5 leading ski resorts in Europe for early season snow

5 leading ski resorts in Europe for early season snow

The allure of an early-season ski trip is undeniable, from the thrill of the first descent to the crisp mountain air and the sun glinting off pristine snow. But with unpredictable snowfall, choosing the right resort is crucial, whether booking in advance or taking advantage of a last-minute ski holiday deal.

Below, we’re sharing a list of Europe's leading destinations for near-guaranteed snow while the season’s still young, allowing you to carve turns before the festive crowds arrive.

1. Tignes, France

Nestled within the vast Paradiski area, Tignes boasts the bragging rights of being one of the first French resorts to open each season. Thanks to its high altitude (the main village sits at 2,100m) and extensive glacier skiing, you can shred fresh powder as soon as November. 

Tignes caters to all levels, with wide-open beginner slopes and challenging off-piste terrain for experts. It even has a dedicated freestyle zone for those who like to add some air to their skills.

2. Zermatt, Switzerland

Dominated by the majestic Matterhorn, Zermatt is a skier's dream come true. Although the Theodul Glacier is sadly shrinking, it’s still big enough to provide world-class skiing and snowboarding as early as mid-October. 

Zermatt caters to all abilities with more than 394km of groomed pistes, from gentle beginner slopes to tough black runs. Off-piste enthusiasts will find endless powder stashes waiting to be explored with a certified guide, while the opportunity to hop across the border to Cervinia in Italy teases an even more expansive ski experience.

3. Val Thorens, France

Europe's highest ski resort village at 2,300m, Val Thorens has near-guaranteed snow cover from the start of December. Part of the enormous Three Valleys ski area, it boasts an impressive 140km of pistes, making it a skier's paradise. 

Beginners can build confidence on wide and gentle slopes, while intermediates have a vast network of blues and reds to explore. Advanced skiers will find plenty of tricky terrain, including the legendary black run down the Péclet glacier.

4. Cervinia, Italy

Sharing the mighty Matterhorn glacier with Zermatt, Cervinia offers a charming Italian alternative for early-season skiing. Typically opening in late October, the resort boasts stunning scenery and a relaxed atmosphere. 

Beginners and intermediates will find plenty of enjoyable pistes, while experts can access demanding off-piste terrain with a guide. For a unique experience, ride on the Plateau Rosa cable car, which provides panoramic views of the surrounding peaks.

5. Hintertux, Austria

With a glacier ski area that reaches up to 3,250 meters, Hintertux is a haven for skiers and snowboarders year-round. With excellent snow cover guaranteed, you can carve turns here from as soon as September. 

The resort is home to a good mix of slopes, catering to all abilities. Beginners can hone their skills in dedicated learning areas, while intermediates have a variety of blues and reds to explore. Advanced skiers can test their mettle on difficult black runs and off-piste terrain.

Fresher snow, fewer crowds

By choosing from the resorts we’ve shared above, you can score epic powder turns and pristine slopes in Europe early in the season. Beyond the slopes, you’ll enjoy a relaxed atmosphere before the peak crowds arrive, giving you plenty of opportunity to soak in the scenery, savour the local charm and enjoy the tranquillity of the mountain.

5 leading ski resorts in Europe for early season snow
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