It’s the time of year when many of us are thinking of a winter break and what better way to soak in some serious cold weather spirit than by trying out some snow sports.
We’ve rounded up some of our favourite destinations, near and far, for awesome skiing and, of course, a spot of well-earned apres ski.
Our near neighbour is the ideal place for a short, or even long, weekend on the piste. It has a number of well-developed resorts offering various snow sports and, yes, it really is true that you can be skiing in the morning and swimming in the Med in the afternoon. Faraya Mzaar is the most developed and is within about an hour’s drive of Beirut. Laqlouq is closer and Cedars about two hours out of the capital.
In true Lebanese style, all the resorts offer great apres ski facilities but no trip to this most cosmopolitan of countries would be complete without at least some time spent in Beirut where you’ll find excellent shopping and nightlife alongside history and culture.
Certainly not for the faint of pocket, Aspen is a world-renowned ski resort where you might just get to rub heavily insulated shoulders with the rich and famous.
Not into downhill skiing? There’s also snowboarding, ice skating, cross country skiing, dog sledding, snowmobiling, fly fishing, hot air ballooning and more on the world-class slopes.
Many of the area’s arts and culture institutions, famous in the summer, also offer winter programmes and, of course, the apres ski is second to none. There are more than 100 restaurants offering up everything from burgers to sushi, with expertly paired grapes and hand-crafted cocktails to warm you up on a cold winter’s evening.
There’s also plenty of live music and great shopping, from designer to outdoors wear with Aspen having its own Fashion Week each March.
For great skiing on a budget in Austria, keep your eyes open for deals in Mayrhofen which, at 3,250 metres, offers year-round snow sports.
Sitting between the Penken and Ahorn mountains, it has easy access to Austria’s steepest piste, named Harakiri, as well as a large range of ski runs at different levels of difficulty.
Mayrhofen is renowned for its après-ski – nowhere more so than next to the Penken cable-car top-station at the Pilzbar and the Elchbar at the Bergrast where the partying starts before you’ve left the slopes. In the valley, the après-ski is at its busiest at the Sporthotel Strass and the Ice Bar next to the Penken gondola and in May the town is host to the Snowbombing music festival.
There’s also a huge variety of restaurants to suit every taste and if shopping’s your thing, you won’t be disappointed either by Mayrhofen or the regional capital Innsbruck, which is about an hour away.