Top 10 world ski resorts lists can differ, though there are some resorts that pop up on a more consistent basis than others. The best world ski areas, regardless of which list you are looking at, offer an exceptional variety of slopes and complete lift systems to move skiers and snowboarders alike around the mountain. It's not all about the skiing at the top 10 world ski resorts, however. Numerous activities can be enjoyed, and while winter is the peak season, summer has its joys as well. Thanks to the mountainous terrain, activities such as hiking and climbing take center stage during the summer season.
The best world ski areas can be found on two continents. These continents are Europe and North America. On the European side, Chamonix is a resort that you might put at the top of the list. Between the lovely mountain town and the backdrop of Mont Blanc, picturesque views abound at Chamonix, and as far as the skiing is concerned, advanced visitors are sure to relish in the big vertical drops and the glacier skiing opportunities. After a full day on the slopes, some of the best nightlife that you'll find at any ski resort in the world can be enjoyed.
When your search for top 10 world ski resorts takes you to Europe, Switzerland is a country that is not to be overlooked. It is in this most mountainous country in Europe that you will find Zermatt, for example. Zermatt lies at the base of the Matterhorn, which is one of the continent's most famous peaks, and the picturesque village is car-free, so you won't have to worry about traffic. Due to its lofty altitude, Zermatt often gets a hefty amount of snow, and you might be interested to know that it features the second biggest, lift-served vertical descent in the world.
Not far from Zermatt, Gstaad offers what might just be the most exclusive skiing and snowboarding environment on the planet. Steep slopes that are often covered in powder await more advanced skiers and snowboarders at Gstaad, and as is true at the other top-rated ski resorts in Europe, special backcountry tours can be arranged. Some of the finest alpine hotels that have ever been built call Gstaad home, as does one of the world's most prestigious prep schools, and both lend to the ultra-exclusive environment.
Staying in Europe, one of the other ski resorts that is deserving of the best world ski areas tag is Italy's Cortina d'Amprezzo. Cortina d'Amprezzo is consistently ranked among the top 10 ski resorts in the world due to its spectacular scenery and its long and varied runs. Some of the longest runs in the world can actually be found at Cortina, and as far as the scenery is concerned, the resort calls the breathtaking Dolomites region home.
Kitzbuhel is dubbed the Pearl of the Alps, and for good reason. Found in Austria's Tyrol region, this village has seen skiers plying their trade on the area slopes since the late 1890s. The village itself is more than 700 years old, and as you might imagine, it is about as charming as can be. There are more than 100 miles of divine ski runs to savor between the two ski areas in Kitzbuhel, and no fewer than 53 lifts help skiers and snowboarders get where they want to go on the five different mountains.
When it comes to the top 10 world ski resorts, rare is the list that doesn't include at least one Canada ski resort. Many high-quality Canada ski resorts call the westernmost British Columbia province home, though most experts in the industry would agree that when it comes to naming the best of the best, Whistler-Blackcomb deserves top honors. In addition to boasting the biggest vertical drop in North America, Whistler-Blackcomb offers a delightful village that is full of everything that you will need to enjoy a pleasant visit, including more than 100 restaurants!
While you might be tempted to stay in British Columbia when naming the best world ski areas that can be found in Canada, that would be doing Mont Tremblant a disservice. This French Canadian playground has been a popular place to go skiing in eastern Canada since it opened in 1939. It's actually one of the oldest ski resorts on the continent, but that doesn't mean that it is outdated. Millions of dollars have been spent on renovations over the decades, helping to keep this gem of a retreat worth coming back to time and again.
Crossing the border from Canada to the United States, those who are interested in the best ski resorts in North America might set their sights on Colorado first. Well-organized ski resorts that take advantage of the lofty Rocky Mountain terrain abound in Colorado, and among the very best is Aspen. Four fantastic ski areas await those who visit the Aspen region, and they are Snowmass, Buttermilk, Aspen Highlands, and Aspen Mountain. These ski areas truly offer something for all tastes, and the same can be said about the bars and restaurants that can be found back down in the upscale village.
As is true of Aspen, Vail consistently ranks among the best world ski areas. It also ranks among the largest. Skiers and snowboarders can explore more than 5,200 acres of terrain at Vail, and spread out over that terrain is everything that you could want and more. This includes some big bowls, ample free riding runs, and a fine mix of terrain parks. Vail, it is worth noting, is the main Vail Resorts Management Company ski resort in Colorado. The others include Beaver Creek, A-Basin, Breckenridge, and Keystone. A lift ticket for Vail allows the holder to access the slopes at these sister resorts and vice versa. Beaver Creek can be found just around the bend, thus making it especially easy to include on a Vail vacation itinerary.
No discussion of the best ski resorts in North America would be complete without mentioning Squaw Valley. Also one of the best world ski areas, Squaw Valley calls the divine Lake Tahoe region home and was host of the 1960 Winter Olympics. In the revamped village, ski-in, ski-out condos provide enticing places to relax when you're not indulging in the more than 4,000 total acres of skiable terrain.