In the 2019/2020 season, ski resorts once again invested quite a lot in renovation and modernization projects. So we were on the road again for you and took a closer look at the ski areas. We tested more than 250 ski resorts around the world and evaluated them in ten different categories.
Since the quality among the top 10 is so high and their results ranked very close to each other, we've expanded our top 10 into a top 15 list. Here are the world's best ski resorts:
Overview of the top 15
|Resort||Points||User rating||Ski runs|
|2.||Serfaus Fiss Ladis||89||4,62||214 km|
|3.||Saalbach Hinterglemm Leogang Fieberbrunn||89||4,56||270 km|
|4.||Whistler Blackcomb||89||4,37||3.306 ha|
|5.||Ski Arlberg||89||4,0||305 km|
|9.||Alta Badia||85||4,67||130 km|
|11.||Les 3 Vallées||85||4,32||600 km|
|12.||Tignes - Val d'Isère||85||4,0||300 km|
|14.||Stubaier Gletscher||85||3,06||64 km|
|15.||Bad Gastein - Bad Hofgastein||84||3,26||87 km|
First place: Zermatt
The reigning champion
Located underneath the majestic Matterhorn and surrounded by many more beautiful mountains, Zermatt offers a once-in-a-lifetime skiing experience. A total of 360 kilometers of groomed runs, stretching from Zermatt in Switzerland to Breuil-Cervinia in Italy, fulfill every imaginable wish. The resort is located at an altitude of almost 4,000 meters, making it the highest in the Alps and sure to have snow in winter. The glacier even offers the opportunity for year-round skiing. “Matterhorn Ski Paradise” - the name really says it all.
The grand opening of its spectacular Glacier Ride won Zermatt back first place last year, which the resort has been able to maintain. But the world's highest 3S cable car is not the area's only special feature. By introducing a dynamic pricing system, the Swiss resort has given early bookers the opportunity to save substantial amounts on their lift tickets. The Swiss Tourism Association confirmed Zermatt's family-friendliness by awarding it the Family Destination label.
Second place: Serfaus Fiss Ladis
Serfaus Fiss Ladis makes the top three again
The Austrian ski resort Serfaus Fiss Ladis is known to invest a lot of money in quality improvements. Investments worth €200 million during the last decade have made a real difference at the resort. For the 2019/2020 season, phase two of the “Dorfbahn Neu” construction project was completed. The Serfaus subway has been completely renewed over the course of the last three years.
While families are the center of attention at Serfaus Fiss Ladis, around 200 kilometers of groomed runs still offer enough opportunities for intermediate and advanced skiers, freeriders and freestylers. The service at the resort is outstanding as well: Perfectly groomed runs, modern lifts, gigantic ski depots, great provision of road signs and many other small details make visitors feel right at home in Serfaus Fiss Ladis. Families and skiing experts alike will get their money's worth especially in the part around Serfaus. Its large amount of possibilities win it a silver medal once again.
Third place: Saalbach Hinterglemm Leogang Fieberbunn
Skicircus moves up two ranks
The self-called “Home of Lässig” (Home of Cool) makes the top group of our ranking again. With 270 kilometers of groomed slopes, Saalbach Hinterglemm Leogang Fieberbrunn is Austria's second-largest coherent ski resort. The area is characterized by its highly modern lift facilities and a wide range of offers: Families will especially welcome in Leogang, more ambitious skiers will want to try out Saalbach and Hinterglemm and freeriders will love Fieberbrunn. If you're looking for legendary après-ski parties, head over to Hinterglemm. Cool events like the BERGFESTival, the Freeride World Tour and the White Pearl Mountain Days complete the resort's package. “Home of Lässig” is always worth a visit.
For the 2019/2020 season, the Skicircus invested in several new features. Beside the new gondola lift in Hinterglemm and the changed run signage, the ticketing system has also been reformed. The new lift tickets now also provide access to the runs at the Schmittenhöhe in Zell am See and the Kitzsteinhorn in Kaprun. This expands the area to 400 kilometers of runs. These changes help Saalbach Hinterglemm Leogang Fieberbunn jump up to third place.
Fourth Place: Whistler Blackcomb
Over 200 runs are found at Whistler Blackcomb
Canada is represented once again in our top ranking with Whistler Blackcomb ski resort. The area's 240 runs are more than any other resort in the country can offer. Starting from the village of Whistler, visitors can either explore the mountain of the same name or head up to the Backcomb mountaintop. The impressive Peak2Peak gondola also lets skiers move from one peak to another in the area, traveling at altitudes of up to 400 meters (1,312 feet) above the ground.
Especially more experienced and very advanced skiers will get their money's worth at Whistler Blackcomb. The resort still offers plenty of easy runs and areas for beginners and families, though. Whistler Blackcomb is also a real paradise for freestylers, the gigantic terrain parks being among the best of the world.
Past season, Vail Resorts invested a record amount of 66 million Canadian Dollars in Canada's largest ski resort. This sum paid for the new 10-person gondola and two high speed chair lifts.
Fifth Place: Ski Arlberg
Ski Arlberg among top five again
Despite dropping down two ranks, Austria's largest coherent ski resort stays among our top five. The connection between Stuben and Zürs combines the Arlberg's three resorts – St Anton, Lech-Zürs and Warth-Schröcken – into an area with 305 kilometers of groomed runs. This simultaneously makes Ski Arlberg one of the five largest ski resorts in the world. Over 200 kilometers of deep snow runs can be found here.
During our test, Ski Arlberg showed convincing results in all categories. Beginners, families, skiing experts and freeriders alike will find pistes suitable to their individual skill level. Modern lift facilities, great restaurants and wild après-ski parties complete the experience at Ski Arlberg. The resort also has two ski circuits, the “Run of Fame” (65 kilometers, 18,000 meters of altitude difference) and “Der Weiße Ring” (22 kilometers, 5,500 meters of altitude difference). With an offer as varied as this one, Ski Arlberg fully deserves its fifth place.
Sixth place: Ischgl
The après-ski paradise of Ischgl-Samnaun
Advanced skiers will find a lot of joy on the 239 kilometers of runs at the Silvretta Arena. But Ischgl-Samnaun has also made large improvements in its beginner and family areas. We especially loved the grooming of the area's ski runs. Hardly any other ski areas we tested had runs in similar shape as the ones in Ischgl-Samnaun.
To keep the facilities in equally good shape, the Silvretta Arena is renovated and improved frequently. €24 million were spent on two new, highly modern chair lifts. And the parties in Ischgl are still at the highest level. After all, the ski resort is called the “Alpine Ibiza” for a reason. The “Top of the Mountain” concerts with stars like Robbie Williams and Elton John are legendary. Italian star singer Eros Ramazzotti will take the Idalp stage for the 2020 season ending. The ski boot ban in Ischgl hasn't harmed the cult status of après-ski clubs like “Kuhstall” and “Trofana”.
Seventh Place: Gröden
Dolce Vita on the Sellaronda in Gröden
The resort at the top of our user ranking is once again deservedly found in the top ten of the world's best ski resorts. With a staggering amount of 1,200 kilometers of groomed runs accessible with the Dolomiti Superskipass, it is no wonder that Val Gardena/Gröden is so popular among snow-online users.
Hardly any other place in the world offers the kind of mixture of Dolce Vita and winter sports challenge that Gröden does. The best place to experience it is on the Sellaronda, the legendary ski tour around the mountain range. This is definitely something every skier should have done at least once in their lifetime. Sporting highlights in Gröden are the annual World Cup races on the Saslong as well as the Seceda. With a length of ten kilometers, the latter is the longest run in the Dolomites. Before you head out onto the slopes, be sure to try some tasty South Tyrolean specialties in one of the numerous ski huts.
Eighth Place: Sölden
Fun both on and off the piste
Sölden maintains last year's eighth place of the best ski resorts in the world. The ski resort in the Ötztal is famous for its après-ski parties, but that's not all it has to offer. The 144 piste kilometers are expertedly groomed and lift facilities modernized constantly. Located at altitudes between 1,350 and 3,250 meters and thanks to the Tiefenbach and Rettenbach glaciers, Sölden is sure to have snow.
The season is longer than average, lasting from mid September until early May. Therefore, the resort kicks off the Ski World Cup every year. For the start of the 2019/2020 season, the so-called “Hot Spot of the Alps” introduced a new gondola lift. The new Rotkogelbahn now offers a better connection between the ski resort and Hochsölden. Since 2018, the Gaislachkogel is home to a special attraction: The James Bond adventure park “007 Elements”.
Ninth Place: Alta Badia
Skiing in the UNESCO World Heritage of the Dolomites
Alta Badia is the second South Tyrolean ski resort among our top ten this year. Like Gröden, Alta Badiais characterized by its location in the Dolomiti ski alliance and its access to the famous Sellaronda.
The resort's strengths lie especially in the “beginner”, “family” and “mountain restaurants” categories. But Alta Badia also offers plenty of opportunities for experts. Cozy ski huts with a wonderful view of the Dolomite mountains and South Tyrolean delicacies complete the perfect day of skiing at Corvara. For these reasons we've included it in our list of the world's best resorts. Two new lifts were built for the 2019/2020 season: A modern 10-person gondola lift and a 6-person high speed chair lift. These improvements lift Alta Badia up a rank into ninth place.
Tenth Place: Aspen
Four mountains for every taste
Aspen is one of the most famous ski resorts in the entire world. Actually, the area is comprised of four resorts: Aspen Snowmass, Aspen Mountains, Aspen Highlands and Aspen Buttermilk. This combined complex in Western Colorado is known as one of the most popular, versatile and best-rated resorts in the US.
Beginners and families will feel most comfortable in Buttermilk, experienced skiers will enjoy the demanding runs around Aspen Mountain and freeriders will want to head over to the legendary Highland Bowl. The largest offer for all winter sports enthusiasts is found in Snowmass. Aspen's world-famous champagne powder and the exclusive skiing experience earn it a place among our top ten.
Eleventh Place: Les 3 Vallées
Surrounded by a thousand mountaintops
The world's biggest ski resort, Les 3 Vallées in France, ranks eleventh in our list of the best ski resorts. On 600 kilometers of groomed runs, the opportunities for snow sports fans are seemingly endless. Les 3 Vallées consists of eight different ski resorts – Méribel, Courchevel, Les Menuires and Val Thorens among others – which are all seamlessly connected to each other. This way, you'll never have to take your skis off (except for the gondola rides).
Similar to our champion Zermatt, the French Alp ski resort's strongest asset is its spectacular location. Skiers can observe more than 1,000 French, Italian and Swiss Alpine mountaintops from the slopes. One of these is the 4,810 meter Mont Blanc, located only 80 kilometers from the resort.
Twelfth place: Tignes-Val D'Isère
Le savoir vivre in the French Alps
The French ski resort Tignes – Val d'Isère is next in our ranking. 300 kilometers of groomed runs, two glaciers and two large terrain parks are found at Espace Killy, which is the name of the association of the two resorts. Especially advanced skiers will find a lot of joy here.
Of course, there are also enough areas and runs for less experienced skiers. Even beginners don't have to stay down near the valley, as there are beginners' areas high up the mountain as well. Tignes-Val d'Isère is especially recommended for experienced skiers, however. They won't want to miss out on exploring the legendary “Germain Mattis” run. The resort is also a great destination for freeriders. The areas off from the groomed runs offer seemingly endless opportunities of being the first to leave their tracks in the untouched snow.
Thirteenth place: Vail
Probably the best champagne powder in the world
In the midst of the Rocky Mountains lies one of the world's most exclusive ski resorts. On a total of 2,000 hectares (over 4,900 acres), especially more advanced ski fans will enjoy themselves at Vail. Long and broad runs on the “Front Side” make for some great and extensive carving turns.
Vail is known around the world for its 'champagne powder'. Every skier dreams of gliding down the legendary Back Bowls on the light, dry powder snow. The resort is also known for getting a lot of snow. The season usually lasts from mid November until mid April. With two action-packed terrain parks, freestyle fans will get their money's worth as well. Vail is not the perfect choice for families and beginners, especially since it is not exactly the cheapest ski resort.
Fourteenth place: Stubai Glacier
Small but especially excellent
Another member of our top 15 of the world's best ski resorts is the Stubai Glacier. With only 64 kilometers of groomed slopes, it is by far the smallest resort in our list. But exactly this might be the glacier's decisive advantage. The roads and paths are short, the atmosphere is relaxed and everything the resort offers is well-planned in every detail.
The Stubai Glacier is a dream for families and relaxed skiers, with almost 40 kilometers being marked as easy or intermediate. You're wrong however, if you think that the resort is only designed for beginners. The ski area ranked especially strong in the “Freeride” category. Another bonus: The season lasts from the end of September until early May.
Fifteenth place: Bad Gastein – Bad Hofgastein
The newcomer from the Salzburger Land
The Gastein ski resort completes our top 15 ranking. The area around Schlossalm-Angertal-Stubnerkogel stretches across the villages of Bad Gatein and Bad Hofgastein and offers almost 90 kilometers of groomed runs. It is the largest of the four ski resorts in the Gastein valley. The large number of red-marked slopes will make especially intermediate skiers feel welcome here. The extensive beginners' and children's areas earn the resort high marks in the “Family” category as well, though.
The opening of the new Schlossalmbahn lift last season was the end of a generational project and made the ski resort even more attractive. Beside its great ski runs, the area also has some great concert highlights in store. None other than German superstar German superstar Helene Fischer will take the Gastein Sound&Snow stage in April. The next big act for the 2020/2021 season opening has already been announced: German band Die Ärzte.
Conclusion and test criteria
Old friends and exclusive newcomers
Last year's winner and runner-up, Zermatt and Serfaus Fiss Ladis, retained their places in 2020. Behind them, a lot has changed however. Sallbach Hinterglemm Leogang Fieberbunn's renovations and investments earned it an additional point in the “Service” category and help it move past Whistler and Ski Arlberg to third place (also aided by its good user rating). Ski Arlberg drops two ranks down in comparison to last year's rating. Ischgl, Gröden and Sölden once again rank in places six to eight. Two new lift facilities take Alta Badia up to ninth place. Thanks to the extension from ten to 15 resorts, several newcomers have found their way into our ranking of the world's best ski resorts. Among those are the exclusive resorts of Aspen, Vail and Tignes-Val d'Isère. The Stubai Glacier and Gastein are new as well.
It's worth mentioning that all ski resorts in our top 15 are at the very highest level. The resorts' final ranking is often determined – aside from the large and path-breaking investments – by small details. It's especially striking that Austrian resorts rank above-average, with seven of the 15 best resorts being located in Austria. The resorts in Austria have invested a lot of money in the modernization of their resorts. Additionally, new innovations regarding lift and snowmaking technology, for example, often come from Austria. These investments paid off in the ranking.
The snow-online team has been traveling the skiing world since 2004, testing ski resorts on the basis of a certain set of criteria. At first, ski resorts were evaluated in six categories. In 2015, the list of criteria was expanded to ten categories: “Beginner”, “Expert”, “Freerider”, “Freestyler”, “Family”, “Après-ski”, “Service”, “Snow coverage”, “Price/Value” and “Mountain Restaurants”. Up to ten points are given to the resorts for each category result, meaning the total maximum is 100 points. If two resorts have the same amount of points, the user rating decides who ranks higher. Over 250 ski resorts around the world have been tested by snow-online.