The beginning of the skiing season is that time of the year when everybody is keen to hit the slopes, but too afraid to book their ski holiday for, because there might not be enough snow. Luckily, there are some ski resorts, where snow in December is not something to worry about, which makes the first days of December the best time to hit the slopes.
Why is that? Easy! If you book a ski holiday for early season, you'll benefit from both lower prices AND loads of availability. Stick around to discover the top 10 ski resorts in Europe to go skiing in December. Want to know a great tip that a lot of people don't think about? Search for high-altitude ski resorts ;)
Val Thorens, French Alps
Nestled high in the French Alps, Val Thorens is often referred to as the "Top of the World" and for a good reason. As Europe's highest ski resort at an altitude of 2,300 meters (7,546 feet), it boasts an unparalleled snow record and is one of the best destinations for early season skiing.
Val Thorens is part of the vast Les Trois Vallées (Three Valleys) ski area, which is the largest interconnected ski area in the world, offering an incredible 600 kilometers (370 miles) of slopes.
Early season skiing enthusiasts flock to Val Thorens in search of early snow and après-ski partys. The resort opens as early as November and continues to offer excellent snow conditions well into May.
With a mix of beginner, intermediate, and expert slopes, Val Thorens caters to skiers of all levels. Additionally, the resort's lively atmosphere and après-ski scene make it a popular choice for those looking to kick off the winter season in style.
Tignes, French Alps
Next up is Tignes: located in the Savoie region and is known for being one of the highest ski resort in Europe as well as having the longest ski season. Its winter ski season stretches out from the beginning of December all the way through to May. And let's not forget the Grande Motte Glacier, where you can even ski during the Summer!
Chamonix, French Alpes
As the birthplace of mountaineering, Chamonix offers early season skiers a mix of challenging slopes and a charming alpine town, all set against the backdrop of Mont Blanc. Being home to Western Europe's highest peak, Chamonix is not just a ski resort; it's a haven for thrill-seekers and outdoor enthusiasts. Located in the heart of the French Alps, Chamonix offers a unique early season skiing experience.
Early season skiers are drawn to Chamonix for its challenging terrain and extensive off-piste opportunities. While it might not be the first choice for beginners, intermediates and advanced skiers revel in the challenging runs and deep powder. The season typically kicks off in late November, and the resort is known for its reliable snowfall and long skiing season, often extending well into spring.
One of Chamonix's unique features is the Aiguille du Midi cable car, which provides access to high-altitude skiing terrain, offering breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains. If you're an early-season adventurer looking for challenging skiing and incredible scenery, Chamonix should be high on your list.
Avoriaz, French Alps
Perched high up in the Portes du Soleil ski area, Avoriaz is a car-free resort with horse-drawn sleighs and skis as the primary modes of transportation within the village, giving it a unique and distinctive architecture that blends seamlessly with nature. Its elevation ensures great early-season snow conditions, and its reputation for family-friendly slopes and activities sets it apart.
Early season skiing in Avoriaz usually begins in December, and the resort is known for its reliable snow conditions. The altitude ensures good snow cover, and its location in the heart of Portes du Soleil provides access to over 600 kilometers of interconnected slopes, spanning both France and Switzerland.
Avoriaz is renowned for its family-friendly atmosphere and a wide range of activities beyond skiing, including snowshoeing, ice skating, and a unique aquatic center. It's a great choice for early season skiing, especially for families and those who appreciate a car-free, ski-in/ski-out experience.
Les Deux Alps, French Alps
Did you know this ski resort is open for skiing in Summer? Its glacier is located at over 3000 metres and so, guarantees great snow conditions all-year-round. Its name stems from the two towns on either side, Mont De Lans and Venosc. This resort usually has some runs available from mid-November and is a great ski destination for beginners.
Zermatt, Swiss Alps
Zermatt, Switzerland, is synonymous with the iconic Matterhorn mountain and offers a unique early season skiing experience amid breathtaking alpine scenery. Zermatt is a car-free resort, and electric taxis and horse-drawn carriages are the primary means of transportation.
Early season skiing in Zermatt typically starts in late November and continues until late April or even early May. The resort's high-altitude location guarantees excellent snow conditions, and it's part of the vast Matterhorn Glacier Paradise ski area, which offers skiing on the glacier year-round.
Zermatt is a paradise for both skiers and non-skiers, with plenty of activities such as hiking, snowshoeing, and world-class dining. The charming, car-free village adds to the unique experience of visiting this iconic Swiss resort. If you're looking for early season skiing with a backdrop of the majestic Matterhorn, Zermatt is the perfect destination.
Saas-Fee, Swiss Alps
Saas-Fee, often referred to as the "Pearl of the Alps," is a picturesque Swiss ski resort that offers a unique early season skiing experience due to its stunning glacial landscape. Surrounded by thirteen 4,000-meter peaks, makes Saas-Fee one of the most breathtakingly beautiful skiing destinations in the world.
Early season skiers are drawn to Saas-Fee for its high-altitude skiing on the Allalin Glacier. The glacier ensures reliable snow conditions from October through April, making it an excellent choice for those looking to ski early in the season. The resort is also known for its car-free village, which adds to its charm and tranquility.
Saas-Fee caters to all levels of skiers, with a good mix of runs for beginners and experts. It's also a popular destination for snowboarders, thanks to its terrain parks. If you're seeking early season skiing amid stunning alpine scenery, Saas-Fee offers an unforgettable experience.
Ischgl, located in the Austrian Tyrol region, is renowned for its superb early season skiing and vibrant après-ski scene. It's often considered one of the liveliest ski resorts in Europe. Ischgl's Silvretta Arena ski area straddles the border between Austria and Switzerland, providing an international skiing experience with more than 230 kilometers of slopes.
Early season skiers flock to Ischgl for its consistent snowfall, usually starting in late November. The resort's high-altitude location ensures excellent snow conditions early in the season. But it's not just the skiing that makes Ischgl special; it's the après-ski culture. Ischgl is famous for hosting extravagant opening and closing parties that feature top international artists.
The resort's well-groomed slopes cater to skiers of all levels, and the extensive network of lifts ensures minimal waiting time. If you're looking to combine world-class skiing with a vibrant nightlife, Ischgl is the place to be for early season fun.
Located in the small principality of Andorra, Ordino-Arcalís is a lesser-known but fantastic destination for early season skiing. Ordino-Arcalís is famous for its challenging off-piste terrain, making it a favorite among freeriders and backcountry enthusiasts.
The ski season in Ordino-Arcalís typically starts in late November, thanks to its high-altitude location. The resort is known for its abundant natural snowfall and minimal crowds, providing a peaceful early season skiing experience. Ordino-Arcalís is a paradise for advanced skiers and snowboarders, with a wide range of off-piste and backcountry opportunities. However, it also caters to beginners and intermediates with groomed runs and excellent ski schools.
With its stunning mountain scenery and laid-back atmosphere, Ordino-Arcalís is a hidden gem for those seeking a quieter and adventurous early season skiing destination.
Grandvalira is one of the largest ski resorts in Southern Europe, with over 210 kilometers of slopes. The ski season in Grandvalira typically begins in late November, and the resort is known for its efficient snowmaking systems that ensure great skiing conditions early in the season. The resort's varied terrain caters to all levels of skiers and snowboarders, making it a great choice for families and groups with mixed abilities.
As you probably already know, we from Esquiades.com are experts in skiing in Andorra, which is why, booking your ski holiday with us, you can incluide numerous winter activities such as dog sledding, snowmobiling, and thermal spa visits. Additionally, Andorra's tax-free shopping is a significant draw for visitors. Grandvalira's affordability and early season snow make it an attractive option for those looking to kickstart their winter adventures.
Skiing conditions before Christmas aren't always certain and most reliable, which is why it's we think it's very important to fact-check information about ski resorts before booking a ski holiday. If you pick a ski resort from our list, we guarantee you'll enjoy an amazing first ski holiday to kick-start winter in style!
If you need any assistance in choosing the right ski resort for your holiday, do not hesitate to reach out. Our Customer Service Team will be happy to help you out. Our Ski Experts are available 24/7 by heading to our contact section!