What with all the excitement around the Sochi Winter Olympics, we just couldn’t resist digging out a few of our favourite winter sports destinations from around the world. Though we doubt you’ll be cheering on France, Italy or the USA at the Games this year (come on Team GB!), these beautiful countries and the others that made the list offer the chance to get a taste of the winter sports action yourself. So read on to find out where’s the best place to take your skis this year…
The king of all the ski destinations has got to be France, especially if you live in the UK – it’s barely a few hours from doorstep to ski slope! If you’re looking for a resort that takes care of the après-ski as well as the action out on the course, Val d’Isère is consistently rated as one of the very best Alpine France has to offer. This classy resort has vast ski runs spanning 300km and soaring views of the Alps, not to mention a great selection of cocktail bars, fine restaurants and cosy, fire-warmed cabins.
Up-and-coming destination Bulgaria may be pulling in the crowds for its beautiful Black Sea beaches, but elsewhere in the mountains, holidaymakers are quickly discovering it’s a top winter sports location to boot. The town of Bansko is well-stocked in terms of luxury hotel and chalet facilities, and while the resort isn’t as established as the French ski villages, it offers extremely affordable ski packages in comparison. Whether you fancy trying cross-country skiing, ice dancing or snowboarding, this modest resort is sure to be a hit in 2014.
Fans of historic Rome or the rolling Tuscany countryside may not have experienced one of Northern Italy’s lesser-known attractions: skiing in the Dolomites. In fact, the resort of Cortina hosted the Winter Olympics back in 1956 and as a result, the town centre itself is well-equipped with great shopping, stylish entertainment and a healthy dose of Italian charm. In addition, the Dolomiti Superski pass gives you access to a huge area of snow-clad pistes and stunning panoramas!
Spain is another unexpected winter destination, but the peaks of the Sierra Nevada mountain range are no less thrilling than the US, while the resort of Sierra Nevada itself certainly costs a lot less than Switzerland or France. As Europe’s most southerly ski resort, the slopes get their fair share of Mediterranean sunshine and you can even night-ski if the weather permits. However, probably the main attraction is the lively Fiesta atmosphere – expect late nights and leisurely mornings here!
North America has countless opportunities for dare-devil winter sports, but if you want to have a go at a different kind of cold-weather activity, head to Lake Placid in New York state. Here, you can recreate your own Winter Games with a spot of luge – try it with the professionals to get a feel for this high-speed toboggan ride, or go solo if you’re feeling brave! This stunning Lakeland region is also home to lots of other facilities, from ice climbing to snow-shoeing and ice skating.
What are your favourite winter sports destinations? Are there any we’ve missed off the list? Leave us your top tips below!
Images by nonanet, Jeremy Couture, jonathan_siberry, Nacho Castejon Martinez, Francisco Diez and Luca Sbardella, used under Creative Comms license.