Winter Resorts – Top Picks For Sports & Leisure

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The more the winter season draws close, the more we begin to dream about hot cozy fireplaces and small wooden cabins high in the mountains. And then there are those, who can’t wait to test out their new skiing and snowboarding equipment on the slopes of the Alps, the Balkans, the Rocky Mountains and many more breathtaking places. Wether you want to relax for a nice week with your spouse, offspring or friends, or you want to enjoy the snow with various sport activities, we from OwlKnow got you covered! Below you’ll find our list of top winter resorts, both luxurious picks and more affordable ones, for sport and leisure alike. Enjoy!
  1. St. Moritz, Switzerland

    Beautiful St. Moritz is one of the most iconic and luxury Alpine and Swiss resorts out there. It lays as high as 1,800 metres (5,910 feet) above sea level, in the Swiss canton of Graubünden. As a sports and winter resort, St. Moritz dates as far back as the 19th century. When it was famous for its British students, coming from prestige universities, such as Oxford and Cambridge to enjoy and compete. It also served twice as a host for the Winter olympics in 1928 and 1948. Despite its elevation and heavy snowfall during winter, the resort has some 300 days of sunshine annually. Every winter it hosts its unique event, called ,,White Turf”. The event is about horse racing on the frozen lake of St. Moritz, which is usually attended by famous people of the upper class. As much as it’s popular in the winter, with its skiing, snowboarding, bob-sleigh and other numerous activities, it’s also highly popular during summer. It’s famous for its sailing competitions and cross-country skiing. It tends to be pricey and heavy on the budget, but it’s truly one of the best winter resorts of all time.

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  2. Lech-Zürs, Austria

    Zürs is one of the most renowned winter resorts for sports in the entire Alpine region. This lovely mountainous village is located in the Austrian federal state of Vorarlberg, close to the North Tyrolean border. Zürs is often called ,,the cradle of skiing”, and is well deserved. It opened its first skiing courses in 1904, and the first ski lift in 1937. It’s comprised of 16 high-end hotels, which accommodate around 1700 beds. The resort lays 1717m above sea level and offers 87 ski-lifts, 200 km of deep snow slopes and a total of 305 km of ski runs. Lech-Zürs also offers heliskiing. Heliskiing gives you the option to use a helicopter instead of lifts, to quickly and easily reach your slope’s high point. But due to environmental issues, the controversial luxury is only possible in the Arlberg region. Like anywhere in the high Alps, you’re bound to have breathtaking views. So, have your phones and cameras ready and charged for some amazing pictures!

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  3. Bansko, Bulgaria

    Bansko is located at the footsteps of the majestic Pirin mountain in Bulgaria. It’s called one of the cheapest options for winter resorts seekers. And it isn’t far from the truth. The prices there are more than half of the most luxurious resorts throughout Europe. Same goes for the services. Ski courses, guides, coaches, as well as food and drinks, all are at least one fourth of the prices. While not as glamorous and rich as the Swiss, French and Austrian resorts, it still is a competitor. With its low costs and decent quality, the Balkan resort is growing in popularity. The locals are upgrading its infrastructure year after year to accommodate the rising number of tourists. A lot of foreigners even buy whole apartments there, due to the cheaper prices. As of 2010, the ski area has 75 km (47 mi) of ski runs, 14 lifts and drags, serving up to 24,500 persons per hour. The lift-served summit rises to an elevation of 2,600 m (8,500 ft) above sea level. The nearby village of Banya, located only 5 km from the town, is known for its 27 thermal mineral springs.

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  4. Lake Louise – Alberta, Canada

    There’s a little chance that you  haven’t seen this beautiful picture somewhere. Yes, this is beautiful Lake Louise in Canada. Situated in the Banff National park and with an amazing view to the Victoria Glacier, lays the iconic Fairmont Chateau Lake Luise hotel. This is one of the perfect winter resorts for families, couples and just people who aren’t as keen on winter sports. But that doesn’t mean that all you’re left with is the picturesque view of the snowy mountain tops and fresh, clean air. There are so many things for you to choose from. Such as, hiking in the Banff National Park, dog sledding, snowtubing, snowmobiling, snowshoeing and more. You could also pay a visit to the small, quiet town of Banff, where you can enjoy local food, variety of shops and even small wooden log-cabin hotels. You could also visit the nearby hot springs just outside of Banff. Of course, during winter the lake is likely to be frozen solid, so you’ll get to have all kinds of fun on the ice. With highlight being the sledging and ice-skating. In adition, you can take the gondola and explore the majestic Rocky Mountains from a birds eye view, so you don’t have to be a skier to gaze at the magnificence. If you’re planning to visit Canada during winter and not looking for winter sports, this is for you!

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  5. Val d’Anniviers, Switzerland

    ,,Affordable” and ,,budget friendly” aren’t usually two words, which you’ll find in the same sentence with Switzerland. But indeed, if you go astray from the glamorous, more widely know winter resorts, you really can find nice and affordable places. Val d’Anniviers is exactly such a place. It is roughly 25% less expensive than the top Swiss skiing resorts. If you dig deeper, you could find even better deals, money-wise. But this one in particular has one of the best price to quality ratios. Val d’Anniviers is comprised of four villages. Grimentz, Zinal, St Luc and Chandolin. All of them small and very picturesque, with gorgeous old-fashioned town centres and alleys. It has a moderate length of ski pistes, bound to keep you and your companions busy for a whole week’s vacation!

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  6. Cortina, Italy

    Cortina d’Ampezzo, or just Cortina for short, is a town in the southern Alps in the Veneto region of Northern Italy. It’s a winter resort, well known and associated with its skiing pistes, beautiful scenery, lovely town center and also European aristocracy Cortina offers great skiing facilities for amateurs, so if you are looking for nice place to start of (and have the buck) this will suit you. The resort itself has a total of 115 kilometres of pistes with over 30 lifts and guaranteed 95% snow coverage from December to April. There are also 6 ski schools, two of whom for cross-country. And over 300 ski instructors. With beautiful view over the Ampezzo Valley, the ski area is very children friendly as well. You can start from the Tofane area from 2,500m, but it’s a more challenging pick. The Armantarola piste is the longest, at altitude of 2,752m and is reachable by cable car.

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  7.  Jasna, Slovakia

Another cheap, yet beautiful pick of European winter resorts. Around 40-50 minute drive from the nearest airport of Poprad, lays this unique mountain resort. It is situated in the Low Tatras mountains and a part of the municipality Demänovská Dolina. Jasna is Slovakia’s largest but most challenging ski area. Its terrain will surely keep even pro-skiers and snowboarders occupied and interested. With sloped graded as 28% beginner, 51% intermediate, and 21% advanced. So, go if you dare! It has 49 km of piste, back bowl, a 6 km home-run, a brand new revamped terrain park, a great deal of off-piste (12 free ride zones), night skiing, and lots of tree runs. Jasná-Chopok is also a large resort with 41 trails covering 49 skiable kilometers of trails. The food there is very affordable in comparison to the rest of our picks. Maybe only close to those of Bansko. You can have a nice meal in the mountains from 4,50 Euro to 10-12 Euro. With a huge investment of 130 million Euros, the resort had had a few upgrades. They include: additional 10km of ski piste, four gondolas and various shops, hotels and restaurants along the way.

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8. Megève, France

In the 1920s, due to the success of the Swiss winter resort, Saint Moritz, France began to seek an alternative of its own. So it was then, when the famous banking family of the Rotschilds created the foundations of modern Megève. It began in 1921, when Baroness Noémie de Rothschild built the famous Domaine du Mont d’Arbois hotel. It could be said, that that was the first step, which made Megève what it is today. And that is one of the most luxurious and beautiful of winter resorts. Located in the French Alps, near Mont-Blanc, the resort is suitable for a wide range of tastes and preferences. It offers premium experience for skiers and non-skiiers alike. Whether you want to experience one of the best mountain spa out there or you want to slide on a total of 445km of ski slopes, the resort has it all! Megève also hosts winter events including an international curling tournament, a ski cross World Cup and a mogul skiing cup. There are also rich range of other activities, with which you can have fun with. Night skiing in February, a ski-cross slope, an open-air ice rink, snowshoeing and dog sledding. Plus 38 km of Nordic skiing in the region.

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These were our top picks of word-wide winter resorts. Have you been to these getaways? What experiences can you share, so that future readers can decide better? Tell us in the comments! Until next time, Have a magical winter holiday from all the team of OwlKnow!

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