Winter Destinations in Europe: famous and less-known ones

Maddalena Brugali | Live the World

November 23, 2022

Christmas Time is now over, and New Year festivities are closed, (unless you are in the Balkans as there you will celebrate the New Year twice). But Winter Destinations in Europe are still amazing!

Families with kids will wait for Carnival week (beginning of February, across the continent). Others who can afford it, and who desperately look for sun, will decide not to wait and enjoy the European Destinations that offer ski tracks as of now. Season is open until Easter, so plenty ski opportunities in Europe abound. Wherever you live in the continent, people from any country can access a ski resort within very reasonable reach.

The most famous Winter Destinations

Some countries are more blessed than others in terms of Winter Destinations. It is the case for the Alpine countries like France (with famous resorts like Morzine et Avoriaz), Switzerland (Zermatt, Davos, Crans Montana … does that ring a bell ?), Austria (Kitzbuhel, Sint Anton … have you heard about that ?), or Italy, all natural spots for people looking for snow paradise. Ski resorts above 1,800–2,000 meters are very common there. At such an altitude, slopes are great, and you usually lie above the clouds, which results in more sunshine and D vitamins.

The less-known Winter Destinations

Other countries deserve more recognition for the offer the Winter Destinations they offer. First to come to mind is Spain, with its Sierra Nevada in the Andalusian South, as well as the Pyrrénées at the border with France. But there are so many more winter destinations spots in Europe, surely not as famous as their sisters here above, but still, that can prove to be great experiences, and for a budget that is way more affordable.

First on the list is the Balkan peninsula which features great Winter Destinations still rather unknown or less-known than others. For example, although you would rather only think of Greece as a sun-blessed country fit for summer times, think twice. Far from being limited to the Cyclades or the Dodecanese islands, you will indeed find Greek ski resorts and winter destinations, such as Vasilitsa or Kaimaktsalan. Further north, if you move to Bulgaria, you will hear about the Bansko ski resort, a charming mountainous resort where you will be able to experience ski, but also get in touch with local folklore and traditions. Last but not least, Kopaonik, the « Silver mountain » in Serbia (named after its rich mines), located in a natural area, is a real paradise for ski and snowboarding.

Scandinavia now. Norway, as one might know, often holds the record in term of medals at the Winter Olympics ; no wonder it is an amazing Winter Destination! As soon as when they are kids, people up there (especially those living in the northernmost regions) go shopping, to work, or to University skiing. Up north, at the border between Norway and Sweden, Riksgraensen is a great Winter Destination. Going back to the opposite side of the continent, the Caucasus is not left behind, with resorts such as the Shahdag mountain.

Even in my home country Belgium, whose highest peak is at 693 meters above sea level, named the « Flat country » by its most famous singer (Jacques Brel), as soon as there is snow, people tend to rush in the Ardennes (a range of hills, east of the country) and do a bit of downhill or cross-contry skiing. This reflects the general attitude and mindset of the European people toward their beloved mountains.

Here is a collection of Winter Destinations in Europe, the famous ones as well as the less-known ones. I am sure you will not be disappointed!

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