If you’re heading to the slopes this winter, chances are you’re going to come across apres ski, it’s an integral part of a ski holiday for many. Some post ski partying perfect for letting your hair down and having a laugh. But what should you expect? How should you prepare for the piste parties? Where should you go? What apres ski outfits should you pack?
What does apres ski mean?
Apres ski is French, ‘aprés ski’ literally meaning ‘after ski’. So anything you do post skiing in the mountains. Typically from around 3:30pm till 7pm ish. The term has evolved over the years to involve anything that’s not skiing – but mainly it involves partying.
What is apres ski?
Apres ski is the immediate aftermath of finishing skiing. Generally involving piste side parties, dancing and merriment in lively bars. Ranging from table dancing in your ski boots with Austrian oompah music to sophisticated wine bars on cobbled Italian streets. There’s something out there to suit everyone, from party people to ice skating fanatics.
Top tips for surviving a week of mountain parties!
- Grab a snack before you start drinking, it’s often overlooked but will do you a world of good
- You’ll probably be at high altitude so don’t expect to be able to drink as you would at home
- Know how you’re getting home, don’t get stuck on the other side of the mountain requiring a costly taxi to get back
- Stay hydrated, it seems obvious but having a glass of water here and there or sip from a camelback will pay dividends in the morning
- Lock up your gear, especially at the bottom of the slopes. There’s nothing worse than heading back for dinner only to find someones walked off with your rental skis (they all look similar). Either lock them up or swap with a mate so you each have one of your skis and one of theirs to put together – people are far less likely to pick these up by mistake
- Get the right gear – decent boots, warm jacket and thermals will keep you warm and dancing into the evening no problem. Don’t wear what you’d usually wear in the UK, it won’t be warm enough
- Bring an extra layer – if you carry a backpack when you ski, just chuck in an extra hoody, a beanie and some sunglasses. You’ll thank us when you find the right bar at the end of the day
What should you wear for apres ski?
Generally, you’ll still be in your ski gear, just make sure you have enough layers. As we said above it’s a good idea to throw an extra hoody in your backpack if you’re planning on a few post ski beers. Beanies are a must as well unless you fancy wearing your helmet all afternoon. Sunglasses are handy to stash in a pocket as you probably won’t want to be wearing your goggles whilst having a drink:
- Extra hoody/jumper/layer
- Goggle cover
- Fancy dress – optional, you’ll see plenty of it on the slopes but we’d leave that one to the stag and hen dos
For some resorts or bars (especially later in the evening) you’ll have to take your ski/board boots off and change into normal footwear. So just be aware if that’s the case, you may want to change anyway if walking in your ski boots is a real pain for you.
One extra little bit to put in your pocket is a gogglesoc, especially if you have expensive goggles or are heading to somewhere super lively – champaign might taste great but it ruins goggle so be wary when they’re spaying it over the crowd from the balconies.
Where are the best party ski resorts?
Apres has become a huge part of ski holidays draw. A week away from work, exploring endless pistes by day and dancing your way through the night. Ski resorts are home to some of the biggest parties around, the atmosphere is buzzing and everyone’s looking for a good time.
Where you pick can influence the type of apres scene you’ll find. From Cabaret, champagne-fuelled dance parties to people watching over fine wine. Straight off the pistes or late night shenanigans. It’s an overwhelming choice which is why we’ve collated all our apres ski guides in one handy place.
If you’re looking for the liveliest ski resorts out there then take a look at The best aprés ski resorts in Europe. You’ll be dancing on the tables in your ski boots in bars full of like-minded party revellers. Many of these would be great for a stag/hen do, if you’re planning a boy’s ski weekend then take a look at these action packed resorts perfect for weekend partying.
Apres ski in France
France is the home of apres. ‘Aprés ski’ is a French phrase, after all, meaning ‘after ski’. This is where the Folie Douce franchise was born, the open air, cabaret show style piste side raucous parties each and every afternoon. You’ll also find a buzzing late night scene with underground nightclubs and lively bars in their droves. Here are the best aprés ski resorts in France:
Primarily a ski in, ski out family friendly resort, Avoriaz still packs a punch on the apres front. Home to the Snowboxx festival bringing a huge party scene to the slopes every year. Avoriaz also has a growing freestyle reputation that brings a young party crowd into the mix and when bars like Folie Douce and Le Yak are in full swing it’s a buzzing atmosphere. Read more/find the best bars.
A cosmopolitan and lively town with a huge choice of apres bars. Chamonix is as much city as it is ski resort and that comes with a huge choice of bars and restaurants to explore. There are hubs on various streets but we love the straight off the slope vibe that starts up near the train station with Chambre Neuf and co. Read more/find the best bars.
An attractive village with friendly locals. It’s not known for it’s lively apres scene but there are a few bars with a decent atmosphere. More relaxed than dancing on tables and definitely a family friendly option with a bit of life. Don’t miss the micro brewery; the beer’s great as is the food. Read more/find the best bars.
Courchevel has a lively apres scene and it only gets better as the night wears on. Think champagne parties and great food. It’s not cheap up in 1850 but pick one of the villages or La Tania and it’ll be much more friendly on the wallet. Read more/find the best bars.
Known more for being a ski in, ski out family friendly resort than a buzzing apres hub. Flaine does have a handful of decent bars to enjoy a few apres vibes. Largely kicking off on the sunny mountainside terraces with chilled music, snacks and drinks. Read more/find the best bars.
Split between various villages with different atmospheres and plenty of live bands. You’ll find some great bars whichever village you’re staying in. There’s some fantastic on the slope bars for 3pm apres which carries on in town. La Mine in 1800 was one of our favourites for live music. Read more/find the best bars.
For a family orientated resort, La Rosiere does have a few decent apres spots. Largely on the slopeside terraces or revolving around some non-ski activities such as bowling or sledging. Read more/find the best bars.
A hugely varied apres ski scene split between the numerous villages. Each has a lively enough apres scene with Arc 1800 taking the crown with some great bars both in town and on the slopes above. The Folie Douce was new here for the 2019/20 winter season but there’s plenty of alternative bars to explore in a lively and varied apres scene. Read more/find the best bars.
The list goes on:
- Aprés ski in Les Carroz
- Aprés ski in Les Gets
- Aprés ski in Les Menuires – a growing apres scene in a family friendly resort
- Aprés ski in Megeve – old money with plenty of piano and jazz bars, surprisingly lively
- Aprés ski in Meribel – the home of live music for your post ski fix
- Aprés ski in Montgenevre
- Aprés ski in Morzine – a buzzing apres scene and great party atmosphere
- Aprés ski in Tignes
- Aprés ski in Val d’Isere – many say this is the best resort in the world with the apres to match
- Aprés ski in Val Thorens – high altitude party capital of France
Apres ski in Austria
Austria is arguably the apres capital. It’s foot-stamping, table dancing frivolity that reigns here. The music is loud, the tunes are banging and for some reason the oompah music really makes you move your feet. It’s sing along heaven with a big dose of beer and jager.
Home to the king of apres in St Anton, there’s so much choice here it’s unreal, mountain top concerts to off the wall apres games such as nails (literally hammering a nail into a chunk of wood – sound dull but is hilarious and seriously addictive). If it’s intense parties you’re after before falling asleep in your chalet, look no further than Austria.
- Best aprés ski in Austria (videos)
- Aprés ski in Ischgl – the home of the top of the mountain concerts and big apres parties
- Aprés ski in Kaprun
- Aprés ski in Kitzbuhel – A huge international reputation for some of the best parties around
- Aprés ski in Mayrhofen – another apres hot spot, a bar that drinks the most Grolsch in the world
- Aprés ski in Obergurgl
- Aprés ski in Seefeld
- Aprés ski in Solden
- Aprés ski in St Anton – Probably the liveliest apres resort in Europe
- Aprés ski in Zell am See – laid back bars by the lake
Apres ski in Italy
Italy is generally a little more sophisticated on the apres front. That’s not to say you won’t find a decent party. There are some great bars and pumping straight of the pistes parties across the country in resorts such as Selva or Sauze d’Oulx. But in general it’s more about the fantastic wine and food.
Wine bars serve nibbles with your drinks during aperitivo hour whilst you watch the well dressed wander around the resort. Prices are generally cheaper than France and Austria and it’s one of our favourite places for post ski entertainment.
- Aprés ski in Cortina – sophistication down to a tee
Apres ski in Switzerland
Switzerland has some of the best apres ski around. Verbier has the pick of the table dancing and huge parties, whilst Zermatt has some of the best bars around – you may pay a hefty price to be here but if you can spare the extra coin it’s well worth the outlay.
The post ski parties get a little inventive in Andermatt with Europe’s (and most likely the world’s) first apres ski train. It links the two ends of the ski area so you can travel back to Andermatt in a panoramic carriage stocked with drinks and good times.
Apres ski in Canada
Across the pond apres ski is a little different again. It’s more about huge sharing plates of nachos with a few beers whilst you swap ski stories from your day. Of course you’ll still find lively bars for a decent party but you’re just as likely to come across hotels serving hot chocolates and complimentary cookies at the end of the day. Or there’s a whole host of non-ski activities to take advantage of.
Fancy some after skiing activities that don’t involve bars and parties?
Apres ski isn’t purely about partying and nightlife. Non-ski activities make up a huge part of a ski holiday. And a spot of tobogganing can be the perfect way to end a day on the slopes. Skip the hoards in the bars and head for something a little more unique.
You’ll find a whole host of activities in various resorts across Europe. Most will have activities such as tobogganing, cross country skiing and snowmobiling. But there’s so much more to explore in many resorts. Bucket list stuff like husky dog sledding through snow-covered forests to paragliding off the top of towering mountains. You can even go really out there and try ice diving under frozen lakes or ice driving in rally cars. You can climb frozen waterfalls or go ski joering (being pulled along on your skis by a horse). Stay in ice igloos or have dinner in a gondola, if you can think of it, it’s probably out there somewhere.