Top 5 Family Ski Resorts in Europe

Taking the whole family skiing is a pricey business. Long hikes to the ski lifts, a resort peppered with terrifyingly steep black runs and cold children are the perfect recipe for a week from hell. Selecting the right resort and making sure everyone is adequately dressed for the adventure is key to a successful trip.

We’ve pulled together a list of five ski resorts across Europe that do a great job of catering for families.  

1) Königsleiten, Austria 

Images courtesy of Zillertal Arena

Nestled at the end of the Gerlospass, a mountain pass on the border between Austria’s Salzburgerland and Tirol regions, Königsleiten is the best family resort you’ve never heard of. The resort’s altitude and local microclimate ensure great snow cover from December to April, but spring is the best time to visit.  

There’s ski-in-ski-out accommodation for all budgets, but the wooden chalets that line the piste are something special. The village sits in a bowl with the mellow, easy skiing glades of Hochkrimmel-Gerlosplatte, a beginner’s paradise, on one side and the Königspitze on the other.  

The Zillertal Arena ski area, which includes the resorts of Zell am Ziller, Gerlos and Königsleiten, gives skiers access to more than 150km of pistes on a single ski pass. For thrill seekers there are some challenging black runs and freeride terrain to be found if you look hard enough. 

It’s a long drive to this part of Austria, but the resort can be accessed relatively quickly from the airports of Innsbruck, Munich and Salzburg. 

For more information, click here.

2) La Plagne, France 

Le Plagne Ski Resort
Images courtesy of La Plagne ©Pierre Augier

Every winter, for decades, thousands of British families have migrated to La Plagne’s mellow slopes to make their first turns. Originally a mining and farming village, La Plagne was transformed in the 1960s with purpose-built ski villages, 11 in total. Built in to the “pile ‘em high” maxim, La Plagne is a huge ski domain with an excess of affordable, but slightly ugly accommodation. For more aesthetic surroundings, the towns of Plagne 1800 and Montchavin/Les Coches are known to be a little more pleasing to the eye. 

Belle Plagne is a convenient place to base the family for a week. Its high altitude (above 2000m) means easy ski-in-ski-out access to the slopes all season long. Long flowing blue runs meander their way into Belle Plagne from all directions.  

Linked with Les Arcs in the mid-noughties to form the Paradiski, the enormous ski area offers expert and intermediate skiers more terrain than anyone could ski in a week. There’s big, open bowls and tight ski treelined glades, everything a skier could hope for. 

La Plagne lives in the Tarentaise Valley alongside the neighbouring resorts of Val d’Isere, Tignes, La Rosier and Les Arcs. Getting there is simple, options include a long day’s drive from the UK; an overnight snow train from Kings Cross; or flights to Chambery, Lyon or Geneva with a considerable transfer. All the major tour operators offer ski packages to La Plagne. 

For more information, click here.

3) Serfaus Fiss Ladis, Austria 

Serfaus-Fiss-Ladis Ski Resort
Images courtesy of Serfaus-Fiss-Ladis Marketing GmbH ©Andreas Kirschner

Although less well known than neighbouring Ischgl and St. Anton, Serfaus-Fiss-Ladis is a hugely popular resort with German and Dutch families.  

Big sunny bowls are accessible with gondolas and new, high-speed chair lifts. The kids clubs and beginner ski lessons are conveniently located close to the ticket offices in the villages of Fiss, Ladis and Serfaus. Most hotels lay on a minibus to get families to and from the ski runs. On good weather days, skiers of all levels will enjoy the cruisy high-altitude skiing below the Masnerkopf. A network of easy-skiing blue and red runs beneath the Plansegg chairlift are fantastic for less experienced skiers who want an easy run home. More accomplished skiers looking to bag some black runs will enjoy the pistes and marked freeride routes descending from the peaks above Fiss.  

The area doesn’t boast much tree skiing for bad weather days, but there’s enough to see, do, eat and drink in the three villages to keep most people happy when the weather isn’t playing ball. 

Other airports are reachable with a lengthier transfer, but Innsbruck is only around the corner and can be reached in little more than an hour. 

For more information, click here.

4) Soldeu, Andorra 

Soldeu Ski Resort
Images courtesy of Grandvalira Resorts

Grandvalira is the Pyrenees’ largest interlinked ski area and a real challenger to the Alps’ big resorts. Of the six villages that make up the domain, which include Pas de la Casa, Grau Roig, Soldeu, El Tarter, Canillo and Encamp, Soldeu is our choice. Over recent years the area has attracted significant investment, the infrastructure reflects it – 210km of pistes with capacity for 65% artificial snow coverage. 

Andorra isn’t the budget skiers’ paradise it used to be, like everywhere else, prices are creeping up, but it still represents good value. Discounted ski passes are available for children and youths, and kids under 6 years old still ski for free. Day care and instruction is available for children of all ages. 

Grandvalira is a mecca for beginners. Almost the entire area can be navigated sticking to easy blue and green runs. It isn’t a destination for expert skiers seeking challenging terrain, but there are exceptions; the black run named “Àguila”, which descends through the forest into El Tarter, has hosted multiple World Cup Super G events and isn’t to be sneered at.  

Unfortunately, there isn’t a fast route to Soldeu. Barcelona and Toulouse are the two closest airports and involve a four- and three-hour transfer respectively. Private transfers are available, but busses leave regularly from the airports and cost approximately 70 Euros a person, return.  

For more information, click here.

5) Åre, Sweden 

Are Ski Resort
Images courtesy of SkiStar

Why not combine a trip to see the Northern Lights with skiing? Located approximately 400 miles north of Stockholm, Åre is Sweden’s largest and best-known ski resort. Vast by Scandinavian standards, the resort boasts 42 ski lifts and 89 slopes, with 890 meters of vertical drop. 

Skiing in Åre starts in early December and runs until Easter. Snowfall in Åre is typically less bountiful than in the Alps. However, snow quality stays good winter-long because of short days, and low temperatures. Wrap up warm from December to February!  

On the mountain, in addition to the large interlinking network of pistes, special “Fun Ride” areas include features such as bridges, rollers, tunnels and other funky elements. For more experienced skiers and snowboarders, the ski area proudly offers multiple world class snow parks, packed with jumps and rails. A short bus ride from Åre are the small ski areas of Duved and Tegefjäll, where the slopes are a mix of cruisy reds and blues. Most of the skiing here is below the tree line, which makes skiing and boarding pleasant even in windy conditions or poor visibility. 

The ski area centres around Åre Village, which is the focal point for restaurants and nightlife.  

For easy access to the ski slopes Åre Björnen is a good choice. Åre caters well for non-skiers too; the town boasts multiple yoga studios, great restaurants with international cuisine, spa retreats and of course there’s Nordic (cross-country) skiing.  

Reach Åre by flying to Östersund Airport, approximately 60 mile east of the ski town. Unfortunately, as tour operators have economised and scaled-back their offerings, Åre it’s not as simple as it used to be to this Arctic gem, but for those looking for a more unusual ski holiday it’s worth the effort. 

For more information, click here.

5.5) Scotland

For a lot of people, the cost and logistics involved with skiing on the Continent are simply unrealistic. Although much less predictable, Skiing in Scotland can be very special. Base yourself near Fort William on the west coast to access Glencoe and Nevis Range. Aviemore is the perfect location to explore the Cairngorm Mountains from. Take a punt on a good weather forecast, book some last-minute accommodation online and head north! Ski passes are very affordable, the atmosphere is totally unique and the feeling of skiing on a mountain in the British Isles is epic.  

For more information, click here.

Now that you’ve found the perfect skiing resort for the entire family, make sure you’ve got all the clothing and equipment you need so that you’re ready to hit the slopes!

Looking for advice on how to dress your kids for a skiing trip? Read our latest blog post on ski outerwear and equipment for children.