Both European and North American are well reputed as two of the world’s leading ski areas.

While both offer high peaks, powdery snow and jaw-dropping scenery, from the Canadian Rockies to Switzerland’s majestic Matterhorn, both hold some key differences. First-timers and intermediate skiers will be best suited to the nearby, vibrant ski scenes of Europe, just a few hours' flight away. Meanwhile, ski enthusiasts looking to broaden their horizons might prefer to venture further afield to swoop the slopes of the USA and Canada.

Skip to the sections below to find our more differences between skiing in Europe vs North America:

Whether you’re looking for a family ski resort in Europe or the best resorts for beginners, our experts can answer your ski with first-hand knowledge.

Why choose to ski in Europe?  

  • The short flight times from the UK makes Europe's ski resorts easier to get to
  • Europe is known for it's indulgent and varied après-ski scene
  • The short distance between resorts means you can enjoy a combination of multiple resorts in one trip
  • There are lots of options to keep all levels of skier happy

Europe's ski resorts are a favoured short-haul winter escape, brimming with accessible resorts and just a few hours' flight-time from the UK. As it's just a short hop away, it means you'll get that extra time to enjoy the slopes when compared with the longer journey to Canada or the USA.

You’ll find ultimate winter fun on the European slopes as they're typically packed with activities and entertainment. You can even witness the Alpine Ski World Cup pros in action across certain resorts during the winter season, when you can watch in awe as they speed down the slopes at up to 100mph!

If you’re a new skier, Europe might be the best option for you. Here, you can practice your skills before you venture further afield, and there are plenty of ski schools available.

But of course, novices are not the only skiers that will find great slopes to practice on. Europe’s black runs are excellent for the advanced skier to practice their carving techniques. There are some bigger challenges on offer too - try the famous Sella Ronda Circuit in the Italian Dolomites, where you can conquer over 1,200km of pistes across 12 resorts in just one day!

Be prepared to spend a lot of time in the renowned apres-ski scene during your European winter escape. Share stories, meet new friends and try the delicious mountain delicacies. Enjoy a jovial scene after a  day’s skiing sharing stories with friends and family at the foot of the slopes in Val d’Isere. Or, savour delicious foods such as Verbier’s Gruyere cheese fondue and the totally irresistible apple strudel in Austria.

Europe’s ski resorts also have some seriously impressive scenery to ski amongst. Famous peaks like the mighty Matterhorn in Switzerland or Mont Blanc in the French Alps tower overhead and almost stop you in your tracks with their incredible natural beauty. For thrill-seeking off the slopes, you can take a cliff walk in Grindelwald and hike around the mountain top via a skywalk which is simply a feat of Swiss engineering.

As Europe’s ski areas are near each other, you can even combine them together to get a taste of multiple countries in one trip with one lift pass.

The best places to ski in Europe

Val d’Isère

The French Alps is home to one of Europe’s most snow-sure resorts, Val d’Isère. Sitting near the French-Italian boarder, this ski area resides high up in the Tarentaise Valley, ensuring excellent snow conditions for a longer season than many other European resorts. At the foot of the Val d’Isère slopes is a range of chic boutiques, trendy bars and top restaurants for you to enjoy - mountain lunch at Le Signal is a ‘must’!

Val d’Isère, France

With over 300km of pistes and more than 90 lifts to access the slopes, skiers of all abilities will be catered for, making it an excellent resort for families. Plus, this scenic spot in the mountains is coated in a blanket of snow during Christmas, making for a popular escape during the holiday.

See what the best European ski resorts for Christmas are.

Le K2 Chogori

To make the most of the impressive slopes and the festivities of the holiday season, we recommend Le K2 Chogori, situated at the base of the Isère glacier. Effortlessly embark the slopes or the visit the nearby village.

Indulge in the resort's world-class restaurants to refuel after a long day on the slopes, or you can take a soothing treatment at the Goji Spa while the children play in the Kids’ Klub.  

Selva Gardena, Italy

Across the border and set within the awe-inspiring mountain peaks of South Tyrol’s Dolomites is esteemed UNESCO World Heritage Site, Selva Gardena Ski Resort. With over 1,200 ski slopes to access and a group of picturesque villages bursting with family-friendly activities, ski holidays in Selva Gardena are truly unmissable.

Selva Garden, Italy

This resort has repeatedly been awarded the title of best skiing area in the Dolomites due to its thrilling slopes and circuits across the Sella Ronda and its inclusivity for each age and ability level. You can also delve into the ski trips accessible from Selva Gardena, and partake in tobogganing, snowshoeing and ice skating.

After a day of testing your ski skills, revel in the inviting warmth of the resort's intimate dining venues that cater to everyone from family-friendly inns to exclusive gourmet restaurants. Pair it all with breathtaking views of South Tyrolean's snow-clad landscape.

Alder Spa Hotel, Italian

Spend your Italian winter break enjoying breathtaking views from Alder Spa Hotel, located high in the Garden Valley at 4,055ft. Gaze at wonderful views of the Italian mountain backdrops and indulge in gourmet cuisine and array of boutique shops. Plus, you can enjoy high-end spa facilities with professionals. Selva Gardena is bursting with winter-inspired fun to fill your days with exciting itineraries.

Zermatt, Switzerland

Atop Europe’s highest slopes, you’re offered scenery that is off the scales alongside unrivalled slopes and excellent snow conditions on the sun-kissed peaks.

Zermatt, Switzerland

Situated at the foot of Switzerland’s looming Matterhorn, Zermatt ski resort sits as a must-visit ski destination. From here, you can ski over to Cervinia, Italy, another excellent ski resort, for the day and enjoy a gourmet lunch of hearty Italian cuisine. After refuelling on traditional Italian pasta for lunch, you can ski back to the Swiss peaks and discover its own delicious cuisine in the Zermatt Village.   

Matterhorn Mountain, Switzerland

Zermatt is incredibly family-friendly, and if you’re travelling with your little ones who are new to the slopes, the resort offers an exciting Swiss Ski School taught by Snowli Kids Village. For hours, they will be entertained with fairytale magic and short, safe slopes for them to practice.

Verbier, Switzerland

Widely known as one of Switzerland’s popular resorts amongst ski enthusiasts, Verbier stands proud with snow-sure conditions and world-class off-piste ski slopes. Here, you’re surrounded by attractive alpine scenery and postcard-perfect backdrops that you can admire as you descend the extreme terrain.

Verbier, Switzerland

If you’re an advanced skier searching for a challenge, try your skills out on the 400km of slopes in the Four Valleys, excellent for those looking for a thrill. If you’re not an overly active skier, Verbier’s town hosts an ice rink for ice karting, a swimming pool, and delicious restaurants where you can try the famed raclette cheese wheel, a perfect centrepiece at your dinner party. Or, you can partake in lessons in ski schools to improve.

W Verbier, Switzerland

Oozing in modern chalet-style interior and overlooking the snow-capped mountains is W Verbier. Easily access the slopes from your chalet with the ski-in/ski-out service provided. When you've finished skiing for the day, why not relax in one of their indoor/outdoor pools, or let the jet bubbles send you into a relaxed trance in the exclusive AWAY® Spa.

Courchevel, France

Stretched over four separate villages is Courchevel, an exclusive, high-end ski resort that offers exclusive skiing alongside luxurious apres-ski.

Courchevel, France

After a day exploring the impressive 600km of runs, all connected by the junction of chairlifts, you can join the ski celebrations with Michelin-star dining. Not only that, but you can also cosy up with a warming hot chocolate after browsing the high-end branded shops from Louis Vuitton and Chanel.

Take a break from skiing and embark on some more winter-inspired activities in the area. Enjoy exciting options to spend your time, including Moriond racing, snowshoeing, snow mobiling and dog sledding. Plus, you can do this under the watchful eye of the majestic Mont Blanc.

Why choose to ski in North America?

  • Discover more opportunities for advance skiers
  • Make a whole holiday for all ages and pair your ski trip with another experience such as a city break in Vancouver or New York
  • A longer ski season means more opportunities, especially over Easter
  • Effortlessly make your way onto the mountains with great lift systems and passes

If you’re an advanced skier wanting to explore beyond the European pistes then North America is your next destination. Both Canada and the USA are home to a new world of skiing culture and slopes for you to discover, with spacious runs of powdery snow, and next to no lift queues – you’ll feel as though you have a mountain to yourself at times!

Just be prepared - the slopes here do require a bit more stamina as you'll really clock up your ski miles.

The apres-ski scene in the USA boasts chic elegance and is home to an array of Champagne bars, fine dining restaurants and ‘all American’ service. If you’re travelling as a multigenerational family, the old mining town resorts, such as Aspen, are extremely accommodating to little ones, offering a warm and homely welcome and activities to entertain them for hours. Plus, multiple resorts are covered by one lift pass, so you can carve at high speed down legendary ski runs such as the Bull or Boomerang to your heart's content.

Canada is a perfect choice for multigenerational family ski trips. With a truly winter wonderland feel, the service is warm and homely with plenty to entertain and delight children with. The Peak2Peak Gondola is a highlight of skiing in Canada - hanging in the sky, you'll traverse the mountain peaks and soak in the panoramic views of the forest below.

One key highlight of skiing in North America is the lengthy ski seasons. If you opt for a winter getaway in North America, you can add some more ski holidays to your calendar further into the year, perhaps over Easter or late spring. Skiing North America offers you great value as we advise a longer ski holiday duration, giving you the chance to truly immerse yourself in the abundant resorts that line the Rockies and soak up that all-American hospitality.

Canadian Rockies, Canada

What's more, you can pair your snowy-mountain getaway into a twin-centre journey to get even more from your trip. If you’re based in Whistler Blackcomb, you can make a stopover in Vancouver city before or after your ski break. In the USA, you can pair your slope time with a shopping trip in New York City.

The best places to ski in North America

Aspen Snowmass, USA

Hosting picturesque towns and amazing skiing conditions is one of the USA’s best ski holiday destinations, Aspen Snowmass. The famous ski resort is an excellent choice to ski at high altitudes, challenge the vast skiable terrain and enjoy family-friendly, classic mountain accommodation.

Aspen Snowmass, USA

Aspen offers something for everyone. Here, you can immerse yourself in their ski experiences in and around the resort. Their world of ski has attracted some of the world’s VIPs with their superb opportunities of activities and après-ski.

Hotel Jerome, USA

Hotel Jerome, the number one hotel in the west and south-west (as voted by Conde Nast Traveller Readers) is in the heart of Aspen and boasts its own complimentary ski lift for easy access to the mountain. Enjoy a stay here to savour its historical charm and exceptional comfort in one of North America's most desired ski resorts.

Whistler Blackcomb, Canada

Heading north into Canada is Whistler Blackcomb, a ski resort bursting with world-class skiing slopes, unforgettable winter activities and snow-clad scenery that stretches between the two mountains and beyond.

Whistler Blackcomb, Canada

Home to 8,171 acres of diverse terrain, there is enough across the two mountains to fill your ski boots with. Whistler and Blackcomb mountains are in a constant battle of playful rivalry, fighting for the best resort and only resulting in becoming one of North America’s best skiing resort.

One of Whistler Blackcomb’s key highlights is the Peak2Peak Gondola that connects the mountains, the highest and longest in the world and perfect for taking in the Canadian scenery of sweeping forests and staggering snow-clad peaks.

Peak2Peak Gondola, Canada

Opt for Whistler Blackcomb for days filled with thrilling, award-winning adventures from zip lining and bobsleighing to ski jumping, heli-skiing and much more. Alternatively, you can enjoy a day on the apres-ski scene with fine dining, craft beer tasting and watching sports.

Lake Louise and Banff, Canada

Amongst the mountains of Alberta sits Lake Louise and Banff ski resort, ideally placed within the heart of Banff National Park UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Lake Louise and Banff, Canada

This area is comprised of three excellent ski resorts, Mount Norquay, Lake Louise and Sunshine Village, all offering something for any kind of skier. Whether you’re seeking thrilling slopes or novice terrain, you’ll find something just right for you across the 8,000 snowy acres.

Lake Louise and Banff, Canada

Amongst its unique offerings of exciting adventures is night skiing. The resort is beautifully lit up of an evening, perfect for you to take in the landscapes and glittering snow blanketing the path ahead under the stars.

Discover whether Europe or North America is better for an unforgettable ski getaway in the mountains

Want to know what ski destination is best for you, but aren’t sure what country is best for you? Our Travel Specialists can tailor-make your next winter break for you to hone in on your ski skills this winter.

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