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Skiing In Europe In December: Best Of The Alps In Austria & Switzerland

In December I had the opportunity of visiting some of the best ski resorts in Europe with Best of the Alps and Audi. We did a road trip across Austria and Switzerland, visiting Lech Zürs, St Anton am Arlberg and Davos.

I’m an avid skier but up until last year I had only ever been skiing in the Italian Alps. When Best of the Alps invited me to experience some of the best slopes in the Alps, that I hadn’t travelled to yet I was stoked.

If you’re planning on going skiing in Europe in December, but aren’t sure where to go, this is the guide for you!

In this post I give you an overview of the ski resorts we visited, where to stay, where to eat, and everything you need to know to plan an epic ski trip!

Skiing in St Anton am Alberg, Austria

Skiing in St Anton am Alberg, just look at that view!

The Alps in December

December is the start of the ski season in Europe. A lot of the big crowds however won’t be hitting the slopes until the start of the Christmas and New Years holidays. If you can go skiing early in December, that’s the best time to do so.

One of the concerns people have about skiing in early December is that there won’t be enough snow.

This obviously massively varies year on year depending on the weather and it’s hard to make predictions, however we were pleasantly surprised with the amount of snow during our trip.

There was quite heavy snowfall at the start of our trip in Lech and St Anton, meaning the slopes were simply incredible. We had loads of fun skiing in the “fresh pow” (as the skiers call it), both on the slopes and on the off-pistes.

Skiing in the Alps is without a doubt a highlight on everyone’s Europe winter bucket list.

Skiing in the fresh powder snow of Lech Zurs, Austria

Skiing in the fresh powder snow of Lech Zurs, Austria

Exploring the surroundings of St Anton am Arlberg in Austria

Exploring the surroundings of St Anton am Arlberg in Austria

Skiing in the Best of the Alps

Lech Zürs, Austria

We started our road trip in Lech Zürs, in Austria. This quaint town is simply adorable and fits all the stereotypes you can think of for an Austrian mountain town.

We rented our ski gear from Strolz Sport, a shop located right at the base of the slopes. They rent everything including skis, poles, boots and even helmets. This is a great solution if you don’t want to travel with all your ski gear.

The slopes in Lech are pretty great. We spent a whole day skiing, with only a brief lunch break on the slopes.

The weather conditions weren’t the best so we didn’t have the best view, but every time the clouds opened up we caught some glimpses of the valley and mountains around us.

Skiing in Lech, Austria

Skiing in Lech, Austria

On a chair lift in Lech Zurs

On a chair lift in Lech Zurs

From Lech you can also easily visit Oberlech. This is a small village located just up the mountain from Lech. The crazy thing about Oberlech is that there are no cars allowed in the town!

You can only reach it either by cable car from Lech, or directly on skis and snowboards from the slopes.

The town has a system of underground tunnels that connect all the hotels and restaurants, which can be used on really bad weather days or for big deliveries.

If you’re looking for a complete mountain escape, this is the place! And if you want to feel like a kid again, you can always go down the mountain back to Lech with a toboggan!

Going back to Lech from Oberlech with our toboggans!

Going back to Lech from Oberlech with our toboggans! Photo by Ian Ehm @friendship.is / @bestofthealps

Where to eat in Lech

Gasthaus Alpele

On our first night in Lech we actually drove a bit out of the town of Lech, to have dinner at Gasthaus Alpele. This is a beautiful venue in the middle of the mountains, which serves traditional Austrian food.

Here you can try both the cheese and meat fondue. We had a great dinner dipping bread in melted cheese and cooking meat in the broth of a fondue type pan.

Just be sure to wait a moment before biting into your first piece of bread and fondue, or you will completely burn your mouth like I did!

Cheese fondue at Gasthaus Alpele in Lech Zurs, Austria

Cheese fondue at Gasthaus Alpele in Lech Zurs, Austria

Hotel Ilga in Oberlech

On our second night in Lech we had a great dinner at Hotel Ilga in Oberlech. Not only does the restaurant offer delicious traditional Austrian recipes, but you can also take the toboggan back down to Lech! It’s a win-win.

Steak at Hotel Ilga in Oberlech

Steak at Hotel Ilga in Oberlech

Where to stay in Lech

In Lech Zürs we stayed at Hotel Schmelzhof. This is a lovely right in the centre of town, within easy walking distance of both the slopes and all the amenities that Lech has to offer.

The rooms are spacious and the hotel offers a great breakfast buffet. Just what you need before hitting the slopes!

Click here to book your stay at Hotel Schmelzhof!

Beautiful snowy landscapes in Lech Zurs, Austria

Beautiful snowy landscapes in Lech Zurs, Austria

St Anton am Arlberg, Austria

St Anton am Arlberg and Lech are fairly close to each other. So close that if the weather conditions allow, you could even ski from one resort to the other!

We tried doing this, skiing in the Weiss Ring and over to St Cristoph but unfortunately the weather wasn’t on our side.

It was snowing too much and due to limited visibility some of the gondolas were closed. We skied part of the way and then had one of the group members pick us up by car.

Skiing with limited visibility in Lech Zurs, but so much fresh snow!

Skiing with limited visibility in Lech Zurs, but so much fresh snow!

The following day we set off from St Cristoph, where our hotel was located, and skied over to St Anton. The slopes in St Anton had some of the best views I’ve seen in ages.

From the peak of the slopes you can see all the way to the bottom of the valley and the town of St Anton, as well as all the surrounding mountain peaks.

It was so good we skied all afternoon until the last gondola ride, and got to enjoy a beautiful orange sunset over the slopes. St Anton is without a doubt one of the best places to ski in Austria.

I particularly loved the variety of the slopes. There are loads of slopes for all skier levels, as well as some slopes that don’t get flattened out and prepared.

These are kind of like skiing on an off-piste, but it’s actually a marked slope so you’re not actually doing anything too dangerous, don’t worry.

Skiing in St Anton am Alberg at sunset

Skiing in St Anton am Alberg at sunset

Loving the views from the slopes in St Anton!

Loving the views from the slopes in St Anton!

St Anton is also very famous for its après ski scene. One of the most notable of these is MooserWirt, a chalet located on the slopes that has one of rowdiest and most fun après ski.

At MooserWirt you can find all the stereotypical après ski activity you would expect. Big pints of beer, cheerful German music and people dancing on tables in bulky ski boots.

Having always been skiing with my family this was an experience I had totally missed out on until now! It’s a must when in St Anton and a great way to end a day on the slopes.

MooserWirt is on the slopes and you will have to ski back down into town, but don’t worry, it’s not far up the mountain and the slope isn’t steep. Still, better to not have too much beer!

Apres ski at MooserWirt in St Anton am Alberg in Austria, photo by Best of the Alps

Apres ski at MooserWirt in St Anton am Alberg in Austria. Photo by Ian Ehm @friendship.is / @bestofthealps

Where to eat in St Anton am Arlberg

Hospiz Alm

During our day on the slopes we stopped at Hospiz Alm for lunch. This is actually located in St Cristoph, at the base of the slopes. Perfect if you’re travelling with friends who don’t ski, so you can meet up again for lunch together!

At Hospiz Alm you can taste some traditional Austrian dishes like gröstl and kaiserschmarren.

Hospiz Alm also has one of the most impressive cellars you will ever see, with some of the bottles holding over 20 litres of wine and selling for over £30k!

Enjoying traditional grostl for lunch at Hospiz Alm

Enjoying traditional grostl for lunch at Hospiz Alm

Exploring the wine cellar of Hospiz Alm in St Cristoph, photo by Best of the Alps

Exploring the wine cellar of Hospiz Alm in St Cristoph. Photo by Ian Ehm @friendship.is / @bestofthealps

Museum in St Anton

If you’re looking for a unique dinner venue in St Anton you need to add the Museum of St Anton to your travel itinerary. Villa Trier, the venue of the museum, was built in 1910 and is in itself part of the history of St Anton.

The villa is both a museum and restaurant, where you can enjoy lovely food and learn about the history of St Anton.

Dinner at the Museum St Anton; herb crusted lamb with crispy cheese polenta

Dinner at the Museum St Anton; herb crusted lamb with crispy cheese polenta

Where to stay in St Anton am Arlberg

When we visited St Anton we actually stayed at Hotel Maiensee, in the nearby town of St Cristoph. This is only a 10-minute drive away from St Anton, or a few slopes away!

The hotel is right at the base of the slopes, so you can hit the slopes right after breakfast and ski over to St Anton if you wish to do so.

The rooms have great views and it’s a great place to stay if you prefer to stay somewhere quieter than St Anton.

Click here to book your stay at Hotel Maiensee!

My room at Hotel Maiensee in St Cristoph

My room at Hotel Maiensee in St Cristoph

Dinner at Hotel Maiensee in St Cristoph

Dinner at Hotel Maiensee in St Cristoph

Davos, Switzerland

Once we got to Davos we didn’t actually do any skiing, but we got to explore some of the other snow sports that the town has to offer. In Davos there are lots of cross-country skiing tracks, as well as multiple ice hockey rinks.

During our time in Davos we were able to see part of the cross-country skiing World Cup, as well as trying it for ourselves.

We did a brief 1-hour cross-country skiing lesson with a pretty special teacher; Olympic medallist and world champion Dario Cologna!

I had never done cross-country skiing before so it was all new to me. I always thought I’d find it boring, but I was pleasantly surprised.

It was tougher than I expected but also very fun, as it allows you to take in the views as you go along.

Cross country skiing with Dario Cologna in Davos, Switzerland

Cross country skiing with Dario Cologna in Davos, Switzerland

Cross country skiing with Dario Cologna in Davos, Switzerland, photo by Best of the Alps

Cross country skiing with Dario Cologna in Davos, Switzerland. Photo by Ian Ehm @friendship.is / @bestofthealps

After cross-country skiing it was time to try another sport I’d never tried before; ice hockey! I used to do a lot of skating as a child, both on ice and rollerblades, but I’d never tried ice hockey before.

The Hockey Club Davos hosted us for a couple hours and taught us some of the basics of ice hockey. After a bit of skating around, practicing some shots we set up two goals and had a mini match!

I was pretty stoked to score two goals! They probably let me do that but I like to think I’m a hockey natural!

The Davos Hockey Club, photo by Best of the Alps

The Davos Hockey Club. Photo by Ian Ehm @friendship.is / @bestofthealps

Me and Jan (@lichterfang) playing ice hockey in Davos

Me and Jan (@lichterfang) playing ice hockey in Davos. Photo by Ian Ehm @friendship.is / @bestofthealps

We personally didn’t ski in Davos, but worry not, the slopes are incredible here too! From the centre of town we took the cable car all the way to the top of Schatzalp for sunset.

This is where the slopes start and the view is simply incredible. From Schatzalp there are incredible 360 views all over the surrounding mountain peaks and valleys.

You can see all the way down to Davos town and tiny people skiing on the slopes. Next time I go skiing in the alps I’ll make sure to actually get some skiing done in Davos and enjoy those views from the slopes!

It’s easy to see why Davos is a must on pretty much every Switzerland itinerary!

Enjoying the sunset view from the top of Schatzalp in Davos, Switzerland

Enjoying the sunset view from the top of Schatzalp in Davos, Switzerland

Where to eat in Davos

Restaurant Teufi

During our time in Davos we had an incredible cheese fondue dinner at Restaurant Teufi. The restaurant is a short drive out of Davos, in the middle of a valley with mountains all around it.

Instead of driving there we took a horse carriage. It was pretty freezing (make sure to dress warm enough!) but also a very fun experience.

As we drove along in the carriage away from all sources of light pollution we were able to see an incredibly starry sky!

Cheese fondue at Restaurant Teufi! Photo by Ian Ehm @friendship.is / @bestofthealps

Cheese fondue at Restaurant Teufi! Photo by Ian Ehm @friendship.is / @bestofthealps

Walserhuus

While in Davos we also enjoyed a great meal at Walserhuus. At this lovely hotel and restaurant we got to try typical Swiss dishes like Capuns and Maluns. 

Traditional Maluns served at Walserhuus in Davos

Traditional Maluns served at Walserhuus in Davos

Where to stay in Davos

In Davos we stayed at the Hard Rock Hotel. Located right in the centre of Davos the Hard Rock Hotel is a modern hotel with a fun vibe. Every room comes with a speaker so you can enjoy some tunes while you chill!

The hotel also has a beautiful rooftop where you can enjoy a drink, some snacks and watch the sun go down over the rooftops of Davos.

Click here to book your stay at the Hard Rock Hotel in Davos!

The view from the rooftop of the Hard Rock Hotel in Davos

The view from the rooftop of the Hard Rock Hotel in Davos

Beautiful reflections at the lake just outside Davos, Switzerland

Beautiful reflections at the lake just outside Davos, Switzerland

Final thoughts on the best ski resorts in Europe

Have you been skiing in Europe in December? How did you find it? Let me know in the comments below!

I had an absolute blast skiing in Austria and Switzerland with Best of the Alps and Audi. Skiing in the Alps is without a doubt one of the best things to do in Europe.

It was great to go skiing in a completely different part of the Alps than what I’m normally used to, to experience new slopes and try new cuisines.

In this guide I’ve tried to give you a run down of what it’s like to ski in Lech Zürs, St Anton am Arlberg and Davos in December, including useful information like where to stay, where to eat and other fun things to do.

I hope you find it useful in planning your own best of the Alps ski trip!

Enjoyed reading about skiing in Europe in December? Pin it!

Collage of the ski slopes in Lech Zurs and St Anton am Arlberg in Austria with text overlay saying "skiing in Europe in December"

Girl in a red ski coat skiing in St Anton am Arlberg with a sunset and mountain view behind her and text overlay saying "The best winter ski destinations in Europe"

Collage of the ski slopes in Lech Zurs and St Anton am Arlberg in Austria with text overlay saying "the best European ski destinations"

Disclaimer: This post was created in partnership with Audi and Best of the Alps. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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Saturday 20th of June 2020

[…] meal; an essential given the hard labour and conditions of the time. I tried this dish while on a skiing trip in Davos and can say it was the perfect meal after a long day out on the […]