There are several elements that must align for the ultimate ski-cation. Fresh pow, wicked runs, lively village life and stunning snowscapes are the key factors that all of the world's greatest ski resorts have in common. Promising epic slopes and equally fun off-piste activities, these six resorts made our worldwide must-ski bucketlist.
Best for: England’s most sophisticated skiers
Most Instagrammable ski run: The White Ring
Lech offers tons more than just beautiful slopes and incredible alpine views; there's equally amazing off-piste activities with gourmet restaurants, a cosmopolitan array of bars and chic boutiques galore. We suspect that's why a good 70 percent of visitors tend to return here each year. Do yourself a favor and try the restaurant tasting menu at Griggeler Stuba. You can also expect heated seats on lifts, trails groomed to perfection and the new Flexenbahn cableway, which makes skiing on the Arlberg even more convenient.
Best for: Thrill seekers who want to push themselves to the limit
Most Instagrammable ski run: Valley Blanche
Many consider Chamonix to be the founding city of alpine skiing, but has since become famous amongst adrenaline junkies for its addictively difficult runs. Across 762 acres of ski terrain, you'll find five designated ski areas and a whopping 79 trails, all in the shadow of the tallest mountain in Europe, Mont Blanc. Yep, boredom in Chamonix really isn't an option. The buzzing town at the foot of the mountain is home to 10,000 residents, which means a ton of restaurants, bars, cafés and galleries, so after skiing bucket-list slope Valley Blanche, reward yourself with some dreamy French cuisine at Restaurant l’Atmosphère.
Best for: European adrenalin junkies who like their runs steep and deep
Most Instagrammable ski run: Klein Matterhorn
The most iconic sight in Zermatt has to be the Matterhorn, an epic mountain looming 14,692 feet over the resort. While the peak is in itself worth seeing (and Snapchatting), don't let it overshadow the rest of what Zermatt has to offer. The resort has the highest mountains in Europe and is made up of 29 peaks across three ski areas (all of which reach a minimum of 10,200 feet), meaning extra long runs and incredible 360-degree views. As an added bonus, you can ski year-round in Zermatt, although the best conditions are between November and April. The resort is also home to the famous Chez Vrony, where you can snag a seriously good organic lunch with a view.
Cortina D’Ampezzo, Italy
Best for: Italy’s most glam skiers, looking to dodge the usual Euro crowds
Most Instagrammable ski run: Tofana
A former Olympic resort town (though from waaay back in 1956), Cortina D’Ampezzo is now where Europe's most monied skiers flock for an exclusive snow escape. During its peak months (generally from November to April), 95 percent of the slopes are guaranteed to have snow, and the lift lines are typically short, making for a total winter wonderland. However, the allure goes well beyond ski conditions. Cortina D’Ampezzo is part of the Dolomites, and as those in the know will tell you, it's the most breathtaking resort in the area. Located in a gorgeous wide valley, it's surrounded by mountains, while an impressive lineup of restaurants and boutiques can be found in the centre. After a day of skiing, you’ll want to head to the foot of Tofana Mount for a Michelin-starred dinner at El Camineto.
Best for: Seasoned international skiers looking for fresh pow
Most Instagrammable ski run: Grand Hirafu
Nothing says dream ski vacation like fresh powder, and Niseko is never short of just that. Getting over 50 feet of snow each year, skiers come from all corners of the globe to relish in the world-class pow and views of Mount Yotei. In fact, almost every run in this relatively small resort boasts views of the spectacular 6,200 foot volcano, that'll earn you bragging rights for months. You won’t want to miss the chance to night ski though, so visit between December and March when you don’t have to put your skis away at dusk. Or if you’d prefer to trade in your ski boots for party shoes, visit nearby Hirafu, which has a cracking nightlife. Hit up Bigfoot Lodge and get the wagyu beef burger, or The Barn for any of their experimental cocktails.
Best for: Vancouverites on stag do's, Aussies on work visas
Most Instagrammable ski run: Seventh Heaven
Give yourself plenty of time to explore this gem that's just a two-hour drive from Vancouver's downtown. Made up of both the Whistler and Blackcomb mountains, this resort has 8,171 acres of pristine terrain, making it North America’s largest ski resort. The size no doubt contributed to the successful bid for the 2010 Winter Olympics, but we're betting it's the beautiful peaks and bustling village that appeal most. Though Whistler is busy nearly year-round, skiers should visit in the prime winter months when the powder is fresh and the views are most photogenic. After a day jam-packed with skiing, reward yourself with a classic Pacific Northwest dinner at Araxi Restaurant & Oyster Bar. The nightlife here is pretty awesome too – check out Merlin's for the buzzing atmosphere and Garfinkel's for the DJs.