Skip the slopes? | Europe's Best Spots for Après-Ski
It’s not all about the slopes or snow. When it comes to a great ski vacation, the level of après-ski available in a resort can make or break it.
Whether you’re looking for sophisticated spots to sip on vin chaud, or somewhere to dance to Euro-pop in the sun and snow, it’s clear some resorts have far superior offerings than others. And each with their own distinct character.
To help you work out which resort is right for you, we created this guide to Europe’s best après-ski using advice from the real experts, Booking.com customers. Recommendations for nightlife were combined with downhill skiing, with additional criteria then added to ensure a high standard of results. * But just in case you’re after a more relaxed après-ski experience, categories for ski resorts that offer impressive shopping, fine dining and spas were also included…
Without further ado, here are the destinations that came out on top.
Val Thorens, France
Known as the highest party town in the Alps. Can you blame it on the high altitude? Val Thorens has become more up-market in recent years, so now caters to a more high-end crowd as well as young party-goers. The 360 Degree bar and La Folie Douce are open-air clubs on the slopes that get things going early.
Après-ski in Obertauern is vibrant but not overwhelming. There’s a plethora of places right next to the pistes where you can go and enjoy a drink after you’ve been worn out from skiing. Enjoy a vin chaud on the lovely, large sun decks before heading to an evening hotspot.
Expect an enthusiastic early afternoon après-ski kick off in Mayrhofen, a charming Austrian resort that thrives on the après-ski scene. Perhaps borne out of its long musical tradition, this timbered, typical Austrian village is surprisingly wild but you can easily dip in and out, retreating to a peaceful bar if it all gets a bit much.
Val d’Isère, France
Val d’Isère’s long-held reputation as an exclusive and glamorous resort is still going strong. Its appeal spans from its altitude and challenging slopes to its irresistibly French character and the quality of its fine dining establishments. Both in the heart of the resort and on the mountain you’ll find eateries that offer world-class menus, often including classic regional dishes such as fondue Savoyard and raclette. Val d’Isère sits in the Tarentaise Valley, an area famous for its distinctive wines, so you can also expect some rare and beautiful vintages. Michelin stars abound here; the very first was earned by restaurant Le Table de l’Ours, a remarkable place that truly makes the most of local produce while also continuously experimenting.
Jachymov, Czech Republic
Jachymov’s surreal setting is rejuvenating enough, before you’ve even discovered its spa town credentials. It sits in a deep green valley where life is calm and quiet, the soundtrack being the trickle of mountain streams and bird song. Thermal springs constantly produce the gas radon dissolved in the water, which has made Jachmyov’s name as a pioneering place for radon therapy. But aside from their incredible curative qualities, these hot springs are blissfully relaxing and will be a welcome break from hurtling down the pistes.
Thanks to ridiculously low VAT, shopping in Andorra is one of the most advantageous within the bounds of the EU. Given the cost of your average ski trip, most holiday-goers will be thrilled by the bargains to be found in the thousands of stores here. From high-end boutiques to glitzy shopping centres, there’s lots to tempt you to a spot of retail therapy after an energetic day on the slopes. And in Escaldes-Engordany, the investment in tourism as a result of all the duty-free pilgrims means there’s plenty to do in addition to skiing; from jazz festivals and galleries to excursions into the stunning surrounding countryside.
*The data experts combined recommendations for nightlife with downhill skiing. Cities included had to have over 50 recommendations per category (Downhill skiing and Nightlife/Fine Dining/Health Spa/Shopping).