Resort Guides

Best Early Season Resorts in Europe

Which resorts open the earliest in Europe?

Above: Saas Fee. Photo: Ed Blomfield.

November, the joyful month of darkness and constant rain. We’re finally embracing that summer has run its course, whilst also accepting that winter is not fully here yet. We find ourselves living in limbo – snowboard films keep on dropping left, right and centre, getting us all stoked on riding, only for us to then realise that a lot of the resorts aren’t even open yet. Well, worry not, Whitelines is here to save you from the misery. We’ve listed the best early season snow resorts in Europe.

Cervinia | Hintertux | Kaunertal | Kitzsteinhorn | Les Deux Alpes | Saas-Fee | Stubai | Sölden | Tignes | Val d’isere | Val Thorens | Zermatt


Cervinia, Italy

Just at the border with Switzerland sits this idyllic Italian mountain town. Cervinia is smaller and lower down than its Swiss neighbour Zermatt. However, Cervinia’s highest skiable point rises to over 3000m making it an early-season favourite for many. You can also get yourself a multi-ticket, which includes both Cervinia and Zermatt, giving you access to an almost endless amount of pistes.

Closest Airport: Turin, Milan and Geneva
Resort Height: 1,524 m to 3,883 m
Lifts: 19 in Breuil-Cervinia Valtournenche + 34 in Zermatt
Pistes: 86km
2019/20 Planned Opening: October 26th to May 3rd
Price 1 day: €45,50/€48,50
Price 6 days: €233/€253


Hintertux, Austria

Located in the valley of Zillertal‘s Tux, this place is a true gem and a long-time favourite for many snowboarders. Firstly, it’s got a rad park. Secondly, it’s more or less open year-round. Thirdly, you’ve got great powder runs (you’re on a glacier remember so be sure you know the area well enough to go off-piste). Finally, it’s only a half an hour drive from Mayrhofen – a solid favourite amongst for many party-loving Brits. Hintertux might not be the biggest resort, but its overall vibe and amazing scenery more than make up for this.

Closest Airport: Innsbruck
Resort Height: 1,500m to 3,250m
Lifts: 16
Pistes: 60km
2019/20 Planned Opening: October 12th to May 8th
Price 1 day: €55,50
Price 6 days: €266,50


Kaunertal, Austria

Here you’ll find one of the most scenic roads you could ever hope to come across. The drive from the tiny city of Feichten will probably be the most memorable rides of your life, either because of its stunning scenery or because you’ve never felt so ‘on the edge’ sitting in a car. Curving its way through the national park all the way to the snowy glacier tops, you really ought to avoid being hungover when driving up this road. However, once you’ve made it to the top, rest assured that it’s well worth the ride. Kaunertal isn’t big, but as it is located in a national park you’ll feel like you’re a million miles away from all your responsibilities. Oh, and they’ve got a banging snowpark too.

Closest Airport: Innsbruck
Resort Height: 1,100 m to 3,518 m
Lifts: 6
Pistes: 30km
2019/20 Planned Opening: September 28th to May 10th
Price 1 day: €43/€47
Price 6 days: €201/€224

Ville Uotila at Kitzsteinhorn. Photo: Matt Georges.

Kitzsteinhorn Glacier, Austria

Kitzsteinhorn, another epic glacier located in the heart of the Austrian Alps. However, it is the only glacier located within the Salzburg region of Austria, making it one of its kind. The pistes are known to be snowsure, so if you’re looking for another place to head to for some pre-season laps, Kitzteinhorn is a solid choice. Thanks to its location, it’s also an ideal option if you fancy spending some time exploring the city of Salzburg before heading out to the snow. On top of that, they’ve also opened Salzburg’s first tri-cable gondola connecting Kitzsteinhorn with the town of Kaprun and Maiskogel Family Mountain, giving you even easier access to the surrounding resorts. If you’re looking for a good family-friendly destination with picturesque views, wide pistes that fit the needs of everyone from beginners to mad chargers, then Kitzsteinhorn is right up your alley.

Closest Airport: Salzburg
Resort Height: 2,000 m to 3,203 m
Lifts: 23
Pistes: 61km
2019/20 Planned Opening: October 12th to May 3rd (For the Snowpark – Skiing operation in general until June 1st)
Price 1 day: €51/€56.50 €
Price 6 days: €250/€278

Les Deux Alpes

Les Deux Alpes, France

This summer shred freestyle Mecca of France is as valid a choice pre-season as it is in mid-summer. Les Deux Alpes is not blessed with many trees, as it lays so far above sea level. In addition to its sick park, that nests at an impressive altitude of 3200m, Les Deux Alpes has also got pistes for days, multiple powder fields to explore, and an epic party scene – not too shabby at all if you ask us.

Closest Airports: Grenoble, Chambery, Lyon and Geneva
Resort Height: 1,300 m to 3,600 m
Lifts: 43
Pistes: 205km
2019/20 Planned Opening: November 30th to April 25th
Price 1 day: €42/€52,50
Price 6 days: €235,70/€262,50

Saas Fee in early winter – exciting and foreboding at the same time. Photo: Ed Blomfield

Saas Fee, Switzerland

This Swiss resort rises all the way up to an impressive 3500m, making it a very good snow-sure option. Saas Fee is only a stone’s throw away from Zermatt, so it comes as no surprise that this town is car-free, just like Zermatt. If an eco-friendly car-free town isn’t enough for you, you might be pleased to hear that Saas-Fee has one of the sickest half-pipes around; one that is well looked after throughout the year. Pre-season is also when The Stomping Ground crew takes over, shaping the park into a playground for the pros. You might not be able to ride it, but you can learn a lot watching the pros throwing down sick trick after sick trick.

Closest Airports: Sion, Basel, Geneva, Zurich and Milan
Resort Height: 1,800 m to 3,573 m
Lifts: 23
Pistes: 100km
2019/20 Planned Opening: July 13th to April 19th
Price 1 day: CHF 75
Price 6 days: CHF 365

Katie Ormerod. Photo: Ed Blomfield.

Stubai, Austria

It’s easily accessible, it is open nearly year-round, and it’s the biggest glacier in Austria – three things that help make Stubai the popular resort it is. Known for its versatility and massive kicker lines, Stubai Zoo is where the pros come to play during the Prime Park Sessions in early November. This beautiful glacier has more to offer than just its park though. The pistes are long and versatile, making Stubai ideal if you’re planning a holiday with a bunch of people whose skill levels vary Even if Austria’s been blessed with some pre-season snow during the last years, remember to be careful when heading off-piste – falling into a glacier crack isn’t exactly a recipe for a successful holiday.

Closest Airport: Innsbruck
Resort Height: 1,695 m to 3,210 m
Lifts: 26
Pistes: 108km
2019/20 Planned Opening: September 15th to May 3rd
Price 1 day: €50
Price 6 days: €239

Audi Nines Setup Sölden. Photo: Distillery, Schneestern.

Sölden, Austria

Sölden, the Austrian resort famous for offering our favourite 007 agent a run for his money and also home to the sickest snowboard comp of the century – Audi Nines. On top of all that, this little gem is also a solid destination if you want to work on your early bird goggle tan. It might be a bit more spenny than the average Mayrhofen trip, but its scenery and top-notch slopes make it well worth the money.

Closest Airport: Innsbruck
Resort Height: 1,350 m to 3,340 m
Lifts: 31
Pistes: 144km
2019/20 Planned Opening: November 14th to May 3rd
Price 1 day: €55/€56
Price 6 days: €272,50/€302,50

Rider: Mick Warren. Photo: Ed Blomfield

Tignes, France

This little French mountain town is a freeride haven for the lost souls. With the main village being based at an impressive altitude of 2100m, Tignes is a pretty safe choice if powder is what you’re looking to get. It’s a hell of a drive from the airport, but the epic scenery along the way will definitely get you stoked on all the riding you’ll get to be doing.

Closest Airports: Lyon and Geneva
Resort Height: 1,550 m to 3,456 m (together with Val D’isere)
Lifts: 75 (together with Val D’isere)
Pistes: 300km (together with Val D’isere)
2019/20 Planned Opening: November 30th to May 3rd
Price 1 day: €49/€61 (together with Val D’isere)
Price 6 days: €244/€304 (together with Val D’isere)

James Stentiford, Val D’Isere, 2005. Photo: Nick Hamilton

Val d’isere, France

Together with Tignes, Val d’isere covers an impressive 300km in pistes. Val d’isere is the crème de la crème of the Alps, and you’ll be surrounded by Moncler wearing creatures popping bottles of Dom Perignon from dusk ‘til dawn. The benefits of such a spenny resort can be seen as the pistes are very well kept. And if money isn’t an issue, we’d suggest you treat yourself to the ski pass that covers both Tignes and Val d’isere – you’ll have access to more runs than you’ll know what to do with.

Closest Airports: Chambery, Lyon and Geneva
Resort Height: 1,550 m to 3,456 m (together with Tignes)
Lifts: 75 (together with Tignes)
Pistes: 300km (together with Tignes)
2019/20 Planned Opening: November 30th to May 3rd
Price 1 day: €49/€61 (together with Tignes)
Price 6 days: €244/€304 (together with Tignes)

Rider: Mica Lundmark. Photo: Eric Bergeri

Val Thorens, France

Resting at an impressive height of 2300m above sea level, Val Thorens claims the title of the highest resort in Europe. Together with Courchevel, Meribel, and Les Menuires, it forms the gigantic ski area 3 Vallees, which offers more than 600km of piste. The town itself isn’t exactly an architectural masterpiece, but the mountains that surround it are a sight for sore eyes.

Closest Airports: Chambéry and Geneva
Resort Height: 1,850 m to 3,220 m
Lifts: 31
Pistes: 140km
2019/20 Planned Opening: November 23rd to May 3rd
Price 1 day: €44,80/€56
Price 6 days: €209,60/€262


Zermatt, Switzerland

Zermatt, or more frequently know as Matterhorn Ski Paradise or ‘Toblerone mountain’, is another solid choice for the early-season snow-hunters. This Swiss resort is open 365 days a year and is linked with its Italian brother, Cervinia. You can get a joint ticket, which allows you access to both resorts, but Zermatt’s got plenty to offer on its own as well.

Closests Airports: Sion, Geneva, Zurich and Milan
Resort Height: 1,620 m to 3,899 m
Lifts: 52
Pistes: 360km
2019/20 Planned Opening: November 30th to May 1st
Price 1 day: From CHF 79.00
Price 6 days: From CHF 338.00

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