The Best Apres Ski In Europe
There’s no denying apres ski is a huge part of a ski holiday’s allure. Heading to the mountains for a week of freedom from work, flying down the slopes and dancing like no-ones watching in the piste-side bars. Europe is home to some of the best apres ski in the world ranging from table dancing to thumping Euro-pop in your ski boots to people watching from wine bars on cobbled streets.
We’re huge fans of the straight off the slopes apres, resorts where you can start at lunchtime if you fancy it. There’s nothing better than letting off a little steam after a days skiing throwing shapes as huge trays of beers come floating by in hard-partying Austria. But some resorts don’t get going until midnight.
Where you choose for your next ski holiday may well be heavily influenced by how you like to party. We’ve tested out the liveliest ski resorts to bring you the 10 best apres ski resorts in Europe.
1. St Anton, Austria
As Rolex is synonymous with watches and Ronald with McDonald, when it comes to apres by far the biggest name on the scene is St Anton. Austria is the birthplace of skiing and St Anton is the king of slopeside parties.
The resort consistently tops international lists for the best apres ski and for good reason. Partying is a lifestyle here with the piste-side bars kicking off well before the lifts close. It’s a huge ski area attracting adventurous skiers who ski hard and party just as hard afterwards. Krazy Kangaruh and Mooserwirt are the famed open-air bars with pumping music, even the servers are incredible at the Mooserwirt with double trays stacked high with huge steins of beer carried one-handed through the crowds. But head to the base of the slopes and you’ll find our favourite in Basecamp – a buzzing umbrella bar with heaps of live music and perhaps a little more space (marginally).
If you’re looking for something a little different to table dancing in your ski boots, you can’t beat the Underground. Ran by an amazing lady, you’ll be stuffed full of delicious fondue when the music starts and the maracas handed round. It’s a raucous evening of cheese, wine and song you won’t soon forget.
2. Val Thorens, France
The highest resort in Europe is home to Europe’s highest open-air club and that’s only the beginning of the apres scene here. Long seen as Meribel and Courchevel’s noisy neighbour, Val Thorens has come a long way from purely cheap uni trips are young farmers parties. A host of luxury hotels and residences have brought the party up a notch, becoming our favourite apres spot in France.
The Folie Douce high up above town is where the party starts, with stunning views down the valley it’s a smaller Folie than the likes of Val d’Isere but this only makes it even livelier with the party spilling out onto the slopes above. It’s a hectic ski back to town where the apres scene can carry on until the early hours if you head to Malaysia the largest underground club the mountains have to offer.
The Frog and Roast Beef is the highest pub in Europe and is a lively destination straight of the slopes and no apres ski afternoon is complete without a classic singalong in Cafe Snesko, stay later and they may well set the bar on fire.3
3. Sauze d’Oulx, Italy
Sauze d’Oulx has less of the all-out party scenes in the two resorts above. A great mix of buzzing bars and sophisticated venues and all with plenty of Italian style. Long gone are the days of hectic bar crawls and never hitting the slopes before midday. It’s a lot calmer now but there’s still plenty of buzz.
Prices remain very affordable and being in Italy drinks often come with free snacks, it’s the small wins that matter. The party starts up on the slopes at Sportinina and continues back in town with a great range of bars and pubs in the village centre.
Capanna Millino starts the dancing on the sun terrace with warming bombardinos (much better than Advocat) before skiing down to the village. Ghost is the place to be at the base of the slopes with happy hour from 4 till 7pm and DJs straight off the slopes.
4. Ischgl, Austria
Ischgl brings all your Austrian apres stereotypes into full swing from the winter wonderland style wooden apres huts to oversized steins of beer, cheesy singalongs and waiters with huge trays of beers and shots defying gravity and meandering through the crowds yet somehow it still brings an air of being more upmarket apres than St Anton. Maybe it’s the champaign hut.
The Trofana Alm is the jewel in the crown of Ischgl’s apres scene with big beers, big crowds and loud music. The decor is traditional and as twee as it gets all adding to the silly dance along Austrian songs. The bar definitely has a shout for the best apres ski bar in the world, let alone Europe. The Kuhstall is another buzzing bar with a younger crowd or the Schatzi Bar gives you traditional tabletop dancing girls and less oompah music.
Not as cheap as it’s Austrian counterparts, yet the prices are still a long way off the mega-resorts in France. A great choice for a boys ski weekend if you’re into that sort of thing.
5. Val d’Isere, France
Val d’Isere attracts a loyal ski following and even with a huge ski area linked with glacial Tignes, a great snow record and incredibly varied easily accessible skiing it’s still the apres bars both on and off the slopes that people come back for year and year again.
Home to the original Folie Douce, starting the cabaret-style slopeside apres takeover of the Alps, it gets the party going on the piste from the early afternoon. You can ski back to La Daille from here or catch he Gondola down if you’ve had a few too many jagers.
Val d’Isere town is dazzling once the slopes close. With apres spilling out from table top dancing to fancy cocktails to quiet corners with roaring fires. There’s something here no matter you apres choice. Cocoricos is the go-to for live music with trails of fairy lights for illumination. Dick’s Tea Bar is an absolute institution and Underground is one not to miss with a very French vibe.
6. Pas de la Casa, Andorra
Known to be cheap and cheerful, skiing in Andorra has come a long way in the last few years. Prices are still cheap but the resort has far more going for it now than just incredibly cheap beer. Pas de la Casa generally attracts a younger crowd and is Andorras wildest party town.
If you’re looking for apres ski where you don’t have to worry about your wallet then Pas de la Casa should definitely be on your radar. You can get a bottle of wine here whilst out and about for under a tenner. Plus it’s the highest resort in Andorra, so the snow is pretty good as well.
The UFO-esque Coll Blanc busts out the DJs at the top of the mountain from 4pm, you’ll be dancing on the terrace with some incredible views for company. Pas 83 gives you a free drink every day when you book ski hire and storage with them – that’s a first for us, but not unwelcomed. And to give you an idea what Paddy’s Bar is all about, they like to claim to have nights you’ll never remember and food you won’t forget! Their words not ours.
7. Selva, Italy
Selva Val Gardena is undeniably beautiful, there are few ski areas quite as stunning as the Dolomites. After a day cruising through the slopes around the Sella Ronda there are plenty of pit stops to hit before heading back for tea.
Up on the mountain, the Piz Seteur has 360 views for the tabletops. Go-go girls can be found up here with a delightfully retro vibe it’s a great place for a few drinks and a bit of a dance before heading down the blue run to town. Don’t forget to stop off for sunset bombardinos with a bit of live music at Pra Valentini before skiing the last stretch down to La Stua Apres Ski with a buzzing atmosphere straight off the slopes.
St Christina (linked by slopes though you’ll have to catch the free bus back after apres) is great fun straight of the slopes with plenty of Euro-pop and silly games on the sun-soaked terraces. Last time we were there there was an eating competition between a St Bernard and an unsuspecting customer. Between the views, St Bernards and sunset drinks, Selva deserves to be amongst the best apres ski in Europe in our eyes.
8. Meribel, France
Live music is Meribel’s bread and butter. Perfect for a sunny afternoon on the slopeside terraces. The middle valley of the largest linked ski area in the world, Meribel has tree lined slopes and wooden chalet style buildings. It’s what you imagine a ski holiday to be like and to top it off you can really let your hair down in some of the best apres ski bars around.
Le Rond Point has the biggest reputation and toffee vodka seems to be part of the furniture here. There’s a Folie Douce as well if it’s the cabaret style show you’re after. Down in town, Jack’s Bar has opened up again bringing the best bands to town, with heaps of great food and flowing drinks. It’s a welcome return after a years hiatus and adds to the huge array of bars that will have you partying until the sun comes up.
9. Chamonix, France
The home of mountaineering, Chamonix has plenty of ski pedigree. Some of the best off-piste routes in the world can be found here and experienced skiers flock here in their droves to test their metal on some of the toughest slopes around. However, the apres scene in town is an unsung hero of the resort.
With a year-round population, Chamonix is like a small city with a real buzz about it. You have a different area of town for different times and atmospheres, it’s that big. Underneath the Hotel Gustavia, Chambre Neuf knows how to throw a party. Great food at lunch followed by live music for apres 6 nights a week. This whole street with brimming with great bars spilling out onto the streets.
Head across the river for the late-night spots and tasteful wine bars down the Rue du Moulin. Bar du Moulin has fab wine and cocktails but you could pop into any bar down here and have a great time. Alternatively, way out in Les Houches the Kitsch Inn is as you’d guess Kitsch but with music straight off the slopes, it’s a great winter warmer. And let’s not forget the new Folie Douce hotel opened here a couple of years ago bringing a little cabaret madness to the slopes.
10. Mayrhofen, Austria
Mayrhofen manages to get everyone to have a great time seamlessly. It’s a real hodge-podge of people of all ages, genders and tastes and it makes for incredibly entertaining sheer good fun. Whilst St Anton gets far too many men and Andorra is for the young, Mayrhofen sweeps stereotypes aside in the liveliest of fashions.
With around 30 huts covered the pistes, there’s no shortage of places for a tipple. You’ll find chilled and buzzing bars, pool halls, movie themes, giant igloos and even line dancing-ish. The Ice Bar serves up more Grolsche than any other bar in Europe (and it’s only open 6 months a year).
Straight off the slopes right through to the early hours, this place is buzzing yet you could always slink off to your hotel spa and float the apres hours away.
And that rounds up the best apres ski in Europe into a handy list of 10. Of course, there are plenty more resorts with great apres scenes but these are our favourites. If you fancy bringing a little bit of apres ski home with you then check out Plank Studio with their custom made shot skis.
One extra resort that very nearly made the list, due to nothing more than being an utter novelty, would be Andermatt in Switzerland. Whilst not renown for lively nightlife, there is a custom-built apres train that brings you back to resort from the far reaches of the ski area in a train carriage full of music, drinks and dancing.