5 Top Winter Ski Destinations

With great train connections

It’s nearly that time to start planning winter getaways so here are some favorite European ski resort towns, where visitors can enjoy great food, good wine and terrific slopes.  For those that aren’t interested in alpine skiing or snowboarding, there are plenty of other winter activities to enjoy, including cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, winter hiking, gondola lifts for panoramic views of the Alps, touring quaint resort towns, shops, cafes, spas and more.  The following countries are also known for having excellent train services, so be sure to get around with the Eurail Pass of your choice, whether it’s a Eurail Global Pass, a Eurail Select Pass or Eurail One Country Pass:

Kitzbühel, Austria is a ski resort with access to 158km of downhill skiing, 70 individual runs, and 30 ski lifts.  Besides skiing, Kitzbühel is known for its beautiful medieval town centre, plenty of affordable lodging and vibrant nightlife centered around its many mountain restaurants and 40 or so bars.  All international express trains stop at Kitzbühel, where most hotels will arrange a smooth transfer from the station.

St. Moritz, Switzerland has 322 sunny days a year on average, and is a haven for winter sport enthusiasts.  Located in the Upper Engadine at 1,856 meters above sea level, there are 350km of pistes, 150km of winter walking trails and a track network of about 180km for cross-country skiers.  High up on the Diavolezza mountain, the winter season already kicks off on October 16th!  Enjoy good train connections from Zurich, via Chur, which takes approximately 3hr 15min.

Avoriaz, France is located in the center of the 14 resorts which make up the “Portes du Soleil” ski area. The ski runs here offer varied terrain and landscape with panoramic views of the majestic Mont-Blanc, Lac Leman and Dents du Midi. The Portes du Soleil represents a total of 650km of wonderful runs for skiers of all levels.  Arrive by TGV train in Thonon-les-Bains or Cluses and arrange a shuttle bus service from the train station to Avoriaz.

Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy is located in the Ampezzo Valley in the beautiful Dolomite Mountains of Northern Italy. Italy encompasses more of the Alps than any other country so it’s no wonder the slopes here are paradise for advanced as well as intermediate skiers. There are also great trails for cross-country enthusiasts.  The town has a nice Italian influence with beautiful architecture and a trendy atmosphere. The nearest train station is Calalzo di Cadore, with regular bus service to the town center.

Lillehammer, Norway has 5 ski resort centers including Hafjell, Skeikampen, Kvitfjell, Gålå and Sjusjøen.  While Lillehammer does offer good slopes for intermediate-level skiers, its real claim to fame are 200+ miles of cross-country trails, many lit with torches after sunset.  There are frequent train departures to both Oslo and Trondheim; 12 to 18 daily departures between Lillehammer and Oslo, and 4 to 6 daily departures between Lillehammer and Trondheim.

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