If you are counting down the days until you are back in the mountains, then we know you’ll want to start skiing in early December. We’ve put together a handy guide outlining the best places to ski in December. These ski resorts offer the finest early season snow, alongside all of the festivities that will take place in the resort. The mountains are a magical place to spend Christmas or New Year. There is nothing quite like an early ski on Christmas morning, or New Year’s Eve watching the fireworks. Read on to find out more about our experts’ top picks for where to ski in December.
1. Kitzbühel, Austria
If you are looking to take advantage of the school holidays and ski early in December, then the family-friendly ski resort of Kitzbühel will be the perfect option. The festive period is when this ski town comes to life. Its car-free streets are filled with twinkling lights and Christmas markets sell roasted almonds and glühwein. Highlights include the annual visit from St. Nicholas himself, and the festive carol services, attended by the whole town. Feast on hearty mountain fayre in traditional Alpine huts. Many of which will serve up traditional local dishes such as Tiroler Gröstl (roast potatoes with bacon, onion and egg).
Not only is Kitzbühel a haven for Alpine festivities, but it is also one of the best places to ski in December. What’s more, Kitzbühel has invested in excellent snowmaking facilities to offer top-ups when needed, so skiers are covered whatever the weather.
2. Val Thorens, France
If your priority for where to ski in December is plenty of fresh powder, then look no further than Val Thorens ski resort – the highest in Europe. Standing tall at an impressive 2,300m, the highest slopes reach all the way up to 3,230m. These high-altitude slopes are typically covered in snow from late November until May making skiing in early December a prime time to visit. The ski resort is so confident in its snow record, that it even offers a unique ‘Snow Guarantee’, which assures skiers can book without worrying about snow cover. Skiers will be spoiled for choice when they head up the mountain. The whole Three Valleys ski area spans a massive 600km of terrain. This makes Val Thorens one of the best places to go skiing in December with masses of pistes and backcountry terrain to entertain skiers of all abilities.
3. Cortina, Italy
This cosy Italian ski town is one of the best places to ski in December. If you are looking for a traditional Alpine festive experience this ski resort is for you. The main square in Cortina is adorned with a towering sparkly tree. Whilst the surrounding streets are filled with horse-drawn carriages, wooden market stalls, and fairy-lit bars serving hearty mountain delicacies. The whole experience is made even more magical by the backdrop of the Dolomite mountains. Iconic jagged peaks define the landscape and make for some incredible sunsets as the rock turns bright pink and is lit up for the whole town to admire.
When it comes to an early morning ski on Christmas day, you can make your way up to nearly 3,000m to enjoy high-altitude skiing across wide-open pistes. Why not try the exhilarating 3.7-mile long descent towards Armentarola in the Alta Badia ski area. This route is best finished with a relaxing espresso or aperitif in a cosy mountain hut.
4. Verbier, Switzerland
Verbier is one of the best places to go skiing in December if you are looking for a resort that has high-altitude skiing in one of the most renowned Swiss ski towns in the world. Its gourmet dining scene and infamous parties guarantee to bring in the New Year in style. As the clock counts down to midnight, Place Centrale comes to life with DJs, fireworks and champagne showers. These can be enjoyed from either the streets or the comfort of your chalet or hotel. Take your pick from a choice of properties, including the W Hotel, or one of our ski-in ski-out apartments dotted around the Medran. December is undoubtedly one of Verbier’s most popular months of the season. It won’t take long to understand why once you experience the magical festive atmosphere that welcomes families, groups and couples alike.
5. Morzine, France
If you are wondering where to ski in December with the whole family in tow, then Morzine might be the ideal ski resort for you. Situated just 90 minutes from the airport, the resort’s short transfer time makes it an ever-popular choice for families. If you are a group looking for easy access to the snow this ski resort is for you. Morzine puts on a show for its December visitors, with firework displays, Santa visits and carol singers. There are also plenty of blissful tree-lined slopes offering sheltered routes that gather up plenty of early season snow.
Skiers can have their fill of the epic Portes du Soleil ski area which serves up 600km of terrain. There’s enough to keep you busy in between stop-offs at cosy mountain slopeside huts for cheese fondue and Vin Chaud. One of the best places to go skiing in December, Morzine offers a huge choice of accommodation. Whether you are looking for self-catered apartments or a ski hotel, our experts can help you.
6. Saas Fee, Switzerland
Known as the ‘Pearl of the Alps’, Saas Fee is one of the places to ski in December. This Swiss hidden gem has a high altitude of 1,800-3,500m and a great snow record. This means there are reliable conditions in the early part of the season. You can explore 100km of brilliantly groomed pistes and the off-piste opportunities are equally as good.
The resort itself has a traditional alpine look with a modern twist. In December especially, it feels like a winter wonderland with the decorations and mountain town chalets. The views are breathtaking with a stunning backdrop of blue glaciers in the area. We highly recommend eating at the Mittelallalin restaurant for lunch. The restaurant is situated at 3,500m and revolves throughout the day so you can see the incredible mountain landscape.
7. Ischgl, Austria
Ischgl regularly has long ski seasons because of its reliable snow record. This means the Austrian ski resort is one of the best places to ski in December. It’s one of the higher ski resorts in the country at 1,380m-2,900m and is perfectly located for snow. The terrain is fantastic too, with 240km of pistes to enjoy during your stay.
Known as a lively après ski resort, Ischgl has many restaurants, bars and clubs to enjoy on and off the mountain. The town itself is virtually car-free and is beautifully decorated in December. In addition, there’s a natural ice rink you can try, that’s perfect for families during the festive period. If you’re looking for a big night out, Pacha is one of the most cutting-edge nightclubs in the Alps. Expect to dance the night away into the early hours of the morning.
8. Tignes, France
Part of the Espace Killy ski area, Tignes is an ideal ski resort for December skiing. The Grande Motte glacier always offers early season skiing, making it a reliable ski destination. The lift links to Val d’Isere start to open in late November, so you can explore 300km of pistes. Its high altitude of 2,100m to 3,456m allows for good snowfall and low temperatures.
This is one of the best French ski resorts in December, but it’s not only the skiing which is superb in Tignes. Off the slopes, there is much to do. There are many restaurants, bars and clubs to enjoy during your stay. We recommend booking a table at the Mendikoa restaurant which serves delicious French cuisine. In addition, there’s plenty of spas, shops and leisure centre facilities to enjoy too. Families and groups will enjoy the bowling alley in town.
9. Breckenridge, USA
Breckenridge is the highest ski resort in the US and is higher than any European ski resort. This means the conditions are very reliable throughout the ski season. As a result, Breckenridge is one of the best places to ski in December. You can ski some great diverse terrain with 139km of slopes in the area. If you’re a powderhound the back bowls off Peak 8 and Peak 9’s north faces are great for off-piste skiing.
There are an impressive 140 bars and restaurants in the vicinity of Breckenridge. Whether you want a fine-dining experience or a classic American burger, you will be able to find somewhere to eat or drink for different tastes. If you want to explore there are a couple of museums and a gold mine tour in the area. After a day on the slopes, Base Nine Bar is great to relax and enjoy a drink with friends. It has a brilliant extensive martini menu too.
10. Vail, USA
One of the most popular ski destinations in the US is Vail. Its high altitude and its excellent snow record is a great recipe for brilliant December skiing. If you buy a Vail Epic Ski Pass, you can ski 234km of pistes in the area and head to neighbouring ski resorts Heavenly and Northstar. Located in the heart of the Rocky Mountains you will be able to admire beautiful scenery and enjoy fantastic skiing.
The village itself has a classy festive vibe in December with delightful decorations in the streets. If you love a bit of retail therapy there are plenty of shops available with many designer brands on show. Families will enjoy the large outdoor ice rink in town. There are plenty of bars and restaurants for different price points and tastes. We recommend booking a table at the Larkspur which serves fantastic contemporary American dishes.
To find out more about the best places to ski in December, please call our ski experts.