Narrowing down the best ski resorts in the world to one list is downright impossible. And the definition of “best” varies from person to person and ski resort to ski resort. Nonetheless, there are a number of ski regions and ski resorts that stand above the rest. So we’ve put together a list of what we consider to be some of the best ski resorts in the world for that bucket list ski holiday.
These ski resorts will clearly vary with the climate, terrain and region, and this is certainly not an exhaustive list, but we’re confident that these are world class ski resorts and will make for a memorable ski vacation. Be sure to check out our list of OnTheSnow’s top user-rated ski resorts as well.
The best ski resorts in the world
Aspen is world-famous as one of the most luxurious ski resorts. But, there’s a very good reason so many skiers and riders from all over the world come here. That’s because there are four very special ski mountains just miles apart. Aspen Mountain, known locally as Ajax, rises from the old mining town that has become one of the most exciting ski towns in the world. Advanced runs can be found top to bottom, with everything from steeps and bumps, to trees and groomers. Aspen Highlands is a throwback to skiing of yesteryear, with lots of double blacks and its signature Highland Bowl. This is where the locals love to play. Buttermilk is the beginner and intermediate mountain lure with its 470 acres, three express lifts, solid grooming and several terrain parks. Last, but not least, Snowmass is the biggest mountain of the quartet and the most popular because of its wide-open terrain.
Aspen’s après-ski options are limitless, as award-winning restaurants, wine bars, and unique food and drink experiences dot the town.
Killington, known as the “Beast of the East,” is located in Central Vermont, and is the largest ski resort in the Eastern U.S. Skiers and riders have access to 3,000 acres of terrain, over seven mountains, with more lifts on a single mountain than any other in North America (21 lifts carrying more than 35,000 people per hour). Every possible type of skiable terrain can be found here and it’s surprisingly manageable. The resort sits just east of Rutland with more lodging, bars, and restaurants than you can handle on a ski vacation. Bonus: When the snow isn’t falling, Killington has an incredible snowmaking system.
Vail/Beaver Creek, Colorado
Vail is a resort known throughout the world for its style and class, yet also has first-class terrain, as evidenced by the major events it’s hosted like two World Championships and numerous World Cup competitions. Vail’s mountain scenery is beautiful, while Vail Village brings a bit of Bavaria to the Rocky Mountains. All levels of skiers and snowboarders will have a great ski vacation at Vail, but more advanced skiers will be in snow heaven when dipping into Vail’s famous Back Bowls. Beaver Creek, Vail’s sister resort, is only 12 miles away, and is a pristine mountain resort with plenty of all-level skiing and riding and lots of challenges. Both ski resorts are on the Epic Pass.
Deer Valley, Utah
Utah isn’t called the “The Greatest Snow on Earth” for nothing. Utah’s location, the Wasatch Mountains and science all combine to create a fluffy, dry powder that you just won’t find anywhere. And while there are too many Utah ski resorts we could name here, Deer Valley is among the headliners featuring 2,026 acres, with more than 100 trails served by 21 lifts and numerous bowls. Off-mountain is just as good, with some of the world’s best ski destination hotels, such as the Goldener Hirsch and The St. Regis Deer Valley. This is the resort for skiers, especially considering that Deer Valley is a ski-only resort (sorry snowboarders)
Mammoth Mountain, California
Mammoth Mountain has been a magnet for skiers and riders, primarily from California, since Dave McCoy opened the lifts in the 1950s in the Sierras. Mammoth’s secrets have long been discovered by skiers and riders from all over North America and the world. It is most easily reached via a 325-mile (5-6 hours) drive from the Los Angeles area, but there’s also a nearby regional airport. Mammoth’s long dormant volcanic dome at 11,053 feet (3,369 m) is the highest chairlift-accessible ski resort in California, and receives an average snowfall of 400 inches per season. This means lifts are usually spinning from early November until nearly summer.
The Mammoth Lakes region scenery is beautiful year-round and the village has plenty of lodging options, dining and nightlife. When you’re ready for a break from alpine skiing, hit the area’s cross-country trails, as Mammoth Lakes is home to 140 miles of cross-country track.
Banff Sunshine, Mt. Norquay and Lake Louise make up the SkiBig3 of Canadian Rocky Mountain skiing. You’d be hard-pressed to find a better trio of mountains in North America. SkiBig3’s ski areas are located in the mountain town of Banff, about 85 miles (136 km) from Calgary. Mount Norquay is the birthplace of skiing within the Canadian Rockies, and a great smaller ski area for a family-friendly vibe and night skiing. Banff Sunshine is high on the Continental Divide in the heart of Banff National Park, and features 3 sprawling mountains spreading over 3,300 acres of skiable terrain with amazing views. Sunshine has everything from gentle slopes to extreme big mountain runs.
Last, but not least, Lake Louise is renowned for its awesome scenery and versatile terrain. Play on more than 4,200 acres spread across four mountain faces on one of the largest ski resorts in North America.
Whistler/Blackcomb, British Columbia, Canada
British Columbia’s Whistler-Blackcomb, located two hours from Vancouver, is the largest ski resort in North America and, without any debate, one of the top ski resorts in the world. Whistler and Blackcomb are two side-by-side mountains with more than 200 marked runs, 8,171 acres of skiable terrain, 16 alpine bowls and 3 glaciers combined, receiving an average of 465 inches of snow annually. It has 36 lifts, with the Peak-to-Peak Gondola topping them all off.
Bonus: There’s summer glacier skiing on Blackcomb’s Horstman Glacier. Whistler Village sits at the base of the mountains and it’s well-regarded for accommodations, dining, a plethora of après-ski options and shopping.
St. Anton am Arlberg
St. Anton am Arlberg is often referred to as the “cradle of alpine skiing,” and it’s for good reason. This is the heart of the largest connected skiing area in Austria, with more than 186 miles (300KM) of marked runs, 87 lifts and cable cars, and lots of off-piste skiing. Plus, it’s a great ski destination for beginners, as St. Anton am Arlberg’s ski school is top-of-the-line. The relatively small, but cosmopolitan Tirolean mountain village exudes hospitality while retaining much of its original feel and charm. Meanwhile, the neighboring villages of St. Cristof, Pettneu am Arlberg, Schnann, Flirish and Strengen are just as picturesque and charming.
If you’ve watched the famous World Cup downhill on the Hahnnenkamm Streif at Kitzbuhel, then this classic Austrian ski resort in Tirol is likely way up on your list. Kitz is a medieval town about 62 miles (100 km) east of Innsbruck, where skiing has been taking place in the region for more than 125 years. The region is easily accessed and generally offers up long ski seasons. Kitzbuhel has 57 lifts to get skiers to everything from beginner terrain to expansive advanced terrain. Once it’s time for après-ski, 60 huts and mountain restaurants offer relaxing long Euro-style meals right in the middle of the mountain panorama. Kitzbuhel is truly a historic city, while nearby villages include Jochberg, Aurach, Kirchberg, Aschau and Hollersbach.
Skiing and riding in Soelden, which you may notice from the James Bond film Spectre, is about as different of an experience as you can get in Austria. That’s because Soelden not only hosts the James Bond 007 Elements Experience, but because its terrain spans two glaciers (Rettenbach and Tiefenbach) and three well-connected mountains for skiing and riding for all skill levels. Soelden’s terrain is particularly well suited to confident intermediates and advanced skiers. Soelden is a rather big ski town, unlike other typical Austrian villages, and sprawls out with accommodations, restaurants and nightlife. And for those who come for après-ski, Soelden is regarded as one of the best party ski towns in Europe.
Verbier, located in Southwest Switzerland, is one of the most cosmopolitan resorts in the country, while also having an incredible amount of ski terrain. All told, Verbier’s 4 Valleys ski region has 254 miles (410 km) of ski runs and more than 90 lifts (yes, seriously). The region’s five resorts include: Verbier, Nendaz, Veysonnaz, Thyon and La Tzoumaz. Among the most iconic experiences is taking a cable car to the summit of Mont-Fort and, if you have the ability, skiing or riding down one of the iconic black runs. The town of Verbier has developed into a glamorous winter playground, and is dotted with Michelin-starred restaurants, stunning spas, wine bars and much more. This is an iconic Swiss ski holiday experience.
Crans-Montana you may have seen from watching major ski racing events like the World Alpine Ski Championship and numerous World Cup races that have been hosted here. 87 miles (140 km) of ski runs and the Plaine Morte Glacier, at an elevation of 9,020 feet, are among the highlights. Crans-Montana’s views are incredible from any of its completely south-facing marked runs, although there’s not a bad view. Some of the best runs favor intermediate skill levels.
Crans-Montana is made up of two Swiss mountain villages, Crans-sur-Sierre and Montana, both of which are accessed via funicular from the valley town of Sierre. The Alaïa Chalet, a huge indoor and outdoor multi-action sports complex for skiers, snowboarders and skaters, opened on the outskirts of town in 2019.
Les 3 Vallées
Welcome to the largest interlinked ski resort area in the world. Les 3 Vallées comprises more than 370 miles (600 km) of skiable terrain and 180 ski lifts. More than 300 ski slopes connect the ski resorts of Val Thorens, Les Menuires, Meribel and Courchevel with the smaller villages of Saint Martin, La Tania and Brides les Bains. All skier and rider ability levels can sample these wide-open spaces, panoramic vistas and fulfilling days on the slopes of the French Alps. Nearly half the runs are aimed at beginners and intermediates, while the other half are primarily dedicated to more advanced skiers and boarders. Courchevel and Meribel recently played host to the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships, so you can bet on a lot of advanced ski terrain. Its 36 fun zones (themed runs, snowparks, beginners’ areas, etc.) offer endless opportunity and even more fun.
Val d’Isere, and neighboring Tignes, is part of the huge Espace Killy region named for Olympic triple gold medal winner Jean-Claude Killy, who honed his skills here. They claim to have the largest snowmaking capacity in Europe, and combined with the 5,000 foot (1550 meters) altitude, it typically makes for a long ski season. Skiing and riding on the Glacier du Pisaillas often extends the season well into June. Here, 150 lifts transport skiers and boarders to 186 miles (300 kilometers) of terrain. Beginning skiers can enjoy the travelator, an enclosed magic-carpet at the top of a gondola, accessing a gentle slope, while there’s an abundance of terrain for intermediate and advanced skiers. Val d’Isère is a proper European village, with most of the buildings constructed in traditional styles of wood, stone, and slate that you don’t find in many modern-day ski villages.
Alpe d’Huez Grand Domaine Ski Area is a combination of six resorts in one interconnected Alpine ski area, located only one hour away from Grenoble and less than five hours from Paris. The 155 miles (249 km) of runs include 41 green, 34 blue, 40 red, and 16 black runs. Two snowparks, a boardercross park, and a halfpipe add to the fun. More than 80 lifts connect the six base villages to terrain as high as Pic Blanc, the higest peak in the ski area, from which you can fix your gaze at Mont Blanc. The Sarenne is one of the longest runs in the world at 10 miles (16 km). It’ll give even the best skiers an endurance test. Skiing and riding at Alpe d’Huez is on a fully south-facing plateau, offering maximum exposure to the sun. Yet the combination of fresh snow and snowmaking operations makes for a generous blanket of snow.
Cortina d’Ampezzo is one of Italy’s most famous and expansive ski resorts for a ski holiday. It hosted the Winter Olympics in the 1950s, and has been chosen to host the Games again in 2026. Cortina has an incredible vertical of 5,200 feet, with 36 lifts to get skiers and snowboarders across the resort. There are 37 runs here for all skill levels, as well as terrain parks and plenty of beginner terrain. In fact, nearly half of Cortina d’Ampezzo’s runs are for beginners.
Among the best perks of Cortina d’Ampezzo: It’s part of Dolomiti SuperSki, a collection of 16 resorts accessible by the Dolomiti Card, which includes world-class ski resorts like Alta Badia and Val Gardena. The card is reusable, lets you top off at any time and allows you to skip the lift lines.
Bormio, in the heart of Alta Valtellina, offers some of the best summit-to-base skiing and riding at the three ski areas of Bormio, Santa Catarina and Cima Piazzi-San Colombano. Take in the views, then swoop down from the highest peaks of Bormio 2000 and 3000. Advanced skiers may want to test themselves on the the Stevio, the World Cup downhill course. It will also play host to some of the alpine skiing events at the 2026 Winter Olympics. Bormio is easy to reach by car from Milan and the north end of Lake Como via Aprica Pass on the SS 39 – an all-winter road.
Courmayeur’s world-class cred as one of the best ski destinations comes in part from its location on the northwest edge of Italy, bordering France and Switzerland in the Italian Alps and featuring magnificent views of Mont Blanc. There are two sides to Courmayeur -Chécrouit and Val Vény, where beginners, experts, snowboarders, and telemark skiers (popular in Europe) ski and ride. The food and wine scene of Courmayeur is an attraction in and of itself After a day of skiing, enjoy an aperitif and an excellent dinner at high altitude, thanks to the evening opening of the Courmayeur cable car, while admiring the sunset sinking on Mont Blanc.
Yabuli, located in the Heilongjiang Province, is China’s largest ski resort, and a unique experience for western skiers and riders. This is a modern ski resort, featuring 9 lifts (including a 6-seat gondola) and a vertical drop of 2,900 feet (884 meters). The terrain spans 165 acres (65 hectares) with 47 runs. Half of the runs are intermediate runs. Among the headlining features: Club Med Yabuli. Club Med, as we’ve previously written about, specializes in all-inclusive luxury resorts in many mountain destinations around the world, including a number in Asia.
Yongpyong, South Korea
Yongpyong, located about three hours from Seoul, is Korea’s biggest ski resort. Many people may remember it as the resort that hosted the slalom and giant slalom events at the 2018 Winter Olympics. It’s served by 15 lifts and 31 slopes that operate across four zones. Yongpyong’s more challenging terrain is found in the Dragon Zone, which is accessed via Yongpyong’s only gondola. Skiers disembark at Dragon’s Peak. Rainbow is the highest run at nearly 12,000 feet (3658 meters), while Rainbow Paradise is the longest run at more than 3 miles long. Mega Green is the best choice for beginners.
Nagano, which played host to the 1998 Winter Olympic Games, is a short train and bus ride from Tokyo, making it an ideal location for international travelers. Hakuba 47 and Goryu, two outstanding mountains, combine into one ski resort in Nagano, supplying a little bit of everything to keep all types of skiers and snowboarders happy.
Among the benefits of skiing at Nagano is the access to so many great ski areas. Happo One, located an hour away from Nagano, is Hakuba Valley’s largest ski area and home to some seriously snowy steeps (it’s where the Olympic Super-G event was held). Shiga Kogen, also an hour from Nagano, is the largest interconnected ski area in Japan, comprised of 19 separate ski areas, with trails running between them through the mountains and a shuttle bus operating on the roads below. You can read more about skiing in Japan in our recent article about some of the country’s best ski resorts.
Before planning a ski vacation to South America and Oceania, just note that these are Southern Hemisphere countries. So that means that while it’s winter in North America, it’s summer in South America, and vice versa. South America, New Zealand and Australia’s ski seasons kick off at the beginning of North America’s summer, and continue through much of the fall months until about October.
Ski Portillo, South America’s first ski resort, is renowned worldwide by visitors and teaching professionals who come to the Andes Mountains from all over the winter world to stay on snow year-round. Its legendary yellow and blue ski-in/ski-out resort, Hotel Portillo, has only 123 rooms open from June to September, but is an iconic experience for a South America ski vacation. There are a few small lodges and cabins, too. Portillo’s slopes are suitable for beginners, intermediates and advanced skiers, with plenty of powder skiing for everyone as the storms often leave feet of snow. Plus, there aren’t the lift lines of many North America ski resorts on a powder day. All told Portillo offers more than 1,200 acres of terrain.
Valle Nevado, Chile
Valle Nevado, located 90 miles from Santiago, features 2,200 acres of varied terrain, 17 lifts and Chile’s only gondola. The resort receives plenty of snow because of its orientation and altitude of 9,924 feet, and boasts short lift lines and uncrowded slopes on powder days. Most of the terrain is designated as intermediate to advanced, and largely comprised of wide-open, groomed runs ideal for cruising. Yet there’s also a terrain park and plenty of backcountry terrain for off piste skiing. Bonus: Guests spending seven nights at the resort receive two interconnect tickets to neighboring resorts La Parva and El Colorado, combining for an incredible 7,000 acres of terrain. Treat yourself at the Hotel Nevado, a high-end, all-inclusive hotel with ski-in and ski-out access.
Las Lenas, Argentina
You’ll find Las Lenas Ski Resort in the Mendoza Providence of Argentina, located about 260 miles (419 km) from Buenos Aires. While it’s not as convenient as many other South America ski resorts, it’s so worth it. Skiing and snowboarding here is best for intermediates, making it a smart destination for families of varied abilities. The intermediate runs are wide, with a good pitch. Most of the best terrain is located off the famous Marte double chair, where the runs are truly long. However, it is the advanced and expert terrain that makes Las Lenas so special.
Las Lenas’ ski school is multilingual, with many instructors heading here from North America and Europe. Here, there’s more ski terrain than even Whistler, where advanced to experts play on a layout of 14 ski lifts with vast backcountry terrain above the tree line.
Perisher is the largest ski area in Australia with a diverse variety of terrain for all skiing and snowboarding abilities. It has plenty of skiable terrain, and something for everyone to explore, including families, with the largest tubing area in Australia. The resort is a combination of four villages (Perisher Valley, Smiggin Holes, Guthega, and Blue Cow), with their associated ski terrain covering approximately 5 square miles (12 square km). Snowmaking is key here, with the terrain covered by 240 snow guns. The Front Valley slope is lit for night skiing every Tuesday and Saturday.
However, note that there isn’t a proper ski village at Perisher like many skiers may expect, and some of the operations are more no-frills, like T-bar lifts. Perisher is in the Kosciuszko National Park, about a 5-hour drive from Sydney and 7 hours from Melbourne. Unique to the region is the Skitube Alpine Railway, an electric rack-rail that provides train access to the region.
While Thredbo is not the biggest ski resort in Australia, it offers up some challenges with the highest vertical drop in the country and very respectable steeps. The 3-mile (5 km) Village Trail is the longest ski run in Australia. Interestingly, the best beginner runs of Thredbo are at the top of the mountain, making for a unique experience for skiers just starting out. The Merritts Gondola, the only one in Australia, is a high-speed, 8-person lift that takes you from the village to the base of the cruiser area in 6 minutes. Thredbo is a vibrant village at the base of the mountain with a range of accommodations, restaurants, bars, cafes and shops.
The Remarkables, New Zealand
The Remarkables are a mountain range and ski resort in Otago, near Queenstown, on the South Island of New Zealand along the shores of Lake Wakatipu. It earns its name due to the backdrop against the water that is indeed remarkable. The Remarkables, which receive a modest average annual snowfall of approximately 150 inches (3.81 meters), features 3 mountain bowls covering 540 acres with 8 lifts (4 chairlifts, 4 magic carpets). Terrain is rated as 30 percent beginners, 40 percent intermediate and 30 percent advanced, meaning there’s a bit of something for everyone. It’s part of NZSki, which incorporates Coronet Peak and Mt. Hutt.
The Remarkables’ slopes are about a 40-minute drive from Queenstown, which The Remarkables Ski Bus runs between. One of New Zealand’s best cities, Queenstown has more restaurants, unique adventures and beautiful sights than you could experience in a weekend.
Best for Snowboarders
Happo-One, Hakuba, Japan
Riders love the light, prodigious powder at Happo-One in Nagano’s Hakuba Valley. In Japan they have their own word for it, called “japow.” Happo-One is the biggest ski resort in the area with four base areas and a terrific village. While Happo-One can be expensive by Japanese standards, it’s not if you’re coming from the big ski resorts of North America.
Snowboarders love the access to 9 resorts within a 1-hour drive. Park City Mountain Resort is one of the best for snowboarders, featuring 6 terrain parks for beginners and advanced snowboarders, plus a 22-foot halfpipe. Brighton has a beginner’s park and three more. Then there’s Woodward, which is created just for park riders, with multiple zones for beginners and experts alike (including a large freestyle terrain park) in Park City. However, note that some Utah ski resorts, namely Deer Valley Resort and Alta, do not allow snowboards.
The Burton Stash at The Remarkables, 45 minutes from Queenstown, is centered around the rock and stone that is plentiful in the natural terrain of New Zealand. The Remarkables Burton Stash is the only one of its kind in the southern hemisphere.
Best for Freeriding
Freeriders love Revelstoke and, if you are a solid intermediate, so will you. St. Anton’s Kappl in Austria has loads of good freeriding terrain. In North America, freeriders love Crested Butte in Colorado. Head for Extreme Limits, the Headwall and North Face. And in Europe, serious skiers and freeriders also love Chamonix, France with steep faces, glacial runs, tree skiing and some of the world’s best backcountry terrain.
Where is the best place to ski in the world on a ski holiday?
Do you like to ski or ride where the choices are literally endless? Then choose the mega resorts of France which include Chamonix, Val d’Isere, Courcheval and others. If you want traditional village life and ideal ski terrain to go with it, then choose St. Anton am Arlberg, Austria where it all began. Colorado’s Aspen Snowmass, Vail and Beaver Creek, and Whistler Blackcomb in Canada give the famed European resorts serious competition.
What is the ski capital of the world?
Courcheval in the French Alps has the temerity to bill itself as “The Ski Capital of the World.” But, the fact is the famed resort at the foot of Mont Blanc has every right to use that moniker. Courchevel is a big part of Les Trois Vallées, the largest ski area in France and one of the largest in the world with 373 miles (600 km) of powdery snow. The area includes Meribel, Val Thorens,Les Menuires, and Courcheval.
So what are the best ski resorts in the world? Well that’s ultimately up to you considering how many great ski destinations there are around the world. The late, great ski filmmaker Warren Miller used to say, “The best place to ski in the world is the mountain you are skiing on today.” He was, of course, correct. The best in France will be way different than the best in Vermont and the best in Japan will be way different than the best in Italy. The best, for sure, is up to you.