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Jul '05

Top European Ski Resorts

Each year more and more of us seek that uniquely pleasurable feeling that comes with a holiday in one of Europe’s leading ski resorts. However, probably unlike the case in North America, a large emphasis of having a skiing holiday in Europe is placed on the social, as well as sporting, facilities that the resort has. What’s more, with ever increasing numbers of us now having the means to enjoy both a winter and summer break, booking your winter skiing holiday early has become even more pressing. The following are 5 skiing resorts in Europe considered to be among the best in the world – and are widely regarded as being the best in Europe:

* Chamonix Mount-Blanc, France
Located at the foot of Europe’s tallest mountain (Mount-Blanc at a height of 15,771ft), Chamonix ranks a common mention in any list of the “world’s most elite skiing resorts” -especially among the French. As the home of the first ever Winter Olympics, in 1924, there has to be a lot said about this fantastic resort: and the resort lives up to its name by having both the longest vertical drop (9209 ft) and the world’s longest ski-runs (13.7 miles). Chamonix is certainly a good choice resort for the serious snow freak and the well-heeled. Which is not to say that you cannot go and enjoy the ski-run and stay in nearby cheaper accommodation and watch from afar as the rich and famous go about their business in the many boutiques located here. Certainly a place for people watching!

* Cortina, Italy
One of the world’s first purpose built ski resorts, Cortina is where the 1956 Winter Olympic Games were held. Although this may lead you to think that Cortina is now an outdated resort, in fact nothing could be further from the truth. Like many other ski resorts in the Alps, the resort centres around a pedestrian street with lots of shopping arcades, restaurants and other pleasure activities. For the serious skier among you, this resort has a number of ski runs, ranging from the basic to the professional, of a rich quality.

* Kitzbulhel, Austria
People have been skiing in the scenic resort of Kitzebulhel since 1892, making this one of Europe’s oldest skiing towns. Although this resort is neither particularly lively, nor particularly popular among the trendier younger age groups, the “Pearl of the Alps” (as it is affectionately known) is a popular choice among the more serious skier and those looking for a holiday combination of serious scenic sightseeing and gentle skiing. Kitzbulhel would also be a good choice skiing resort for the first-time skier looking to take things at a little more leisurely pace.

* St. Moritz, Switzerland
Mention to anyone that you are considering going on a skiing holiday in Europe and the name St. Mortiz is going to crop up. Home to the Winter Olympics of 1928 and 1948, St. Moritz has been the European ski resort of choice almost since its first visitors (two Englishmen) ventured there in 1864. Today the resort is equally famous for its Cresta Run and the array of 5-star hotels located here. For the more adventurous of you, the frozen lake in St. Moritz doubles up as a golf course during the winter!

* Zermatt, Switzerland
What can be said about Zermatt that has not already been said! Probably one of the world’s most famous ski resorts, Zermatt is actually an extremely peaceful ski resort to visit. In part, the reason for Zermatt’s relaxed and peaceful atmosphere has to do with the fact that automobiles are not allowed in the ski resort. However, the fact that most visitors to Zermatt elect to stay at the more popular nearby skiing resorts of St. Mortiz or Gstaad, and come over to Zermatt for a day visit, also plays a large part in this. Certainly an ideal skiing resort to come to if you have a young family as there are, in the surrounding areas, activities other than skiing. It would also make a good location for a quick romantic skiing break.