Kid-Friendly Ski Towns For Your European Winter Vacation, According To Travelers

Embarking on a family ski vacation in Europe is an excellent way to create lifelong memories while enjoying thrilling outdoor activities amidst breathtaking snowy landscapes. With numerous world-class resorts, charming alpine villages, and diverse cultural experiences, Europe offers an unmatched winter wonderland for families seeking adventure and relaxation.

But setting out on a family vacation, especially to places you've never been before, can be a challenge. Trying to research family-friendly accommodation, choosing the ski area with the best slopes for your kids' experience levels, and finding reliable childcare for non-skiers is enough to turn most people off of the idea altogether.

Thankfully, there are plenty of fantastic ski areas in Europe, and this list of the best family-friendly ski towns in Europe has compiled the best ones to fit any family's needs. So whether you prefer the French or Swiss Alps, Italian Dolomites, or the Scandes, there's no shortage of perfect ski towns, and if you're planning a family vacation, travel experts generally agree on a few ideal locales to bring the family.  

Courchevel, France

In The Three Valleys (Trois Vallées) area of the French Alps is the world's largest ski area, Courchevel, which is also known as the "world's ski capital." Thanks to its 373 miles of runs that give plenty of options for any experience level and its countless amenities, it's no wonder that travel experts across multiple media outlets all rank Courchevel among the top family-friendly ski towns in Europe.

Young skiers can get used to the slopes in the dedicated children's areas or at one of the ski schools offering tailored lessons. Parents can confidently hit the slopes, while their kids enjoy safe and supervised skiing activities or spend time at childcare locations. Families with at least two adults and two kids can purchase family ski passes to cut down on the cost of lift tickets. There are also plenty of options for non-ski activities like scenic sleigh rides, guided snowshoe hikes through the snow-covered forests, ice skating, and tobogganing down specially designed tracks that provide exhilarating thrills.

Courchevel is accessible from the Geneva or Chambery Airport. While Chambery is closer, Geneva Airport has more international connections. Both airports have convenient private and shared transfers. However, a rental car is recommended for families for convenience unless you want to splurge on a private transfer. Courchevel Village is one of the quieter towns in the area and is perfect for families. It also has plenty of affordable places to stay, with regular events and direct gondola access to Courchevel.

Val d'Isère-Tignes, France

Not far from Courchevel are the highly rated areas of Val d'Isère and Tignes, whose proximity often means they're grouped together. Both resorts are recognized as a Famille Plus resort, meaning it has met 110 specific requirements to meet the needs of children. The designation means that you'll find age-specific entertainment options and activities, accessibility for children, and high standards of professional childcare. With over 185 miles of slopes, including beginner slopes and off-piste areas, Val d'Isère and Tignes are great for families of all skill levels. Free lift passes for kids under the age of 8 and discounts for youths can translate to budgeting more days on the slopes.

When not skiing, families can enjoy ice skating, The Adventure Trail, dog sledding, tobogganing, horseback riding, and attending dozens of weekly events. For foodies, head out for high-end dining at Courchevel 1850, a resort that boasts the most Michelin stars in the Alps. Because of the area's Famille Plus label, many lodges make specific accommodations for families and promote their facilities and services based on this particular criteria. It's easy to search through accommodation options to choose the facilities that best fit your family's needs.

Most families will want the convenience of a rental car when in Val d'Isère and Tignes. While there are shuttles from Geneva, a car offers more flexibility. Otherwise, the area's free shuttle service makes multiple stops along the main roads of the valley.

St. Moritz, Switzerland

Claiming it's the birthplace of winter tourism and Alpine sports, the host of two Winter Olympics (1928 and 1948), and 87 World Cup standard slopes and pistes, the swanky ski area of St. Moritz boasts unparalleled skiing opportunities catering to skiers of every level. Forbes called St. Moritz the "ultimate luxury playground for families" and claims it's one of the poshest places in the world. While some people wouldn't think to bring kids to such a luxury European ski destination, the area is highly kid-friendly, and many families choose to return to St. Moritz year after year.

Skiers and snowboarders of all ages have plenty of lifts and runs to choose from. Areas like Provulér, Celerina, offer four-seat chairlifts designed for children that take newbies to a nursery area, and the Languard family ski area is free to access for those under 15 years old. Aside from unforgettable skiing, St. Moritz also offers high-end shopping, spas, and museums. There are also free activities like ice skating on Lake St. Moritz and attending winter horse polo competitions.

St. Mortiz also has a variety of accommodations that are great for families of all budgets. Stay in central St. Mortiz for the easiest access to the slopes and other activities, or for a little quieter location, consider Champfèr just outside of St. Mortiz. Unlike most remote ski areas, St. Moritz is accessible by train from Zurich. St. Mortiz can also be reached by car, with either Zurich or Milan offering the closest international airports.

Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy

As the host of the 1956 and upcoming 2026 Winter Olympics, Cortina d'Ampezzo is one of Italy's most well-known ski towns. It's a favorite of Olympic and World Championship Gold medalist Bode Miller, according to Instagram, and was a favorite of iconic A-listers of old like Ernest Hemingway and Sophia Loren. Known as the "Queen of the Dolomites," Cortina offers breathtaking views of the UNESCO World Heritage mountain ranges with world-class slopes and unique opportunities for a relaxing yet exciting family holiday.

Cortina caters to kids and novice skiers by providing slopes and specialized ski schools for children. The Pocol ski area in Cortina d'Ampezzo, the NeveSole park in San Vito di Cadore, the ski area in Auronzo, and the Mirsurina on Col de Varda slopes are all great options for little ones. But for adults, Cortina offers legendary Olympic runs and 13 black diamonds for those looking for a challenge. When not skiing, families can try hiking, snowshoeing, ice skating, dog sledding, or indoor rock climbing. Cortina offers a wide range of dining options, from Michelin-starred restaurants to budget- and kid-friendly pizzerias.

You can reach Cortina most easily by car from Venice (2 hours) or Innsbruck (2.5 hours). But because of the ease of getting around and to the ski areas in central Cortina without a car, renting a car is not as necessary as some other ski towns on our list.

Zermatt, Switzerland

Many travel experts consider Zermatt one of the prettiest resorts in the Alps, due to its place in the shadow of the Matterhorn and partly for its idyllic village that looks stripped from the pages of a fairytale. Zermatt is also a great place for families looking for a ski holiday, as it offers both excellent skiing and family-friendly amenities. 

While Zermatt is a bucket list trip and not considered a budget destination, families with young kids can still enjoy the area thanks to the Wolli Card. The free club card, given to kids under age 9, offers free use of chair lifts, discounts on the local bus system, reduced fees for family rooms, local Wolli activities, and more. Along with beginner areas and child-friendly slopes, Zermatt also offers ski school options to help teach skills to newbies and alpine nannies, allowing parents to hit the 224 miles of trails.

Zermatt is completely car-free, so pedestrians can walk through the village without the noise or congestion of cars. The village has restaurants and shops and is well-connected to the ski areas via the ski bus, allowing for a relaxing and stress-free vacation away from the hustle and bustle of a large city. The easiest way to get to Zermatt is by train from either Geneva (4 hours) or Zurich (3.5 hours). If you do arrive by car, a garage in Täsch (about 3 miles from Zermatt) is available for parking. A shuttle will then take you to your resort.

Skistar Trysil, Norway

Skistar Trysil is Norway's largest ski area, with 31 lifts, 69 slopes, and 62 miles of cross-country trails. While most people think of Switzerland or France for skiing in Europe, Norway offers an extremely long season, and the Daily Mail feels that the ski area is ideal for kids and beginner skiers. One main difference between skiing in Norway and mainland Europe is the vertical drop. 

Where the Swiss Alps can be very steep (4,718 feet in Courchevel), the elevation variance in Trysil is much smaller (2,247 feet), making for long, wide trails that snake down the sides of mountains. This is ideal for those who feel intimidated by steep terrain or those who prefer trails that can be done as a family. But, in no way does this make for a boring holiday. The slopes at Trysil offer a range of trail types, from open mountain tops to wood-lined trails and, of course, snow parks for those who want to show off aerial tricks.

Compared to resorts in Switzerland, the lodging options in Trysil offer much better value. The new Skistar Lodge (once the Radisson Blu) is right next to the slopes and offers six bars and restaurants, an adventure pool area, an indoor surf wave, a spa, and bowling. The convenience of this all-encompassing accommodation makes for the perfect relaxing family vacation. Trysil is about a 2.5-hour drive from Oslo, but for those looking to avoid driving on snow-covered roads, a bus transfer is available from the airport.

Val Thorens, France

Val Thorens has come a long way since its opening in the 1970s, when French Olympic ski champion Christine Goitschel described it as "like living in the Wild West." In fact, The Telegraph claims it is the world's best ski resort, mostly due to its location in The Three Valleys (near Courchevel), its dedication to improving the slopes, its abundance of après ski opportunities, and unique, high-quality snow.

As the highest resort in Europe, Val Thorens offers a longer season than most, even compared to its neighboring ski towns. Families can head out in November or as late as May to enjoy fresh snow on the area's lofty peaks. Val Thorens has also taken extra strides to accommodate families, refurbishing their play areas in the 2022-2023 season to better accommodate kids and novice skiers.

Val Thorens has an extensive range of non-ski activities that include sledding, hiking, and sled dog rides. However, you can also find more unique options like winter ziplining, snow groomer rides, and a kids' ski patrol experience. Central Val Thorens also features shops, restaurants, and gondolas that head straight to the slopes. With many hotels earning the Famille Plus designation, you'll find plenty of options that go the extra step to host kids.

Alpe d'Huez, France

According to The Telegraph, few European resorts are as suitable for skiers and snowboarders of all skill levels as Alpe d'Huez. The terrain is well-rounded so that kids and beginners, as well as experts, will all have a great time. While Alpe d'Huez is busy all year, it's a favorite among skiers because of its reputation for having consistent sunshine on the slopes, which is how it earned its nickname "l'Isle du Soleil" or The Island of the Sun.

Kids under 5 can ski for free, and family passes offer around a 10% discount on lift tickets. Families can stick together at some of the designated beginner areas like Les Bergers and the lower slopes of the DMC area. Alpe d'Huez also offers childcare services, and baby equipment rentals are available. For non-skiers, heated outdoor pools, spa experiences, dogsledding, and snowshoeing experiences are great alternatives.

The largest city near Alpe d'Huez is Grenoble, about 1.5 hours away. Private and public transfers are available from Grenoble, as well as from Geneva (around 3 to 4 hours away). While the town of Alpe d'Huez is walkable and offers easy access to shops, restaurants, and the slopes, many families may appreciate the flexibility of having their own vehicle to explore other areas in the French Alps. In town, look for places with the Famille Plus designation to ensure your family's needs will be fully met during your stay. 

Serfaus, Austria

About an hour west of Innsbruck is the modern and family-friendly ski area of Serfaus. Named as one of the best ski areas by The Times and recommended for midwinter family trips, Serfaus offers plenty of opportunities for young skiers to head out onto the slopes with family, learn the ropes at one of the ski schools, or be well-looked-after at one of the childcare facilities.

The Times recommends a midwinter holiday over an early or late season getaway because most runs are southeast facing, making for an early spring thaw. However, the well-groomed trails and fresh daily snow offer carving slopes, speed tracks, and a ski movie slope, where you can have your runs videotaped. Off-mountain activities include toboggan rides, winter hikes, horse-drawn sleigh rides, and ice skating. Surrounded by the Tyrolean mountains, the small village of Serfaus offers many family-friendly accommodations, and the western end of town provides the most convenient lift access.

The easiest way to get to Serfaus is by car from Innsbruck, which will take about an hour. A train is also available from Innsbruck to Landeck-Zams, where you would then need to get either a bus or a taxi into Serfaus (about a half-hour). Once there, you can rely on the Serfaus Underground, the highest-located hovertrain in the world. The train connects multiple locations in the town with the ski areas for speed and convenience.

Engelberg, Switzerland

Engelberg, Switzerland, is the favorite place of professional skier Marcus Caston, according to Helly Hansen. The freeride mecca has become popular among skiers of all skill levels due to its above-average snowfall and proximity to Zurich. Also, families will appreciate the convenience of arriving at Engelberg, which is only a 2-hour train ride away from Zurich. You can jump on the train for a stress-free journey and step off in Engelberg to head straight to the slopes or explore the town. 

Engelberg also boasts the world's first revolving cable car, the Titlis Rotair, which takes skiers from an intermediate station to the summit station while offering spectacular views of the Bernese Alps, the Black Forest, and the Unterland lakes. And just because it's known for its world-class, freeride skiing doesn't mean family activities aren't a main priority. The many children's areas, like the Yeti Park, Gerschnialp, the Globis Winterland, and the highly-rated ski schools, offer excellent places for kids to gain confidence and skills on the slopes. 

When it is time for the adults to head off-piste or to one of the restaurants in town, the many childcare facilities and babysitting services can put their minds at ease. Off-mountain, there is also sledding, ice skating, cross-country skiing, curling, a movie theater, and programs designed for bad weather that are perfect for the entire family or non-skiers. There are also plenty of accommodation options for families that offer direct access to the slopes, restaurants, shops, and activities.