The World’s Best Winter Resorts and Destinations
Whether you’re looking for the best skiing in the world, a unique experience in the arctic or chasing the Northern Lights, you can take your pick from some stunning winter destinations in Europe and a little further afield. But which are the best?
We set about finding out, with some research and data crunching. First, we researched the top 21 winter resorts and checked how many people were searching for them monthly. We then ranked them across a whole host of factors that truly make a winter experience special, to gain an overall score for each resort. We analysed:
- Ski slopes (distance, number of runs and lifts)
- Additional perks such as hot springs, pools and wellness facilities
- Snow quality
- Activities (non- Skiing/snowboarding)
- Ski pass prices
- Hotels and accommodation available (number of different types, unique accommodation options)
- Cost of a beer
- Eco-friendly credentials
- Trip advisor scores
- Social media following
Each was given a score across all of these factors to rank them in quality order. And here’s what we found.
The Top 15 Winter Resorts
The Swiss skiing resort of Zermatt comes out on top as the best winter resort in the world. And it’s all down to ski altitude, its 360km of ski runs and of course one of the most famous peaks anywhere in the world, the Matterhorn. Head to Zermatt and you can enjoy unique experiences, including its panoramic train, lakes, glaciers and wellness resorts. It’s perfect for non-skiers, has four Michelin star restaurants and some of the best hotels in the Alps, making it the perfect location to wear your finest N.Peal cashmere.
The Canadian ski resort of Whistler comes in second due to its range of activities, top quality accommodation, world-class ski runs and partying nightlife. Aspen in the US scores well for its eco-friendliness, top-quality skiing across four gold-standard mountains, luxury accommodation and all-manner of activities including yoga, theatres, golf, climbing, snowmobiles, and more.
Also in the top 15 are some unique winter locations closer to the arctic, including the fun-filled city of Tromsø, Iceland’s world famous thermal Blue Lagoon and Sweden’s Icehotel.
The Best Resorts for Winter Features
Let’s narrow things down a little. If you want some non-skiing activities, a completely unique experience or world-renowned restaurants, these are the winter resorts for you.
Top snow destinations for non-skiers
Heading up a mountain, into the snow or even up to the arctic isn’t just about donning your skis and getting your adrenaline fix. Many of these top winter resorts cater for non skiers too, with the best including:
- Tromsø: The Norwegian city has plenty of unique experiences including saunas, husky sledding, reindeer farms, the northern lights, an iconic arctic cathedral, fishing experiences, kayaking, and more.
- Icehotel: Not only will you be staying in a hotel made of ice, but non-skiers can also enjoy a northern lights safari, overnight snowmobile tours, ice sculpting, ice fishing, dog sledding, wildlife tours and moose safaris.
- Blue Lagoon: Is there anything better than relaxing in the waters of this subterranean spa? Other activities for non-skiers include volcanic hikes, whale watching, the northern lights, yoga, float therapy and much in the way of wellbeing activities.
Top resort for eco-credentials
Blue Lagoon comes out on top when it comes to eco-credentials. Not only is it Vakin certified – the official quality and environmental system for the Icelandic travel sector – but it’s also a B Corp. It was named Icelandic Environmental Company of the Year for 2021 and places sustainability at the heart of everything it does.
You can also pick up sustainable skincare solutions too, certified by COSMOS – guaranteeing the purity, quality, and eco-friendly production of Blue Lagoon Skincare ingredients.
Top resorts for unique experiences
When you want to do something you can’t really do anywhere else in the world, these are the spots to head to:
- Blue Lagoon: Soak in the warm waters of the Blue Lagoon spa amidst the imposing Icelandic landscape.
- Tromsø: Head to the world’s most northern botanic gardens. Plus, look out for the local wildlife including killer and humpback whales in the water, as well as bears, eagles, reindeer and wolfs on land.
- Kakslauttanen arctic resorts: Sleep under the northern lights in a glass igloo in this arctic wilderness.
Top resorts for ski slopes
When it comes to ski slopes, you can’t beat Saint Moritz. The Swiss Alpine ski resort boasts 300km of slopes, including 87 world cup standard slopes and pistes with 42 lifts. Take your pick from Marguns, Corviglia, Salastrains, Signal, Munt da San Murezzan and the highest point, Piz Nair (3057m).
Chamonix, Avoriaz and Zermatt are not to be missed either.
Top resorts for restaurants and food:
Yes, you’ll find your usual mountain cafes and bistros in Courchevel, but it’s the Michelin stars that set this French ski resort apart. Your tastebuds will be treated to a total of 14 stars across a variety of fine dining restaurants. Top of the pile include:
- Le 1947, Cheval Blanc: 3 Michelin stars and amazing contemporary cuisine
- Chabichou: 2 Michelin stars for a classic Alpine restaurant re-thought with personality, flair and quality ingredients
- Kintessence, K2 Palace: 2 Michelin stars and food that’s inspiring and inventive
Zermatt comes in second with its four Michelin starred restaurants and large choice of eateries spanning a variety of cuisines.
Top resort for nightlife
For a little nightlife, don’t miss Tromsø. The Norwegian city and the closest spot to the arctic circle hums with activity at night. You’ll find ice bars, rock cafes, traditional pubs, nightclubs and more. It’s been a bustling nightlife destination since the 1970s and shows no sign of slowing down.
Top resort for accommodation
Forget bog-standard Alpine ski chalets or even luxury ski chalets. For a unique experience and the chance to sleep under the northern lights, head to Kakslauttanen arctic resorts. Here you’ll bed down for the night in one of their iconic glass igloos. Lay your head, look up at the night sky and prepare yourself for nature’s greatest light show.
Wherever you’re heading this winter, make sure you wrap up warm with the highest quality cashmere and step out into nature for the experience of a lifetime.