The draw of popular ski resorts such as Alpe d’Huez, St. Anton and Verbier is undeniable. Large ski areas, vast après ski and easy links make for a brilliant ski holiday. However, if you’re travelling during the peak season, chances are you will be sharing the slopes with other skiers. If you’re starting to think about where to book your next ski trip, leave the crowds behind and discover these largely unvisited, hidden gem ski resorts. With this in mind, we’ve picked the best unknown ski resorts in Europe and North America for you to explore.
Utah has some of the best snow in the States. Alta is one of the most convenient ski resorts in the state, just 30 minutes’ drive from Salt Lake City airport. Alta is known for reliable snowfall and is one of the top ski resorts for powder skiing in North America. Linked to Snowbird ski resort, it offers killer unpatrolled bowls and superb tree lines, making it the perfect secret ski resort for powder fanatics.
Once you’re up in the mountains, you’ll notice something surprising about Alta ski resort – no snowboarders. It’s one of the only ski areas to remain snowboard-free, giving skier’s unparalleled access to the runs. Despite being a relatively unknown ski resort, Alta also has a lively après ski scene, perfect for a fun skiing holiday with friends.
If you want world-renowned powder runs and convenient chalet-style accommodation, the unknown ski resort of La Tania might be for you. Not only is it the most affordable of the resorts in Three Valleys ski area, it also offers many stylish and comfortable ski-in ski-out chalets. This hidden gem ski resort is situated at 1,400m. With its dedication to nature and ‘no car’ town centre, La Tania is well suited for a no-stress, family-friendly ski holiday.
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Situated in the Aosta Valley on the Italian-French border, La Thuile ski resort is a peaceful hidden gem. The resort’s 150km of lift-linked pistes offer a mix of intermediate, black and nursery slopes, as well as links to the nearby French resort of La Rosière.
A relatively unknown ski resort outside of Italy, its quiet, uncrowded slopes make La Thuile an ideal ski resort for families and beginners. Tree-lined black runs, off-piste terrain and heli-skiing are all available for more experienced skiers. The après ski here includes some charming pubs and cafés, as well as an abundance of delightful chocolate shops. Be sure to try the famous ‘Tometta di La Thuile’ – a 350g milk chocolate bar filled with a local hazelnut paste and Piedmont hazelnuts.
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The French resort of La Clusaz is often overlooked due to its low altitude, however, this hidden gem offers lots of off-piste terrain and quiet slopes. Located in the Haute-Savoie region of the French Alps, La Clusaz is one of the best unknown ski resorts in France, covering a much larger ski area than most people realise. It’s also a lovely traditional French village.
Ski terrain includes beginner-friendly nursery slopes and unique rock formations that provide a suitable challenge for experts. The village has a traditional square and Savoyard church, as well as an ice rink, outdoor market and a good selection of local shops. La Clusaz ski resort is known for fine food and has a great choice of restaurants, including La Scierie, where specialities include a tasty champagne fondue.
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Tucked away near the Austrian and Italian borders, Samnaun ski resort is able to fly under the radar. This unknown ski resort is the region’s best-kept secret. Stay at Samnaun and you will have access to the Ischgl and Silvretta ski areas with over 230km of groomed slopes to be explored. There are also numerous deep-powder runs to discover too.
Samnaun offers plenty of opportunities to relax off the slopes, from browsing the superb range of shops to enjoying Alpenquell Erlebnisbad, a luxury pool where you’ll also find a sauna and whirlpools.
Alta Badia is home to some of the best unknown ski resorts in Italy, Alta Badia in the Dolomites ski area. In the heart of the region and on the Sella Ronda ski circuit are the lovely villages of Corvara and Colfosco. Both of these ski resorts offer great access to the main slopes, including connections to the Marmolada Glacier. The Alta Badia ski area itself covers 130km, with sweeping views of the Dolomites and wide blue slopes. Experts will enjoy the technically challenging World Cup run, Gran Risa, which features a vertical drop of 448m. Low air humidity ensures the snow remains light and powdery for days on end ensuring brilliant ski conditions. As an added bonus, skiers can track how far they’ve skied by using the region’s online Ski Performance Check.
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Switzerland’s secret ski resort of Engelberg is home to some of the best off-piste skiing in the world. Head up to the Titlis glacier by the Rotair cable car and enjoy pretty views over the mountains. The skiing on the glacier reaches up to 3,020m with some great, long red runs down.
The snow record is enviable, with Engelberg generally recording one of the deepest snow bases in Europe over the winter. Powder-lovers return each year to enjoy epic descents on world famous off piste routes; we recommend the legendary 1,000m vertical Laub run. There is a real community feel around Engelberg ski resort with a warm and welcome vibe. For a great evening out, head up high for a candlelit fondue at the Panorama restaurant on the glacier.
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If you’re looking to ski somewhere different, Norway is a truly memorable destination for a winter holiday. One of Norway’s oldest ski resorts, Geilo, is a lovely town sitting between two national parks. It’s a fantastic choice for families and beginners looking for a truly magical winter holiday. There are some great nursery slopes for learners and most pistes are wide and quiet. Challenging reds and blacks are also available for advanced skiers.
It’s not just about the skiing in Norway. The off-the-slope experiences are also unique. Incorporate a trip to the dramatic fjords, try your hand at cross-country skiing or head out on a dog-sledding adventure. Geilo ski resort is home to beautiful wooden cabins with log fires; perfect if you’re after the full Scandinavian experience.
Only an hour away from Innsbruck Airport, Alpbach is one of the top little known ski destinations in Europe. This hidden gem in Austria has stunning views and 1045m of diverse pistes to enjoy. It is an ideal ski holiday for weekends or a week-long family trip. The 14 lifts have an excellent link to Alpbach and nearby ski resort Niederau.
The village itself has a relaxed vibe and a close local feel. All the locals are very welcoming and are sociable with guests in the bars and restaurants in town. As for places to stay, there’s a great selection of hotels and guesthouses to book. There are also several great ski schools to chose from that have great child areas if you’re visiting as a family.
One of the lesser known ski destinations in Europe is Baqueira in Spain. This ski resort offers a different culture of skiing compared to the main ski resorts in the Alps. Located in the Pyrenees you’ll enjoy beautiful bluebird days in the sun. There is 160km of slopes to explore, with a good mixture of slopes for all levels of skier. If you’re a powder hound there are some great powder bowls and even heliskiing on offer in the area.
Off the slopes, there are great places to eat. The village has many great tapas restaurants which have excellent dishes to try. There are plenty of places to stay, with some great luxury hotels too. The nightlife isn’t too lively which makes Baqueira an ideal spot for family ski holidays.
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To discover more of the best unknown ski resorts and our ski holidays, please speak to our experts on 0207 471 7700.
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