Immaculately groomed pistes, top-notch ski schools, picturesque settings and joined-up mileage (either plenty of blue/red runs or a ski circuit). These are all things that rank highly with intermediate skiers.
Regular skier Michael Adjaye said, “Great examples of joined-up mileage are in France’s Three Valleys resorts – Courchevel, Meribel and Val Thorens. Here you can endlessly explore the different terrain and scenery. And for long ski circuits, you can’t beat the Sella Ronda in the Dolomites – you can ski it in either direction. It’s brilliantly signposted and there are some wonderful mountain restaurants where you can eat your fill of superb Italian food.”
Best ski resorts in Europe for intermediates
Set amid the spectacular backdrop of the Wilder Kaiser mountain range, the SkiWelt is Austria’s largest linked ski area. It is home to nine different villages. And there is an excellent lift system (91 lifts in total) covering each of the villages so it’s possible to ski all day without repeating any runs.
The whole region is suited to intermediate skiing. With over 90 percent of the terrain classified as easy or intermediate and the runs are wide and well looked after. As for snow cover, powder is historically reliable, despite the highest point being at 1825m. When it’s not, the area’s extensive snowmaking facilities (environmentally friendly snow canons) take care of the rest.
The villages all have an authentic Tyrolean charm and are similar in style yet they do each offer something unique. Söll is known for its party atmosphere and you’ll almost certainly find young Brits showing off their drinking prowess. For something quieter, Hopfgarten is a good choice.
Serre Chevalier, France
Another of our ‘best ski resorts in Europe for intermediates’, Serre Chevalier is known for its beautiful powder and awesome freeriding.
There is an abundance of varied terrain, from tight chutes and wide-open bowls, to open tree-line skiing and steep drop-offs. And with 250km of piste, there’s enough variety to suit all levels of skiing.
It’s a perfect resort for those who are keen on traditional mountain style. Serre Che is made up of a dozen quaint French villages, between Col du Lautaret and the historic town of Briancon. Briancon in particular is a wonderful area to ski, when it gets plenty of sunshine and the snow falls, and has some of the most picturesque runs in Europe.
People used to groan about the cranky lifts but in recent years the resort has seen major investment. Improvements have come in the form of swish gondolas linking more skiable terrain (the villages of Frejus and Chantermerle).
Monêtier is the prettiest village, however it’s quiet so it’s best to head elsewhere if partying is high on your agenda. Its slopes are emptier than those at the other villages and it has some of the best tree-line skiing in the valley.
So, what makes it good enough to be on our ‘best ski resorts in Europe for intermediates’ list? Serre Chevalier has a variety of terrain on which to stretch your skills. From wide-open groomers, which are well kept and sign-posted, to more challenging terrain so that you can take your skiing to the next level. The great thing is that there are difficult runs, which can be tackled by less technical skiers, because there are bail-out routes if you’re not quite ready for the steeper parts. A good one to try is the Luc Alphand black run from Chantemerle back to the village.
Widely connected Lech has expertly groomed pistes, great signposting, an excellent snow record and fun apres-ski scene.
Lech makes our ‘best ski resorts in Europe for intermediates’ largely because the whole ski area can be accessed using the Alberg ski pass. The pass also provides access to the St Anton ski area meaning a ski tour is certainly on the cards. While we recommend skiing at St Anton, Lech is a better base for intermediate skiers. This is because the slopes are quieter than St Anton and better for building confidence.
The terrain consists mostly of wide-open smooth-linked pistes. We rate the White Ring circuit, which connects Lech and Zurs. From the top of the Madloch chair take the red 33 route, a 5km long run, and follow red 33a to Zug. Other good options include the runs off the Steinmahderbahn.
The lift system is sophisticated complete with heated seats and perspex covers and queues aren’t bad. So any downsides? Yes, it’s quite expensive and there are fewer mountain restaurants than you’d expect from such a well-known ski destination. Lech is a favourite of many regular skiers so make sure to book your ski lessons ASAP as they fill up a couple of months in advance.
Åre in Sweden offers quite a different skiing experience. Wholesome, natural beauty awaits you, unusual yet delicious cuisine, a host of traditional Scandi activities and incredibly beautiful people.
As for the terrain, there is something for everyone – steep faces, gullies and heaps of tree-line skiing. It’s varied and challenging enough for intermediate skiers but it also has its fair share of gentle, confidence-boosting pistes. There are a number of parks too – take young ones to the Kids’ Park, which has small kickers and rails, in the Björnen area for their first taste of freestyle riding. The Family Park in the Duved area features a green and red line, which is perfect for intermediates. And if you’re feeling very confident then the main snow park consists of a black line, a red line, a decent rail line, a halfpipe, and a boardercross course.
If you’re the type of skier who relishes the thought of a near empty untracked piste to fly down then you’ll be in heaven. Visit at off-peak times to get the most out of this wild resort.
The best way to progress as a skier is to take lessons from good instructors. BASS is a top ski school with a base in Megeve, which runs tailored courses for intermediate skiers who wish to develop their abilities on more challenging terrain. If BASS doesn’t appeal, then there are a host of other schools including small French schools to meet your training needs.
One of the best ski resorts in Europe for intermediates, Megeve is family-friendly and has heaps of suitable terrain. More than 70% of the ski area is marked as intermediate. Skiing is predominantly below the treeline which means that you don’t have to rely on a massive dump of snow for good skiing conditions. However, this is a resort that goes from good to fantastic when the weather is right. Generally, there are lots of interesting areas to explore but we recommend Mont d’Arbois and the front of Rochebrune for intermediates. Feeling confident? Then try the difficult red slopes of La Giettaz. If you want a more relaxing experience, find mellow runs from Mont Joux and cruise all the way down to St-Nicolas.
Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy
Cortina has some of the most scenic ski slopes anywhere in the world. A fabulous intermediate run is from Duca d’Aosta. The Tofanina run weaves in and out of the forest and back to base, before a return to the same starting point opens up some shorter reds. Cortina is indeed an Olympic mountain, but it has so much to offer intermediates that it should be on your bucket list.