If you're looking for a more even balance between activities on and off the slopes, consider a city-ski holiday – stay in the city and ski at a nearby resort.
Europe is home to a handful of alpine cities, with direct daily flights from the UK, and all just a stone's throw from the ski slopes. The apres-ski scene in a city is on a whole other level too – not only a huge number of bars and restaurants, but museums, galleries, theatres, shops, concerts and more.
We've chosen five of the best cities for a city-ski holiday.
1. Innsbruck, Austria
Innsbruck is a charming Tyrolean city in the centre of the alps. The old town is lined with a fusion of Gothic and Baroque architecture. Highlights include the Imperial Palace, Ambras Castle, the Golden Roof, and the Imperial Church.
From Innsbruck centre you can hit the slopes in 15 minutes: the Nordkettenbahnen cable car transports skiers from the city centre directly to the slopes of Nordpark (Seegrube-Hafelekar). For a wider choice of terrain, access all nine resorts of the Olympia SkiWorld Innsbruck (295 kilometres of pistes) by hopping on the free ski bus or hiring a car.
The ski shuttles are free with a valid ski pass or Club Innsbruck Card (free with accommodation). Shuttles run from December to April and pick-up from outside selected hotels in the city and transport you to and from: Nordpark (15 mins), Patscherkofel (20 mins), Axamer Lizum (30 mins), Kuehtai (40 mins), Muttereralm (45 mins), Rangger Kopfl (20 mins), Glungezer (50 mins), Schlick 2000 (25 mins), and Stubai Glacier (30 mins).
Looking down over Innsbruck city from the Nordkettenbahnen
Copyright: Gernot Schweigkofler
2. Ljubljana, Slovenia
Ljubljana is the capital of Slovenia. The old city features a mix of Baroque and Art Nouveau architecture. Main sights include Dragon Bridge, St. Nicholas Cathedral, and the 12th-century castle on a hill overlooking the city. In the evening, the numerous cafes, bars, and restaurants lining the river offer a bustling atmosphere.
From Ljubljana, the ski area of Krvavec is 30 minutes away and Stari Vrh is 50 minutes. Krvavec functions as Ljubljana's own ski slope and is suitable for all levels. The majority of lifts are chairs, including the new six-person chair lift to the Krvavec peak (1853m). The ski centre also boasts sunny, south-facing slopes. Regular buses and Skibus services are available to Krvavec from Ljubljana bus stations.
Stari Vrh is a small resort with illuminated night skiing, jumps and ramps for snowboarders, a cross-country track, ski touring path, and children's park.
3. Salzburg, Austria
Salzburg is renowned for its idyllic old town and pretty alpine setting. Winter visitors can enjoy the Christmas markets, classical concerts, and the surrounding ski areas. The city's ancient old town is made up of market squares and narrow streets. Highlights include Mozart's birthplace, the hilltop Hohensalzburg Fortress, and the Salzburg Museum and Cathedral.
The Salzburg Snow Shuttle takes winter sports fans from Salzburg city centre to the ski regions of Salzburgerland. The Salzburg Super Ski Card offers access to more than 2,200 kilometres of slopes and comprises 23 ski regions.
The closest ski resorts to the city tend to be smaller and ideal for beginners. Take the Untersberg Mountain Cable Car from Salzburg city centre up to Untersberg in 15 mins, for the closest skiing to the city. Other nearby resorts include Hintersee (40 mins); Almenwelt Lofer (50 mins); and Abtenau (45 mins).
Intermediate and advanced skiers will need to travel a little further to larger resorts, such as Filzmoos and Obertauern (60 mins) or Zell am See and Saalbach-Hinterglemm (90 mins).
Almenwelt Lofer close to Salzburg
Copyright: Almenwelt Lofer
4. Freiburg im Breisgau, Germany
Freiburg im Breisgau is set on the edge of the Black Forest and is centred round the historic old town. The city is known for its ancient university, medieval cathedral, and many cafes and cosy pubs.
Freiburg is located in the Baden Wuerttemberg region of Germany. The city is 35 minutes' drive from the Feldberg ski area. Feldberg is the highest mountain in the Black Forest with an elevation of 1493 metres. There are more than 50 kilometres of trails for all levels and 14 ski lifts.
Feldberg ski area, Germany
Copyright: Achim Mende
5. Zurich, Switzerland
Zurich is the largest city in Switzerland. It is also known as "the cultural capital" due to its impressive number of museums and art galleries. The lakeside city boasts a pretty old town dotted with gothic and baroque churches and wealth of museums spanning history, art, design, architecture, worldwide cultures, natural science, and botanical.
The city is surrounded by the small ski areas of the Zurcher Oberland: Ghoech (40 mins); Fischenthal (50 mins); and Oberwangen (50 mins). The larger ski area of Hoch-Ybrig is an hour's drive. Here you'll find 50 kilometres of pistes for all levels, sunny slopes, and a friendly family atmosphere.
Fischenthal near Zurich, Switzerland