If you’re a ski enthusiast, it seems a long wait from the end of winter until the next snow season arrives. However, there’s no need for despair — many European ski resorts offer summer skiing, and my, aren’t they a sight to behold!
From glaciers to Alpine bowls, there are numerous places where you can strap on your skis during the summer months. Let’s embark on this thrilling downwards journey together, to explore some of the best European ski resorts open for summer skiing.
Perched in the shadow of the famous Matterhorn, Zermatt offers 365-days-a-year skiing on the Theodul Glacier. Offering 21 kilometres of piste in the summer, it is an excellent choice for both professional skiers and skiing novices. The resort’s state-of-the-art facilities and impressive lift systems let you enjoy ski runs, snow parks, and half-pipes even in the midst of summer.
As the experts at Ski Vertigo recommend, there are several crucial things to be aware of to ensure your summer skiing in Zermatt lives up to expectations:
- Early Bird Skiing: At Zermatt, the ski lifts for the Theodul Glacier typically start running from 7 AM in the summer months. Hence, one of the best times to hit the slopes is early in the morning when the snow is still firm. As the day progresses and temperatures rise, the snow can become slushy.
- Experience The Matterhorn Glacier Ride: Don’t miss out on a ride on the Matterhorn Glacier Ride. This state-of-the-art 3S cableway will take you to the Klein Matterhorn, where you not only have access to summer skiing but can also enjoy panoramic views of the Pennine Alps.
- Mountain Dining: Zermatt is renowned for its mountain restaurants. Try Gandegghütte near the ski slopes, where you can enjoy a traditional Swiss lunch with a spectacular view of the Matterhorn.
- Hiking & Mountain Biking: Zermatt’s summer offers more than just skiing. There are excellent hiking trails and mountain biking routes that offer breathtaking views. After a morning on the slopes, exploring these trails can be a wonderful way to complement your day.
- Zermatt Village: Take time to stroll through the car-free village of Zermatt. This picturesque Swiss village with its quaint eateries, boutique shops, and traditional Swiss architecture is worth exploring.
- Zermatt’s Ski Schools: If you’re a novice skier or simply looking to sharpen your skills, consider joining one of the summer courses at Zermatt’s ski schools. Stoked or Summit both offer excellent lessons tailored to your skill level.
- Sun Protection: Due to Zermatt’s altitude, the sun’s rays can be much stronger. It’s important to wear high-factor sun cream, lip balm, and good quality UV-protective sunglasses or goggles.
- Climate-conscious Resort: Zermatt is a climate-conscious resort, so ensure you respect the environment by sticking to marked trails, not littering, and appreciating the wildlife from a distance.
- Ride the Gornergrat Railway: For a day off the slopes, take a trip on the Gornergrat Railway. It’s Europe’s highest open-air cog railway and takes you to stunning views of the Gorner Glacier.
The Hintertux Glacier in Austria is the only ski resort in Austria open every day of the year. It provides approximately 19 kilometres of skiable terrain during summer months. Its impressive altitude and sophisticated snow-making systems ensure that the snow remains of high quality all season. Whether it’s snowboarding or skiing, Hintertux caters to all your summer snow sports needs.
Our ski experts on the inside recommend you do the following while in Hintertux:
- Early Start: Much like Zermatt, the best conditions in Hintertux can be found during the morning. The ski lifts start running from 8:30 AM, and the slopes are at their best before the midday sun softens the snow.
- Gletscherbahn Cable Car: The Hintertux Glacier is serviced by the impressive Gletscherbahn cable car system. This system gets you up to the top of the glacier in a jiffy, offering panoramic views along the way.
- Glacier Dining: A trip to Hintertux wouldn’t be complete without dining at the Tuxer Fernerhaus, a restaurant perched high on the glacier. The menu offers traditional Austrian specialties, perfect for a hearty meal before hitting the slopes.
- Betterpark Hintertux: Known as one of the highest freestyle spots, Betterpark Hintertux is a must-visit for snowboarders and freestyle skiers. The park is usually open from April to early June and then again from September to December.
- Hiking & Nature Park: Beyond skiing, the Tux Valley offers 350 km of hiking trails and is a part of the Zillertal Alps Nature Park. Summer is a great time to explore these walking routes, away from the ski slopes.
- Hintertux Village: Don’t miss out on exploring the local village. Visit the Spannaglhof farm shop, which is renowned for its cheese, and partake in the Tuxer Mühle mill tour for a slice of local history.
- Ski Schools: If you’re new to skiing or want to polish your skills, consider registering in one of the ski schools in Hintertux. Both the Ski- & Glacier World Zillertal 3000 and the Ski- & Snowboardschule Tux 3000 are well-regarded.
- Glacier Cave: For an alternative adventure, visit the Nature’s Ice Palace at the Hintertux Glacier. It is a unique natural gem, and guided tours take you into a deep crevasse full of ice stalactites, giant sparkling ice crystals, frozen waterfalls and even a glacial lake.
Les Deux Alpes, France
Les Deux Alpes is one of the best skiing spots in France, whatever the time of year. The glacier, reaching up to 3,600 metres, offers a variety of runs for different skill levels. What’s more, you’re in for a treat as the resort boasts a snow park complete with jumps, rails, and a superpipe. Just remember, the glacier is closed in the afternoons due to the summer heat, so be sure to hit the slopes early!
While you’re at this famous resort, don’t miss out on the following:
- Jandri Express: Don’t miss the opportunity to ascend the mountain on the Jandri Express, a cable car that takes you directly from the resort to the glacier. The journey itself promises breathtaking views.
- Mountain Restaurants: Make sure you experience the delightful eateries on the mountain. The restaurant Le 3200 at the lift top station is well worth a visit, offering delicious meals with panoramic views.
- Non-Ski Activities: There’s more than just skiing in Les Deux Alpes during summer. The resort offers a wide array of activities like downhill mountain biking, hiking, trail running, tennis, golf, and paragliding.
- Explore the Village: The village of Les Deux Alpes has a charming après-ski buzz even during the summer months. With numerous shops, restaurants, and bars, there’s plenty to keep you occupied once you’ve finished on the slopes.
- Ice Caves: For a unique experience, be sure to explore the ice caves of Les Deux Alpes. Sculpted into the glacier, these magnificent ice caves feature some awe-inspiring sculptures.
Renowned for its adventure sports, Tignes offers summer skiing from late June to early August on the Grande Motte Glacier. With over 20 kilometres of slopes, it’s a haven for summer skiers and snowboarders. The resort also offers glacier walks and ice-diving for the more adventurous souls among us.
Here are our top tips for a summer holiday spent in Tignes:
- Morning Skiing: In Tignes, the Grande Motte glacier opens for skiers from 7:15 AM during the summer. To make the most of the snow conditions, it’s best to start skiing early, as the slopes usually close by 1:00 PM when the sun’s impact is strongest.
- Funicular Ride: The funicular ride up to the glacier is a must-do. It’s a quick and convenient way to get to the slopes, and the panoramic views are simply breathtaking.
- Training Sessions: Tignes’ summer conditions make it an ideal location for honing your skills. Coaching sessions are available for all skill levels, so consider booking a lesson or two with Evolution 2 or Tignes Ski School.
- Glacier Walks: After skiing, try a guided glacier walk. It’s a unique opportunity to experience the glacier’s icy beauty up close.
- Lake Activities: Take advantage of Tignes’ natural lake in the summer. Try out paddleboarding, pedalo boats, or simply enjoy a refreshing swim.
- Mountain Biking and Hiking: When the ski day ends, you can switch your gear to hiking or biking. Tignes Bike Park is a particularly notable spot for mountain bikers.
- Explore Tignes Village: Make sure to explore the village of Tignes. From vibrant bars and restaurants to shops selling local produce, it has something for everyone.
Saas Fee, Switzerland
At 3,600 metres, Saas Fee’s Allalin Glacier delivers an outstanding summer skiing experience. The resort tends to open from mid-July through to October, featuring 20 kilometres of pistes. It also houses one of Europe’s most impressive snowparks, attracting freestyle skiers and snowboarders from around the globe.
Time for those top tips again:
- Morning Skiing: The summer ski area at Saas Fee typically opens around 7:00 AM and runs until noon, guaranteeing the best snow conditions earlier in the day before it gets too warm.
- Metro Alpin: Take the Metro Alpin, the world’s highest underground funicular railway, for quick and convenient access to the ski area. This ride alone offers some stunning views of the Swiss Alps.
- Ski Schools: If you’re new to skiing or want to brush up your skills, consider joining one of the ski schools in Saas Fee. They offer a range of courses, from beginner to advanced, and even freestyle coaching.
- Summer Ski World Cup: If you’re visiting in July, don’t miss the Summer Ski World Cup event held on the Allalin Glacier, featuring both national and international competitors.
- Non-Ski Activities: Beyond skiing, Saas Fee offers a host of summer activities such as hiking, mountain biking, via ferrata, and even summer tobogganing.
- Saas Fee Village: Explore the car-free village of Saas Fee, with its traditional Swiss chalets and a variety of restaurants and bars. The traffic-free environment adds to the tranquillity of this charming alpine village.
- Ice Pavilion: For a unique experience off the slopes, visit the world’s biggest Ice Pavilion, situated within the Allalin Glacier. It offers an awe-inspiring journey into the heart of the glacier.
The Kitzsteinhorn Glacier in Kaprun is another wonderful location for summer skiing in Austria. It is open from October to early summer, ensuring an extended season of snow-filled fun. Offering a variety of runs, a snow park and a high altitude, it is a great choice for those longing to ski during the warmer months.
For one last time, let’s take a look at some insider tips on the resort:
- Skiing typically starts around 8:00 AM when the conditions are optimal and lasts until early afternoon.
- Gipfelwelt 3000: This is a must-visit when in Kaprun. The Gipfelwelt 3000 offers awe-inspiring views over the National Park Hohe Tauern and even features an interesting exhibition about the world of glaciers.
- Ski Schools: Whether you’re a novice or an advanced skier, consider enrolling in one of the ski schools available in Kaprun. A good one to consider is the Schermer Ski School Kaprun, which offers summer courses.
- Take a Break in the Alpine Centre: Take advantage of the facilities at the Alpine Centre on the glacier. Here you’ll find restaurants, shops, and a rental service for ski gear, all above 2,500 metres!
- Non-Ski Activities: Kaprun offers an impressive array of summer activities beyond skiing. Consider hiking through the Hohe Tauern National Park, exploring the reservoir lakes, or even trying out summer tobogganing.
- Explore the Village: Make sure to explore the charming village of Kaprun with its delightful restaurants serving hearty Tyrolean cuisine, quaint shops, and magnificent castles.
- Tauern Spa: After a day on the slopes, consider visiting the Tauern Spa for a relaxing dip in one of their thermal pools, known for their healing properties. It’s the perfect way to soothe tired muscles after a day of skiing.
While Europe’s summer ski resorts may not compare to the full swing of winter, they provide a delightful opportunity for those who just can’t wait for the snow to fall again. One word of advice — always check the conditions before you travel. Glacial skiing depends on weather conditions, and resorts may close unexpectedly if it becomes too warm.
So fetch your skis from the cupboard, pack your suncream, and ready yourself for the thrill of summer skiing in Europe. The mountains are calling!