When the sun begins to shine, our thoughts will often turn to holidays by the sea, forgetting that there is in fact plenty of summer skiing in Europe.
Although the heights of Scotland may be devoid of the white stuff, Europe has plenty of options. So, whichever country takes your fancy, rescue your skis and snowboards from the dusty attic and travel to the Alps for a snowy break this summer. Just remember to save the sunbathing for the afternoon – the snow is always at its best in the morning…
Austria has a wide variety of options for summer skiing. There’s the 60km of north-facing slopes at the Tux glacier in Hintertux (one of the few remaining glaciers to open 365 days a year). Then there’s the impressive Kitzsteinhorn glacier in Zell am See-Kaprun, which is covered in snow for a reassuring 10 months of the year.
Fancy being shaken and stirred? Follow in 007’s footsteps and head to Sölden – a town in the Ötz valley, not far from Obergurgl. Solder featured in the 24th James Bond film Spectre (2015). Here, you can carve down groomed slopes on the Rettenbach and Tiefenbach glaciers (open from mid-June to early October).
Alternatively, easy-going skiers might like to head to the Dachstein glacier, home to smooth, north-facing slopes for 11 months of the year (beginning at the end of May). For a more challenging time, try the Stubaier Gletscher (the biggest glacier ski resort in Austria). Open from early July to mid-September. Visitors can also explore the glacial cave on Eisgrat, which offers a fascinating insight into the world of snow and ice.
Les Deux Alpes is recognised as one of Europe’s top summer skiing destinations. From mid-June to late August, the largest skiable glacier (in Europe) is open for skiers and snowboarders keen to fit in as many turns as possible before the rest of us cotton on. The 16 lifts ferry guests up the mountain to marked pistes and a purpose-built snow park.
And don’t forget that the renowned resort of Tignes has plenty of summer skiing too. There’s 20km of slopes on La Grande Motte, served by 12 lifts and accessible from late June to early August. There’s also a wide selection of cross-country skiing tracks, and Le Panoramic restaurant (right at the top of the funicular) is a perfect place to sunbathe and admire the views.
With incredible vistas of the Matterhorn, plus year-round snow, Zermatt (open until mid-October) is one of Europe’s top summer skiing destinations. Situated between altitudes of 2,900 – 3,900m, the resort has 21km of wide, corduroy pistes and a stimulating snow park. With six ski lifts and one cable car on the Theodul glacier (Plateau Rosa), there’s never a dull moment.
Alternatively, Saas Fee (open mid-July to the end of October) boasts 20km of slopes and a well-equipped freestyle park with a Chill Out Zone (think music and soft sofas). There’s even a revolving restaurant, and when it gets too hot, a dip in the cool mountain lake will leave you refreshed.
Although Italy isn’t known for its high-altitude resorts, it does have a glacier or two to give enthusiasts a bit of summer skiing action. For guaranteed snow, head to Breuil-Cervinia on the Plateau Rosà glacier. Here keen skiers and snowboarders can make the most of 23km of slopes from the end of June to the close of August (plus those of the neighbouring resort of Zermatt).