A lot of people look forward to their holidays all year round, they provide a welcome break from the monotony of work,and they can be incredibly restorative both mentally and physically. In recent years, winter breaks have become more popular, with a lot of people choosing to take up skiing and snowboarding instead of heading for hotter climes to lay on sunny beaches—one of the most popular winter destinations being the Alps. Let’s dive in.
France, Switzerland & Italy
The Alps is a mountain system in Europe that spans across several countries but predominantly: France, Italy and Switzerland. So, when it comes to planning a trip to the Alps, if you want to get the most out of it, then you will likely want to make sure that you hit all three of them; now, of course, this could get expensive, but you can choose one country to spend the majority of your time in and just take a day trip or spend a couple of days in the others.
France is optimally located, meaning that it is a great base for you, allowing you to make it to the Swiss Alps and the Italian Alps easily. There are a few different places within the French Alps that you might want to consider, like the Chamonix Valley, Mont Blanc and Megève. There is a huge number of resorts in this areas to choose from. The views are stunning,and the towns are quaint and kitschy, and there are also some pretty luxurious cabins available from Fée Pour Vous that you should check out too.
Next, Switzerland is arguably where the most beautiful parts of the Alps are located. If you choose the French Alps as your base, then Switzerland is only around an hour or so drive away, so you will need to rent a car. If you don’t feel comfortable driving in another country or you haven’t got a licence, then the Mont Blanc Express rail service is another wonderful option for travelling between France and Switzerland. The scenery is exceptional. Once you have made it to Switzerland, you should check out Martigny, Saillon and Lavey.
Lastly, Italy, again, having France as the central hub makes it easy for you to reach Italy too. You could use the Mont-Blanc tunnel or the Petit St Bernard’s pass. Either way, the trip is pretty short; you can drive, get the train or a bus depending on your budget and your preferences. Once you reach Italy, there are a lot of options for you; maybe you want to go skiing in Courmayeur or take in Pre St Didier, which offers a lot in the way of tourism, like sightseeing, steam baths and saunas.
Getting Out There
The first thing that you will need to think about after having decided where you want to make your base for the holiday and how much time you are going to spend where is to work out how you are going to get there. Most people are going to reach the Alps by plane, and you can use any travel comparison sites to find the best deal. When you get out there, you could choose to rent a car which can help you to reach Italy and Sweden, or you can use the rail services to get a train. Some people choose to make the entire holiday a road trip, making a few more stops along the way. It is entirely up to you, your budget and how much time you have.
Building the Itinerary
The next thing to think about is what you want to include in your itinerary. This was loosely covered above. You should by now have a good idea of how much time you are going to spend in the Alps and how you are going to divide up your time. Most people going to the Alps are going to want to get some skiing and/or snowboarding in. Winter sports are big. All three countries offer some excellent options in terms of slopes. Think about your capabilities; if you have never been before, then you are going to need to choose resorts that are more beginner friendly. It is also worth considering whether you are going to need to hire an instructor or enrol in a skischool to learn a little more. If you are a little more advanced, then you can choose resorts with more challenging slopes.
While the slopes are often the biggest draw and the main attraction, you are going to want to think about what else you want to do or see during your holiday. There are a number of other things that you can do, too; it isn’t all skiing. You could choose to go dogsledding through the mountains with the cutest and furriest little dogs pulling you. Maybe you still want to get outdoors and go for a hike to see what hidden gems you can uncover. There is also a range of towns and villages dotted along the mountain range for you to explore. Most of which will have shops for you to peruse, restaurants and cafes to try out, kitschy cobbled streets to wander around, and there are also likely to be museums, galleries and other cultural pursuits. If you are lucky, there will also be ice skating rinks and other activities like heated outdoor pools and the like.
Taking a trip to the Alps is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience which is why if you are going to go, you need to make sure to hit all three countries. Realistically, it does make sense to choose the French Alps as your base and take day trips or go to Switzerland or Italy for a few days from there. Think about your itinerary beforehand, do some research to find the best resorts, towns and attractions to include. Lastly, while skiing and snowboarding are obviously the biggest draws, remember that there are other things to do too.