Whether you’re tagging along with powder-hungry pals, you’ve been roped in by family to help babysit the kids or you love skiing but relish some slope-free time too, you don’t need to step foot on the piste to make the most of a ski holiday. Here’s our pick of the best resorts for non-skiers…
Mountain lifts aren’t just for skiers in Chamonix. The Aiguille du Midi cable car is a real feat of engineering, with the highest vertical ascent in the world, and lets you get as close as possible to Mont Blanc without actually climbing it. While you’re up there, watch brave skiers start down the Vallée Blanche, the most famous off-piste run in Europe. If you’re feeling daring yourself, you can Step into the Void – that’s the glass box that hangs over the edge, where there’s nothing beneath your feet but 3,842m of open space.
If you’d rather venture inside the mountain, take the Montenvers cogwheel railway up to the Mer de Glace ice cave. Buried in France’s largest glacier, this man-made grotto is full of sparkling ice sculptures, and is painstakingly re-carved every winter.
The hardest bit of your day will be choosing which of the seemingly endless restaurants to eat in. Feast on pizza and pasta at Casa Valerio; choose burgers and poutine at the Canadian micro-brewery MBC; or go all-out with a 9-course menu at the two-Michelin-starred Albert Premier, one of the best ski resort restaurants in the world.
Good for: Mountain pedigree and great dining.
There’s no better way to explore the landscape of Seefeld than on your own two feet. Over 80km of cleared walking paths wind through the valley and up into the mountains. Just pick up a map from the tourist office, grab some warm clothing and walking shoes, and off you go.
From half-hour rambles through snow-covered meadows and woods, to longer walks to mountain lakes and towns like Reith, there’s a route for everyone. Most of them are dotted with cosy huts and restaurants where you can warm up with a hot drink and sample some tasty Tyrolean food. The trails are so well-marked, you never have to worry about going astray – and if your feet need a rest, you can often do the return trip to Seefeld by bus.
Fancy a change of scenery? Switch out woodland walks for city streets on a day trip to Innsbruck. You can be there in under a hour by train.
Good for: Winter walking
There’s always something going on in Whistler. Feeling foodie? Head off on a Tasting Tour to sample Whistler’s best hidden gem restaurants or drool-worthy dessert spots. You’ll try one course at each restaurant, rounded off with wine tasting or cocktails.
For head-to-toe pampering, spend the day at the Scandinave Spa. Nestled in the forest, this peaceful retreat has a cluster of outdoor hot baths, cold pools, saunas and fire pits, where you can unwind to the soundtrack of nature.
And if you want to see incredible views, a ride on the Peak 2 Peak gondola, the longest unsupported lift in the world, is a must. The round trip will give you plenty of time to ogle 360-degree views of the town, peaks, lakes and forest as you fly 1,427m above the ground. For a truly spectacular ride, wait for the glass-bottomed gondola cabin.
Good for: A city-on-the-slopes feel.
Kranjska Gora, Slovenia
Explore the scenery around Kranjska Gora without sliding down a mountain – just pull on your walking shoes and head out on foot. Follow the river from town for a couple of kilometres to find Lake Jasna, a picture-perfect lake on the edge of the Triglav National Park. Its shore is guarded by the mythical Zlatorog buck, and when the water freezes in mid-winter, you can glide across the surface on ice skates.
Or swap fairy tales for action stories and challenge yourself to scale a frozen waterfall. Guided ice climbing trips will teach you the ropes, from easy ascents to taking on the Lucifer waterfall.
Slovenia’s small size means it’s easy to go beyond Kranjska Gora. Hop on a bus to nearby Lake Bled, whose breathtaking lake and island church are the most photographed sight in the country. Or take the train to the capital, Ljubljana, a melting pot of history, culture and contemporary buzz.
Good for: Storybook scenery and adventures.
Window-shop at boutiques like Prada, Swarovski and Louis Vuitton as you stroll among the cobbled streets and candy-coloured buildings of the medieval town – you’ll soon see why the resort is nicknamed Glitzy Kitz. If designer isn’t your thing, there are loads of places where you can pick up a bargain, from hand-made crafts to tasty treats.
Chilly from all that snow? Warm up at the Black Spa at the Hotel Schwarzer Adler, home to a rooftop pool with gorgeous views of the town and mountains, as well as saunas, relaxation areas and a tempting menu of treatments – go on, you deserve it.
When the sun goes down, try your luck at the tables of the Kitzbühel Casino, or head to The Londoner pub or Highways Music Bar to sip cocktails and dance to live music.
Good for: Laid-back days and lively nights.
So even if you never touch a pair of skis, you can still have an unforgettable winter holiday. Take a look at our top deals for next winter.