The best ski resorts for beginners

Still learning your snow plough from your slalom? Everyone has to start somewhere, so here’s a selection of the best European ski resorts for beginners.

1. Arinsal, Andorra

The wide, gentle nursery slopes of Arinsal.

The picturesque village of Arinsal is in the tiny principality of Andorra, on the border between France and Spain. The compact resort is ideally placed to host beginners, with wide, gentle nursery slopes that enjoy excellent snow conditions throughout the season and friendly, English-speaking instructors. Arinsal belongs to the wider Vallnord ski area, so once you’ve found your snow legs you can also take a cable car over to the more challenging slopes in neighbouring Pal and Arcalis using the same lift pass. Arinsal’s après ski scene is lively and great value, with its great selection of family friendly bars and restaurants. Don’t forget that, despite the fact that it’s part of Europe and uses the Euro, Andorra is a duty-free country, so it’s also a great opportunity to stock up on low-priced luxuries.

2. Mayrhofen, Austria

Mayrhofen’s gentle blue runs are ideal for beginners.

The Tyrolean town of Mayrhofen is one of Austria’s best known resorts and a short transfer from Innsbruck. The Mayrhofen ski area itself has 53 lifts, giving you access to the many blue and red runs on both of the mountains – the Ahorn and Penken. However, you can upgrade to a pass covering the whole Zillertal area including the glacier at Hintertux. The resort has four well-regarded ski schools with instructors who speak good English and children are welcome from the age of three. Non-skiers can enjoy a variety of activities in Mayrhofen or take the train and explore other areas. With its lively night-life and attractive centre, Mayrhofen has everything you will need for a fantastic ski holiday.

3. Borovets, Bulgaria

The nursery slopes Borovets are ideally located.

Tucked away in a dense pine forest, Borovets was the first ski resort in Bulgaria and enjoys some of the best snow in Eastern Europe. The ski area is ideal for beginners with well-maintained, gentle nursery slopes located right on the edge of the resort. Borovets’ ski school is highly rated with an excellent standard of English speaking instruction. If you’re finding the slopes hard work, many of the hotels – including the Rila and Samokov – have spas where you can enjoy a massage to ease those aching muscles. Bulgaria offers fantastic value for money and Borovets has a great variety of nightlife, from traditional restaurants to lively nightclubs.

4. Les Arcs, France

Les Arcs boasts a huge ski area.

Les Arcs could be the ultimate destination for beginners, being the birthplace of the Ski Evolutif method of teaching skiing, which has since been widely adopted around the world. Ski Evolutif does away with the traditional snow plough stance that most skiers will have been taught, instead starting you off on short, more manageable skis, which are swapped for longer ones as your technique improves. However, you can learn the more traditional way if you wish.

Les Arcs is a fantastic family resort with a huge network of ski runs. The resort is actually split into four self-contained villages named after their height above sea level: Arc 1600, Arc 1800, Arc 1950 and Arc 2000, and each one has a number of gentle blue runs designed specifically for the novice.

5. Passo Tonale, Italy

Lift queues are rare at Passo Tonale.

As one of the highest resorts in Italy, Passo Tonale virtually guarantees great snow all season. It offers an impressive array of broad, well-groomed motorway pistes for beginners and standards at the two ski schools are very high, so you will soon find yourself progressing onto the more gentle intermediate slopes higher up the mountain. The network of lifts is excellent, so queues are rare, and lift passes are excellent value. Passo Tonale is pretty compact, so none of the hotels are too far from the slopes. Children will be warmly welcomed wherever you go and the Italian cuisine is hearty and good value, giving you all the energy you need to get back out on the slopes.

Published 20th October 2015

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