert off-piste skiers, thrill-seekers and a glamorous crowd happy to ski through their hangovers.
This compact resort is largely undiscovered by British skiers but has a thriving party scene boasting a good variety of bars and nightclubs. For fun while the sun's up, there's great off-piste skiing, a 7km toboggan run, sleigh rides, spas, and more than 40 slick lifts in operation. And Ischgl attracts big names after dark – Rihanna, Elton John, the Scissor Sisters, Peter Gabriel, Rod Stewart, Sting, Bob Dylan and Tina Turner have played there.
Don't forget, there are also some great ski resorts on home soil.
Glen Coe, Scotland
Originally known as White Corries, Scotland's first commercial ski resort launched here in 1956 and now attracts snowboarders too. Ski amid stunning scenery.
Cairngorm Mountain, Scotland
This spectacular landscape is a popular destination for wintersports fans and one of the best ski resorts in Scotland. Ski, snowboard or sledge in more than 30km of ski runs and a snowboard fun park, suitable for all abilities. There's also a funicular railway.
Glenshee boasts the largest ski lift system in the UK, and its 36 runs are ideal for skiiers and snowboarders of all abilities. The top of the Cairnwell Chairlift is said to offer the best panorama of the Cairngorms to be seen from any Scottish ski area.
Nevis Range, Scotland
Tackle the highest skiing in Scotland, in the shadow of Ben Nevis. The Nevis Range boasts Scotland's only mountain gondola, which takes you to 2150ft in just 12 minutes. And there are runs to suit every ability.
The Lecht, Scotland
Enjoy skiing, snowboarding, and even snowtubing at the Lecht. There are a range of runs and terrains for all abilities, plus snow canons on most runs.
Plan your entire journey with our free European route planner, read our expert advice on driving abroad, and remember European Breakdown Cover – you save up to 30 per cent when you book online, and enjoy peace of mind with our 24-hour English-speaking assistance.
Updated May 2014