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6 Playgrounds for Winter Sports in the Alps

Europe's Villages in the Alps for Skiing, Snowboarding & More Winter Sports

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These six mountain villages in Europe's Alps attract hoards of winter sports enthusiasts. Whether you want to go downhill skiing, snowboarding, cross country skiing, climbing or winter walking, these villages in Switzerland, France, Austria and Italy offer mountainsides of terrain surrounded by spectacular views.

During the apres-ski hours, you can shop or sit with a glass of wine, or coffee and a pastry, and watch sunsets turn the Alps into molten gold, then get ready for an evening of casual or fine dining.

Zermatt, Switzerland

Zermatt, Switzerland in the Winter
JosefMallaun
Hop into a horse-drawn sleigh or an electric car for a ride to the slopes in Zermatt..This Swiss town has been free of gas-powered cars for many years. No matter whether you choose to ski, snowboard, snowshoe or climb, the Matterhorn will dominate your view. lmost one-third of all the 4,000 meter (12’120 ft) peaks in the Alps surround the village, which has attracted mountaineers from all around the world since the first ascent of the Matterhorn in the year 1865.

The ski fields are vast, and you can spend part of the day on the slopes in Cervinia, Italy, before heading back to Zermatt for the night. This winter, the new No. 59 track has a super-steep 65-percent grade, which promises a mind-blowing ride for expert skiers You can reach the slopes in this region by cable cars, chairlifts, an underground funicular and a cog railway.

Take time to visit highest glacier palace, which is approximately 15 meters under the surface of the glacier. You'll be intrigued by the glacial splits and gaps carefully lit for your viewing.

Grindelwald, Switzerland

Jungfrau Region Matthias Nutt
This high Alpine village in the Berner Oberland is surrounded by the jagged peaks of the Wetterhorn, Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau. Some visitors spend the day skiing on - or off- the pistes, while others prefer snow shoeing to remote mountain cabins, or ice climbing.

Ride the train to the Jungfraujoch, the ‘Top of Europe’, at 3,454 meters. It's Europe’s highest railway station in the heart of a UNESCO world natural heritage site.

Chamonix Mont-Blanc, France

© OT Chamonix © David Ravanel
Mont Blanc, the highest mountain in the Alps, towers over the resort town of Chamonix. A spiderweb of cable cars connects the slopes surrounding the town with other villages and resorts in this high Alpine region. One ski pass lets you explore the terrain in three countries around the Mont-Blanc mountain range - France, Switzerland and Italy.

If you'd rather get on cross country skis, go snowshoeing or winter walking, there are many kilometers of marked trails between Chamonix and nearby Argentière. Three circuits let winter walkers set themselves in the midst of dramatic alpine scenery. You can sit in the back of a dog-sled for a ride, or even learn to take the reins yourself.

St. Anton am Arlberg, Austria

Winter in St. Anton, Austria
©Müller
This Tyrolean ski resort in Austria has 280 kilometers of marked runs, 180 kilometers of off piste terrain and 79 cable car and lift systems. There's a 40 km network of cross country trails and walkers have 70 kilometers of winter trails to explore."Wellness" is important here, and there are many spas.

You could book a trip around the “Snow Volleyball World Tour” on April 5-6. After you've exhausted yourself on the slopes, watch the international volleyball elite players fighting to be King of the snow.

Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy

Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy, hosted the Winter Olympics in 1956.
Cortina d'Ampezzo
You can ski where Olympians raced in Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy, which hosted the Winter Olympics in 1956. The resort is part of Dolomiti Superski, which includes 12 ski areas, 450 lifts and 1200 kilometers of runs, all accessed with a single skipass. While on the slopes, you'll see climbers challenging mountains in the UNESCO World Natural Heritage Dolomites.

St. Moritz, Switzerland

Racing horses through the snow in St. Moritz, Switzerland
Andy Mettler
St. Moritz caters to the upscale and outright wealthy crowd, so walking through the street you'll see primarily chic and elegantly dressed winter visitors, and jewel-bedecked diners at fine-dining restaurants in the evening. Part of the lure here, beyond the slopes, is the array of wintertime activities such as horse racing on the frozen lake of St. Moritz, cricket and polo tournaments.

The bobsled and skeleton racing élite will be here Jan. 21-Feb. 3, to compete in the World Championships on the only remaining natural-ice bobsled run in the world. This motto for this year's games is "Back to Nature Game”.

More Places to Enjoy Winter Sports

© Lois Friedland
If you'd rather stay in the U.S., Yellowstone National Park is a special place to enjoy winter activities, from cross country skiing near elk and snowmobiling to hot springs.

Other entertaining places to enjoy winter sports include the resorts of Vail and Jackson Hole..

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