Originally Posted by BrendonR
Western Canadian here - My wife and I are talking about doing a European Trip next season - and I was curious if anybody had some insight?
I'm just trying to gather information at the moment, but have no idea about where to ski, stay etc. Where are the major spots located? I know we could go a ton of different routes but have no idea where to start.
Anybody have any good sources of info for skiing overseas?
[Mod note: moved to International Zone]
Just a couple of basic points:
Flights are the first thing you should check, since the prices to different airports in Europe will probably dictate which part of the Alps you end up going to. You'll probably find more flight options to Zurich compared to Geneva, Munich, and others. The other airports have loads of budget flights from Europe, but Zurich seems to have more transatlantic flights. Still, it's worth checking Geneva, Munich, Turin, Milan, and Venice (for eastern Italy) just in case.
Second, you'll want to avoid the European school holidays if you want to keep costs down and avoid crowds. Christmas/New Year is the obvious one, but there are also a lot of countries that have a mid- or late-February week off school. So, the cheapest and least-crowded times are mid-January up to about the 2nd week of February, and then mid-March to Easter (another holiday to avoid if it's early in the year).
Third, as nice as it sounds to go to a place like Zermatt or Val d'Isere, you have to keep in mind that those places are over 3 hrs away from the nearest major airport. You'll be doing a long, overnight flight that will probably arrive in the morning. If you don't sleep well on the plane, then you'll be pretty tired when you land. So, you'll probably want to stick to resorts that have fairly short transfers.
Finally, you'll want to pay attention to the base level of the resort. Tree line in the Alps is only around 2000 m. Any terrain above that will suffer from low visibility anytime it snows or even some low clouds roll in. So, you'll want a place that has at least a couple hundred meters of terrain below tree line for those days. As much as everyone tells me that visibility isn't really that big of a deal, every time I've skied in Europe with someone from North America, including my own family, visibility has been a big deal at some point in the week. That said, if you're thinking of going later in the season, you probably won't want to go below 1000 m. 1300 to 1700 is a good range. 1800 is pushing it unless you're both perfectly comfortable with low visibility.
Other than that, it all comes down to personal preferences, i.e., what you're looking for in a resort.