Europe’s Top Resorts for Early Season Skiing
It’s the same every year. The slopes close in April and you’re at a loose end for the next eight months. Twiddling your thumbs in the sun isn’t fun when you’re a powder addict. Whether you’re craving snow or seeking a bargain by skiing in October, these are the spots to hit the slopes early. Here are Europe’s top resorts for early season skiing. Pack your bags, the pistes are closer than you think!
Benefits of Early Season Skiing
Early season skiing isn’t just about beating the crowds – even though that’s a huge draw in itself. Beating the season will dramatically lower the price of your ski trip. If you’re looking to save money on everything from ski lift passes to airport transfers, head off to the slopes pre-season.
So where’s best to visit?
Zermatt (All Year)
Altitude: 1,620m – 3,899m
The Swiss resort of Zermatt is often proclaimed to be one of the best ski resorts in the world. Whether you agree with that or not, it’s certainly an ideal place to hit the slopes early. The resort is home to long runs, excellent snow conditions and even Europe’s highest lift.
The skiing areas open in late November and close around the end of April. Though, the glacier area offers favourable ski opportunities all year round.
But wait, there’s more! Zermatt is also home to a revolutionary snowmaking system (The IDE Snowmaker). This machine can produce snow in above-zero temperatures. This means you’ll be sure to see fresh snow in the autumn even if the temperatures aren’t favourable.
Hintertux (All Year)
Altitude: 1,500m – 3,250m
Hintertux Glacier is another rare ski spot that’s open all year round. The wider area opens from October to May. When the main season kicks off (around mid-December to mid-April) the slopes around Finkenberg are easily accessible boosting the number of slopes at your disposal.
Mölltaler Glacier (Mid-June)
Altitude: 1,200m – 3,122m
If you’re after summer skiing, Mölltaler Glacier has come to your rescue. Its slopes seem never ending, its scenery is eye-wateringly beautiful and its snow is reliable. There’s options for all difficulties and plenty of off-slope activities to keep you entertained when not skiing. We know where we’re heading when we get the ski bug in the middle of summer.
Saas Fee (Mid-July)
Altitude: 1,800m – 3,600m
Saas-Fee, ‘pearl of the Alps’, is recognised for its exceptionally high altitude. Good snow conditions are to be expected as are the truly breath-taking views. The village is traditional in style and well-worth exploring. The slopes aren’t are more suited to intermediate and beginner skiers than experts.
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Val Semales (Early September)
Altitude: 2,011m – 3,258m
Opening in early September, Val Semales is an ideal place to dive into early-season skiing. Snow is pretty much assured which boosts its reputation as a go-to training location for many winter sport teams. The 10.6 miles of cross-country tracks are another huge draw of the Italian resort.
Altitude: 1,740m – 3,440m
Set among Austria’s famous Tyrol mountains, Pitztaler Glacier is among Europe’s highest ski areas. It’s also incredibly reliable for snow. Skiing on the glacier is available from mid-September onwards while the wider ski area opens from December. Keep your eyes open when visiting, the views are truly remarkable.
Altitude: 2,150m – 3,160m
Kaunertal Glacier is covered with snow all year round. It’s open for skiing from September till the end of June. There’s plenty of lifts servicing the spot to ensure minimal waiting time. If you’re looking to get away from civilisation and hit the slopes to the backdrop of exquisite peaks, this is the place for you!
Altitude: 1,350m – 3,340m
If you want a larger than life ski experience with awesome nightlife, Sölden is for you. The twin glaciers of Rettenbach and Tiefenback allows for an early season opening in September while the backdrop of the Oetztal valley offers opportunities for all levels of skiers. Sölden itself has plenty of bars, clubs and restaurants lending it a vibrant apres-ski reputation.
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Stubaier Glacier (Mid-September)
With delicious pistes, high altitude and early season opening, Stubaier Glacier is well worth a visit. It’s accessible for both beginners and intermediate skiers while the high altitude delivers some truly remarkable views of the Stubaier Alps.
Tignes (Late September)
Altitude: 1,550m – 3,450m
We love Tignes! If you can’t resist the allure of French slopes but fancy getting there before anyone else, Tignes is the place to go. The resort is large with delightful summer glacier skiing opportunities. The resort caters to all abilities but is favoured among those of an intermediate and advanced skillset.
Kitzsteinhorn – Kaprun (Early October)
Altitude: 911m – 3,023m
It’s one of Europe’s most famous glacier ski areas and we can tell exactly why. At an altitude of 2,900m, the spot is a hive for powder addicts. If you’re craving more than just the slopes, the town of Kaprun offers oodles of culture and history. We highly recommend pulling yourself away from the glacier for long enough to pay the castle a visit.
Engelberg (Early October)
Altitude: 1,050m – 3,020m
Once a Monastery village, Engelberg is now a modern sports hub home to the largest family winter sports resort in Central Switzerland. Open to skiers of various difficulties and interests, Engelberg is pretty under-rated among the skiing community.
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Gstaad – Glacier 3000 (Late October)
Altitude: 1,200m – 3,016m
If you’re looking for luxury, Glacier 3000 is the spot for you. Located at an altitude of 3,000m, the slopes are well groomed and can cater to a varied selection of skiers. There’s even opportunity for snowboarders and free-skiers to show off their skills too.
Diavolezza – Pontresina (Late October)
Altitude: 2,093m – 2,978m
Running deep with culture and tradition, this resort offers perfect conditions for October skiing. It’s sunny, protected from wind and sits upon a Southwest facing slope. This isn’t a place for beginners or intermediate skiers. This one’s best suited for those with an advanced skillset.
Cervinia – Breuil (Late October)
Altitude: 2,050m – 3,480m
One of the best ski areas for beginner and intermediate level skiers. Sitting on the southern side of the famed Matterhorn mountain, a lift pass here will cover 350km of pistes with 59 lifts. The scenery will be one of the most memorable parts of your trip while the off-slope facilities are great fun too. This is a really well-rounded resort that will keep many visitors happy. Its late October opening is a huge bonus!
Laax (Early November)
Altitude: 1,100m – 3,018m
Laax holds the crown as Switzerland’s leading freestyle winter sports resort with huge popularity among the snowboarding community. The snow is reliable while the Vorab glacier allows for pre-season skiing. Recently, the resort has been attracting a younger crowd with its influx of bars, pubs and restaurants.
Obergurgl (Early November)
Altitude: 1,793m – 3,082m
Obergurgl is renowned for its exceptional height and its welcoming locals. The resort has a genuinely happy feel to it which is infectious. It’s a firm favourite of families and intermediate skiers alike. It also offers something that not all skiing spots are able to replicate – an authenticity and genuine atmosphere. The slopes are generally crowd-free (especially early in the season) while the snow is reliable.
So now you know where you’re heading, it’s time to sort the transfer. We offer a free, easy and fast ski transfer comparison platform to ensure you get the very best deal available. We only show verified operators and have a strict no-hidden fees policy. Find the best priced ski transfer for your ski trip here!