Going to the mountains with the kids can be a magical experience. Every ski resort has its perks but some are more geared towards families, so pick the one that’s right for you. With great ski schools, lift pass deals, off-slope activities and Crystal Childcare for kids aged 6 months to 8 years, here are our top picks for a memorable family holiday in the snow.
La Plagne, France
La Plagne has beginner zones, snow parks and plenty of kid-friendly activities like dog sledding and ice skating. You can also buy a family lift pass for two adults and up to four kids, so you won’t have to splash out on getting up the hill.
And it’s one of our Crystal Childcare resorts, which means the kids will have just as much fun on the mountain as you. Book them into our Pepi Penguin Nursery or Beanie Bear Club and they’ll spend the day with new friends and our own qualified staff. If they’re doing ski lessons, we’ll take them there and pick them up. They’ll also get a hot lunch and lots of indoor play and fun games out in the snow.
Vemdalen is split into three small, quiet villages, with plenty of beginner runs for little learners. Each has a dedicated children’s area made up of snow gardens and playgrounds, and barbecue areas that are ideal for outdoor family lunches.
Valle the snowman, the resort’s loveable mascot, will charm the kids from day one. You’ll see him skiing down the slopes throughout the day and he also organises a range of après activities like discos, craft evenings and treasure hunts.
With free lift pass, helmet and equipment hire offers for children, families can get a lot of bang for their buck in Obergurgl. It’s got a fantastic ski school and a massive 16 nursery slopes, so learners of all ages can progress as slowly and steadily as they like. And the high altitude means there’s usually good snow, which also makes the slopes easier to learn on for little legs.
The resort is pedestrianised and the majority of its half-board hotels are close to the ski runs, so you’ll spend less time carrying the kids’ equipment. Obergurgl’s BOBO’s Ski Club and Kinder Club kindergarten also provide a fun, safe and relaxed way to enjoy the mountains for both beginner and non-skiing children.
Ruka is a winter wonderland with heaps of character, traditional log cabins and, perhaps most importantly for the kids, Santa. After a 25-minute journey from the airport, you can head off on a husky-sled or reindeer-sleigh adventure, or visit the big man himself for some festive fun.
When it comes to skiing, Ruka’s got the biggest beginner area in Finland and lots of gentle slopes. Ski school groups tend to be small and personal, and the Rosa & Rudolf Family Park has five magic carpet lifts and fun slopes that both adults and children can enjoy.
Passo Tonale, Italy
Passo Tonale is ideal for families because of its small, compact layout. The lifts are easy to access from many of its hotels and the runs they’ll take you to are wide, gentle and tend to come down to an easy, flat base. And once you’re finished skiing for the day, there are lots of off-slope activities like dog sledding and face painting.
It’s also one of our Crystal Childcare resorts, so you can spend your days exploring the mountain, knowing that the kids are having a great time too. Our clubs are based at the Grand Hotel Paradiso, a 4-star family pick with its own games room and soft play area.
Zell am See, Austria
Spectacular views of the scenic lake and mountain backdrop make Zell am See a one-of-a-kind resort. From the pretty, pedestrianised centre, you can grab the gondola up to its wide pistes. Kids practically ski free, too, with free lift pass and equipment offers for children up to 10 years old.
There are also lots of kid-friendly activities to get involved in. From the alpine rollercoaster over in Kaprun and ice skating on the frozen lake, to tackling Schmidolin’s Dragon Park fun run and taking a horse-drawn carriage ride through town, the little ones are sure to be smiling all week long.
If the kids are new to skiing, budget-friendly Arinsal is a great first resort to choose. The ski school has English-speaking instructors – which you won’t always get in other countries – and is one of the most highly rated in Europe. All runs take you back to the beginners slopes, too, making it super convenient for meeting up for lunch. What’s more, kids under 15 years receive free lift passes all season.
When you’re not on the hill, rock up to the Hotel Princesa Parc for a game of bowling or head down to Andorra La Vella, the capital city, for an afternoon at the Caldea Spa – it’s got an exclusive area for kids with lagoon pools and sensory spaces, as well as huge indoor and outdoor pools. For blissful bedtimes, you have a wide choice of apartments as well as elegant half-board hotels.
Once you’re set on your ideal resort, all you’ve got to do is grab your goggles and get on the mountain. For more info, check out our family ski holidays page, which has tips on what to pack, details about our childcare and lots more.
After that, if you’re struggling to figure out what to pack then check out our handy family packing guide.