Skiing is one of the most popular winter sports worldwide, and for good reason. There are some pretty fantastic spots to ski around the world – some of which are literally under our feet. If you’re a skier looking to hit the slopes this winter, continue reading because we’ve got you covered.
North America: The Mecca Of Ski Tourism
The United States of America is the greatest country in the world. Not only do they make the best hamburgers, but our natural landscapes are beautiful and offer some fantastic skiing. The most populated state is Colorado, which is often referred to as the “Colorado Country”. These days, almost everyone has heard of Colorado, as it is famously known for its ski resorts. There are also other spectacular resorts in Utah, California, and Arizona, which all offer some truly magnificent skiing. In fact, the Grand Canyon State probably produces some of the best skiers in the whole country.
Although North America is home to some magnificent ski resorts, it’s also the case that some areas within the United States aren’t exactly the safest or most comfortable places to be if you’re not used to the icy weather. That’s why, for the time being, we’ll have to leave North America, and head to Europe, which also happens to be the Mecca of ski tourism. The largest country in Europe is actually Austria, whose capital city is Vienna. Although it might not seem like it at first glance, Vienna actually boasts some of the best skiing in all of Europe. It also has one of the most lively après-ski scenes in the world. In fact, Austria is famous for its nightlife throughout the year, which makes for an interesting combination of urban living and mountain getaways.
The skiing in Austria is incredibly varied, as there are a total of 14 resorts within the country. This means that no matter what kind of skier you are, there’s a perfect resort to suit you. If you have a limited budget, you might want to consider staying in one of Austria’s smaller resorts, as prices range around $65-85 per night, and with lift tickets ranging from $27 to $37, you’re likely to get your moneys worth. One of the best things about Austria, however, is that some of the smaller resorts offer an intimate ski-in/ski-out experience, which many people find to be the best kind. Another perk of staying in one of Alpes’ smaller resorts is that you’ll definitely meet more people, which is also a perk outside of the resort.
Asia: The Center Of Ski Innovation
Another fabulous destination for winter sports enthusiasts is Asia, specifically Japan. The country is home to some of the greatest ski resorts in the world, as well as snowboarding, which was actually invented in Japan. Another winter sport that originated in Japan is curling, which is a lot like ice hockey, but instead of using a puck, you use a “bushi” to move the ice around. The country is also home to the Alpine Biking World Championship, which is a ten-day bike race that started in 1922 and takes place outside of Tokyo.
The largest ski resort in Japan is undoubtedly the magnificent Hakuba, located in the northern part of the country. In fact, it’s the largest ski resort in the world. It was built in 1956 and has a massive 360-degree slope, which is flanked by the majestic Mt. Himeji. The resort also features an onsen, which is a Japanese word meaning “hot spring”. The water in Hakuba is actually called “onsen water” and is said to be able to restore your youth. The waters of the onsen are known to be especially beneficial for people with joint problems. There are also a number of traditional Japanese restaurants at the resort, serving up some wonderful Japanese cuisine and offering some great bargains to those who visit during the off-season.
Australia: The Mecca Of Adventure Sports
The smallest country in the world to have its very own ski resort is Australia. The country’s biggest and most popular ski resort is in fact Thredbo, which is located in New South Wales. The resort features Australia’s largest snow park, Thredbo Supertrail, with ten trails ranging from beginner to expert. There’s also Thredbo’s “Vertical Abyss”, a six-story vertical drop, which is actually the tallest ski run in Australia. The whole country doesn’t just revolve around skiing, either. There are surf resorts such as Byron Bay, where you can join surfing lessons and take part in competitions, and even “extreme” surfing holidays, where you’ll get the opportunity to try out the sport you love most.
Australia is famous for its unique wildlife. You’ll frequently come across koalas, kangaroos, and emus around the country, as well as some of the world’s biggest lizards, like the saltwater crocodile. The most exotic creatures you’ll come across are even more common near the coast, as the country’s interior is quite dry. That’s fortunate for you, as the animals there tend to be more active during the day, when the temperatures are cooler.
Europe: The Mecca Of Winter Sports
You might be surprised to learn that Europe is home to some of the greatest ski resorts in the world, due in part to the continent’s unique geography. The largest ski resort in Europe is St. Anton in Austria. The season there runs from mid-June to October, and the chairlift provides access to 450 vertical feet of ski trails. This makes it one of the largest resorts in the world, by ski trail height.
The greatest skiing in all Europe is located in the French Alps, particularly in the area around the city of Sestri Levante. The closest airport to Sestri Levante is located in Salerno, which offers direct Skytrain connections to the city. If you ever watched the movie The Grand Budapest Hotel, you’ll know exactly where we are referring to. If that movie took place in real life, it would be in Sestri Levante. Thanks to the wonders of modern technology, it is now possible to live vicariously through the pages of Google Maps.
Believe it or not, but the greatest ski resort in all of Europe is actually the Greek island of Santorini. This is largely thanks to the fact that there is a bus service that shuttles passengers between the resort’s five main villages. These days, it is quite a common occurrence to book excursions to take you to some of the smaller, less-known, or more-traditional villages, where you can eat delicious food and sip on some of the island’s renowned red wines. Of course, the most famous of these villages is Oia, due to the unique and beautiful scenery, as well as the fact that it was the filming location of the movie “Odds Bodkin”. If you visit during the off-season, you’re likely to have the place almost to yourself, as there aren’t many other visitors around.
The Rest Of The World: Unique Places To Ski
We can’t talk about world-class ski resorts without mentioning the rest of the world. The greatest ski resort city is probably Val d’Isere in France. The town is actually situated at the foot of the majestic Mt. Blanc, and the slopes are said to be more than 360 degrees, meaning there’s always plenty of sunshine for skiing holidays there. There are also resorts in Canada, Mexico, and Argentina, which also boast some fantastic terrain. In fact, Mt. Hotham in Australia is considered to be one of the world’s premier ski resorts, not just because of the country’s spectacular geography, but because of the unique and distinctive culture that surrounds the whole sport.
The greatest snowboard resort is probably Les Deux-Sèvres, in the French Alps. It’s quite a common occurrence for French skiers to take a vacation from their year in the French ski resort town of Evian, and make the short journey over to Les Deux-Sèvres, where they can enjoy the unique atmosphere that only comes with living and breathing winter sporting wonders.
A number of smaller resorts dot the globe, particularly in Africa and South America. The greatest of these resorts are found in Africa, where there are a number of mountains, including Mt. Kenya, whose summit is actually on a plateau, providing some breathtaking views of the entire country, as well as the opportunity to spot some amazing wildlife, like the very rare black rhino. There’s also Mt. Angélique, in the country of Gabon, whose ski resort is actually a former French colonial venture. The original buildings, including the church and school, still stand as a testament to the area’s former status.