A family ski vacation involves the exhilarating thrill of gliding down powdery white snow with your kids and the cozy warmth of gathering for hot chocolate breaks. When you add in the term and glamor of the best European ski resorts for families, you’ve got yourself a great holiday. Many families, however, are mixed group ability skiers. Whether through choice or age, when skiing as a family you need to have a variety of trails or maybe even, accommodate for non-skiers.
In this list, we look at the best family skiing in Austria and Spain, the best French family ski resorts, the best family ski resorts in Italy and the best Swiss ski resorts for families. You won’t be surprised that our choice of the best European ski resorts for families skews towards France and Austria. Each of the resort we have picked for this list of the best ski resorts for families in Europe not only has charm but accommodates different levels of skiing ability.
Best Austrian Ski Resorts for Families
Austria has a great selection of ski resorts for families in Europe.
The Arlberg area is in Western Austria and surrounded by three mountain ranges. With 305 km of ski runs, the Arlberg Area is the largest ski area in Austria and the 5th largest in the world.
Nearby, Obergurgl-Hochgurgl is also in South Western Austria. It sits nestled in the ever so beautiful Austrian Tyrolean Alps, in the Ötztal Valley. As the highest village in Austria, Obergurgl has a particularly long ski season from mid November to early May.
Austrian ski resorts for families: The Arlberg Area
The Arlberg area is a massive and snow-sure ski region that encompasses several ski resorts with some of the best skiing for families in Europe. These world-famous resorts include St. Anton, St. Christoph, Lech, Zurs, Warth and Steuben. For non-skiers there is everything from paragliding to tobogganing and horse drawn sleigh rides. In terms of the best family skiing Austria has to offer, Arlberg has many options which together create one of the biggest ski resorts in Europe.
Austria ski resorts for families: Lech/Oberlech
When we went to St Anton, we stopped by Lech for a day of skiing as well. The village at Lech is very pretty with lots of shops, bars and restaurants.
Skiing at Lech itself is extensive with 8 different peaks. Don’t forget your Arlberg ski pass gives you access to all the other areas, too, making this one of the best Austrian family ski resort. No time to get board even for the most challenging of teens.
Lech has a great ski school which accepts children from the age of 4 1/2. There is also a nominal fee for ski passes for children under the age of 8.
We first heard of Oberlech because it is a firm favourite of the families at the American School in London. Luckily for us, the Americans and the British winter vacations are different and so we were not overrun with our neighbours and their families when we went.
Oberlech is a quiet car-free resort which is only accessible by the cable car from Lech. Taxis are only allowed into the resort when the cable car isn’t running.. Oberlech offers excellent intermediate skiing and a smaller beginners area. Our friends consider it one of the best ski resorts for kids Europe has because the car-free area means they can play in the snow without worry. The cable car runs from Oberlech into Lech well into the night so that you can enjoy the restaurant and bar scene in Lech.
Austria ski resorts for families: Zurs am Arlberg
Zurs is smaller and quieter than its neighbour, Lech. It has the distinction of being the site of Austria’s first ski lift in the 1930s.
Zurs has great skiing for all abilities but especially intermediates and advanced skiers. On bad weather days, you can be unlucky and get a total white out.
Zurs is known for attracting a luxury-loving crowd. Zurs has a handful of restaurants which are mostly located in the hotels and also an active apres-ski scene.
Zurs is a better option for beginners than Lech. Zurs has a great ski school, too. The minimum age for children to go to ski school is 4.
Austria ski resorts for families: St Anton am Arlberg
Alpine skiing began in the Arlberg in 1921 when a ski instructor set up Austria’s first ski school in St Anton.
St Anton is the playground for ski experts and has 200 off-piste options. The longest run is a demanding 10-kilometre Valluga-St. Anton, giving you an elevation difference of 1,347 metres. It’s a mega-moguls haven and an adrenaline junkie’s dream.
St. Anton is an ideal holiday resort for the whole family with some of the best family skiing Austria offers. The dedicated children’s area in Nasserein and Gampen has a good ski school.
There are two gondolas that link St Anton to Zürs and Lech with one lift pass.
Austria ski resorts for families: Obergurgl-Hochgurgl
Obergurgl-Hochgurgl is considered “the diamond of the Alps”, with rustic traditional charm and well-groomed ski runs, families fall in love. Even though Obergurgl has only 24 lifts and 110 km of groomed trails, it is some of the best family ski resorts Austria has.
Families, beginners, and experts enjoy the variety of sun-kissed slopes (1,800-3,080 metres) with first-class infrastructure.
Skiing in Obergurgl is ideal for beginners and intermediate skiers, with plentiful carefree blue runs. For more experienced skiers looking for more of a challenge, find your way to Sölden.
You will find a variety of moderately priced accommodations and non-ski activities such as ice-skating and tobogganing when the family needs a break from skiing.
Obergurgl is particularly popular with British families. Children under 5 have a nominal ski lift price. Other kids and teens get discounted ski passes.
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Best French Family Ski Resorts
France also has a good selection of ski resorts for families in Europe many of which fall into the affordable luxury category. In terms of family skiing, France is a firm favourite of ours.
Located in the Tarentaise Valley, La Plagne is part of the large Le Paradiski ski area which also includes Les Arcs. La Plagne is a popular choice for tour operators so expect it to be crowded.
Les Tres Vallees is made up of several French family ski resorts such as Courcheval, Val Thorens and Meribel. We have been to Courcheval but Meribel would be a better resort for families because it has less Russian/European glamour babes.
Our go-to resort in France for several years has been Val d’isere where we stayed near the slopes at Hotel Christiania. Val d’Isere is in the large ski area known as Espace Killy which includes the modern resort of Tignes.
French Ski Resorts for Families: La Plagne/Les Arcs
La Plagne resort is ideal for a family-focused ski holiday – hence, the number of tour operators who go there. It sits nestled at 1800 metres altitude, offering a quaint village charm, alpine character, breathtaking views, in-chalet childcare and après ski options for the whole family. Young skiers can learn on the gentle nursery slopes, while intermediates can perfect their moves on blue slopes.
Although this resort is rather spread out, you will find several villages to stay with the family, especially with young children. See the Plagne Center, Belle Plagne, Aime, Soleil, Bellecote – they offer fantastic kindergartens.
La Plagne boasts 425 kilometres of top-quality pistes – catering to all levels and one of the biggest ski resorts in Europe. Besides skiing along the fluffy white slopes, enjoy your time with the kids by taking them to visit the igloo village or ice cave or doing a bit of husky sledging.
Les Arcs was built in the 1960’s and 70’s and it shows. You either love the brutalist look or hate it. It’s definitely not the place where you are going to find a cute little Alpine village.
On the other hand, the skiing is excellent with 200 km of trails in addition to everything you find at nearby La Plagne. And all that modernist apartment blocks means plenty of good affordable family-friendly housing options for family skiing in France. If you don’t care so much about the looks of a resort, one of the best family ski resorts France has to offer is Les Arcs.
French Ski Resorts for Families: Méribel
Méribel forms part of the Les Trois Vallees (Three Valleys), primarily including Courchevel and Val Thornes, and small resorts like La Tania, Les Menuires and Orelle. The Three Valleys combined boast one of the biggest ski resorts in Europe, a whopping 600 kilometres of interconnected slopes.
Meribel is popular amongst British families; there is a range of ski schools and childcare options for your children to attend. Instructors and nannies speak English and offer lessons on the slopes.
French Ski Resorts for Families: Val d’Isere
Val d’Isère was rated one of the best ski resorts in the world. It’s a well-known affluent resort, ideal for fine dining and nightlife. We have found plenty of family-friendly eating options at Val d’Isere as well.
Not only that, it offers the perfect family-friendly ski holiday with plenty of of recreation centres and low prices on ski passes for children. There are several ski schools at Val d’Isere. We tried both the French-owned Oxygen and the British -owned Progression. Our kids had a preference for Progression
Non-ski activities include ice skating, snowboarding and sledging for the whole family to enjoy.
At an altitude of 1850 metres, Val d’Isère and its neighbour Tignes make up the Espace Killy ski area. Tignes is a purpose built resort of apartment blocks and lacks the charm of Val d’Isere. They offer a spectacular 300 kilometres of skiing terrain.
Best Italian Ski Resorts for Families
Although Italy doesn’t have a big quantity of ski resorts for families in Europe, they do have good family-friendly food which make it a sue winner with kids.
Gressoney is part of the Monterosa ski region in the Aosta valley which like our choice of Bequeira Beret in Spain and La Tzoumaz in Switzerland are hidden gems not serviced by the big tour operators of Europe. If you are looking for charm away from the glitzy crowd, you will appreciate why we added them to this list of the best European ski resorts for families.
Located also on the Swiss side of Italy, Courmayeur is considered one of the best ski resorts in Italy.
Italian Ski Resorts for Families: Gressoney La Trinité
In the centre of the Monterosa ski slopes area is a traditional Italian village with wooden chalets and cobbled streets – the Gressoney La Trinité Resort. This gorgeous holiday destination has a handful of alpine restaurants serving exquisite Italian cuisine.
The ski area is perfect for both beginners and experts which makes it great for a family holiday. Take your kids to Stafal for some gentle blue runs or drop them off at the Monterosa ski school.
Check out the Champoluc or Alagna area for more challenging runs or some off-piste skiing.
Italian Ski Resorts for Families: Courmayeur
Courmayeur is on the opposite side of Mont Blanc from Chamonix. We have been to Courmayeur both alone and as a day trip from Chamonix when the snow was terrible at that resort. In terms of family ski resorts Italy wins in terms of its food.
Courmayeur is best for intermediates and advanced skiers. There is a small beginners area. Courmayeur has 352 km of marked trails and 60 ski lifts. There is also plenty of backcountry skiing. Be forewarned that Italians think waiting in ski lift lines is for sissies.
Courmayeur has a charming village with excellent food. My children still talk about the pizza and the hot chocolate.
Non-skiing activities include ice skating, snowshoeing and shopping.
Family Skiing in Spain
When you think of family ski resorts Europe may come to mind, but not necessarily Spain. Baqueira-Beret offers the best family skiing in Spain and is also the largest ski resort in the country. Located in the Spanish Pyreness, we found Bequeira Beret on par with the resorts of the French Alps but much cheaper.
High up in the Aran Valley in the northern Pyrenees, sits the cozy Baqueira Beret – a favourite holiday retreat for the Spanish Royal Family and wealthy Spaniards.
The area is divided into sections; Baqueira, Beret, Bonaigua and the newly opened Baciver. Each of them offers impressive long runs starting at 1,500 to 2,610-metre altitudes and there are plenty of options for the whole family. We found Baqueira Beret has some of the best family skiing Europe has to offer, even compared to the Alps!
A beginner park sits just above Baqueira and is the ideal setting for kids to find their ski legs. The slopes continue to rise from blue pistes to red and black runs. If anyone is looking for a superb ski school, the local Baqueira British Ski School has fantastic recommendations.
The acres-ski scene here is s spend with your family sipping on splendid wine and enjoying tapas together.
Non-skiers can enjoy options such as snowshoeing, dog sledging, and snowmobiling.
Best Family Ski Resorts in Switzerland
Switzerland is not the place to go if you want a cheap ski holiday. We’ve picked La Tzoumas, in the canton of Valais, which we consider a hidden gem. It is a family-friendly ski resort with access to the glamour of Verbier. As part of the 4 Valleys area you have access to 410 km of trails.
Zermatt is the highest ski resort in Switzerland and everything you would expect/imagine in one of the best family ski resorts in Switzerland . Thanks to its position near the famous Matterhorn, Zermatt is one of the best family ski resorts Switzerland has.
Family Ski Resorts Switzerland: La Tzoumaz/Verbier
La Tzoumaz is a good value family-friendly ski resort in the 4 Valleys area. Located two hours from Geneva, you will need to rent a car because there is no airport transfers available. Once you are at the village though, there is a free ski bus to help you get around this family ski resort in Geneva.
La Tzoumaz has 55 kilometres of mostly intermediate runs of blue and red runs. If you take the main gondola to the top, you can ski down to Verbier fairly easily.
La Tzoumaz is quiet and doesn’t have the nightlife or shopping of its glitzy neighbour, Verbier. There are good ski schools at La Tzoumaz too.
La Tzoumaz has lots of non-skiing options – 13.5 km of snowshoe hiking trails, a 10 km toboggan run, and ice rink and an indoor swimming pool.
Verbier is where the royals go so you can expect it to be expensive and glamorous. It is indeed one of the best family ski resorts Switzerland has as well as one of the best European ski resorts for families overall. This resort provides excellent skiing suited for intermediate and advanced skiers with lots of red, black and off-piste skiing. You can ski down to Verbier from La Tzoumaz in 15 minutes or drive in 35 minutes.
Family Ski Resorts Switzerland: Zermatt
Zermatt is also another fabulous (and expensive) Swiss ski resort. There is a great skiing in a lovely town which is car free. Only the town doctor is allowed to have a car! Zermatt has good airport connections from Geneva airport.
The landscape is beautiful with the iconic Matterhorn mountain dominating the town. No wonder it is one of the best ski resorts for families in Switzerland.
With 360 km of runs and 52 ski lifts, Zermatt can offer something for everyone in the family. Most of the skiing is geared towards intermediate and advanced skiers. You can also ski over to Cervinia on the Italian side.
The Klein Matterhorn cable car is the highest cable car in the Alps and gets you skiing all-year on the glacier. There are even 18 km of glacier trails.
Zermatt has so many ski schools there is even a top 10 list of ski schools.
For non-skiers there is snowshoeing, sledding and ice climbing as well as great shopping and gourmet dining which makes it one of the best European ski resorts for families.
Find the Best Family Skiing in Europe For You
When you are checking out ski resorts for families, Europe is a top destination for any ski enthusiast. From tots to tweens and everyone else, these ski resorts for families in Europe offer a delightful inclusive family holiday experience for the whole family.
Which one of our choices for the best European ski resorts for families will be your favourite family ski resort for seasons to come?
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