A soft, fresh blanket of snow welcomes a new variety of outdoor activities… namely, skiing! With this sport gaining in popularity every year, ski resort towns have blossomed into well-rounded and chic travel destinations. So break out your jackets and goggles; here are some of the best destinations in the world to take a ski vacation.

Vail, Colorado, United States

Vail is undoubtedly at the top of every ski enthusiast’s destination bucket list not only for outdoor activities, but for its cultural and event scene. Located at the bottom of the majestic Vail Mountain in the Colorado Rockies, this small town was charmingly modeled after Zermatt, Switzerland, and is the largest ski resort in the United States. The mountain’s 5,289 acres of skiable land range from beginner to expert slopes, and the four base areas are connected by a free bus system and host a wide variety of world class dining, shopping, lodging, and night life options.

Vail, Colorado

Photo: Connor Walberg via Flickr

Chamonix, France

As the site of the first winter Olympics in 1924, Chamonix-Mont-Blanc, commonly referred to as Chamonix, is a must visit for any ski vacation. Situated at the intersection of France, Switzerland, and Italy, Chamonix sits at the foot of Mont Blanc, which at 15,774 feet is the highest mountain in the Alps.

Attracting visitors from all over the world, Chamonix hosts a wide variety of slopes ranging from rolling hills for beginners to steep and challenging slopes for advanced skiers. With restaurants ranging from Michelin starred European fine dining, to cozy gastropubs, as well as spas, boutique shopping, wine bars, and art galleries and museums, the variety of apres-ski activities further promote Chamonix as a world-class skiing destination.

Chamonix, France

Photo: Blaise Ulysse Vincent Verien via Flickr

Zermatt, Switzerland

As the home of arguably the most famous mountain in the world, the Matterhorn, Zermatt is a must visit for any travel lover, and especially for skiers! Antiquated yet stylish, Zermatt is the place to be to experience the full majesty and epic natural beauty of the Swiss Alps.

Best for intermediate to advanced skiers, this town is also an incredible spot for hiking, and initially became famous due to the countless number of men who attempted to reach the Matterhorn summit. Other outdoor activities include visiting the Gorner gorge, multiple lakes, Trocknersteg for the panoramic views of Alps, and the Theodul Glacier.

Zermatt, Switzerland

Photo: Nick Webb via Flickr

Park City, Utah, United States

This premier resort town, located in southwest Utah in the Wasatch Range, is an outdoor enthusiast’s dream come true. Blending active recreation with classy accommodations, Park City is home to two major world class ski resorts that were locations for the 2002 Winter Olympics.

The United States’s largest independent film festival, The Sundance Film Festival, is held here every year, encouraging high profile visitors. With prime ski slopes, and a luxurious hotel, night-life, restaurant, and bar scene, Park City is without a doubt a top pick for an all-around exhilarating ski vacation.

Park City, Utah

Photo: Keith Kendrick via Flickr

Niseko, Japan

Located in northern Japan on Hokkaido Island, near the dormant volcano of Mount Yotei, Australians have popularized this ski resort to world-renowned levels. Boasting an annual snow fall of 15 inches, Niseko is famous for powdery snow that enables smooth skiing conditions.

Mount Yotei is also home to a large crater, which advanced skiers get a huge rush of adrenaline from skiing down! Complete with lovely Japanese and international restaurants, cultural centers, and many onsens (natural hot spring baths) overlooking the grand mountains, a ski vacation in Niseko cannot be beat.

Niseko, Japan

Photo: swissbanana via pixabay

Cortina D’Ampezzo, Italy

Recently announced as the location for the Alpine Ski World Championships 2021, Cortina D’Ampezzo, with its cobbled streets and historic churches, is the anti-thesis of a modern ski town. Surrounded with limestone towers and cliffs from the Dolomite mountains that tinge pink at dusk and dawn, and full of chic shops selling everything from designer clothes to art, there is no lack of beauty here. Challenging slopes, a charming town atmosphere, and beautiful scenery combine to make Cortina a dream ski vacation.

Cortina D’Ampezzo, Italy

Photo: Francesco Dini via Flickr

Whistler, British Columbia, Canada

Just north of Vancouver in the southern Pacific Ranges of the Coast Mountains lies the lovely resort town, Whistler. Since the late 1990s, this pedestrian village has been voted among the top ski vacation destinations in North America by major ski magazines, and its fairytale-esque alpine architecture has won many design awards.

With over 8,100 acres of snow-covered slopes, 16 alpine bowls, and 3 glaciers, Whistler is also home to multiple breweries, a broad variety of sublime dining options, and an impressive array of museums and galleries which make it well worth a visit.

Whistler, British Columbia

Photo: werner22brigitte via Pixabay

Aspen, Colorado

Aspen, known by many as an elite Rocky Mountain playground, makes for a dream ski vacation for skiers and epicureans. To get your adrenaline pumping, Aspen features four different skiing areas suitable for all levels of expertise. Off the slopes, satisfy your taste for art, culture, and great food with a visit downtown.

Home to the historic Wheeler Opera House, the Aspen Santa Fe Ballet, a wide variety of cultural festivals, and dining options ranging from farm to table contemporary cuisine to upscale sushi, a ski vacation to Aspen will be sensational both on and off the slopes.

Aspen, Colorado

Photo: Mark Byzewski via Flickr

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For more adventurous vacation inspiration, check out our Travel Ideas section!