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The best places to snowboard in Europe | Ridestore Magazine

Even though snowboarding has been around for decades and has created the most friendly, cool and open community, it feels like some resorts much prefer the "two plank-ers". With the best time of the year slowly approaching, it got us to thinking, which resorts in Europe are best for snowboarders? Which resorts offer us the best facilities, commodities and overall, give us all the space we need to flex our skills and hang out on the slopes with our favourite people. Grab your board and let's dive in and find out.

Europe, undoubtedly, has some of the best snowboarding resorts in the world, but that’s not to say every resort across the continent is favourable to snowboarders. We’ve tried to weed out the destinations that are overloaded with skiers because, while anyone who takes to the mountains is pretty much awesome in our eyes, there’s definitely a difference between ski-friendly resorts and snowboard resorts. That said, we will delve into some of Europe’s best ski resorts, too, including some of the continent’s top family-friendly resorts. Without further ado, here’s our definitive guide to the best places to snowboard in Europe!

The best places to snowboard in Europe

If you have no idea what to wear to stay looking cool on the slopes this season or you want to kit yourself out with some new gear, refreshing your snowboard jacket & snowboard pants are a must!

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Best places for freeride

Freeriders, also known as big mountain riders, are an epic species of snowboarders who take to the backcountry and shred natural, raw terrain. Freeride snowboarders tend to seek epic backcountry slopes, tree runs, and chutes. The hairier the terrain, the better. There are certainly a wide variety of freeride styles, but the below destinations should suit even the most progressive freeride. 

Verbier, Swizerland

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In pole position, for best freeriding destination in Europe, has to be Verbier. This glorious Swiss mountain town is home to the Verbier Freeride World Tour and plays host to some of the most epic big mountain terrain in the world. Verbier is also the gateway to the 4-Vallees ski area, so the slopes are almost endless, and views of the Matterhorn are seriously something to write home about.

Chamonix-Mt-Blanc, France

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Arguably, Chamonix is also the epicentre of freeride snowboarding, and the town regularly hosts crowd-pleasing freeride tournaments year on year. If you’re a serious boarder, then a trip to Mont Blanc and the dusted caps of Eastern France is an absolute right of passage. The high alpine zone requires all boarders to carry harness and crevasse-rescue gear, so you know you’re in for a sick ride.

Saas-Fee, Switzerland

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Some of the highest peaks in the Alps sit tightly around the mountain town of Saas-Fee, so the opportunities for freeriding are pretty mind-blowing. There are over 1800 meters of vertical pristine powder to shred, and the village itself is as beautiful as you’d imagine a Swiss town to be.

Zermatt, Switzerland

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The mighty Matterhorn (the absolute jewel of Switzerland) is back on our radar, only this time we’re a bit closer. You might have to pay a pretty penny to venture out onto the pristine, virgin slopes of Zermatt, but it’s well worth every cent. At the heart of the Alps, snowboarding is higher, faster, and steeper than pretty much anywhere else.

Jasna, Slovakia

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Jasna is a well-known freeride location, ever since a lively bunch of twenty-somethings organised a freeride event here back in 2002. Today, the annual race is a real crowd-pleaser, and seasoned boarders take to the slopes five months of the year.

Sainte-Foy, France

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Sainte-foy is no longer the lesser-known freeride destination it once was, and is quite popular amongst borders, which means it can get a little busier than you might expect. That said, the excellent off-piste conditions and epic tree runs make it worth the while.

Gressoney, Italy

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Gressoney is an off-piste paradise, spanning across three valleys and dipping into nearby towns of Champoluc and Alagna. You’ll be pleased to know, Gressoney has improved its nightlife in recent years, and apres-ski is just as good as its French and Swiss counterparts over the border.

Best places for the snowpark

Put simply; a snowpark is a sanctioned area of terrain that allows boarders (and skiers) to perform tricks all day long. Not too dissimilar to a skatepark, snowparks are the place to hone your skills, and tackle jumps, rails, and boxes in a designated environment. Let’s take a look at the best snowparks across Europe.

Avoriaz, France

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Avoriaz is home to six different freestyle snowparks! Snowpark de la Chappelle is suitable for beginners to intermediates, while Snowpark Arare is perfect for well-seasoned borders and advanced professionals. The Burton-sponsored ‘Stash’ is a personal favourite as the course winds its way through trees and over various wooden obstacles.  

Laax, Switzerland

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Laax Snowpark is one of the leading destinations for freestyle borders in Europe. The course is home to the biggest halfpipe in the world, an Olympic size kicker line, and over 100 obstacles, all spread across four separate parks.

Tignes, France

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Head to the top of the Grattalu chairlift in Tignes, and you’ll find yourself at one of France’s most talked about snowparks. Take note; the park is split into three zones, one of which is solely for pro-boarders. The coolest part about Tignes SnowPark? DC Shoes sponsor it. Pretty rad.

 Livigno, Italy

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Livigno’s snowpark has regularly been crowned amongst the best three snowparks in Europe, and who are we to argue with statistics? The town actually boasts two snowparks; Mottolino and Carosello. Expect to enjoy all sizes of jumps and rails, over 60 structures, and 800 meters of vertical to play with. The park’s latest feature? A maxi landing bag for the pros!

 Cervinia, Italy

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Cervinia’s snowpark goes by the name of IndianPark and spans 400 meters in length and 100 meters in width, which quite frankly is unheard of. The colossal size of this park (nine acres total) and its incredible rails, kickers, and Big Air make it one of the most popular snowparks in Europe.

Best places to snowboard on a budget

Snowboarding ain’t cheap, but if you want to hit the slopes, it’s totally doable on a budget. Below are some of our favourite budget destinations to get your fix.

Bansko, Bulgaria

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Bankso might not be the biggest or the best snowboarding resort in Europe, but it certainly is affordable. As a long-standing winner of the World Ski Awards since 2013, this family-friendly resort town has one of the longest ski seasons and is family-friendly and rich with culture!

Cairngorm, UK

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Now, hear us out. What about snowboarding in the UK? Cairngorm is the most popular snowboarding resort in the UK due to its consistent snow levels (thank you, Scotland) and it’s incredibly affordable too. A five-day lift pass will only set you back around £160, and snow is guaranteed right up until May. It’s an excellent destination to squeeze one last session in before the season is over! Better yet, accommodation, beers, and local highland cuisine won’t break the bank either.

Vogel, Slovenia

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Flights to Slovenia are, on average, a good 50% cheaper than flights to Italy, France, and Switzerland, which instantly makes Vogel a delightful, affordable destination. Vogel is the country’s best all-around ski resort, and it sits right in the heart of Triglav National Park, and a 5-day pass will only set you back around €135.

Sierra Nevada, Spain

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Spain’s third-highest peak sits in the northwest slopes of Veleta, tucked amongst the Sierra Mountains, and is a magnet for snowboarders on a budget. Flights to Granada are relatively affordable all year round, and a five-day ski pass will set you back as little as €220. We’re not going to say the Sierra Nevada is the best place to snowboard in Europe, but it does have its fair share of cool-off piste freeriding plus a 2-mile night riding run.

Pas de la Casa, Andorra

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The Andorian ski resort Pas de la Casa sits in the Pyrenees Mountains and is so close to France you can almost touch it. 5-day lift passes start at €234, and eating out in the town will hardly make a dent in your wallet in comparison to hospitality costs across the border.

Best places for families

If you’re taking to the slopes with the little ones in tow, questing after lifelong memories and the ultimate family Christmas card picture, then keep reading. Below we’ll unpack some of the best ski resorts in Europe for families, covering everything from on-the-slope kids ski schools to bargain kids ski deals.

Sälen, Sweden

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Sälen is the biggest ski area in Sweden, and with that comes a whole load of facilities tailored to kids of all ages. Moving carpets, easy button lifts, and a man dressed as a snowman on skis are just some of the family-friendly highlights of Sälen. Head to Lämmellandet, and you’ll enjoy a mini snowpark and skicross station, kitted out with cartoon signs and the works! In all honesty, we’d only recommend hitting up Sälen if you have kids!

Montgenèvre, France

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The powdered ski slopes of Montgenèvre, France, are well-suited to beginners, intermediates, and last but not least, little legs! The village itself has been largely pedestrianized, and the busy road that once ploughed through it has been redirected, restoring peace and quiet in the heart of town (allowing kids to roam free without too much worry). The resort’s Snow Front area is a game-changer, too, as the pre-slope area is dotted with children’s nurseries and family entertainment venues.

Davos, Switzerland

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Davos ranks in the top 10 when it comes to family-friendly Swiss ski resorts, and you’ll find runs of all shapes and sizes to suit every age and varying ability. Davos particularly specialises in family-friendly apres-ski, including nine toboggan runs, Switzerland’s largest natural ice rink, and a kids club featuring a giant bouncy castle. If your little ones are a little bigger, the annual Audi Snowboard Series Big Air makes for a thrilling day out, and the whole family will enjoy watching world-class freeskiers do their thing!

Serre Chevalier, France

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Serre Chevalier is a large-scale ski resort found in southern France, tucked neatly into the Provence-Alpes-Cote d’Azur region. The Family Zone, Sonic, Airbag, and Sledge Park are just some of the family-friend amenities on offer here, along with a multitude of runs for all abilities. Kids skiing and snowboard lessons are available for those aged four and above, along with private coaching for all ages and levels. Those under the age of four can make the most of Serre Chevalier’s mix of nursery provisions and beginner lessons.

Best places for apres ski

In the world of skiing and snowboarding, apres-ski simply means time spent socialising after a day on the slopes. While apres-ski can range from stopping to watch the professionals at the snowpark, to enjoying a hearty meal, the most common apres-ski activity is drinking and partying! While the notion of taking your skis off and walking into a bar seems simple, some ski-resorts really go all out to provide the ultimate apres-ski experience. To get a feel for what’s on offer across the continent, we’ve listed our six best places for apres-ski in Europe!

St. Anton, Austria

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St. Anton, hands down, offers some of the best apres-ski in Austria. From wild beer-chugging tabletop parties to late-night dancing in apres-ski huts, St. Anton really hits the money when it comes to post-ski entertainment. Prepare to take part in some of the world’s most famous slope-side parties. We recommend visiting Mooserwirt (amazing live music), Krazy Kanguruh (a bar owned by a world champion skier), and Taps (home to the town’s best sun terrace). 

Åre, Sweden

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Åre is Sweden’s largest resort (north of the Alps) and is home to a lively village centre packed with bustling bars and clubs. No trip to Åre is complete without spending the afternoon at Timmerstugan, a busy restaurant and bar where the drinks flow all afternoon long, and music fills the air. We’d also recommend checking out the slopeside Fjallgarden Hotel for live music, before hitting up Bygget, the best nightclub in town. Suppose we put drinking aside for a second. In that case, Åre also offers an incredible variety of non-bar-related activities, including pony treks, snowmobiling, husky sleigh rides, ice fishing, and ice hiking!

Selva Val Gardena, Italy

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Selva Val Gardena has a bustling apres-ski scene, and most bars in the town have live music or resident DJs. We recommend heading to Bar La Stua first, shortly followed by Piz Seteur (if you’re into traditional Italian music), and Dali to party late into the night. There’s also plenty of cafes and bars on the slopes, serving fruity cocktails and hot chocolates slightly spiced with amaretto.

Fieberbrunn, Austria

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Fieberbrunn is another great place for non-alcoholic apres-ski (don’t worry, they’ve got bars too), and activities include ice climbing, snow rafting, toboggan runs, and sleigh rides. We recommend starting your apres-ski at BIWAK, a bar that sits right at the base of the lifts and has a late-night DJ and dance floor if you stick around long enough.

Gstaad, Switzerland

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Gstaad is a winter wonderland that should be on everybody’s snowboarding bucket list. It’s well renowned for its opulent restaurants, 5-star hotels, and designer shops, so it’s no surprise that the apres-ski here is a little fancy. Richi’s Pub, Stall-Bar, La Cave, and Chlosterli are all lively must-visit bars in Gstaad. For a more exclusive apres-ski, enjoy a cocktail or three at the Palace Hotel, or perhaps reserve a table at Iglu Dorf Restaurant and Bar and enjoy fondue by the fire under the stars.

Bad Gastein, Switzerland

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After a day on the slopes, you’ll be glad to hear Bad Gastein has an awesome selection of apres-ski activities. These include late-night DJ sets at Silver Bullet Bar, over twenty swimming pools to unwind in (with hot tubs and spas), plus shuttle bus excursions to nearby Salzburg. All the bars in town have maintained a true Swiss vibe and you can expect charming-rustic cosiness as you sip your double-pint of lager! This Swiss town ain’t so bad after all.

Best places for beginners

It’s normal for beginner snowboarders to feel instantly overwhelmed when picking up the sport, but we’ve all been there! To make your training as seamless as possible, it’s worth noting that some ski destinations are more suitable to boarders than others (i.e., avoid resorts with an excessive number of drag lifts, t-bars, and flat racks). Below are our favourite destinations for beginner snowboarders across Europe.

Val Thorens, France

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Val Thornes has long embraced snowboarders with open arms and invited them to enjoy the snowy caps of the Three Valleys. With the varying terrain, excellent snowparks, and easy access to the nearby runs of Les Menuires, Meribel, and Courchevel, Val Thornes is an awesome first choice for beginner snowboarders seeking variety. Note, the Rond Point des Pistes is particularly generous to beginner snowboarders and has plenty of gentle slopes to ease you into the sport. On top of that, there are five nursery areas, 11 green runs and 29 blue runs that extend right down into the Belleville Valley!

Ruka, Finland

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Ruka (Rukatunturi, Finland) is well known for its nice wide slopes, which offer beginner and intermediate boarders the chance to carve their way down pistes at their own pace. The town offers endless downhill skiing, plus over 500km of cross-country tracks and back-country pistes. While you might not be ready to tackle this yet as a beginner, it’s a great way to familiarize yourself with the mountains.

La Rosiere, France

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If you’d prefer to learn to snowboard without the prying eyes of hundreds of passers-by, La Rosiere might just be the beginner destination for you. This gem of a resort town is fairly quiet and has a fair few green (beginner) runs to build your confidence. While La Rosiere does have a charming town centre and a busy restaurant scene, the area isn’t renowned for its nightlife, so it’s a great place to focus solely on the sport.

Mayrhofen, Austria

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In the Zillertal Valley of Austria, Mayrhofen is a popular ski area with snowboarders thanks to its gentle slopes, year-round boarding, and 45km of novice pistes. The surrounding Zillertal area offers lots of varying terrains too, so when you’re ready to graduate into freeriding you can really let loose! The town is also home to Burton Snow Park, a popular place for beginners to take to the rails and try their hand at freestyle!

Best places for low-key snowboarding

There are ways to enjoy a snowboarding holiday without being overwhelmed by the crowds. Europe is certainly home to some of the fanciest and flashiest resorts, each drawing large crowds throughout the season to take to their pristine slopes. But what about the lesser-known resorts? The less congested, more affordable, hidden-gem resorts that quietly dot the continent? Below are our favourite low-key-beat-the-crowd destinations for snowboarding. Just don’t tell your pals.

Saalbach-Hinterglemm, Austria

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Saalbach-Hinterglemm is an alpine resort located in western Austria, just a 2-hours drive south of Salzberg. This lesser-known ski resort has languished in the shadow of the likes of St. Anton and Kitzbuhel for years! Expect to enjoy freeride slopes covered in deep snow, over 270km of groomed slopes, and 70+ lifts ready to take you to the top of your game! The nightlife, accommodation, and restaurant scene are all stellar too.

Val Gardena, Italy

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Val Gardena sits in the centre of the Italian Dolomites and is well known as a mountain sports destination, yet the crowds are tame, and the views are epic. Here, you’ll be snowboarding inside a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and, admittedly, you’ll have to pay a pretty penny to enjoy the luxury of the Sella Ronda Circuit, but it’s very much worth it. Over 1200km of pistes, over 400 lifts, and 24 terrain parks await in Val Gardena!

Hemsedal, Norway