Ever wondered which ski pass offers the best value for money? We have looked at the world’s largest ski areas (as ranked by SkiMiles) and compared the prices for a full-area six day adult pass to give you an insight as to where your Euros go furthest!
SkiMiles is a measurement that allows for universal ranking of the “size” of a ski area by ten skier-led criteria that are given a different weighting. The single most important factor is the length of all the runs combined which makes up 33.2% of the SkiMiles figure. Other factors such as the skiable area, vertical drop and longest run also contribute to give us an ability to equitably rank ski resorts and not just accept positively-spun statistics from the resort’s marketing department!
1. The Three Valleys, France. EUR 0.504 per Skimile
The Three Valleys is the world’s largest and the world’s favourite ski area with nearly six million skier visits per season. Comprising the major resorts of Courchevel, Méribel and Val Thorens (as well as La Tania, Les Menuires, Saint Martin de Belleville and a host of other satellite resorts), the Three Valleys offers 600km of pistes spread over 105 sq km (an area the size of Paris) with 328 runs. It has the world’s best vertical transport capacity, beating the second placed ski area by almost 35%. With skiing up to 3230m, snow reliability is also assured and the area has 2200 snow cannons that cover 49% of the pistes so you’ll be skiing come what may!
The Three Valleys ranks number 1 with 609 Skimiles
The cost of a six day adult lift pass for The Three Valleys is EUR 307
Ergo EUR 0.504 per Skimile!
2. The Milky Way, Italy/ France. EUR 0.597 per Skimile
The Milky Way (Via Lattea) in Italy combines the five resorts of Cesana, Claviere, Sestriere, Sansicario & Sauze d’Oulx to offer some 400km of skiing (and one of the best value ski passes in Western Europe…if not the world. More of that below!) The ski area also crosses the border to incorporate a sixth ski resort of Montgenevre in France.
In spite of its size, its appeal – cobbled streets of Sansicario, the tree-lined slopes of Claviere and the vibrant nightlife of Sauze d’Oulx – and its inexpensive lift pass, it just sneaks into the top 20 resorts in terms of skier visits. Surely another reason to visit!
The Milky Way ranks number 10 with 340 Skimiles
The cost of a six day adult lift pass for the Milky Way is EUR 203
Ergo EUR 0.597 per Skimile!
3. Sella Ronda, Italy. EUR 0.613 per Skimile
The Sella Ronda is part of Dolomiti Superski which offers an eye-watering 1200 km of skiing…but unfortunately many of the villages and areas are a little fragmented and so the whole area can not count as one connected ski area. That said, Sella Ronda is a huge circuit that goes round the Sella mountain range for approx. 30 kilometres and that connects up four main ski valleys – Alta Badia, Arabba, Val di Fassa and Val Gardena – giving you approximately 500km of linked pistes. To service this massive ski area and the approximately 4 million skiers that visit every winter is a very powerful lift network that is second only to the Three Valleys in terms of hourly uphill capacity.
Sella Ronda ranks number 2 with 513 Skimiles
The cost of a six day adult lift pass for Sella Ronda is EUR 313
Ergo EUR 0.613 per Skimile!
4. Paradiski, France. EUR 0.675 per Skimile
La Plagne and Les Arcs were plodding along nicely, ranked as two of the largest ski resorts in France when, in 2003, the mechanical miracle known as the Vanoise Express cable car opened and started transporting skiers, high above the Tarentaise Valleys, between the two resorts. The interconnected ski area of Paradiski was thus born. With 425 km of pistes and 160 lifts, it is now the world’s second most visited ski area after the Three Valleys.
Paradiski ranks number 3 with 459 Skimiles
The cost of a six day adult lift pass for Paradiski is EUR 310
Ergo EUR 0.675 per Skimile!
5. Ski Arlberg, Austria.EUR 0.767 per Skimile
With 626 listings, Austria has more ski areas in the world’s largest 100 ski areas than any other country and its largest is fifth on the list! The Arlberg Ski Area comprises the resorts of Lech, Schröcken, St. Anton, St. Christoph, Warth, Zürs and, in 2017, the new Flexenbahn gondola opened to link up the resort of Stuben and expand the ski area to 305 km of piste. It is Austria’s second, and the world’s eighth, most visited ski areas with approximately 2.4M skier visits each winter – the same amount as Whistler Blackcomb. The area has some of Europe’s best off-piste terrain particularly in St Anton where most of the resort is above the tree line.
The Arlberg Ski Area ranks number 5 with 387 Skimiles
The cost of a six day adult lift pass for the Arlberg Ski Area is EUR 297
Ergo EUR 0.767 per Skimile!
6. Portes du Soleil, France. EUR 0.782 per Skimile
With 12 resorts spanning from Mont Blanc in France to Lake Geneva in Switzerland, Portes du Soleil often punts itself as the world’s largest resort but, unfortunately, it is not all “connected” as the Morzine/ Les Gets area is outside the accepted walking distance of 400m thus creating a separate resort. Nevertheless, the Portes du Soleil offers a fair bit of skiing; the six-day pass still covers a whopping 650 km of piste! The main French resorts are high-altitude Avoriaz, the market town of Morzine, Les Gets which is popular with families and the more traditional Chatel with Champery over in Switzerland. The Portes du Soleil is the world’s fourth most visited ski area.
The Portes du Soleil ranks number 6 with 364 Skimiles
The cost of a six day adult lift pass for the Portes du Soleil is EUR 285
Ergo EUR 0.782 per Skimile!
7. Skicircus Saalbach, Austria. EUR 0.797 per Skimile
The second Austrian ski area on the world’s 100 largest ski area is the one with our favourite name – Skicircus Saalbach! The performers making up the Circus, since connecting up for the 2015/ 16 season, are Fieberbrunn in Tyrol to Hinterglemm, Leogang and Saalbach which are all in Salzburg. In total, there are 270km of piste serviced by over 69 lifts and a top altitude of 2100m. The Skicircus finished 11th in the list of Ski Area Comfort largely due to its state-of-the-art lifts that includes a whopping 29 gondolas! 50% of the terrain is also listed as “blue” for beginner skiers.
Skicircus Saalbach ranks number 7 with 349 Skimiles
The cost of a six day adult lift pass for Skicircus Saalbach is EUR 278
Ergo EUR 0.797 per Skimile!
8. Val d’Isére and Tignes, France. EUR 0.889 per Skimile
Dispensing of its former name – Espace Killy – the ski area known as Val d’Isére-Tignes still touts itself as the most beautiful ski area on earth and boasts an impressive 300km of piste…not to mention a jaw-dropping 10 000 hectares of free-ride terrain. Tignes has various hamlets but the two most popular villages are both located at 2100m: Tignes le Lac and Tignes Val Claret. With the vast majority of skiing in Tignes above 2000m, it is one of Europe’s most snow-sure resorts. Val d’Isére is one of the most revered resorts in Europe with a beautiful town, modern lift system and some of the best ski terrain in the world.
Val d’Isére and Tignes ranks number 9 with 342 Skimiles
The cost of a six day adult lift pass for Val d’Isére and Tignes is EUR 304
Ergo EUR 0.889 per Skimile!
9. Matterhorn Ski Paradise, Switzerland/ Italy.EUR 0.919 per Skimile
Straddling the slopes of Europe’s most famous peak is the Matterhorn Ski Paradise which is the collective name given to the resorts of Zermatt in Switzerland and Cervinia/ Valtourneche in Italy’s Aosta Valley. One of the elder statesmen of the European alpine scene, Zermatt has 200km of piste with skiing up to 3890 metres (12760 feet) on the Matterhorn glacier. Below that lofty altitude are an astonishing 48 mountain restaurants! Over on the other side, Cervinia boasts a further 160km of piste. All around this huge mountain playground are some of Europe’s highest peaks including Monte Rosa at 4,634 meters and the Weisshorn at 4,506 meters. Interestingly, the Matterhorn Ski Paradise is one of only two European ski areas to rank in the top ten for “Ski Area Comfort” a gauge that considers skier comfort on the way up (fast lifts, heated seat, conveyor belt access etc) and on the way down (space on the piste, lifts per piste and ratio of groomed: non-groomed pistes).
Matterhorn Ski Paradise ranks number 4 with 459 Skimiles
The cost of a six day adult lift pass for Matterhorn Ski Paradise is EUR 422
Ergo EUR 0.919 per Skimile!
10. Whistler Blackcomb, Canada. EUR 1.724 per Skimile
The only entrant in the top ten of the world’s largest ski area from outside of Europe is the inestimable Whistler-Blackcomb located 120km from Vancouver in British Columbia, Canada. North American resorts tend to focus on their overall area making it difficult to compare to the European snow fields. Whistler boasts 8170 acres of skiable terrain – approximately 254 km of piste. As well as its size, Whistler boasts an enviable snow record averaging 10m of the white stuff per season, great vert and some of the best backcountry terrain in the world. It has an extremely efficient lift system by Canadian standards – indeed it is the only Canadian resort in the top 100 by this gauge – but it also tallies a lot of skier visits (2.4M per winter) so can seem very busy at times!
Whistler Blackcomb ranks number 8 with 345 Skimiles
The cost of a six day adult lift pass for Whistler Blackcomb is EUR 595 (CA $865)
Ergo EUR 1.724 per Skimile!