The Biggest Ski Resorts in Europe

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The Biggest Ski Resorts in Europe

As I said earlier: when it comes to the size of a ski resort, bigger is better. Why is it so? Big domains have everything you could dream of: from green runs for beginners to black slopes for experts, high glaciers when the weather is nice and low woods to hide in when the storm is on, superb snow parks, vast free ride terrains… Just name it, and it will be there. The largest domains are at the same time the best. The list of the biggest ski resorts in Europe is made in order to help you choose your next holiday destination.  You can’t go wrong with either of them.

To make it clear, every entry on our list is not a single resort, but a group of them which form one skiing area or “domain”.

Another important point is that we took into account only the interconnected domains, meaning that you can get from one side to the other on skis only, using lifts and slopes. You don’t want to waste your time on car or bus rides. An example of a domain which boasts with 650 km of non-connected slopes is Les Portes du Soleil on French Swiss border.  It is all fun and games until you get to the point from which you will have to catch a bus to take you to the next slope or lift. I mean it is not bad at all, but skiing around without limits is the real deal.

Having cleared all perplexity, we can move to our list. In order to keep the tension high the resorts will be listed in reverse order (from the smallest to the biggest one). Fanfare please.

5th Place – Via Lattea

Via Lattea or Milky Way is a domain situated on Italian French border. It consists of 5 Italian: Sestriere, Pragelato, Piedmontese, Sansicario, Sauze d’Olux, and one French resort – Mont Genevre. It has a staggering total of 400 km of pistes. The most famous resort in the area is Sestriere. This purposely built village was host to alpine events during the 2006 Turin Winter Olympics. Slopes are diverse, pistes are long and cruisy. There is good value for money regarding accommodation/ski pass packages. Via Lattea is ideal for freeriding. Italian food is a mouth-watering experience.

Sadly, infrastructure is old and prone to closures due to bad weather. Italians are not world famous for good organization :).  It can be crowded on weekends due to vicinity of Turin.

Despite the fact that Via Lattea is not perfect, it is well worth visiting and should be in your plans for a future skiing holiday. Read the full review here.

4th Place – 4 Valleys

The 4th domain on our list of the biggest ski resorts in Europe is an area called 4 Valleys or Les 4 Vallées (local name). Is this a weird coincidence? This one has 410 km of pistes. The domain is the biggest skiing zone in Switzerland.  Verbier is the most popular single resort in this area. 4 Valleys has stunning views everywhere you go. It looks like a set from the latest Agent 007 movie. Snow covered villages, high mountain peaks, and the woods are stunning.

If you like off-piste skiing this is the destination you must visit. Verbier is the birth place of Freeride World Tour and the venue for the annual competition finals. Apart from back country skiing, Verbier is well known for its vibrant night life.

4 Valleys are ideal for intermediate and expert skiers. If you are a beginner, you might consider coming there in a following season (when you perfect your technique) due to the fact that some linking runs between different resorts are very steep and not groomed at all.

Fairy-tale experience doesn’t come at a low price in this case but it pays off. You can stay in Nendaz or some other village but Verbier and save a bit. Read the full Nendaz and 4 Valleys review here.

skier overlooking Verbier

3rd Place – Paradiski

La Plagne and Les Arcs combined their forces in 2003, they built a double-decker cable car (one of the biggest in the world) and created Paradiski. The domain has 435 km of pistes.  Slopes will suit intermediate skiers the most. Highest peak is situated at 3,226 m above sea level. Views are epic, and Mont Blanc is just around the corner.  As a result of high altitude Les Arcs has a great snow record.

For backcountry skiers there is the Bellecote route, which will take you from 3,200 m to 1,500 m at Nancroix and you will have to take a bus home, but it will be worth it. Paradiski has 2 great snow parks for freestylers.

La Plagne and Les Arcs are not compact places but groups of villages scattered around the mountain. Since they were purposely built, it is an understatement to say that the architecture isn’t always pleasant. Some lifts are old and queues are possible in high season and blue bird days.         

Read the full La Plagne and Paradiski review here.

2nd Place – Sellronda Dolomiti

It was hard to determine the total length of Sellaronda runs but the final number is a fantastic 500 km of pistes. It is a part of an even bigger skiing area with unbelievable 1,200 km of unconnected pistes called Dolomiti Superski.

Sellaronda has it all and even more: striking Brenta Dolomites (towering boulders sticking from the ground, deemed a UNESCO World Heritage Site), rich culture (museums about battles which took place in the area during WWI, and nature museums dedicated to geology), great food, a mixture of Austrian precision and Italian laid back atmosphere. Every skier will be able to find the right slopes for him/herself at the domain.

There is also an interesting system of lifts and pistes which will take you around Sella massif. You will start in the morning at one point and you will ski for 26 km clockwise or counter-clockwise. In the end you will get to the place from which you departed earlier without having to reuse a slope or a lift.

Dolomiti Superski has around 30 snow parks and the biggest are in the area of Sella Ronda. The domain is well known for freeriding opportunities. 

If you visit this Italian ski area you will want to get back again for sure. Read the full review here.

1st Place – 3 Valleys

The undisputed champion of greatness and the first domain on our list of the biggest ski resorts in Europe is French 3 Valleys (Les 3 Vallées). Not only that the domain is the largest skiing area in Europe and the world, at the same time it is the best place for snow sports on the entire planet. From skiing to night life, everything is top notch.

The biggest and the most famous villages of the domain are Val Thorens, Meribel, and Courchevel. Together they have a total of mind-blowing 600 km of pistes. As you might assume just from the volume of content, the runs are diverse. There is something for everyone. First timers as well as professionals will be over the moon after skiing there. Val Thorens is the highest resort in Europe, with its 2 skiable peeks around 3,200 m. Due to the altitude snow reliability and conditions are perfect.

The domain is packed with interesting features on the slopes (snow cross courses, fun parks for kids, parallel slalom runs etc.). Val Thorens, Meribel, and Courchevel also have world-class areas for freestylers. The parks are huge and they have all the elements you can think of. Off-piste routes and possibilities are almost endless.

There is long list of activities after a day on the snow. Bowling, cinema, pools, spa areas, skating, and snow carting are some of the things you can enjoy if you still have strength. When you get hungry you will be able to choose from street food to Michelin stars restaurants. Night life is the best in the Alps. 3 Valleys should be the first choice on every skiing enthusiast’s wish list. The only question should be: “Where am I going to stay: Val Thorens, Meribel or Courchevel?” In order to make your choice easier read the head-to-head analysis of the villages in the domain here.