12 best ski resorts by train from the UK

Ski resorts by train

Do you think of a ski holiday as an amazing experience sandwiched between a tedious journey of airport queues and long transfers?  If so, it doesn’t have to be this way, as many ski resorts are reachable by train. Ski train holidays mean you can soak up the scenery en route, hang out in on-board café bars and restaurants, relax in comfy seats and enjoy quality time – at 300km per hour. 

Different ski resorts are accessed by different rail options, with train stations in the village or a short bus or taxi ride away. The direct Travelski Express train from London serves the Tarentaise region of France, home to resorts like Tignes, Meribel and Val Thorens.

Travelling via Paris by Eurostar and TGV opens up all of the French and Swiss Alps – and some Italian and Austrian resorts too. This means that you can reach a vast range of high-quality ski resorts with low-carbon train journeys, and never step foot in an airport. 

But which to choose, and how to get there? Here’s our guide to 12 of the best ski resorts by train, and how to reach them.

This is a guest post written by Daniel Elkan and Rupert Mellor.

1. Saint Martin de Belleville, France

Only around a decade ago, the traditional farming village of Saint Martin de Belleville was solely of interest to visitors of France’s legendary 3 Valleys ski area. They’d stop by for a quick lunch with views of cows and sheep in the barn below at La Ferme de la Choumette.

Today, this historic and unspoiled hamlet, dominated by a serene 16th-century church bell tower, confidently offers a unique, discreetly luxurious way to gorge on the biggest ski area on Earth.

Saint Martin Ski

Fine dining was the catalyst for this transformation. Today you’ll find a disproportionate amount of to-die-for gourmandising. The most coveted table in town is at the three Michelin-starred La Bouitte, now also home to a rustic-luxe boutique hotel. L’Étoile des Neiges, Simple & Meilleur, and Le Montagnard are among the many other highlights. 

Luxury chalets catered by impressively credentialled chefs led the way in the similarly stellar upgrading of the village’s accommodations offer. White Mountain Chalets, Cimalpes and Leo Trippi today look after many of the most rock star-worthy private-hire addresses in town.

Saint Martin Ski_ Resort

Meanwhile the hotel scene too has grown wings with the advent two years ago of the achingly sleek Le Lodji. Plus, brand new this season is the opulent five-star M Lodge Hotel.

Example journey: Depart London St Pancras on Friday on the 20:04 Travelski Express to Moutiers, arriving at 05:36. From there it’s a 30-minute transfer. 

2. St Anton am Arlberg, Austria

World-famous for its wealth of rugged backcountry terrain and similarly wild après-ski revelries, the cute Tirolean village of St. Anton am Arlberg is truly one of the world’s great resorts.

It’s one of seven villages linked within Ski Arlberg, Austria’s biggest ski area. The state-of-the-art lift system wastes no time spiriting guests into the heart of its 300km of pistes. These are nearly matched by 200km of off-piste routes and take full advantage of a hefty 1500m of vertical drop.

St Anton Ski Resort

For non-skiers, 500m of these can even be sampled on a single toboggan run. The 4.3km-long Gampen is one of a broad range of fun, ski-free activities that include husky sledding, paragliding, ice skating and snowshoe hiking. 

There’s plenty to do indoors too, even if Jägerbomb-boosted late-night dancing’s not your style. St. Anton has long been building outstanding wellness credentials. This luxury ski resort offers lavish public pool and spa facilities at the gorgeous WellCom centre. Here you can also find climbing and bouldering, tennis and outstanding yoga classes at the artflow studio.

St Anton Skiing

Accommodation and dining standards here are ambitious too. Among the many cosy traditional establishments, the village is also home to some of Austria’s most style-forward modern chalets and hotels. The four-star Raffl’s Tyrol Hotel is a sumptuous standout. 

Example journey: Depart London St Pancras on the 07:55 Eurostar to Paris Gare du Nord. Switch station and take the 12:22 TGV from Paris Gare de Lyon, changing at Zurich to arrive at St Anton at 19:01.

3. Meribel, France

Characterised by its handsome, traditional chalet-style architecture and snuggling up to slopes cloaked in pine forest, Méribel sits at the heart of the 3 Valleys – with its 600km of pistes, 1900m of vertical drop, world-class fun parks and infinite off-piste possibilities.

Meribel Ski Holiday

Founded by a Scotsman in the late 1930s, this resort has always been a big draw for Brits. It has grown steadily over the years to offer a vast range of accommodation, dining and leisure options. So you’re never short of a new thrill or indulgence to enjoy.

With its own 150km of local slopes, Méribel caters generously to all skill levels and is one of the best ski resorts for beginners. Not only that, Méribel is ideally placed for exploring the lushly wooded slopes around ritzy neighbouring Courchevel, the high-altitude terrain around Val Thorens, and the long cruisy runs which swoop down to the charming historic village Saint Martin de Belleville.

Meribel Ski Touring

Its lively nightlife starts early. The on-slope La Folie Douce and the homegrown classic Le Rond Point are two reliably strident outposts from lunchtime onwards. Down in town, a wealth of bars and some clubs let you extend your fun till the wee hours. While a broad range of restaurants pander richly to all palates.

Example journey: Depart London St Pancras on Friday on the 20:04 Travelski Express to Moutiers, arriving at 05:36. From there it’s a 30-minute transfer. 

4. Crans-Montana, Switzerland

Authentic Swiss village charm, a firmly family-oriented hospitality offer and mind-blowing Alpine views are the hallmarks of Crans-Montana, a pair of conjoined villages sitting on a sunny, south-facing plateau high above the Rhône valley.

The century-plus-old resort attracts a well-heeled clientele. As evidenced by the swishy boutiques that vie with cosy restaurants and art galleries on the central streets. 

Crans Montana Ski Resort

Nursery slopes here are excellent. While the wider terrain mostly suits intermediates – with the thigh-igniting 10km red run down from the Plaine Morte Glacier an undisputed highlight – there are challenges here too for the more adventurous.

These include 10 marked black runs, and the steep off-piste terrain at Les Faverges. Ski tourers too are well-served, with the marked Extreme course packing in a satisfying 3,000m climb.

Après and nightlife scenes here are sophisticated rather than wild, although you’ll not struggle to find a convivial bar or dancefloor. Circus Casino is on hand if you’re feeling lucky.

Ski Holiday by Train

More compelling is the exceptional dining scene. On-mountain highlights include the refined Chetzeron, in a stunning modernist hotel of the same name, and La Cabane des Violettes. In town, ski-stoked appetites can be assuaged with delicious cuisine from anywhere from Italy to Lebanon to Japan.

Example journey: Depart London St Pancras on Saturday on the 09:24 Eurostar to Paris-Nord. Change to Paris-Lyon and take the 14:10 TGV, changing at Lausanne to arrive in Sierre at 19:34. From there it’s 12 minutes by funicular to Montana.

5. Peisey-Vallandry, France

Blessed with sunny and sheltered local slopes is Peisey-Vallandry. It’s an oddly little-known ski destination given its prime location slap-bang in the middle of Paradiski, one of France’s most popular large ski areas.

Off-the-hook après and diverse dining may not be on the menu here. But for those who like their post-ski evenings cosy rather than crazy and their mountain munching heartily traditional, Peisey-Vallandry’s five villages offer outstanding value. Whether you’re staying in a simple rental apartment or a smart, full-service hotel with spa. 

Peisey-Vallandry Ski Resort

They also command the best position of all Paradiski’s resorts for accessing all corners of the area’s 425km. The slopes cater to every level of skier and snowboarder and pack a vertiginous 2,000m of vertical drop.

And while local slopes are mainly blues and reds, experts don’t have far to go to test their mettle. The famous 7km black/red from the top of Aiguille Rouge above Arc 1950 to Villaroger is a must-carve.

Peisey-Vallandry Skiing

Paradiski also hosts a huge range of other on- and off-mountain experiences, from ice climbing to reindeer-drawn sleigh rides to e-mountain scooter riding. Heliskiing can also be arranged here. And as of last season, thrillseekers can plummet 1.8km at up to 130km/h on the new Aiguille Rouge zipline.

Example journey: Depart London St Pancras on Friday on the 20:04 Travelski Express to Bourg St Maurice, arriving at 06:30. From there it’s a 25-minute transfer. 

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6. Vaujany, France

Tiny, traditional and cute as a baby bunny, Vaujany provides a gentler way to access the 250km of world-class slopes of lift-linked Alpe d’Huez.

Located in the Isère region of the Southern Alps, this 1,000-year-old hamlet today offers a distinctly family-oriented welcome. This pretty village is framed by soaring cliffs, dramatic peaks and sits opposite the spectacular La Fare waterfall.

Vaujany Ski Resort

Many of its 53km of lower slopes are reserved for beginners and families. Plus, loads of activities are available outdoors and in, from tobogganing, ice skating and ‘mini-musher’ dog-sledding sessions to indoor bowling, a climbing wall and a pool with a giant water slide.

Four black runs and great local off-piste mean there are also some opportunities for more high-octane thrills close to home. 

Ski resorts by train

Accommodation options are diverse and often surprisingly cosmopolitan. A high-glam standout is the V de Vaujany Hotel, also home to the chicest little spa in town. Both Hotel Les Cîmes and Résidence l’Etendard debut smart new top-to-toe renovations this year.

There’s plenty of delectable dining to be had too. In town, Le Chalet Gourmand and Ida are refined foodie musts. While Le Stou and Le Vyonnais both do a fine line in hearty Alpine classics. And a visit to the on-mountain Les Airelles for their weekly Savoyard fondue evening – with rides home by piste groomer – is a signature Vaujany experience.

Example journey: Depart London St Pancras on the 09:31 Eurostar to Gare du Nord.  Change at Paris to take the 14:43 TGV from Gare de Lyon, arriving in Grenoble at 17:46. From there it’s 1h10 minutes by taxi, or 1h 30 by bus.

7. Sauze d’Oulx, Italy

The spectacular setting of Sauze d’Oulx overlooking the Susa Valley in Italy’s Piedmont region has earned it the nickname ‘the balcony of the Alps’. And the historic centre of this thriving year-round community is no less easy on the eye. Narrow cobbled lanes meander between ancient buildings, including a 16th-century church and fountain. 

Sauze d Oulx

Once renowned as a raucous party town, it remains a lively spot for nightlife, with an excellent and good-value range of varied accommodation, dining and tippling options. Assieta’s sun terrace is a great spot for aperitivos in the afternoon sun. Live music and DJs can be found in a range of venues including Ghost Bar and Osteria dei Vagabondi. Or for a gourmet splurge, don’t miss L’Ortiche restaurant.

The scenic, larch-clad local slopes sit at one end of the huge Italian/French cross-border Via Lattea (Milky Way) ski area, which opens up more than 400km of pistes. These are mostly targeted at intermediate downhillers. 

Sauze Ski Resort

Some more adventurous challenges include the long trip to Montgenèvre in France and back, and the Olympic Col de Sises run in neighbouring Sestriere, also the site of some great off-piste. Both heli- and cat-skiing – being ferried to untracked backcountry terrain in a piste basher – are also available.

Example journey: Depart London St Pancras on the 19:24 Eurostar to Paris-Nord. Change to Paris-Lyon and take the 14:45 TGV to Oulx, arriving at 19:23. From there it’s 15 minutes by bus or taxi. 

8. Val Thorens, France

As one of the best ski resorts for après, Val Thorens knows how to party. From the moment the Ibiza-style go-go dancers take the stage to beats belching from the speaker stacks at slopeside La Folie Douce at lunchtime. The hedonism doesn’t quit until the early hours.

And it has plenty to celebrate. Its ninth win this year of the World Ski Awards’ ‘Best Ski Resort in France’ title marks a remarkable transformation. From being the utilitarian, no-frills neighbour of ritzy Courchevel and cosy Méribel to a cosmopolitan, has-it-all destination rich in luxury, designer lodgings, vibey bars and dining options ranging from healthy, affordable vegan fare to Michelin-starred fine dining.

Val Thorens Apres

It doesn’t hurt that Val Thorens is in pole position for exploring the 3 Valleys’ 600km of pistes. As the highest resort in both the ski area and Europe at 2,300m, it is as snowsure as it gets.

Local slopes provide amply for everyone, whether you’re an absolute beginner, a distance cruiser, a steeps fiend, or an expert aerialist in the epic 70,000m² Plateaux Pistes snowpark. It’s also best-placed to ride the new-in-2021 lifts accessing the once-remote Orelle in ‘the fourth valley’.

Val Thorens Ski Touring

If that wasn’t enough, the start of the 22/23 season saw the unveiling of Le Board, a huge, high-tech new pool, sports and wellness complex in the heart of the resort.

Example journey: Depart London St Pancras on Friday on the 20:04 Travelski Express to Moutiers, arriving at 05:36. From there it’s a 55-minute transfer. 

Read my Val Thorens ski resort guide.

9. Morzine, France

With 3,000 year-round residents, Morzine is more than just a resort – it’s a ski town. This sprawling, 800-year-old community extends a vibrant and uniquely ‘mi casa es su casa’ welcome. Albeit it in French, naturellement.

There are many access points into the massive 600km Portes du Soleil ski area. Downhillers of different skill levels can easily tailor their days to their tastes and talents.

Morzine Ski Resort

A day at the genteel neighbour resort Les Gets, for example, neatly brings together a little of everything terrain-wise. While the high-altitude Nyon-Chamossiere and Hauts Forts sectors pack in the heart-in-mouth challenges for the gnar-inclined, both on and off piste. 

For non-skiers, or just a change of pace, paragliding, snowshoe hikes and snowmobiling can be arranged. As can helicopter sightseeing flights and horse-drawn carriage rides through the town’s charming streets. These are well worth exploring.

Morzine Powder Skiing

Discover a vast range of restaurants from vegan-friendly snack bars to formal fine dining spots. Browse the find cool, creative independent shops, and delis selling delectable local products to take home.

Après culture buzzes here too, with Le Tremplin a must-tipple straight off the slopes. Party people shouldn’t miss a boogie on the legendary, vintage Saturday Night Fever-style underlit dancefloor at Le Paradis.

Example journey: Depart London St Pancras 07:55 by Eurostar to Paris-Nord. Change station and take the 12:45 TGV, changing at Bellegarde, to arrive at Cluses at 16:52. From there it’s 40 minutes by bus or taxi.

10. Hopfgarten, Austria

Kids are king in Hopfgarten, a 650-year-old market community in the Tirol region’s Brixental Valley. Dominated by a magnificent 18th-century Baroque church, this historic town’s picturesque cobblestone streets today extend a warm, homely welcome to visitors that’s expertly targeted at families.

Free nursery slopes for beginners, great toboggan runs, excellent childcare, exceptional value for money and an unusually sunny microclimate are just a few of the attractions. Snowshoeing, curling, an outdoor ice rink and horse-drawn sleigh rides further round out the menu.

Hopfgarten Ski Resort

But that’s not to say the downhilling’s limited for more seasoned skiers and snowboarders. Hopfgarten is one of nine villages linked by a state-of-the-art lift system within the mighty SkiWelt Wilder Kaiser – Brixental ski area, comprising 270km of pistes.

It’s an exceptionally scenic ski area, with wraparound panoramas studded with more than 70 3,000m-plus peaks. There are also some lip-smacking mountain top restaurants to enjoy, including the revolving Gipfelalm Hohe Salve. It’s easily accessible too, even to non-skiers.

Hopfgarten Ski Resort by Train

Truly tough technical descents are few in SkiWelt. But a beautifully planned network of mainly swooping reds and wide-open cruisy blues offer plenty of mileage-based challenges. For example, the 88km KitzSkiWelt Tour is one of the longest ski circuits in the world.

Example journey: Depart London St Pancras on the 15:04 Eurostar. Change at Brussels to an ICE and at Cologne to take the 22:16 NightJet, arriving Wörgl at 08:37. From there it’s a 12-minute taxi ride.

11. Tignes, France

Tignes shares a vast, 300km ski area with neighbouring Val d’Isère. And while it offers a very different experience to its cosmopolitan, village-style neighbour, this purpose-built resort plays cannily to its distinctive strengths.

Sitting at a lofty 2,100m, it gives easy, often ski-in/ski-out access to the ski area’s highest and most snowsure slopes. Mainly targeted at intermediate and expert downhillers, the slopes rise as high as 3,450m and are complemented by oodles of lift-served off-piste. It also has one of the longest seasons in the Alps. 

Tignes Ski Resort

But recent years have also seen traditionally affordable Tignes up the ante in terms of lodgings, dining and nightlife, with impressive results.

Last season saw the launch of the sumptuously stylish VoulezVous hotel. While this year a brand-new Club Med bristles with high-end facilities. It includes a yoga studio with spectacular mountain views and the largest indoor pool in the Alps.

The dining offer is on the up too. Refined standouts include Le Kaya, L’Arti and Le Tétras Lodge in the neighbouring hamlet Tignes Les Brévières.

Tignes Ski Touring

There’s also plenty of ski-free stuff to do, from dog sledding to ice diving. State-of-the-art sports centre Tignespace offers centrally heated thrills including a seasonal skatepark and an exceptional climbing wall.

Example journey: Depart London St Pancras on Friday on the 20:04 Travelski Express to Bourg St Maurice, arriving at 06:30. From there it’s a 45-minute transfer. 

12. La Clusaz, France

Historic La Clusaz offers an unusually broad range of winter activities. It’s particularly generous to freeride skiers and snowboarders. Plus, tobogganing, dog-sledding, skijoring (being towed on skis or snowboard by a horse) cross-country skiing and snowshoeing are all on the mountain menu.

The charming, traditional village boasts more thrills and giggles. These include a huge ice rink, all-year indoor/outdoor pool and spa complex, and the ridiculously fun ‘bumpers’ – circular dodgem cars on ice.

La Clusaz Resort

The ski area links five mountains, and puts 220km of pistes and 1,500m of vertical drop at your ski tips. It has plenty to explore for downhillers of all levels. Terrain ranges from scenic tree-lined slopes and gentle valley runs to the dramatic cliff drops and steeps of the freerider-magnetising La Balme area.

Big with local weekenders, La Clusaz has an après vibe that’s low-key, relaxed and quintessentially French. Excellent patisseries, cafés and delis generate as much buzz as the chilled, friendly local bars. Although the nightclub L’Ecluse’s glass dance floor, suspended above a river, provides a true après one-off.

La Clusaz

Famously high-quality on-mountain dining is a highlight, mainly serving hearty Haute-Savoyard classics. While the village stirs in some more adventurous choices, with the achingly stylish Le Coeur a notable fine-dining treat.

Example journey: Depart London St Pancras on the 07:55 Eurostar to Paris Gare du Nord. Change to Paris Gare de Lyon and take the 12:45 TGV to Annecy, arriving at 16:29. From there it’s 35 minutes by taxi or 55 by bus.

How to book

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Author bios

Daniel Elkan is a freelance writer specialising in how to travel to ski resorts by train. He writes for The Guardian, The Independent, The Telegraph, Snow, InTheSnow, Conde Nast Traveller and National Geographic Traveller. He’s the founder of an independent guide to how to travel to ski resorts by train, Snowcarbon.

Rupert Mellor is a freelance writer specialising in snowports travel. Features Editor of OutThere magazine, he has also written for all UK broadsheets, Wall Street Journal and magazines including Food and Travel, Fall-Line Skiing and Skier and Snowboarder.

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