If you’ve never strapped on a pair of skis in your life, you’re in for an absolute treat! Few things top that exhilarating moment when you finally manage to stay upright and ski down a mountain for the first time.

For those looking to shake up an annual group holiday, skiing is an incredibly sociable option, especially thanks to a little something called après ski. We guarantee by the end of your first ski holiday you’ll either be hooked on the slopes or at least on sipping drinks on sun-soaked terraces.

Not sure where to start? There are loads of ski resorts just a short plane ride away from the UK that are great for beginner ski holidays. Before we begin, it’s worth noting the different levels of ski slope you’re likely to find in each resort.

Nursery slopes

Generally, things kick off on nursery slopes where you’ll get to grips with the basics. These are free to use in many resorts and often consist of easy to use, stand-on conveyor-belts that take you to the upper end of the gentle slope.

Greens & blues

Green runs are the next step up, followed by blues, although Austria ski resorts don’t have green runs and so the difficulty level tends to be merged. These are typically longer, wider and a little steeper than the nursery slopes, and a great place to put the skills learned on the nursery slopes into practice.

Red slopes

Natural or fearless skiers could end up testing themselves on steeper and tricker red slopes by the end of their first week. These are more challenging and can easily spook nervous beginners, so deserve a little more respect.

Black slopes

“I skied a black run on my first week!” Contrary to their likely opinion, anyone who tells you this is not a legend.

These are steep, can be dangerous, and they often go un-pisted (the process that happens every night where big combine-harvester looking things bash the snow flat and smooth in time for the first lifts in the morning), meaning the snow can be quite uneven or icy in patches.

Get inspired with our round up of the best beginner ski resorts in Europe below...

Alpe d'Huez

  • Après rating ⅘
  • Price rating: ⅗
  • Skiing: 305km

Nicknamed the ‘Island of the Sun’ due to its abundance of south facing slopes, Alpe d’Huez is a prime spot for a beginner skiing trip. You’ll find it in the French Alps and it’s one of the largest ski areas in the country, with over 250km of pistes to keep you busy!

Alpe d’Huez boasts two fantastic nursery slopes and a handful of green runs, with particularly good ones near the Les Bergers area. After a few days of learning to ski, you might be ready to upgrade to one of the breezy blue runs located in the resort’s low-speed zone.

If you’re more concerned about Alpe d’Huez’s après offering, you’re in safe hands as the resort is renowned for its superb drinking holes - including it’s own incarnation of the world famous Folie Douce, right on the slopes. For newbies wanting to explore other winter activities in the mountains, options vary from ice diving to dog sledding. Get ready for some epic photos!

Find out more about Alpe d'Huez or to chat to an expert.



Bansko

  • Après rating ⅘
  • Price rating: ⅖
  • Skiing: 70km

Tucked away in the Pirin Mountains, this Bulgarian ski resort is a magnet for beginner skiers hoping to hit the slopes without splashing too much cash. Bansko is the country’s biggest ski hub and a good chunk of its pistes are blues or easy reds.

If you’re a complete skiing virgin, Bansko has some ace English-speaking instructors who can show you the ropes on the nursery slopes at the top of the main gondola. After a day or two, you should be ready to whizz (or slowly slide) down the resort’s longest ski run which just happens to be a breezy blue.

When it comes to extra curricular activities, Bansko is teeming with buzzing bars and clubs where cheap drinks flow and table dancing is the norm. Its affordable accommodation also means you can lounge around in luxury at the end of the day without shelling out a small fortune.

Meribel

  • Après rating 5/5
  • Price rating: 5/5
  • Skiing: 600km

This legendary resort sits at the heart of the Three Valleys - the largest ski area in the world! Meribel has long been one of the most popular resorts in the Alps and it boasts nearly 200 powder perfect pistes suitable for beginner skiers.

Two nursery areas where you can learn how to ski are located at the bottom of the Meribel ski slopes. You’ll also have the option of joining a fantastic ski school if you need some lessons from a real pro. Once you’ve got the basics down, head on over to the Meribel Altiport area which is criss-crossed with brilliant blue and green runs. Some of Meribel’s ski lifts are free for new skiers, too.

Beyond the pistes, Meribel is famed for its après ski bars, with buzzing options both on the slopes and in Meribel Centre. You could also tuck into some sensational French cuisine in a mountain chalet or enjoy all those classic alpine activities - think sledding, ice skating and snowshoeing.

Discover more about Meribel or chat to an expert in WhatsApp or Messenger.



Les Deux Alpes

  • Après rating ⅘
  • Price rating: ⅗
  • Skiing: 225km

Les Deux Alpes is a superb all-rounder ski resort just two hours from Grenoble. Reaching up to 3500m altitude in the French Alps, the resort has a great snow record and a unique set up when it comes to its slopes...

Unlike most resorts where the easier runs tend to be positioned at the bottom of the mountain, Les Deux Alpes’ beginner slopes are mostly right at the top of the stunning Glacier du Mont de Lans. You’ll also spot a few cruisey blues closer to the village if you don’t fancy taking a chairlift both up and down the mountain.

When it comes to après, Les Deux Alpes delivers with its 30+ drinking venues that’ll keep you fed, watered and entertained from mid-afternoon ‘til dawn. It’s also a little more wallet-friendly than many other French resorts, making it a win-win for beginner groups just testing the water.

Pas de la Casa

  • Après rating ⅘
  • Price rating: ⅖
  • Skiing: 210km

If you’d rather save the Alps for a second or third ski trip, the Pyrenees are a solid substitute. Pas de la Casa (or Pas to those in the know) is the largest ski resort in Andorra and offers the additional benefit of low-taxes, making it a no-brainer for a budget-friendly, beginner skiing holiday.

The resort is part of the Grandvalira, a 200km ski area that’s bursting with blue runs ideal for novices. There’s an ace ski school if you need a few lessons, plus family groups with young kids can take full-advantage of the free lift passes for under 5s.

Due to Pas’ low taxes, everything - from accommodation to its wild après ski scene - is a little bit cheaper than your typical Alps resort. What’s more, nearby Andorra la Vella is jam-packed with shops if you fancy fitting in some retail therapy...

Avoriaz

  • Après rating ⅘
  • Price rating: ⅘
  • Skiing: 650km

As the highest resort in the French Portes du Soleil ski area, you can expect pretty good snowfall throughout the season in Avoriaz. It’s a solid option for those learning to ski thanks to its extensive beginners’ area which encompasses nursery slopes, easy greens and a decent selection of trickier blue runs.

A good place to begin your training are the gentler pistes near the village itself. They’re accessed by slow drag lifts that even the most uncoordinated skier will be able to master. If some of your group have skied before (or just tend to pick things up quickly), Avoriaz’s family-orientated area - which includes an epic terrain park - is home to a healthy mix of blue and easier red runs.

Beyond the pistes, Avoriaz is a great spot to get your first taste of the sacred pastime that is après ski. You’ll find buzzing bars dotted around the entire resort, from La Folie Douce on the edge of the village to late-night music bar Shooters at its heart. Kids on holiday with you? Treat them to a few hours at the amazing Avoriaz water park or to a delicious fondue dinner at one of many fantastic French restaurants.

La Plagne

  • Après rating ⅖
  • Price rating: ⅗
  • Skiing: 425km

La Plagne - part of the immense Paradiski area - is a real paradise for beginner skiers. It’s largely splayed out across a plateau and is inundated with wide, gentle slopes ideal for complete novices.

Take your pick of half a dozen or so nursery areas where you can build up your skills and confidence with an instructor. Once you’ve graduated from the greens, you’ll find 60+ blue pistes to tackle within the resort, including some whose chairlifts are free to use if you’re a first-timer.

La Plagne is a popular pick for families thanks to its easy skiing and quieter vibe. While you’ll discover a few lively bars in Plagne Centre, most of the ski area’s 11 villages are more set up for R&R. The off-piste activity options are awesome, though, and include a 1500m-long Olympic bobsleigh run. Nice.

La Rosière

  • Après rating ⅖
  • Price rating: ⅗
  • Skiing: 150km

La Rosière is a bit of an underdog when it comes to skiing. Off most people’s radars, it sits in the Savoie region of the French Alps and is linked to the Italian resort of Les Thuiles to form the Espace San Bernardo. South facing, high altitude slopes means it has a decent snow record, plus a large chunk of its pistes are geared towards beginners.

The resort is divided into two areas, both of which offer easy access to nursery slopes. Adults can progress from lessons to long blue pistes leading to the Combe des Moulins free zone. If you’ve brought any little ones with you, don’t skip the Little Saint-Bernard adventure trail - a fun kids ski park themed around the native St Bernard dog. Originally bred to rescue people from peril in the peaks, the St Bernard is now the official mascot of La Rosière.

Elsewhere, the restaurants and general culture of La Rosière are a nice mix of French and Italian. While it’s not a great resort for real party animals, you’ll still be able to have some drinks and listen to live music most nights of your stay.

Lech

  • Après rating ⅗
  • Price rating: 5/5
  • Skiing: 548km

Situated in Austria’s western Vorarlberg region and right on the banks of the River Lech, this ski resort is pretty exclusive (past visitors even include several royals!). It’s the perfect pick for beginner skiers with cash to splash, plus there’s a nice range of easy blue runs to keep you busy when you’re not lounging around in your luxury digs.

The majority of Lech’s blue runs are located just above and below the village of Oberlech. If you want an even bigger range though, you can buy an Arlberg lift pass which gives you access to the pistes at neighbouring St. Anton and Stuben.

When it comes to off-piste entertainment, Lech’s après scene is higher end than most alpine resorts - think cocktails, cigar lounges and hip dance music clubs. It’s also a real mecca for foodies and almost every one of Lech’s lush hotels has a restaurant serving up gourmet grub.

Les Arcs

  • Après rating ⅗
  • Price rating: ⅗
  • Skiing: 425km

Les Arcs makes up one part of the Paradiski, a huge ski area in the French Alps that’s linked by gondola to La Plagne. Its sheer abundance of pistes makes it a fantastic option for groups of all abilities.

For newbies to skiing, every single one of Les Arc’s five villages has gentle nursery slopes where you can learn to ski without venturing too far from your chalet. What’s more, the resort’s lifts are free to use if you’re a complete beginner. When you’ve stopped falling flat on your face every thirty seconds, move on up to the high altitude blue runs where you can let loose and practice your turns.

Besides from skiing, there’s plenty to keep novice skiers entertained around Les Arcs. Choose which village to stay in based on your vibe - from charming, family-friendly Les Arcs 1950 to lively Les Arcs 1800 - and don’t forget to take advantage of off-piste attractions like the modern Mille8 leisure complex or the outdoor ice rink at Les Arcs 2000.



Conclusion

The resort you choose plays a big part in your first experience of skiing. The best one for you depends on the group you're with and what's important to them, and it goes beyond the skiing. As we've discussed, some resorts offer superb après ski, while others are more relaxed when the lifts close.

There's also a sizeable difference in the price of a ski holiday in each resort or country, in terms of the accommodation, price of a ski pass and other in-resort expenses like lunch and dinner.

Ski holidays are the group holidays packed was founded on. The majority of our team ski regularly and we would love to help you make it onto the slopes and give you the best possible experience of the mountains. We make your life easy by offering separate payments and we stay with you in your pocket before, during and after your trip, ready to answer any questions or solve any problems should they arise.

We work with all the big ski operators plus hundreds of smaller ones, all with a price-match guarantee, so if you'd like some impartial advice and recommendations, get in touch over WhatsApp or Messenger, we'd love to help.