You don’t have to use up all of your holiday to make the most of the ski season, writes Jessica Bown.
You can access many of Europe’s best ski resorts within just a few hours. And, with a bit of careful planning, a short break in the mountains can be just as rewarding as a week away.
Here’s our pick of the best resorts for weekend skiing…
Together with neighbouring resort Le Grand Bornand, La Clusaz offers more than 200 kilometres of groomed slopes. It is perfect for weekend skiing, as there are lots of flights from the UK to Geneva – and the resort is less than an hour from Geneva airport.
Snow cover is generally reliable, while there is also a good selection of bars and restaurants for anyone keen to hit the town after a day on the mountain.
Kitzbühel is one of several resorts within an hour’s drive of Innsbruck Airport.
It combines some of the best skiing in Austria with great nightlife – and there are lots of options for non-skiers.
There’s a range of luxurious spas, plus some great shopping in town and plenty of off-mountain activities.
The town’s low altitude can make snow less certain later (and earlier) in the season, though.
Lively and attractive, Sauze d’Oulx offers access to the 400-kilometre Milky Way ski area straddling Italy and France. This means it can cater for skiers and boarders of all standards – although real experts may find the terrain somewhat limiting.
The wide range of nightlife and relatively affordable prices in resort also make it popular with younger visitors.
Just an hour and a quarter from Chambery Airport, Meribel is slap bang in the middle of the Three Valleys – the world’s largest integrated ski area.
And on top of fabulous skiing, it offers no shortage of apres-ski fun.
Check out the live music in bars such as the Rond Point from 5pm to 7pm, or head to the Folie Douce for afternoon partying.
Best known for its large number of accessible off-piste runs, Verbier nevertheless offers slopes suitable for every type of skier and boarder.
And, as there is a direct train from Geneva airport to Verbier, the resort is a great choice if you would prefer not to hire a car.
Just don’t go expecting a cheap weekend.
With 36 runs and 22 ski lifts extending across four mountains, Glenshee boasts the largest ski area in the UK.
Accessible by train as well as plane, it’s also cheap compared to Alpine resorts.
However, the persistently high winds and often-icy conditions make Glenshee a poor choice for fair-weather skiers and boarders.
You can get from Innsbruck Airport to the cute ski village of Igls in just 20 minutes on a good day.
Once there, you will find plenty of options for intermediate-level skiers and boarders, plus some nursery slopes for beginners to find their feet.
However, experts will need to look a bit further afield – to the neighbouring ski areas serviced by free shuttle buses – to challenge themselves.
Morzine is a busy little town located a 75-minute drive from Geneva Airport.
Linked directly to Avoriaz, it is part of the 650-kilometre Portes du Soleil ski area and is the highest resort in the region.
The resort has lots of wide, gentle slopes perfect for learning to ski or snowboard.
It also offers access to more challenging runs, although snow cover can be a problem at times.
With spectacular scenery, an incredible ski area and a lively town centre, Chamonix has it all.
What’s more, it’s only one hour’s drive from Geneva Airport.
Chamonix is not a resort for beginners, though. Its slopes are much better suited to advanced level skiers and boarders, who will love the wide variety of challenging runs.