Europe’s snow-capped peaks are not just for skiers. Amidst the mountains, there are resorts that offer a paradise for those who prefer their winter holidays without the skis. These resorts come packed with activities, culture, relaxation, and entertainment suitable for everyone. From thermal spas in Switzerland to historic explorations in Italy, there’s something for everyone. Let’s explore five European ski resorts that cater brilliantly to non-skiers.
1. Chamonix, France: A Mountain Gem for Every Traveller:
Chamonix, nestled at the base of Mont Blanc, offers more than just its prestigious skiing. It’s a haven for non-skiers too. The Aiguille du Midi cable car lifts you to the heavens, offering views that stretch across the Alps. For those seeking adventures off the slopes, the Montenvers train takes you close to the Mer de Glace glacier, providing a spectacle of nature’s power.
Hiking and mountain biking through Chamonix’s lush forests offer an active yet peaceful escape. The Gorges de la Diosaz offers an easier trek, featuring a path through waterfalls. By night, Chamonix transforms with a vibrant scene filled with bars, restaurants, and a microbrewery, ensuring your evenings are as exciting as your days.
2. St. Moritz, Switzerland: Luxury and Wellness in the Snow:
St. Moritz, known for its opulence and twice host to the Winter Olympics, offers a serene escape for non-skiers. Here, relaxation is taken seriously, with a plethora of thermal spas, wellness retreats, and boutique hotels. Unique activities like yoga on the snow offer a twist to finding your zen.
The village of St. Moritz is a cultural hub, boasting galleries and museums like the Múzeum Segantini and the futuristic Chesa Futura. Gastronomes will revel in the dining scene, where twenty-seven restaurants boast Michelin Guide mentions. For breathtaking day trips, the Bernina Express to Tirano offers unparalleled alpine views.
3. Cortina, Italy: Chic Shopping and Cultural Delights:
Cortina d’Ampezzo, encapsulating Italian luxury amid the Dolomites, extends its allure beyond skiing. The pedestrianised Corsa Italia is a shopper’s paradise, with high-end brands, artisan shops, and antique stores set against a backdrop of stunning architecture. The town also hosts Cortinametraggio, an international short film festival, adding a cultural touch to its glamorous streets.
For those wishing to explore beyond, Venice is a mere two hours away, perfect for day trips. Cortina’s après ski scene is unmatched, with bars, restaurants, and nightclubs like La Suite Wine Bar offering a sophisticated nightlife. With thirty-six Michelin Guide-featured restaurants, culinary adventures are guaranteed.
4. Avoriaz, France: A Family-Friendly Winter Wonderland:
Avoriaz stands out with its vehicle-free policy, creating a safe, family-friendly environment. The resort’s architecture blends seamlessly with the mountains, offering a picturesque setting for non-skiers. Aquariaz, a tropical-inspired waterpark, promises fun with warm pools, slides, and kid-friendly areas.
The resort is a hub for activities like hiking, golfing, and ice-skating, ensuring there’s never a dull moment. The absence of vehicles means the streets are alive with walkers, cyclists, and even horse-drawn sleighs, adding to the charm of Avoriaz. The shopping and après-ski scene here is vibrant, catering to all tastes.
5. Morzine, France: Adventure and Relaxation in Harmony:
Morzine, a jewel in the French Alps, offers a broad spectrum of activities for those who prefer to keep their feet off the skis. From snowshoeing through serene winter landscapes to the thrill of snowmobiling, there’s excitement at every turn. Families will enjoy dedicated sledging areas, while those seeking relaxation can find solace in the spa and wellness centres.
The resort’s streets are bustling with shops selling local crafts and gourmet products, perfect for leisurely exploration. By night, Morzine’s dining and nightlife scene comes alive, offering a taste of local and international cuisines. For culture enthusiasts, historical sites and traditional chalets offer a glimpse into the Alpine way of life.
Europe’s ski resorts are a treasure trove of experiences, transcending the traditional skiing holiday. Whether it’s the cultural richness of Cortina, the wellness focus of St. Moritz, the family-friendly atmosphere of Avoriaz, the adventure of Morzine, or the scenic beauty of Chamonix, there’s a winter holiday waiting for everyone. These destinations promise an unforgettable experience, blending the thrill of the mountains with the warmth of European hospitality, making them perfect for non-skiers seeking a snowy escape.