Coming to a ski resort for the first time as a beginner skier or snowboarder can be a bit intimidating. With a little know-how, our tips will help you make the most of your first time and hopefully leave you desperate for more. So, to make things nice and easy and take away the booking nerves, we have put together a guide to the best ski resorts for beginners.
While there are hundreds of fantastic resorts across the world, this guide narrows down our expertise to Europe’s highly recommended beginner hotspots!
No matter your level, affordable performance goggles are a must. Check out our collection but now, lets dive in.
Sitting at just under 2000m, Obergurgl is a brilliant resort to guide you into your first steps in mountain life! With a focus on beginner and family skiers or boarders, its wide, treeless slopes have long been a favourite to learn with confidence. The beginner areas are easily found, one in the village near the Rosskar chair lift and the other at the bottom of the village by the Festkogel chair lift. You will have the choice of 9 ski schools, with Skischule Obergurgl as the most popular and traditional. If you’re needing a day off the slopes, why not treat yourself to a day in the local spas or snowshoeing to appreciate the breathtaking beauty around you at a slower pace?
Saas-Fee in the Switz Alps delivers on its great reputation as one of the most beautiful resorts but also for catering for novice and beginner skiers and boarders. It is famous for the excellent snow conditions and fantastically groomed slopes. Hitting the slopes can be quite exerting so ensure you explore all that the area has to offer if you need a rest day. There are a great many things to do, from exploring the historic Ice Pavilion, tobogganing one of the highest runs in the Alps, all the way to enjoying the luxurious spa amenities to help with soreness.
Meribel is a comfortable and easy-going resort for first-time skiers and snowboarders or beginners looking to sharpen their skills. There are two beginner ski areas with free lifts which allow you to learn and progress in a safe environment. These are in the centre of Meribel Mottaret (Zen zone) and at the Altiport area of Meribel (Ski Cool zone). There are many alternatives to the slopes to really take in the views of Europe’s highest summits (Mont Blanc) from Meribel, such as; cross-country skiing, walking, snowshoeing, sledding, ski-joering, or riding a horse-drawn carriage.
Soldeu/ El Tarter/ Grandvalira, Andorra
Soldeu and its neighbouring resort, El Tarter, is ideal for beginners. With 78 green and blue runs running throughout the Grandvilira ski area, it ensures that the whole mountain is accessible to all levels. Soldeu lives up to its name (‘Sun God’ in Catalan) providing skiers and snowboarders with sublime conditions with its prime visibility and an abundance of snow each winter. This Pyrenees resort offers an alternative to the Alpine Mountain experience, with Catalan cuisine and culture. Each village is accessible via the slopes or bus, meaning that no matter your ability you’ll be able to divulge in everything this area has to offer.
Alpe d’Huez, France
Alpe d’Huez is widely regarded as one of the world’s leading ski resorts. You can find a great range of beginner slopes to learn and grow your skills. You will find two large and four smaller nursery ski areas, 41 green pistes and 34 blue pistes to practise on once you've mastered the basics. And you’ll have plenty of choice for ski and snowboarding schools to get you started: ESF and ESI both teach have the option to learn with English speaking instructors which will ensure you have a fun time while feeling confident learning.
Les Deux Alpes, France
Les Deux Alpes has it all! Top to bottom accessibility for beginners and an exciting, wide ski area for first time skiers and snowboarders. There are four nursery slopes at your disposal serviced with free lifts, which means you can save your pennies on a lift pass until you are ready to face the greens and blues. Easily navigated and enjoyable runs. With restaurants and bars dotted across the mountain, you have plenty of choice for your midday Vin Chaud or Chocolat Chaud! A quick word of advice to the party seekers, steer clear of the 4pm rush hour down the home run from the vibrant Pano Bar and instead stay safe and hop in the Gondola to re-join the party at the equally fun, Umbrella bar.
Standing higher than Meribel at 1850m, Courchevel offers beginners a brilliant opportunity to explore the most diverse areas of the Three Valleys. It is a haven for beginners, you’ll be in good hands in the highly recommended ski and snowboard schools including ESF at 1850m, Oxygen, and New Generation.
While similar to Meribel in its family friendly vibe, Courchevel also has a lively party scene with bars and clubs in abundance to meet with likeminded mountain heads. Head up to the famous La Folie Douce by gondola to really experience the meaning of Après Ski!
La Plagne, France
La Plagne is a resort that is widely accessible to learners, as it is structured with nine separate villages at various altitudes, all equipped with their own beginner ski areas. There are nursery areas or 'Zone Débutants' (with gently sloping gradients and wide-open spaces to practise on) in Plagne Bellecote and Belle Plagne and a beginner zone in Plagne Centre, which is great for first-time skiers or snowboarders and is long enough to get a few turns in. You can practise here, making you more comfortable and confident before potentially venturing further up the mountain. Perhaps on your breaks from learning you can visit the bobsled and luge Olympic track, or the join the après-ski, or if you are feeling adventurous: ride a skidoo, horse drawn sleigh or huskies or book a tandem flight! The opportunities really are endless!
La Rosière, France
La Rosière is a great choice for first timers! You’ll find the nursery slopes in the centre of each part of the resort, they’re ideal for children and first-time riders and skiers as they are safely away from the main ski area. The instructors of the ESF, Evolution 2, Oxygène and OriginAlps schools will support you and loved ones with nurturing your skiing and boarding skills with enthusiasm and expertise on slopes adapted to your level, so that your stay in La Rosière is a success! After a few lessons, children and adults alike…. will be able to access play areas such as the Funcross du petit Saint-Bernard, the Parcours du petit Saint-Bernard and the Snowpark. La Rosière’s reputation as a great family resort with easy wide runs and leisure facilities in resort are testament to it being a great favourite for first time mountain goers.
Stylish, stunning and sprawling are just some of the names we can call Avoriaz resort in the Portes Du Soleil ski area. Avoriaz is well known as a family friendly ski resort and a great place for beginner skiers and snowboarders, thanks to its vast number of beginner friendly pistes. Great access to the entire Portes du Soleil, the most snowsure, good children's facilities and family-friendly, car-free resort. Avoriaz’s beginner zone is located right in the heart of town, where sunny greens and gentle blues provide a good area for learning. The only issue can be the number of skiers and boarders using the slopes, especially at the start and end of the day as people try to reach the other parts of the resort. After a hard day on the slopes, the resort’s reputation for excellent mountain dining and cosy bar evenings provides a great way to unwind.
With this guide to the best beginner resorts in Europe, you are sure to find the right fit for your first mountain adventure! There is a vast variety of character to choose from, from family friendly to fast paced to sparkling nightlife. Despite their differences, each resort guarantees a life changing experience and lifelong skills delivered by superb ski and snowboarding schools. Jump at the chance and book your holiday today!