Skiing in the Alps is a right of passage for many powder hounds. Yet there are subtle differences between each European country and ski resort. Here’s a look at three authentic Alpine resort towns that have hosted a Winter Olympics. Each continues to draw tourists year after year and showcases the best of the Alps.
St. Moritz, Switzerland
The birthplace of winter tourism, St. Moritz has lured international visitors for over a century. This is a posh town frequented by old money and the occasional celebrity. Still, there are deals to be had. Stay more than one night at a hotel and you’ll be able to purchase a ski pass for just CHF 35 (CND 45). This luxury resort town is as sunny in winter as it is in summer, and you’ll appreciate that with all the outdoorsy activities you’re about to partake in.
Corviglia is the main hill, but you’ll find a total of 88 groomed runs, a whopping 34 mountain restaurants and three snow parks within minutes of the town. Sledding is quite popular here, and there are purpose built runs for that, too. For a rush like no other, visitors can barrel down the Olympic Bobsled run and feel G-forces. Afterwards you’ll receive a Bobbaptism certificate and can toast your accomplishments with a glass of prosecco. Feeling romantic? You can’t go wrong taking a twirl around Lago Bianco, an atmospheric, natural ice surface a short drive from the town. Sweeten your stay with a treat from Cafe Hanselmann, a tea house Audrey Hepburn often frequented.
Come here if: Moneys is no object. You like to see and be seen.
While sporting downhill ski resorts, this charming town is best known for its Nordic infrastructure. Here, you’ll find 262 km of freshly groomed cross-country ski trails. It’s a surreal experience skiing around an Olympic ski jump and watching athletes hurl themselves into the air, but there’s so many Olympians training around here, you soon get over it.
Seefeld itself is your typical Tyrollean village with an abundance of chalet-style, wooden A-frame mountain homes. Families take advantage of the Olympia Sport Center, an excellent wellness facility sporting an indoor swimming pool, movie theatre, outdoor skating rink and a special ice surface for Bavarian curling. Visitors do well noshing at Plangger Dres Culinaria, well known for its Alpine specialties.
Come here if: You’re looking for a laid-back family holiday and don’t care too much about getting in vertical feet.
Admittedly, Germany doesn’t come first to mind when thinking of skiing in Europe, but the Bavarian Alps are easily accessible from Munich and shouldn’t be overlooked. There are two popular ski hills in Garmisch. Garmisch-Classic is closer to town, but Zugspitze Germany’s highest peak delivers views of over 400 summits in nearby Austria, Italy, Switzerland and Germany.
Non-skiers can trek along the Partnach gorge, declared a natural monument or soak up the Bavarian atmosphere in the old town. There you’ll find several Luftlmalerein, or painted buildings that depict the home’s former inhabitants and regional customs. There isn’t much of an après scene in here, but there is plenty of beer. Try a shot of warm beer topped with whipped cream at Gasthof Fraundorfer as you listen to yodellers and watch schuhplatter (Alpine slap dancing). .
Come here if: You’re pressed for time, like downhill, beer and hearty meals. (Not necessarily in that order.)