Think winter resorts are only good for skiing? Think again! Below is our list of snow sports for you to try when you’re next in a winter resort, whether you want to do a season in a ski resort, can’t yet ski, or would prefer to do something different with your time off.
What could be better? Snow, beautiful landscapes, and dogs! Dog sledding is a fantastic way of seeing the gorgeous landscapes around you on a personal tour across snow and ice. Sliding along in a sleigh is a dreamlike experience where you can experience nature and all the wonders it has to offer up close and personal.
Snowshoeing is the fasted growing winter sport in the world, primarily because it is simple to get to grips with, inexpensive (compared to other spow sports!), and is a great way to burn off all the vin chaud and tartiflette you just had! There are many levels of snowshoeing, whether you want to hike for pleasure, trek through the backcountry, or competitively race. Snowshoeing is a fantastic alternative for skiing, especially if you like running!
Ice climbing is pretty much what it says on the tin – climbing ice. Ice climbing is very similar to rock climbing and uses strong, robust ropes and crampons that you can accommodate in your travel camera bag, to ascend beautiful icefalls, frozen waterfalls, cliffs and frozen rock faces. In most resorts, you can take guided climbing lessons, which everyone can do providing you’ve got a good level of fitness. All you have to do is get some safety equipment that’s even sturdier and more reliable than the best tennis strings and you’re all set.
If you fancy an afternoon off from snow sports and exercise, jumping aboard a Snowcat is a fantastic way to see the incredible sights your resort has to offer, all while not lifting a finger! Often these tours will include regular stops for photo opportunities, so jump on in and unleash your inner travel photographer.
This is an awesome sport to try if you’re a skier or snowboarder and fancy trying your hand at something a little different. If you’re a big fan of mountain biking, you are sure to love ski biking too! It’s similar to mountain biking, except on snow, with mini-skis instead of wheels, and you break and slow down by digging your feet into the snow! When on the nursery slopes, ski biking is really easy, it only starts to get more difficult when on steeper routes (make sure you pack some bravery in that rucksack of yours!).
This is the perfect way to see the sights and take in the whole stunning landscapes from above. Great for those who want a rest from snow sports, fancy trying their hand at aerial photography, or if you’re a couple looking for a romantic afternoon activity.
A fun activity with the kids, a silly activity to try after a few drinks, or a fantastic innovative date idea, ice skating is great fun for children and adults alike. However, if you’re a bit unsteady on your feet, just make sure you take a good friend you can desperately cling to!
Need to rest your tired and wobbly ski legs, but also want to work off some of yesterday’s raclette? Swimming may be the perfect solution…
Mountaineering (otherwise known as alpinism) includes a whole host of activities, including climbing, trekking, scrambling, and even crossing glaciers. Each resort comes with its own unique terrain ready to be explored and discovered, just make sure you do your research before setting out. You can head out with someone experienced, or join a local tour group, either way, don’t go out alone if you’re a novice mountaineer.
All the lovely floaty fun of skydiving, without the terrifying free falling first. Most resorts have a selection of experienced paragliders that can take you out on tandem flights lasting hours and traversing tens or even hundreds of kilometres! Paragliding isn’t a cheap activity, however, it is an incredible experience, and worth every penny!
Also known as ski joring, is an activity where you’re on skis and then pulled along by a horse, dogs or a vehicle. When pulled by a horse or vehicle all you need is a tow rope, and it works very similar to water skiing, however, when pulled by dogs, a little more effort is required by the skier by providing power by cross-country skiing and using poles.
So, you’ve nailed the ice rink without falling over too much, and think you’re ready to play with the big kids now? Try your hand at speedskating! This is an Olympic sport which combines running and ice skating in a race against the clock around an oval ice rink.
Imagine a race track…made from ice! Many resorts have this incredible experience on offer, where you can jump in a selection of luxury cars, each fitted with studded tyres to traverse the icy surroundings at breakneck speed. This is not the sport for the timid, so pack your big boy boots and try your hand at one of the most fun driving experiences the world has to offer.
Are you physically fit and keen for an adventure traversing untouched snow? Give ski touring a go! Ski touring is similar to backcountry skiing and is normally done off-piste and away from ski resorts. It has links to hiking and wilderness backpacking and often lasts more than one day. Ski touring involves sliding up a mountain wearing skins over your skis. When you reach the top you can enjoy a brief moment to take in the beauty of the world, and then have an awesome off-piste adventure skiing down again. If you’ve never done ski touring before, make sure you head out with an experienced team as it’s important to have good navigation skills, an awareness of the risks of the mountain, and you must be able to assess the snow conditions to reduce the risk of avalanches.
Snow tubes are large inflatable rings that you can sit in and lay across and slide down the mountain at high speeds. An adrenaline filled, (usually!) safe activity suitable for all ages! Simply walk up the slope with your tube, climb on in and have the ride of your life!
Under Ice Diving
Ice diving is a potentially dangerous activity and must only be done by or with experienced divers. Ice diving involves diving in freezing waters under a solid sheet of ice, using only a single entry and exit point, as such often divers are tethered so they can avoid getting disorientated under the ice and losing their way back. This sport isn’t for the faint of heart but is an incredible way to push the limits of your body and see parts of the world previously unseen.
Also known as sledding or tobogganing, sledging involves sliding down a snowy mountain while sat on a whole host of things, including traditional wooden sledges, plastic trays, and can be done solo, or on longer sleds (sledges) that can accommodate many people sat in front of each other. This is a fantastic snow sports activity to do with your family, children, or after a vin chaud or three…
This is a motorised vehicle akin to a quad bike except with tracks at the back, and skis at the front instead of wheels. You can hire these by the hour and drive them around open terrain or trails for an awesome wintery adventure. Also known as a motor sled, motor sledge, or snowmachine, snowmobiles can sometimes accommodate more than one rider, however, it’s more common to have one each, and go out as a group.
A yooner is a mix between a go-cart and skis, it’s a seat 20cm off the ground with one fat ski attached underneath and a big handle in between your legs which you can pull to break. It’s a simple way to glide down the piste with very little training or experience and unlike many snow sports, this one is suitable for all ages.
Relaxing in the Spa
A personal favourite activity within resorts is a cheeky visit to the local spa. After a long day doing snow sports (or a long night’s partying!), why not treat yourself to a visit to a luxury spa? Check yourself in for a sauna, massage, and manicure all under one roof – you deserve it!
Winter Segway Rides
Learning to ride a Segway is relatively quick and easy, and whizzing around on a Segway is a fantastic way to explore the resort at speed with minimal effort. Not to mention…it’s really, really fun!
A luge is a small one or two-person sledge on which you lie down face up and feet down, and speed down a thin icy track. This is an Olympic sport, however, a fun alternative that has been developed is racing down an Olympic bobsled track on a Chinese cooking wok. They reinforce the base with epoxy and coat the insides with foam to reduce bruising, and to reduce friction the racers wear ladles under their feet. This strange version of snow sports sounds a silly amount of fun, but is also incredibly dangerous, and as such the participants wear large protective clothing, similar to ice hockey equipment.
Champagne in the hot tub
Skiing isn’t for all, but this is one of those snow sports that everyone can get behind. A bubbling hot tub, surrounded by snow, enjoying a tall flute bubbling with delicious champagne, all while taking in the gorgeous mountain scenery surrounding you. Idyllic.
For a more relaxed activity, you could try your hand at ice fishing. Ice fishing is where you fish with a line and hook through a hole in the ice. This can either be done out in the open or in a heated enclosure, some of which have beds and amenities inside for when fishing for long periods.
Try an Olympic Sport
There are plenty of winter Olympic sports that you can have a go at, including bobsleigh and curling. Different resorts have different options available, so have a look online to see what snow sports your local resort has on offer!
Enjoy the local food
Ski resort food is usually bad for your waistline, but good for your soul – and if you’ve been skiing all day you’ll need the extra calories. Meals vary from the typical carb heavy and dripping in cheese options, such as tartiflette, raclette, or a dirty cheeseburger which can be found at most resort restaurants. Alternatively, you could opt for the slightly healthier, spicy beef stew or French onion soup (a speciality at the Folie Douce in Val D’Isere). If, however you relish the chance to try out the delicacies from exciting new chefs, many resorts have Michelin starred restaurants, including L’Atelier d’Edmond in Le Fornet, France, St Hubertus in the Rosa Alpina hotel in South Tyrol, Italy, or the Engadin valley in Switzerland which boasts 5 Michelin starred restaurants.
Whether you’ve been skiing all day or not, everyone deserves a fantastic après-ski! Après is the socialising, drinking, and partying that usually starts in the afternoon within ski resorts, once you’re finished with your morning of snow sports. Whether you prefer a mulled wine or a cheeky Jägerbomb (or 5!), there is space on the dance floor for everyone! Just make sure you get a good night’s sleep ready for an early morning and full day of activities the next day!
Go out and play in the snow!
It doesn’t matter if you’re 1 or 101, everyone can have an awesome time playing with and in the wonder that is snow! Creating snow angels, having snowball fights, making snowmen, or building a snow fort…the possibilities are endless. Get out there and have fun! Snow sports don’t always have to include exercise.
And if all this is making you want to head out to the mountains, click here to see our top tips on how to get a ski chalet job, and then have a look at our ski chalet jobs for this winter!
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