7 Winter Wonders of the World
Top ski destinations
1. Whistler Blackcomb, Canada
Nestled between snowy mountain ranges, Whistler Ski Resort is on one of the largest ski resorts in North America. Its variety of terrain attracts ski enthusiasts from around the globe. The resort offers a diverse list of activities such as snowmobiling, snowshoeing, zip lining, skiing, snowboarding, and more. At the foot of the snowy mountains, the magical twinkling lights of the village offer a welcoming atmosphere. While taking in the majestic and breathtaking mountain views, visitors can relish in the mouth-watering international cuisines in the village restaurants, bars, and cafes. Artisan shops waft smells of fresh pastries, chocolate, and waffle cones and provide warmth from the blustering outdoors. As they explore the outdoors, families’ laughter can be heard from the skating rink in the village square, the Olympic Park, and the snowy slopes of the Coca-Cola Tube Park. This awe-inspiring experience leaves visitors yearning to return year after year.
2. Zermatt, Switzerland
Zermatt is at the foot of the renowned Matterhorn, one of the highest summits in the Alps. Because it straddles the border of Italy and Switzerland, skiers can ski from one country to another. The picturesque brown chalets of the village lie in the shadow of the towering snowy mountain peaks. The pedestrian village features horse-drawn carriages and electric vehicles as transportation. Zermatt offers a plethora of outdoor adventures aside from skiing. The Charles Kuonen Suspension bridge is the longest in the world measuring 494 meters long. While crossing the bridge visitors can take in the surrounding snowy mountain backdrop. Visitors willing to brave the heights can ride the cable cars to the Matterhorn Glacier Palace. Upon arrival the enchanting Glacier Palace awaits. This is an ice castle carved through the ice glaciers which houses magnificent ice sculptures glistening in the hue of colorful lights.
3. St Anton am Arlberg, Austria
Known as the “birthplace of Alpine skiing”, St Anton am Arlberg is located in the Tyrolean Alps. The Alpine village encompasses the true vibrant après ski culture. Here dedicated skiers begin their day on the snowy slopes of Valluga and Rendl. At night they end their day in the warmth of a local bar or restaurant drinking and exchanging adventurous stories. One unique feature is the Galzigbahn, a Ferris wheel holding 28 gondolas that transports skiers to the cable. This innovative structure can transport 2000 skiers in an hour. For non-skiers, there are sleigh rides, ice-skating, saunas, indoor rock climbing, hiking, tobogganing, squash and plenty of shopping.
4. Val Thorens, France
Located in the French Alps, Val Thorens is the highest ski resort in Europe. Because it is situated at an altitude of 2300 meters, Val Thorens offers one of the longest ski seasons to its visitors. The resort won awards three years in a row for the best European ski resort. Aside from skiing, it provides a wide variety of winter activities including paragliding, paramotoring, outdoor yoga classes, dog sled rides and perhaps the most unique and thrilling; ice diving. Thrill seekers can dress in a waterproof suit and diving equipment to explore the world beneath the ice of a nearby mountain lake. Val Thorens is also a destination for foodies who savor both traditional and trendy French cuisine. Visitors can also experience fresh produce at the market on Tuesdays and Thursdays and sample local vendors’ cheeses and pastries.
How to Reach: Nearest airport Geneva, Lyon-St Exupery, Lyon From there take the buses to the ski resort.
Hotels/Resorts: Val Thorens, Three Valleys, France Hotels and Resorts
5. Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy
Cortina d’Ampezzo is a luxurious ski resort in Northern Italy. The jagged Italian Alpine mountains offer skiing in the winter season and hiking in the warm summer months. In the valley below lies an Austrian village. The cobblestone streets are lined with designer shops and the scent of delectable Italian cooking drifts from the restaurants. Artisan shops showcase handcrafted home décor items and jewelry keeping the culture of the local community alive. At the center of the village towers the pointed marble church, Basilica Minore dei Santi Filippo e Giacomo. This historic icon symbolizes the Tyrolean culture and tradition this little village is rooted in. Part of this culture is seen in the unique hundred-year-old festivals which are celebrated throughout the year.
6. Niseko, Japan
Niseko Ski Resort is well renowned for its abundance of powdered snow blowing in from Siberia, its northern neighbor. The ski resort does not see many clear blue skies as most of the year the slopes are overcast and snowing. In fact, the resort is the second snowiest in the world with 15 meters of snowfall annually. The contemporary village at the base of the slopes embodies Japanese culture and preserves tradition. Bars and restaurants offer decadent seafood oysters, ramen and the warm Japanese whiskey after a long day of skiing. One unique outdoor activity offered is night skiing. Skiers can enjoy the less populated slopes at night, light by floodlights. The resort also houses calming Hot Springs also known as Osen. Looming above the village is Mount Yotei, an inactive volcano. Visitors can take a guided tour and hike to the volcano’s crater.
7. Vail, Colorado
Beneath the shadows of the Gore and Sawatch mountain ranges lies the ski resort of Vail. The European style village offers a retreat to skiers, snowboarders, and vacationers. A unique outdoor experience for thrill seekers is the opportunity to go ski biking on nightly tours. The resort also offers a roller coaster ride, Mountain Coaster, which winds through the wintery forested landscape. If you plan your stay during December, experience the annual Vail Snow Days. This includes four days of pub crawls, apres parties, live concerts, and village festivities. The gondola runs after dark, allowing visitors to feast their eyes on the sun setting over the powdered mountain peaks. The village features restaurants with a wide variety of cuisines from Italian, to American to Mexican to Chinese foods.
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