The cold stretch of January and February is spread out dauntingly in front of us, and many people are packing up and heading for beaches a little closer to the equator. But for others, these next two months are the most wonderful time of the year – time to sharpen the blades, hit the slopes, and indulge their passion for winter sports.
Millions of travelers will spend the next couple months skiing, snowboarding, and skating (that’s right, we’re leaving out biathlon). So where should they go? Here’s a look at the 10 best places in the world for winter sports:
- St. Moritz, Switzerland – The granddaddy of all ski resorts. The skiing is phenomenal. And you can also try the Cresta Run, a toboggan run on which the top speeds can get up around 100 miles an hour. Yes, wear a helmet. Or try the Bob Run, a mile-long bobsled run. Plus, Swiss ski chalets. Good times.
- Courchevel, France – Made up of five villages, Courchevel in the French Alps is the biggest ski area in the world. There are almost 375 miles of slopes connected by 173 ski lifts and ski runs. You can even watch snow polo as an added wintry diversion.
- Moscow, Russia – Yes, it’ll be brutally cold, but you’re headed there because you like winter, right? The ice skating in Gorky Park will make you feel like you’re reliving the 1983 movie. The people of Moscow are so into their skating that they deliberately ice over the sidewalks. Head there on the weekends when the Park turns into an “ice disco,” with music and lights.
- Niseko, Japan – The New York Times called Niseko “Japan’s own St. Moritz.” On Japan’s northernmost island of Hokkaido, Niseko is considered to have some of the best snow in the world – fresh snow falls just about constantly. Snowboarders in particular flock to Niseko.
- Megeve, France – In the French Alps, Megeve is perhaps best known for some of the best restaurants in the world. So it’s a good thing that you can burn off those calories on the slopes.
- Mont-Tremblant, Quebec, Canada – About 100 miles northwest of Montreal, Tremblant (which means “trembling mountain”) is a favorite of North American skiers.
- Kashmir, India – Simply by virtue of the fact this is the Himalayas, the skiing is pretty good in Kashmir. After all, you’re at more than 10,000 feet of elevation. Of course, the ongoing conflict in the region makes this a bit of a dicey destination. But if you’re a skier who truly loves adventure, Kashmir might be right for you.
- Wanaka, New Zealand– New Zealand is one of the globe’s hottest travel destinations right now, so why not head to Wanaka where the snowboarding is utterly awesome? You’re surrounded by the country’s natural beauty, and the slopes are open snowfields – there are no established trails so you can choose your own way down the mountain.
- San Carlos de Bariloche, Argentina – Yes, it’s in Argentina, but you’ll feel like you’re in Switzerland because of the alpine architecture. Skiers and snowboarders flock to Bariloche in the Andes foothills for some of the southern hemisphere’s best powder.
- Dolomites, Italy – There are 12 different resorts and 450 lifts here in the Italian Alps. The skiing here is very good, but perhaps not as good as the other destinations on this list. However, the scenery, surroundings and absolutely phenomenal food make this a destination worth considering.