Ride, après, rest, repeat. Après ski is undoubtedly a key part of any ski and snowboarding trip. So, where should you go for an epic après scene – and what are the crucial dos and don’ts? Don’t worry, it’s all here in our ultimate guide.
Oh, après. This mountain phenomenon is a vital part of ski and snowboard holidays – and proof that good times don’t end on the slopes. In fact, they carry on long after you’ve unclipped your bindings and often involve dancing on tables, ordering a shot-ski or two and swapping stories between your crew (such as who yard-saled the hardest).
There’s nothing quite like the feeling of sinking a cold one after finishing a day’s riding. But how did this beloved pastime come into existence? And who’s at the top of our après awards? We’ve got it all (and more) covered in our ultimate guide to the storied tradition that is après ski.
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Après ski is all about celebrating a day on the mountain with your crew (often with live music and a drink in hand). In French, it literally means ‘after ski’.
Many riders congregate in the local mountain bars, leaving their precious skis and snowboards outside to order pints, Jägerbombs, or shots of local liqueur. Think of it as a ‘Happy Hour’, except everyone’s just happy to be in the mountains, and it lasts for a whole evening. And don’t worry, après ski has actual Happy Hours, too.
The term ‘après ski’ was first used in the 1950s in the French Alps. Little did they know what a vital part of skiing and snowboarding this rite of passage would become. Since then, the après scene has exploded across Europe – and even made its way over the pond.
Our favourite thing about après ski is that there are no rules! You’ll typically find DJs and live music hyping up the crowds. But, if you’re after a more mellow affair with a kir royale and canapes back at the chalet, that counts, too. And, if you go somewhere like the Folie Douce, don’t be surprised to witness champagne hoisted through the air in glass boxes to a backdrop of saxophone solos. Yes, really…
Wear whatever you want for après ski; there’s no dress code! Yep, even a dinosaur costume or mankini will do – we’ve seen both in action at après. And the best part? No one cares what you’re wearing!
Generally, though, people head straight to the watering holes from the white stuff. This means head-to-toe riding gear is pretty standard at après – with everything from your base layer to your goggles, helmet, and gloves. In fact, being there in your riding gear is all part of it. And dancing on tables in your clunky ski boots is a skill that can take years (okay, minutes) to perfect.
Everyone comes together at après – from the ski bum seasonaires to the one-week holidaymakers. Plus, it’s fun figuring out what type of rider people are from what they wear at après. For example, relaxed fit, baggy snow trousers, and a long-line jacket? Park rat. Super technical gear, an avi-bag, and caffeine in hand? Freerider. Check out our other après ski characters – and what to wear – here.
Okay, we know we mentioned there are no rules. But sometimes, it’s good to have some handy dos and don’ts filed away for agg-free après. Check out our tips below.
Before we dive straight in, though, there are some subtle spins and differences that each country follows. For example:
Après ski in France can sometimes be theatrical with a dose of cabaret. Yes, we’re talking about those saxophone players again … It’s also one of the best places to find live bands covering your favourite tunes.
Austria’s après ski scene is drenched in cold steins of beer with can’t-get-out-of-your-head Europop tunes and mountain festivals with soul-shaking sound systems.
Après in Italy tends to be a more laid-back affair. Have antipasti and an Aperol over shots and singalongs (but you can find these in some Italian resorts, too, of course).
For each ski resort, we gave après rating from 1-5 based on the amount of bars and how lively the scene is, where 1 stands for chilled and 5 for excellent vibes.
The costs we evaluated the following way by taking in consideration the price of drinks and beer:
€ – Inexpensive, perfect for skiers/snowboarders on a budget
€€ – Middle of the range budget required
€€€ – Expect to pay premium prices
But for now, let’s get back to our top 10 après ski resorts in Europe…
For peak après, you aren’t going to find much better than Val d’Isere. It brings atmosphere by the bucketload – and often prices to match. But don’t let that stop you — this is the place to après to the max.
Val-d is home to the legendary La Folie Douce. This après institution is perched up on the mountain, and you can hear the banging tunes from a mile away (like your own après siren call)! Down in the resort, there’s also the epic Cocorico N’Co at the Place du Rond Point de Pistes. All buses drive here from each end of town, so it’s the perfect meeting point if your squad’s scattered.
We also love heading to Dick’s Tea Bar. You can get a pair of slippers here if your feet are tired from après-ing. Once rested, dance all night to tunes played by world-famous DJs.
Ridestore recommends: Move from one bar to another to get the best après deals. Although Val d’Isere is a fairly expensive resort, Happy Hours are staggered, so you can often après for an alright price if you make your own bar crawl.
If Val d’Isere is the preppy big sister, Tignes is the rebellious, gnarlier sibling. It’s full of fun, and good times are guaranteed here, whether your priority is challenging powder lines, après, or that special combo of both.
Of course, we can’t mention Tignes without mentioning Loop Bar. Positions don’t get more prime than this – Loop is right at the bottom of the Trolles run in Tignes Le Lac for classic ski in/ski out après.
Loop has a huge sun-soaked terrace for drinking and dancing to some of the best bands and DJs in the Alps, massive screens for catching sport, endless Happy Hours, and ridiculously scrummy food. Prepare to get messy.
Another favourite après spot in Tignes is the Marmots Arms. Head here for a ridiculously lively après session and a Full English breakfast come morning. In Lavachet, there’s also the fantastic bar/restaurant La Queue D’Cochon. Think gin, oysters, fine dining, and rock n’ roll. Name a better combo than that!
Ridestore recommends: For an epic après session, head to La Folie Douce before riding straight down Trolles to Loop. This is for experienced riders only, though. Trolles is a Black run with a steep pitch leading to a long schuss (or flatline). Make sure you catch the Tommeuses lift back to the top of Trolles before 4:00pm, too. If you miss it, it’s a ride into Val D’Isere, and an annoying cab journey back to Tignes.
Après-ing in Val Thorens is a must on anyone’s bucket list. It’s a relaxed, lively resort, perfect for foodies and après-loving riders. There’s Folie Douce (another one) that’s renowned for luring hundreds of skiers and snowboarders there every day, with the help of sax players Fabou and Dr Audinos.
There’s also Bar 360 with some of the best DJs and MCs we’ve ever seen. Get there early to lounge in the sun before the party kicks off around 2:00pm. Trust us, your feet will be twitching too much to sit in a deckchair while the volume rises.
If you don’t mind crowds, you can’t miss Cafe Snesko. It’s one of the rowdiest – and most fun – bars on the strips. Go from 6:00-8:00pm to see the bar staff singing along to karaoke classics and playing drinking games. Stay a bit later, and they set the ceiling and bar on fire! Honestly, it’s worth seeing with your own eyes.
Ridestore recommends: Want to party all night? Head to Le Malaysia. It’s the largest nightclub in the Alps, with big-name DJs, live music, and four bars. It opens at 11 pm and stays open until 4.30 am – just enough shuteye before first tracks, then.
Les Deux Alpes is home to the largest skiable glacier in Europe – and one of the most electric après scenes. There are 45 bars along the main part of the resort and eight nightclubs.
Our picks are Pano Bar – epic for après-ing at the top of the world (well, 2,600m)! Expect a crazy atmosphere (in the best way) with DJ sets, fire dancers, and saxophonists.
At the bottom of the slopes is the Umbrella Bar. Yes, it really is a giant umbrella with a party that can be heard from all over the mountain, beckoning you to join. The umbrella can go up or down depending on whiteout or bluebird days.
Ridestore recommends: Valentin is a serious run back into resort – and the only option if you want to ride after your Pano Bar après session. If you’re overdone on Genepi, take the Jandri Gondola instead. This lift takes you directly to Pano – perfect for beginner riders and injured mates to meet you there.
To après in Cham is like wearing a badge of honour. This resort is full of passionate mountaineers – local and out of town – keen to unwind after a day of shredding their legs off.
Of course, you have to start in the iconic Chambre Neuf. They have live bands six nights of the week, revving up a truly incredible atmosphere. Join in with the table dancing and chants of ‘we are Chamonix’ throughout the bands’ sets. Once the bands finish, a DJ is waiting in the wings to keep the crowd going until 1:00am.
We’re also massive fans of Les Marmottons. Stop here for food before après and indulge in fresh mountain cheeses and cold meats. Then, when you’re ready to transition from riding to dancing, Les Marmottons brings live music, cocktails, and beer on their terrace. Bliss.
Ridestore recommends: Fancy something a bit different? Head to ChaChaCha, a stylish wine and spirit merchant on Avenue Ravanel Le Rouge. They have wine, beer, and spirit tastings every night of the week. You can sample the drinks and then order a bottle to enjoy on the terrace the next day.
World-famous freeriding meets world-famous après in St. Anton. This is the place to ski hard but après harder, and it’s no wonder it’s made the list of our top après resorts.
A good day’s riding in the Arlberg isn’t complete without a visit to Krazy Kanguruh. This is where to go for unmissable tunes and swigs of the local Fohrenburg beer on their incredible sun terrace, aka an open dancefloor.
Every day at 3:00pm, things kick off with ‘The Final Countdown’ followed by your classic pop tunes. So, get up on those tables, stomp those ski boots, and take in the amazing views overlooking St. Anton.
Of course, there’s also MooserWirt – the best place to witness a local legend. Every day from 3:30pm, DJ Gerhard takes to the decks. He’s been DJing here for almost 30 years, belting out loud Austro/German pop! His son Thomas is slowly taking over. But, no matter who controls the tunes, you can expect epic après times.
Ridestore recommends: Both our recommended St. Anton après spots are on the piste, meaning you must ride back down the mountain once they close. Make sure you can handle your Jägermeister, or don’t drink and ride.
Action and après are key ingredients for a successful skiing holiday, and you can find them both in Mayrhofen. This resort offers 58 lifts and 139km of pistes alongside some of the world’s best après!
Our favourite place is Mo’s Cafe: a café and a music bar in one. They serve food from all over the world, have an extensive wine menu, and provide shed-loads of frothy beer. It’s a natural place to dance the night away and shake off those aching legs.
Bruck ‘n’ Stadl is also an incredible spot. The world’s top DJs stop here to give you an après session to remember. We thoroughly recommend visiting Bruck ‘n’ Stadl for their season-opening or closing parties. Trust us, it's an après party to stay in your memory forever.
Ridestore recommends: For après on steroids, visit Mayrhofen during Snowbombing. This music festival is all about shredding by day and partying by night. Our favourite spot is the Snow Park Terrace, an après ski sensation! Expect tables, tunes, vibes, and moves!
Whatever your après vibe, Ischgl has the place to match. We’re massive fans of Kuhstall, a cowshed that’s taken the crown for one of the top après spots in the Alps. This is where party lovers meet mountain lovers to dance and celebrate into the early hours.
There’s also Trofana Alm, aka the best après ski hut you’ll ever find. Decadent parties and packed après sessions take place here every single day throughout the season. Keep an eye out for Lederhosen servers cutting through the crowd with sparkler-decorated trays of Dom Perignon. Honestly, it’s a sight that’s hard to miss …
Ridestore recommends: For the ultimate Tyrolean experience, try the spare ribs at Kuhstall. They’re mouth-wateringly delicious – and the ideal fuel for après partying.
For après with a side of Swiss charm, chocolate box chalets, and a dose of raclette, it’s got to be Verbier. This ski resort has everything you could want from an awesome après session – whether you’ve got a penchant for craft beer or champagne.
For après with a twist, head for the Ice Cube Bar. It’s on the piste just down from the Medran top station and offers jaw-dropping views across the Val de Bagnes. It’s a real sun-trap here and makes you think of being at a poolside bar in Ibiza, except you’re surrounded by snow. So, soak up the drinks, music, and sunset on the terrace before dancing the night away.
We’re also massive fans of Le Farinet. Après here produces sizable crowds, but there’s no need to worry about overheating as the roof opens to let any steam out! Trust us, there’s nothing quite like dancing to a Swedish cover band as snow falls through the open roof. If you fancy rubbing shoulders with aristocrats and ski bums, unleash your après dance moves at the Farm Club.
Ridestore recommends: Get a sweet tooth around snow? The Milk Bar on Rue de Mèdran serves mouth-watering cakes and crepes. It’s the icing on the cake to a (hopefully) non-icy, powder-filled day.
Italy is also an après ski paradise. And nothing fits the description better than Livigno, a lively village full of culture and atmosphere.
Treat yourself to a long lunch before heading down to the gondola base on both the Carosello and Mottolino sides of the valley. There, you’ll soak up the après, Italian style, of course. This means high-class wines and top-quality local and imported beers and spirits, all at an affordable, reasonable price.
One of our favourite places for après (and lunch) is Kosmo, at the bottom of the Mottolino gondola. It’s perfect for dancing to live bands or talented DJs.
Alegra is also a great spot for dancing. From 3:00pm, their terrace turns into a party with DJs and crowds. So you might see (or hear) us singing at the top of our lungs and stomping our ski boots. When in Rome – or Livigno, we should say …
Ridestore recommends: In need of a pick-me-up? Order an espresso and a grappa. Down the espresso, pour the grappa into the espresso glass, and swirl to get all the leftover caffeine. Then, neck it, and you’re good to keep going for another few hours!
Après doesn’t have an official starting time. It technically begins the moment you’ve finished riding for the day, which could be 11:00am!
However, in most resorts, people begin après ski mid-afternoon, around 3-4:00pm when the lifts stop spinning. Of course, you’re welcome to start earlier or later. Or, if you don’t fancy riding in a whiteout, why not dedicate a whole day to après?
There’s no official cut-off time for après ski. Most people head back to their chalets and apartments for dinner around 7:00pm, but you can keep going into the early hours if the après has a hold on you.
However, don’t forget that first lifts are normally around 9:00am the next day. So, you might want to end après at a reasonable hour to feel fresh for freshies.
Ski or snowboard boots! Going straight from the last lift of the day to the first bar queue of the night is all part of the fun. However, if your boots have been giving you grief, some riders slip into their winter boots instead (such as Sorels, Salomons, or Moon Boots).
You pronounce après ski as ‘ap-rey skee’. It’s French, so it’d be rude not to have a café au lait in hand, right? Or a Chartreuse, depending on the time of day …
There are no rules for throwing an après party. All you need is stoke for the snow, some good tunes, and even better vibes. How you party is completely up to you!
So, there you have it, an in-depth, extensive guide to après ski! Can you now see why it’s such a big part of the whole mountain experience (and some people’s favourite part!)?
Now, all that’s left to do is head for the snow, knowing that come 3:00pm, you can ride right up to the bar, order a drink, and dance on the tables with your pals to cheesy après tunes. Is anyone else craving that scenario as much as us right now? We’ll see you there!