Winter in the Alps - Planning Tips

Winter in the Alps is a magical time. In fact, it is so magical that the Alps welcome more visitors in winter than in summer. Despite the high volume of visitors, planning a winter vacation in the Alps, particularly an affordable one, remains a daunting task. We hope this page helps.

 

If there is any additional information that would be helpful to have on this page, please reach out to us and let us know. 

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The Essentials

  • Flights are generally much less expensive in winter

  • Europeans do week-long ski vacations rather than weekend ski vacations

  • Many hotels (up to 80% in the most popular winter destinations) require a 7-night minimum stay, with check-in and check-out happening on Saturday, also known as "turnover day"

  • Groomed "winter hiking" trails, as well as multi-kilometer-long sledding runs that are accessible by lift, make winter an extremely family-friendly time of year to visit the Alps

  • Although most backcountry huts are closed for the winter, many leave a room open and available for use. Most winter rooms have cooking and toilet facilities, as well as bedding. Overnight costs are often as low as 5€

  • Before hitting the Alps anytime of year, it is essential that you check your insurance policies and ensure that you are covered in case of illness or accident. Find out more about travel insurance

Budget-friendly Tips

  • Choose a location that is easily accessible by public transportation with very few connections

  • If you want to skip public transportation and use private transfers, try to gather a group of 6 or more in order to split the transportation costs

  • Consider staying in a central location (away from the slopes) that has public transportation access to many different ski areas

  • We love Switzerland, but if you are on a budget, avoid it. Austria and Italy are your best bets

  • You will have the best selection of accommodation choices if you plan your vacation from Saturday to Saturday

  • Many campgrounds near ski areas remain open in the winter. Some offer small apartments or rooms you can rent that are very affordable

  • Rent a camper van through us and choose your daily ski destination based on the current condition report

  • If you have backcountry experience, consider staying in a mountain hut instead of a hotel

Skiing and Snowboarding

 
  • We recommend www.bergfex.com for conditions, weather, and other ski resort information

  • The ski slope ratings in Europe are different than in the Americas. Check out this post we found on Ski Piste Ratings. If the link doesn't work anymore, please let us know.

  • When purchasing your ski pass, you may pay an extra deposit that you can recover if you return your pass at then end of the day/trip

  • Life is a party, especially on the slopes, so don't be surprised by the party atmosphere. And if you love to party, Apres Ski in Austria is an absolute must!

  • There are some ski resorts where you can ski from country to country, like the Matterhorn area (the Italian side is much less expensive) and Ischgl

  • If you are looking for convenience, we like Garmisch, Cortina d'Ampezzo, and the ski resorts in and around Landeck, Austria

  • Innsbruck is the airport that is most convenient to a multitude of skiing areas

Ski/Snowboard Safaris
We plan. You Play.
Choosing Your Ski Resort

Snowshoeing

 
  • Snowshoeing is a great way to ditch the crowds that are concentrated at the ski areas

  • Most winter destinations have designated snowshoe routes. Information regarding these routes is usually readily available at the tourist information office

  • Snowshoeing is not as popular in the Alps as it is in other mountain ranges, such as the Rocky Mountains, primarily because of the steeper terrain. AT skis are generally preferred for winter summits over snowshoes

  • Its lack of popularity in the Alps is exactly why we love snowshoeing! It can be tricky to find the right snowshoe adventure, but we are happy to help with that. Let us know if you need help planning your snowshoe adventure, or book one of our already planned snowshoe tours

Snowshoe Tours
We plan. You Play.

Family-friendly

 
  • Don't miss the sledding! In the Alps, sledding means steering the sled down forest roads, sometimes for multiple kilometers, that are groomed for sledding. Almost all ski areas have designated sledding runs that can be accessed by a lift. For a less crowded, and less expensive experience, walk to one of the many quaint mountain huts to enjoy a warm apple strudel, and sled on the groomed run back down to your car. Keep in mind that not all sledding is kid-friendly.

  • Many winter recreation areas have winter hiking trails that are groomed, and therefore no skis or snowshoes are required. This is a great activity with kids! Information is available at the local tourist information offices.

  • Many locations have trains and gondolas that are suitable for non-skiers to get up higher in the mountains. Tickets are often less expensive for passengers without winter sports gear. Some great areas for this are Chamonix, Interlaken, and Garmisch. 

Family-friendly Tours
We plan. You Play.
Our Sledding Video (not family-friendly)
A more family-friendly sledding video

Backcountry

 
  • The extensive mountain hut network means that you get to enjoy the winter wonderland by day, and prepared meals followed by a warm bed by night, without ever returning to civilization

  • Each country does its own avalanche report, but the Mammut Safety App compiles all the information into one place

  • Due to the steeper terrain in the Alps, we recommend AT skis and a solid descent technique for backcountry skiing

  • Enough mountain huts remain open for the winter to use as great base camps, or stopping points on a hut to hut tour

  • Although most backcountry huts are closed for the winter, many leave a room open and available for use. Most winter rooms have cooking and toilet facilities, as well as bedding. Overnight costs are often as low as 5€

  • Winter backcountry trips in the Alps are extremely difficult to plan without some local knowledge and familiarity with the Alps. We have invested countless hours of research and many field days finding the best backcountry adventures out there. Check out our self-guided Winter Hut Tours, and let us know if we can help you with anything

Winter Hut Tours
We plan. You Play.
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bookings@alpenventuresunguided.com

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