5 cute European ski resorts for family holidays
You’d think cute family ski resorts would gravitate towards some of Europe’s most spectacular settings. Architects have the likes of Mont Blanc and the Matterhorn to play with. They get winter’s deep, blue skies and twinkly lights. And they have the advantage of snow, nature’s very own Photoshop.
So, why oh why, do so many potentially cute family ski resorts end up so ugly? Truth is, most were brutalised in the 1960s and 70s when traditional character wasn’t so much of a currency. But there are a select few that stayed under the developers’ radar and came through unscathed. So, if you know where to look, cuteness can be had and not at the expense of reliable snow, kids’ adventure and all the other family ski holiday essentials.
1/5 Hallstatt, Austria: one of the cute family ski resorts with lake views
Austria has cute family ski resorts across every skiing region from Arlberg to Innsbruck. But Hallstatt on the shores of glacial Lake Hallstätter is the one all the others want to be. And, if World Heritage status isn’t enough to tempt you, the village is just over an hour from magnificent Salzburg and even closer to the Salzkammergut ski areas. The quaint Christmas traditions and kids’ festivals also put this one on the wish list.
How to get there: direct UK flights to Salzburg take from 2 hours. Salzburg is just over an hour’s drive from Hallstatt.
2/5 Annecy, France: the Venice of cute family ski resorts
Dating back to the 10th century, ancient Annecy winds round a network of tiny canals and bridges under the gaze of the Aravis Mountains. The skiing here is gentle on nursery slopes for beginners and good at building older kid’s confidence. Trois Vallées is nearby for more serious skiers. But Annecy is so enchanting you’ll spend as much time off the slopes as on.
How to get there: Direct UK flights to Geneva take from 1 hour and 40 minutes. Annecy is 40 minutes drive from Geneva.
3/5 Zermatt, Switzerland: views of the Matterhorn add drama to the cute
Zermatt is just on the right side of impossibly cute thanks to the ever present Matterhorn and a reputation for serious sport. The resort has access to over 30 peaks of 4000m plus and interconnecting ski-areas in both Switzerland and Italy.
This is the resort for older kids up to the challenge of demanding downhill and younger ones have everything from excellent ski-schools and fun clubs to first-steps’ sledding, ice skating, swimming and snowshoeing.
How to get there: Direct UK flights to Basel take from 1 hour, 40 minutes. Zermatt is just over 3 hour’s by road or rail from Basel.
4/5 Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy: the pretty resort loved by wealthy Italian families
With its elegant bell towers, historic streets and mighty Dolomite ridges, no list of great mountain beauties is complete without Cortina d’Ampezzo in the mix. A luxe favourite with wealthy Italians, this lovely resort’s also part of family-friendly Dolomiti Superski. So you can always stay elsewhere, dip in and visit Cortina and still afford ski-passes.
How to get there: Direct UK flights to Venice take from 2 hours. Cortina d’Ampezzo is 2 hour’s by road from Venice.
5/5 Saint-Martin-de-Belleville, France: fairy tale pretty close to Trois Vallées
Saint-Martin is called ‘Le Village des Trois Vallées’ but – apart from fast gondolas – you wouldn’t know you were anywhere near the world’s largest ski area. Kids love the fairy tale atmosphere here, when they can drag themselves away from tobogganing, bobcat expeditions, swimming, skating and child-size hikes through the satisfyingly wintry countryside.
How to get there: Direct UK flights to Chambéry take from 1 hour, 40 minutes. Saint-Martin-de-Belleville is an hour’s drive from Chambéry.