10 ski resorts that are just as appealing in summer

We all know ski resorts are great for a winter getaway, but a little-known secret is that some of the world’s most popular ski areas are just as beautiful and exciting in summer – perhaps even more so. And that's before we get to the adventures...

Once the snow melts in spring, previously blanketed mountains and pistes are transformed into lush green valleys, while towns and villages are flooded with delicious cuisine from the local farms.

An increasing number of top ski resorts have invested big bucks to become year-round destinations for active families, offering an array of outdoor experiences.

Skiers and snowboarders will soon forget all about hurtling down the moguls, swapping that for hiking, cycling, zip lining, paragliding, white-water rafting and lake swimming. 

Also, as the temperatures rise, the prices at the chalets and apartments in traditional ski resorts fall, meaning you can snap up some of the best value out-of-season accommodation around.

With the cost of traditional beach holidays skyrocketing, why not try out some of these mountain resorts this summer?

Zell am See-Kaprun, Austria 

With its glaciers, deep dense forests, beautiful blue lake and authentic mountain village, Kaprun in the heart of the Austrian Alps is a huge outdoor playground. Summer highlights include hiking at 9,842 feet (3,000m), high-speed descents on the Maisi Flitzer Alpine Coaster and tobogganing on the glacier. Slightly less high-octane are the serene walking trails and refreshing swimming in Lake Zell, while the wider state of Salzburgerland also has several excellent golf courses, tennis courts and via ferrata climbing routes.

Lake Zell (Image: Mikadun/Shutterstock)Mikadun/Shutterstock

The 4-star Hotel Barbarahof in the centre of Kaprun is the ideal place to relax, and from mid-May to mid-October, you get a free Zell am See summer card to enjoy discounts and free entry to various sights, attractions and leisure centres.

Verbier, Switzerland

Val de Bagnes, consisting of Verbier, Val de Bagnes, La Tzoumaz and Vollèges, offers 116 square miles (300sq km) of fun and adventure across a range of varied locations. Verbier is a hotspot for mountain biking in the summer with nine downhill tracks, 23 enduro trails and 311 miles (500km) of cross-country tracks weaving through the vivid green valleys and sleepy deciduous forests.

The ‘Tsenelle’ or caterpillar trail, starts at an altitude of 8,058 feet (2,456m), from the top of the La Chaux-Express ski lift, and gently descends for just over a mile (1.7km) down a fun, smooth trail to La Chaux with breathtaking views of the Combins Massif, Mont-Fort, and Western Europe’s highest mountain, Mont-Blanc.

Swiss prices can be notoriously steep, but there's a good selection of modern chalets and apartments which can balance the budget. The 4-star Hotel de Verbier in the centre of town offers incredible mountain scenery and a top-of-the-range spa. 

READ MORE: Why the Jungfrau Region is the sustainable star of the Swiss Alps

Spa at Hotel de Verbier (Image: Hotel de Verbier/Facebook)Hotel de Verbier/Facebook

Morzine, France 

A destination long popular with Brits, Morzine is the perfect place for active holidaymakers. Throughout the summer, ESF ski school organises courses for children called Montagne Expérience, which includes climbing, ice skating, mountain biking, summer sledging and orienteering.

Tourists can meet falconer Jacques-Olivier on the Nyon plateau, who is aiming to reintroduce the white-tailed eagle back into Morzine and the surrounding mountains. He is currently working with six young birds, teaching them to fly and live in the wild.

You can also join Véronique, a local mountain lover, for a walk through Morzine, observing marmots and spotting chamois as well as discovering local plants, including edible varieties. The walk finishes at Véronique’s secluded Alpine chalet where guests taste the food they have foraged. The Manoir chalet, with VIP Ski, has a rich history combined with luxurious amenities.  

READ MORE: France's most beautiful villages


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Kitzbühel, Austria

Kitzbühel lies at the foot of two legendary mountains – the Kitzbüheler Horn and the Hahnenkamm – and has long been a popular destination with skiers and snowboarders in winter, and cyclists and hikers during summer. 

However, what many tourists may not know is that the Tirolean town also has the best choice of golf courses in the Alps. From June to October, its beautiful mountains and meadows are not only dotted with old hay barns, but also with golfers making their way around the immaculate fairways and greens of the four championship courses. Many of the town’s hotels, including the 5-star Tennerhof Gourmet & Spa de Charme Hotel, offer packages that include green fees.

A golf course in Kitzbuhel (Image: Pawel Kazmierczak/Shutterstock)Pawel Kazmierczak/Shutterstock

READ MORE: Incredibly beautiful golfing destinations around the world

La Plagne, France 

In the wildflower-covered alpine valley of Tarentaise, fitness fanatics can sign up to various competitions in the La Plagne resort, while food connoisseurs can tuck into homecooked dishes at one of the cosy refuges.

New for this summer, you can sleep under the stars and experience the beauty of the Isère River. The two-day expedition features rafting, yoga, fly fishing, delicious food, star gazing and a night in a bivouac in the forest. The trip costs from €390 (£328.50) per person, and includes supervision by professional guides, loan of equipment, meals, transport to the starting point and a fishing permit.

Finally, you can learn to paraglide with Air La Plagne, which offers a session on the learning slope or a solo flight from €150 (£127). Stay next to a beautiful waterfall and meet fellow hikers at Le Refuge du Laisonnay at the eastern end of Champagny-le-Haut.

Air La Plagne (Image: Air Tarentaise - Air La Plagne/Facebook)Air Tarentaise - Air La Plagne/Facebook

Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy

The far north of Italy is one of Europe's hidden gems – a land of pine forests, mist-scarfed peaks and blue Alpine lakes, with plenty of pizza in the ancient villages and towns. In summer, Cortina is a paradise for hikers and climbers. There are 249 miles (400km) of signposted trails of all difficulties and lengths, and multi-day treks like the Alta Via 1 and the Cortina Dolomiti Ultra Trekking, allow walkers or cyclists to sleep in traditional mountain lodges.

The Ampezzo Valley is a true paradise for everyone who loves via ferratas (‘iron paths’), climbing routes equipped with cables, chains, rungs, ladders or wooden walkways to explore. Other outdoor activities include tennis with spectacular views of the relatively gentle slopes of the Dolomites, and fun for the whole family on the 18-hole Minigolf Elvetica.

Hotel Villa Alpina is a historic Austro-Hungarian style villa that has been expertly transformed by the Zardini family into an elegant hotel with all the modern comforts. 

Åre, Sweden 

Late summer and autumn is when the mountains around Åre are at their most beautiful. You can walk along the meandering forest paths, drink water from mountain streams, and pick an array of berries and mushrooms. 

The climbing park at Åre-Björnen has nine different courses comprising over 80 tasks, including monkey bars, ridges and climbing walls. It also features 11 ziplines, the longest of which is 203 feet (62m) long and takes you on a wonderful trip over Björnbacken with views of the Åresjön lake. If you're into two wheels, the Åre Bike Festival is a must-do. For five days in July, MTB riders from all over Sweden come together for a week full of races, events, trail rides and laps in the park.

Stay at the delightful Copperhill Mountain Lodge at the top of Förberget hill in Bjönen with a spectacular vista of Mount Åreskutan.

READ MORE: 6 reasons to spend summer in southern Sweden

Scenery in Åre, Sweden (Image: Åre Sweden/Facebook)Åre Sweden/Facebook

Jackson Hole, Wyoming, USA 

The sky is the limit during a tandem paragliding ride with a professional pilot high above Teton Village overlooking Jackson Hole, the Teton Range and the Snake River Range. The resort’s newest outdoor adventure, Via Ferrata, takes participants (aged 12 and up) across suspended bridges and along granite walls. The perfect way to see Wyoming from the water is during a fly or float-fishing excursion in Grand Teton National Park with Grand Fishing Adventures.

If you fancy something a bit more high-octane, go white-water rafting with Barker Ewing. Choose between an eight-man raft or scenic floats on a breakfast, barbecue dinner or 22-mile (35km) combo trip with complimentary binoculars.

White-water rafting at Barker Ewing, Jackson Hole (Image: Barker-Ewing Whitewater/Facebook)Barker-Ewing Whitewater/Facebook

With sustainably built cabins and a beautifully treed campground, Fireside Resort’s modern yet rustic dwellings allow guests to get back to nature while enjoying the intimacy of a boutique hotel. 

READ MORE: America's best mountain resorts

Whistler, British Columbia, Canada 

If you love mountain biking, make a beeline for Whistler Blackcomb’s world-renowned park which has 13 miles (21km) of new gravity-fed downhill trails. Reopening this year is Cloudraker Skybridge, with its multi-tiered viewing platform and cantilevered walkway offering spectacular 360-degree vistas. Ride the Peak 2 Peak Gondola for awesome glacier views, or try a TreeTrek tour for a family-friendly ropes course in the forest.

Cloudraker Bridge, Whistler (Image: @entwistlephoto/Whistler Blackcomb/Facebook))@entwistlephoto/Whistler Blackcomb/Facebook

If you’re not into heights, the Blackcomb Base Adventure Zone offers a variety of family activities, including the Westcoaster Luge, electric go-carts, a bungee trampoline, batting cages and mini golf. Finally, go on a bear-viewing tour to get a chance of seeing one of Whistler’s famous black bears and cubs.

Adara Hotel Whistler combines an outstanding location with exceptional style, and its 41 guest rooms and suites are laced with colour and charm. 

READ MORE: The world's most extreme attractions

Niseko, Japan 

The Shiribetsu River, which runs through the Hokkaido ski resort town of Niseko, is considered one of the cleanest rivers in all of Japan. In summer, a trip to the mountains and lush forests is all about relaxing while enjoying good food and cooler weather, compared to the southern part of the country.

One of the most popular hikes is the Mount Annupuri trail which starts from Goshiki Onsen, and rewards adventurers with stunning views of Mount Yotei from the peak of Mount Annupuri. From there, head over to Teuchi-Soba Ichimura for handmade organic buckwheat noodles served with crispy tempura or succulent duck breast.

Mount Yotei (Image: tkyszk/Shutterstock)tkyszk/Shutterstock

Hokkaido is Japan’s top agricultural producer, so no summer trip here would be complete without a farm or orchard visit. Akazora is a boutique development situated in the heart of the ski village of Hirafu, and offers a range of modern apartments. 

Lead image: Pikoso.kz/Shutterstock


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