When I commenced anew with my passion for skiing many years ago, I first let myself be carried away with the main stream. You read about all the well-known ski resorts or watch appealing videos - and of course you want to experience it live and race down the slopes yourself.
I already knew some of them, since we went on skiing holidays as kids at least once a year. In different countries, as we wanted to explore as much as possible. I myself was testing many other destinations in my twenties. Right after I quickly discovered my sympathy for the idyllic and adventurous – which can be fully enjoyed in some places of the southern Europe.
I am introducing my five favorite destinations in five different countries!
Now with my own family, I have been trying to combine both: it is honestly like a treasure hunt for the “gold pieces” with the family-friendly flair in many small ski resorts. Even when the journey of exploring will go on, over time we have been able to discover some really great beautiful places that we like to visit again and again:
Perfect family time with plenty of sledding: The big Arber in the Bavarian Forest
We are very happy to come here for a relaxed ski trip, as the Großer Arber is not only “family-friendly” but it is really geared towards families. The whole resort is very clear and straightforward, you can leave the children alone for a moment - once they are old enough - and still find yourself quickly.
In general, everything is very much tailored to the small ones and, above all, the varied cross park and the toboggan runs have given us a lot of fun moments already. The snow is also wonderful - especially in the middle of winter. Otherwise, you can rely on an automatic snow-making system with 28 snow cannons, which keeps the slopes in top shape at all times. In any case, we have always been very satisfied and could rely on smooth well-prepared trails.
Sure, with only three trails and a total of 12 kilometers of slopes, the Große Arber is not really for adrenaline junkies and ambitious athletes. But for a short vacation with a family feeling, it is clearly one of our absolute favorites. One more plus, the Bavarian Forest is not as far away as our other favorite destinations.
Sporty, versatile & beautiful: Zauchensee near Salzburg
Things will get much more sporty in Zauchensee, Austria, where World Cup races have been regularly taking place for more than 40 years. So if you want to pat yourself on the back after all the family idyll, you should head to the 1.5 km long Tauernkar, which starts at 1,890 meters above sea level and has got the stuff to fulfill any ambition. Otherwise there are mainly easy to medium-difficulty trails with a total length of 45 kilometers. That was always more than enough for us – but… the new 10-person Panorama-Link gondola lift has recently provided a direct connection to Snow Space Salzburg. This offers many more routes to choose from.
We in particular like this resort due to its whole atmosphere - whether on the descent or on an extensive cross-country tour. And as far as the food is concerned, I can highly recommend a visit to the Rauchkopf hut on the Tauernkar. With the nice view from the terrace, you will love the food and the surrounding mountains alike.
Diverse slopes & cross-country paradise: in the French Aussois
In this Snow Story, I am introducing my five favorite destinations in five different countries - that's why we are going now to France: to the Aussois ski resort with 55 kilometers of slopes, spread over 21 different trails. Most of it is easy to medium difficulty, but there are also three black slopes for advanced skiers. For us as a family it is ideal for a few nice days. Throughout the entire winter season, since the resort is carefully maintained with artificial snow (with 130 snow cannons!). Moreover, you can pretty much rely on having plenty of sun here.
But when you really want to experience Aussois in all its beauty, definitely take a longer ski tour through the wonderful mountain landscape. For that alone the (long) trip to France is worthwhile. I would also like to recommend the nearby Vanoise National Park for winter hiking and snow shoeing, in case you want to spend a day or two without skis.
An adventure paradise for children: Savognin in the heart of Graubünden
In terms of child-friendliness, Savognin in the Swiss canton of Graubünden has been the absolute highlight for me. The activities on offer here, especially for the younger ones, are simply great - from the obligatory ride on the “Pinocchio Express” to playfully designed beginners' courses and action-packed tobogganing fun. There is also a real children's slope here, where young ski professionals can put their skills to the test. While the total of 80 kilometers of slopes guarantee the plenty of fun for the parents at the same time. The longest descent is 11 kilometers long and definitely a clear recommendation for you.
What you can try out very well in the Tigignas Funsport Park in Savognin are so-called Ski Foxes (a bit like one-track version of skiing) and Snow Cycles. For me it was an interesting experience that I don't necessarily have to pursue – I better stick to the classic downhill skiing! That's why I rather prefer to devote myself to the wonderful tours off the slopes. But surely a great thing for more playful characters. At least it's fun to watch the other holiday guests trying to master the equipment.
The most family-friendly ski resort in South Tyrol: Carezza in the Dolomites
We liked Carezza just as much. It is considered to be the most family-friendly ski resort in South Tyrol – which we have not "scientifically checked" but the impression is definitely right. The days here are very relaxed: with good variety on the 40 kilometers of slopes, nice food as a reward after an active day and wonderful panoramic views of the rocky Dolomites. For the children there are a couple of really well designed practice parks such as Naniland. Personally, I am a big fan of the extensive ski routes in the sun-drenched landscape. And for the more adventurous there is the notorious 8-kilometer König-Laurin-Challenge and the Pra di Tori with a 65 percent gradient.
Carezza is also part of the Dolomiti Superski, which unites a total of 1,200 kilometers of slopes in a huge ski carousel. So if you have always wanted to make a detour to the famous Black Five on Plan de Corones, you can combine it well with the otherwise quiet family vacation.
And now? Have fun skiing with the whole family!
I hope that my "Small Five" has given you a good orientation for your next family vacation. When you've tried one of the ski resorts, please let me know how you liked it - just send an email to email@example.com.
And of course I'm always grateful for every tip that I haven't yet had on my radar. After all, I am still thirsty for new discoveries in my heart.