There’s no denying that a part of a mountain’s allure is what happens off the slopes when skis and snowboards have been hung up for the day. Europe is home to some of the most lively ski resorts in the world, with après ski scenes ranging from a post-ski wine to dancing on tables in your retro one piece ski suit.
In some resorts you can start the Après ski at lunch time, whilst in others the partying doesn't start until nightclubs open after 11pm. There’s nothing more rewarding than winding down after a hard day’s skiing. The ‘after ski' revelry is different wherever you go, from the buzzing cocktail bars in Italy (Livigno, Sauze d’Oulx) to the hard-partying resorts of Austria (St Anton and Kitzbuhel).
Just how hard the group likes to party may play an important part in the resort you choose to visit. We’ve hunted down this year’s top 10 lively ski resorts.
St Anton pops up on international ‘best après ski’ lists year after year. And for good reason. They take partying seriously here – from 2am beers over a late dinner to all nighters ending up with breakfast on the mountain.
With one of the deepest snow bases in the Alps, St Anton draws many who like to ski hard, and celebrate just as hard afterwards. Almost everyone who’s visited has a story to tell about the legendary Krazy Kangeroo bar – including the infamous ski jump from the deck. The resort is full of bars and clubs to choose from, and the Mooserwit claims to sell 5000 litres of beer a day. Most bars are buzzing through till about 3am.
Having given itself a bit of a makeover over the last few years, Sauze d’Oulx strikes a great balance between hosting a buzzing nightlife for international skiers and remaining quintessentially Italian. The Cotton Club for Acid Jazz provides something a little different, whilst Paddy McGinty's Irish pub is always packed and rowdy. Over 30 restaurants serve mouth-watering wood fired pizza and homemade pasta. Italians are also masters of style on the dance floor – head to Varioteca Gina, Banditos and The Schuss to join them.
One of the liveliest resorts in the Alps, Mayrhofen comes alive at night. There are nearly 30 huts and bars spread across the resort’s slopes. The White Lounge, a six metre high igloo with a lively outdoor bar is a must-visit for its cosy candlelit lounges and snowcarvings. Regular parties are held here and you can even stay the night in the igloo suite.
Things kick off in the afternoon at the Ice Bar, right next to the Penken Gondola and the Brucke Bar near the Ahorn Cable Car. Other popular haunts include: Sport Arena Disco, Ice-bar, Rundum, Niki's Schirmbar, Scotland Yard and the Movie Bar.
If you’ve seen pictures of crazy people dancing around in ski boots on top of tables, chances are they were taken at the infamous Folie Douce Après ski bar in Val d’Isere. You can get down to live funk and soul earlier in the evening and house and electronica until close.
Val d’Isere is dazzling in the evening, with bars spilling over with people drinking cocktails in cosmopolitain bars, and dancing to top European DJs until dawn. There’s a bit of something for everyone, from style-conscious watering holes to pool houses. Popular hangouts include Dicks Tea Bar, Face, Petit Danois and Underground.
Afternoon drinks on a sunny terrace are often the best part of a ski day. Head to the one great on-piste après ski bar in Meribel, the Rondpoint (don’t miss the famous Toffee Vodka). The nightlife in here has a distinctly British feel, and many of the bars have a busy pub vibe. Try Jacks Bar, Le Poste, Le Loft before heading to Dicks Tea Bar for DJ sets, live acts and shows until 4am.
If you need a night off, try one of the many Savoyard restaurants serving fondue, raclette, savoury galettes and hearty regional red wines.
Sophisticated nightlife is done with class in Verbier. Top end clubs are immaculately kitted out and usually filled with beautiful people. Tataras and the Farm are two institutions that are consistently good and get dance floors humming to the sound of mainly British tracks. Recently opened Coco’s targets the truly elite; with diamonds added to one of their cocktails.
If spending your life savings is not your mission, check out the great live music at Farinet, head to popular bars Le Pub Mont Fort and Fer a Cheval.
Strict zoning laws keep Zermatt looking like a fairytale mountain village – no building can be built higher than a four story chalet. Don’t let its demure looks deceive you however, this world class resort packs a mighty après ski punch.
The busy nightlife gets good at the Papperla Pub, GramPi’s Pub and the Panorama Bar, and music lovers congregate at Hotel de la Poste). Skiers stop off at slope-side pubs, like the Olympia Stübli (on the way down from the Sunnegga Paradise section) or Zum See (on the way down from Furi), to warm up with a mug of traditional glühwein (hot spiced wine).
Chamonix has a reputation for great skiing… and great drinking. A boisterous, energetic resort, there’s loads to choose from and once the skiing’s over. Its reputation is well-deserved, with a location on the crossroads of France, Italy and Switzerland that makes it a natural multicultural Mecca for serious skiers and even more serious partiers. A wide range of bars, pubs and clubs are full all season, including Café la Terrasse, The Jekyll, Chambre Neuf, Ice Rock Café‚ and Wild Wallabies.
Its always the quiet ones. Saalbach isn’t very well known – and yet its nightlife rivals any one of the big players like St Anton. There are five nightclubs in Saalbach and they all get pretty wild. The Hinterhagalm Tea Bar and Bauers Schi-Alm are filled with raucous Austrians who will teach you a thing or two about drinking (and dancing).
Floodlighting has been introduced on all of the slopes below the Unterschwarzach lift, so you can keep swooshing into the night. Young skiers from all over Europe head to Saalbach as much for the evening as they do for the actual sport – there's dancing on tables, gallons of glühwein consumed, and a pulsating atmosphere everywhere you look.
Great skiing, beautiful surroundings and good value food and drink – Livigno real does offer La Dolce Vita (the sweet life). Its duty free here, meaning even the cocktails are cheap enough and the partying is fun and unaffected. There’s a large choice of venues, including Marco's, Jpioca and The Echo Pub. Two clubs pick up the pace until 4am.