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Best Ski Resorts for Beginners
I’ve teamed up with 9 other family travel bloggers to help you find the best ski resorts for beginners, especially if you’re looking for family friendly ski resorts. Skiing can be a daunting holiday if none of you have skied before but when you know where to go ski holidays for beginners can be so much fun! We’ve found them to be one of the most bonding family holiday experiences. It’s rare we all have the same hobby!
If you don’t know what you’re searching for it can be tricky to figure out where the best beginner ski resorts are to book – this handy guide will help you find a family ski resort for beginners that you love!
Is skiing better in Europe or North America?
The skiing in Europe vs North America are quite distinct experiences. The landscape across the continents is very different as the tree line in Europe tends to stop around 2000m but can go up to 4000m in North America. Those of us used to skiing on open mountains in Europe with no trees in sight might find it very unusual to be skiing in and out of trees in North America.
North America ski resorts tend to be well … more like other holiday resorts! With the lifts and accommodation all owned and operated by one company. This is very different to Europe where when we say ‘ski resort’ we mean the name of the village or town. The largest company is most likely the ski lift operator but the bars, restaurants, accommodation and activities in the villages and towns are independent.
It depends what you’re looking for! Europe has great aprés-ski, an independent vibe with more local culture to explore. Ski in/ Ski out seems to be more readily available in Europe (IE you don’t need a car to reach your accommodation after a day on the slopes) North America tends to be able to offer a higher altitude providing a longer ski season with more reliable snow and the ski lift queues (or lines as they call them!) are better managed. Yep, we Europeans do have a reputation for pushing, shoving and shuffling over each others skis when queuing for ski lifts!
Best Ski Resorts for Beginners In Europe
There are almost 4000 ski resorts in Europe to choose from spanning just shy of 40,000km of slopes – no wonder it’s hard to narrow that selection down to where you want to ski with your family!
Slopes can get busier in Europe which is harder for beginners and younger families to manage (We want you to feel safe!) so all the options we discuss below have wider, quieter runs with more space for you while you and your little ones find your feet.
Ski Juwel Alpbachtal Wildschönau, Austria from Rachel at Mum With Wanderlust
Children’s ski lessons (from age 4) are super fun in Inneralpbach. There’s a flat nursery run, beginners lift, a regular kids shuttle to and from the slope. As the children progress they’ll be taken up to the “Kids Run” with its fun figures, waves, and steeper curves.
The SkiCHECK ski school in Alpbachtal offers taster sessions and even lunch time supervision so parents can ski to their hearts content without having rush down from the mountain to collect little ones at lunch time. This is ideal as the wider area of Ski Juwel Alpbachtal Wildschönau is one of the largest Austrian ski resorts in the Tyrol with 109km of pristine pistes.
This is a brilliant location if the whole family are beginner skiers but also works very well if the children are beginners and the adults are more accomplished skiers or boarders. There really is something for everyone.
The Alpbachtal – Wildschönau ski area season usually runs from the end of December to the beginning of April. You can usually squeeze in a visit at the very beginning of Easter holidays but the snow could be very slushy (which is hard work to ski).
The best hotel to stay in with kids in this area is the Galtenburg Family and Wellness Resort. It’s location is night door to the ski school pick up area and directly opposite the nursery slopes. They have a fantastic swimming pool with slide for when your kids aren’t on the slopes. They also have a lovely adults only spa area for you to ease those tired muscles while your kids are entertained in the fantastic kids club! Check the latest prices and availability at the Galtenburg here.
Ruka, Finland – Rachel at Mum With Wanderlust
Ruka is an ideal family ski resort, it is the largest in Lapland and won ‘best ski resort’ every year from 2013-2016. It’s an excellent resort for beginner skiers and the fact you can combine skiing with a visit to see Santa, husky rides and reindeer visits makes it an incredibly child-friendly ski resort.
Despite being the largest resort in Lapland, Ruka is still small, covering just one mountain. This means you’re never far from home, and you won’t be needing to lug everyones skis for miles to get back to your accommodation. The extra long ski season is a huge bonus here, Ruka gets over 200 days of snow a year and claims to guarantee snow from October to May! This makes it much easier to plan your ski trip around school holidays.
The runs are wide, quiet and covered with beautiful snow (there’s no risk of skidding on half melted ice in Ruka!) making them ideal for beginners who want to go slow and make long turns. The nursery slopes host the children lessons and extra fun activities like tubing. There are some lovely children’s runs too, with huskies and elf houses to spot on the way down. Lapland does get cold so the lessons tend to be shorter than elsewhere in Europe, but if you wrap up warm and take plenty of breaks inside you’ll be absolutely fine! Check out the latest deals to Ruka here.
Everything about Lapland has that extra spark of magic, even the short days and artificial lighting add to the ambience.
Poiana Brasov, Romania – RJOnTour
Poiana Brasov is the most popular ski resort in Romania, it’s close to the city of Brasov. It is also one of the cheaper skiing destinations in Europe. The resort is on a mountain called Postavarul Massif, and the slopes are at altitudes between 941m and 1783m. The skiing season at Poiana Brasov runs from December to April and slopes are open from 9am to 4pm every day.
There are 8.5 miles of slopes to ski on, including three miles, which are classed as difficult. There are also many slopes for children near to the resort. They also have slopes suited for cross-country skiing. There are options for ski or snowboarding schools for children or adults including those offered by Interski who offer good value tuition.
The Mountains are also a great place to hike and enjoy the views, a cable car to the peak is well worth the time. Also, the Transylvanian town of Brasov is very close by and an interesting place to visit. Transylvania is famous for its castles and there are 2 fantastic ones near to Poiana Brasov, Bran Castle of Dracula fame and Peles Castle. The local area has many options for dining out as a family, also Brasov is a fantastic place for meals out.
Bansko, Bulgaria – Luisa at OnlinePersonalStylist
Set at the foot of the Bulgarian Pirin Mountain range, a couple of hours from the capital city, Sofia, you’ll find the pretty town of Bankso. This beautiful little town is a popular ski resort among national and international tourists. Although Bansko serves as a fantastic ski town, it isn’t as popular as other resorts in Europe because not everybody knows about it. However, those who have visited will tell you that it’s an amazing destination.
If you’re looking for a ski resort that caters to all the family and all levels of experience then Bansko is the place for you. In total, the Bulgarian ski resort boasts 13 ski lifts and 75km of ski slopes. As in all ski zones, there are different slopes for different levels. Not only will you find beginner slopes here, there is also a large kindergarten facility for children to get their first taste of skiing as well. For those worrying about how child-friendly the kindergarten ski zone actually is, let me reassure you that it’s more like an enclosed ice rink that kids can ski upon – so it’s more or less completely flat.
In addition to offering an extensive selection of ski slopes, ski lessons are widely available during the skiing season, which typically runs from December until March. Of course, you can’t spend all day and night skiing, so why not check out the other snow sports on offer here or explore the tranquil beauty of this quaint town. Finally, no trip to Bansko would be complete without heading to a traditional Bulgarian restaurant and indulging in the heartiness of the local cuisine after a cold day on the slopes.
Morzine, France from Katja at Globetotting
The picturesque French Alpine town of Morzine is a wonderful place for a family ski holiday. Located in the Franco-Swiss Portes du Soleil ski area, this region offers 600km of varied ski slopes to suit all levels.
Morzine itself is a charming town that originally started life as a family village. Much of the original old town still remains today. During winter months the streets are lively with restaurants, bars, ski shops and crepe stands doing a roaring trade. If you can, base yourself in the centre of town so you can walk everywhere.
Various ski schools operate out of Morzine including the ESF, the French ski school, BASS, the British Alpine Ski & Snowboard School, the Snow School and Mint Snowboard School. Some of these offer English lessons.
The ESF is located near the base of the Pleney cable car and it’s here where young children learn. Older children are taken up to the top of the Pleney lift where there’s a beginner’s slope as well as a series of green and blue runs. My children have all learnt to ski with the ESF and we are big fans!
And once you’ve enjoyed a family ski holiday here make sure to visit Morzine in the summer too – it’s just as good!
Grächen, Switzerland – Arzo Travels
Grächen is located in Valais (Wallis) in the south of Switzerland. It is about an hour’s drive from the famous ski destination of Zermatt. While many ski destinations in Switzerland lie in 2000+ meters above sea level, Grächen is “only” at 1619 meters above sea level, while the ski slopes are at 2114 meters above sea level.
Switzerland has many amazing ski resorts, so why choose Grächen?
Grächen indeed is not a very big ski paradise but still an excellent place for beginners. Why? 9 kilometers of the 44km of prepared slopes are easy, 33km are moderately difficult, and 2km are difficult. So, while more experienced ones can enjoy the challenging slopes, there are enough slopes for beginners.
Also, there are ski lessons for kids as young as three years. With a lot of support, the little ones learn to stand on skis, walk on them, and do some very easy slopes. Looking at how kids learn to ski will also motivate any adult to try and learn it. Adults can book private lessons or small group lessons.
Also, there are many other very family-friendly activities for families. You can book “Pistenbully” – the piste bashers clean the slopes after busy ski times, and you can join them. There are also fairytale gondolas, a family park, snow tubing options, apres-ski (for kids and adults), and many more activities for people of all ages.The ski season starts in the middle of December and lasts until the beginning of April.
Gressoney, Italy – Samantha at The Wandering Wanderluster
Located just over 2 hours north-west of Milan or 1 hour 30 minutes north of Turin, Gressoney Saint-Jean is a small town in the Aosta Valley that offers a non touristic skiing experience which is relaxed, slow paced and great for families.
While the town is a popular place all year around, it comes to life in the winter season from December to mid March with families coming to enjoy a variety of winter sports. While small in size, there are many things to do in Gressoney Saint-Jean. It has everything you need for a relaxed family ski vacation, with a number of restaurants serving local dishes, a supermarket and a handful of gift shops selling beautiful alpine themed gifts, homeware and textiles. There is even a picturesque lake which freezes over in the winter months, allowing families to take to the ice and experience the thrill of natural ice-skating!
But the big draw in the winter is obviously skiing! In Gressoney Saint-Jean you can ski on the Weissmatten slopes, with views of the dominating Monterosa Mountain. There are slopes ranging in difficulty, and the Weissmatten Ski School which is available for beginner adults and children. There is also a cross country ski school for children ages 4 to 13 years.
For families with young children who may be nervous about putting them into a ski school or have never experienced snow before, there is the baby snow park which is suitable for real beginners and families with baby skiers with siblings still in the pram since it can be reached without having to take the ski lifts. There is also an area for a thrilling bobsled ride down the slopes, and for an exciting ski baptism where little ones can experience the thrill of skis on their feet for the first time!
La Tania, France – Sylvie, Travels with Eden
One of the best beginner ski resorts for families is the village of La Tania in South-East France. The resort is part of the les 3 vallées region – the largest ski area in the world. La Tania is only a bus ride away from the much larger resort Courcheval where there’s plenty of shops and restaurants as well as lots more beginner ski runs!
La Tania has plenty of fantastic ski schools to learn the basics. Oxygene Ski offers kids ski lessons in both the morning and afternoon. There’s also a lunch club available. ESF ski school also has a range of ski lessons available starting from just 3 years old! There are also private lessons available and special groups for teens. For the little ones, the Garderie La Taniere des Croes kindergarten offers childcare from 4 months-3 years.
The ski season in La Tania is from mid-December until around 21st April, and snow canons also operate throughout the season, which guarantees snow. There are many other things to do in and around La Tania, from exploring other resorts of the three valleys to exploring the nearby hiking trails, going bowling or trying tobogganing. After visiting La Tania, why not consider visiting some of Europe’s best winter city break destinations?
Best Ski Resorts for Beginners in North America
With just over 800 ski resort spanning 15,000km of slopes in North America, there is less choice than in Europe but still plenty of snow to get stuck into.
Winter Park, Colorado from Josh and Lieze at GlitterRebel
Winter Park is a large ski resort nestled in the Colorado Rockies. It is known not only as the place to be for those looking for exhilarating moguls, but Winter Park is also one of the best ski resorts for families. Winter Park also attracts a lot of UK families as a number of British schools travel to Winter Park for their school ski holidays.
The ski school offers both group lessons and private lessons with extremely experienced skiers – many of them veterans in the sport that have been skiing for over 40 years. When bringing kids who are skiing for the first time, you will be seeing great results within a couple of days. On the first day it is not unheard of for the group to advance from the beginner’s slopes (Comet, Meteor, and Spirit) to Discovery and later coming down via Turnpike.
If you would like to ski as a family on beginner’s slopes, I can recommend Whistlestop, Village Way, and Jack Kendrick. March Hare is also a green (beginner’s) slope, but it can be quite hard to ski as the run can be quite icy. Those who are a bit more confident on skis can try Cramner, Jaberwocky, Lonesome Whistle or even the blue runs on the back of Winter Park’s most famous mountain: Mary Jane.
Last but not least, Winter Park is also home to the NSCD adaptive ski school. Winter Park has a whole program on skiing for those who are mentally of physically challenged.
Mammoth Mountain, California from Chantae, The Salt Sirens
One of the largest ski resorts in the United States, Mammoth Mountain is found in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range, about a five-hour drive from Los Angeles. Slopes range from first-timer friendly to experts only across its 3,500 acres of terrain, making it one of the best ski resorts for families with mixed experience levels. Ski season typically lasts from early November to early June, depending on snowfall conditions.
Ski lessons are available from ages three and up, and the school groups classes by age and ability level. There are three bases to choose from when booking ski school lessons, so adults can simply pick the ski school near their favorite section of the mountain. Children and adults with disabilities can also enroll in Mammoth Mountain’s adaptive ski school, where one-on-one lessons cater to each skier’s needs. The mountain’s mascot, Wooly the Mammoth, makes his way around the resort and hangs out with any kid waving to get his attention.
When families need a break from their ski or snowboard boots, there are plenty of other activities around Mammoth Mountain to enjoy. The town of Mammoth Lakes has an ice-skating rink, snow sledding hills, snowmobile tours, and hotels with heated pools.
Many of California’s most experienced skiers and snowboarders got their start at Mammoth Mountain. The ski resort is so family friendly, you likely won’t be able to cross through one of the lodges without seeing a line of kids clunking their ski boots behind a smiling instructor.
Deer Valley, Utah From Leigh, Campfires & Concierges
Deer Valley Resort is one of the best family-friendly ski resorts in North America. Located in Park City, Utah, this luxury ski resort is just 45 minutes from Salt Lake City International Airport. This means you’ll spend less time traveling and more time skiing!
Deer Valley receives an average of 300 inches of snow each season, and 27% of the 103 runs are designated for beginners. As a green run skier myself, I never feel like I run out of terrain at Deer Valley. Five of the six peaks at Deer Valley have green runs, so beginners get to experience the entire resort and the fantastic views of the Utah mountains. Deer Valley ski school is one of the best around, with private lessons, age-based group lessons, and specialty programs which include seven consecutive lessons over several weeks. Parents can feel confident leaving their kids in the hands of Deer Valley’s skilled and friendly instructors. Besides great snow and instructors, Deer Valley is also well known for its service. They go above and beyond for their guests.
When you’re not skiing, the town of Park City is super fun for the whole family. There are tons of things to do like sleigh rides, snowmobiling, and dog-sledding. Most restaurants in town are family-friendly (make sure you have dinner reservations!) and there are a ton of Park City hotels to choose from.
Have we inspired you to book a family ski trip?