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While many of us can head to the slopes any time the snow is falling, for families with school-age kids the window is narrow – Christmas, Easter and half-term. So as February looms and thoughts turn to taking the family away, here, with the help of our friends at Crystal Ski Holidays, is a guide to six of the best resorts for a family ski trip this half-term. 

andorra family skiing

 Arinsal, Andorra

Nearest airport: Toulouse

Transfer time: 3hrs

With its compact ski area, highly acclaimed ski school and lively, unpretentious nightlife, Arinsal works especially well for beginners and early intermediates, with kids up to 15 getting free lift passes. It’s part of the Vallnord ski area, so beginners will start on the lower parts of the Arinsal sector, while intermediates can hop on the cable car to the wide, tree-lined runs of Pal, the next valley over. And experts will love the off-piste potential at Arcalis. A wide range of accommodation includes 4* hotels at 3* prices. Arinsal's proximity to Andorra la Vella makes this resort worth the slightly longer transfer time, particularly for anyone wanting more than just a ski holiday. The fabulous ‘Caldea’ thermal hydro-spa complex is a short 20-minute drive away. Non-ski activities on offer include snowmobile and dog-sled circuits, snowshoe treks, sledging and helicopter flights – ideal for some family down-time away from the slopes.


La Thuile, Italy

Nearest airport: Turin

Transfer time: 2hrs 30mins

This Italian resort with the French-sounding name is a bit of an enigma. Sitting in a quiet pocket off the Aosta Valley in north-west Italy, its ski area is linked with the French resort of La Rosiere, offering the novelty of cross-border skiing. And although it has all the trappings of a modern ski resort, at heart it’s still a rustic and traditional ex-mining community. All this helps give La Thuile genuine character and makes it a great choice for those in search of something a bit different. Slopes are quiet with hardly any queues and La Thuile enjoys an enviable snow record. Beginners are well catered for with separate nursery slopes in the base area and a beginners’ zone higher up. A range of open blue pistes are ideal for progressing novices, and there’s plenty of testing terrain to fire up more experienced skiers. The village has a relaxing après ski atmosphere, and you can go tobogganing and ice-skating; there are also winter walks, guided snowshoe treks and dog-sled tours.



Kitzbühel, Austria

Nearest airport: Innsbruck

Transfer time: 1hr 30mins

Currently enjoying its snowiest winter in more than 40 years, this famously Cosmopolitan Austrian resort with Gothic church and candy-coloured medieval buildings is a great choice for intermediates and experts, being home to the famous Hahnenkamm Streif, the Ski World Cup’s most notorious downhill race. However, its large ski area of 215km also includes a good beginners’ area, and miles of fantastic progression slopes. Undoubtedly one of the Alps more high-end resorts, Kitzbühel happily comes without the extortionate prices found in, say, Courchevel, and there are more than 50 mountain huts where you can stop for lunch or a warming hot chocolate. Most après entertainment is concentrated back in town - although on a clear day it’s worth grabbing a drink and a few final rays from a deckchair near the Hahnenkamm top station. Sleigh rides and winter walking paths make great diversions for families, too.


Ruka, Finland

Nearest airport: Kuusamo

Tranfer time: 25mins

Finland is probably one of the best destinations for any family looking for an unforgettable ‘winter wonderland’ experience. It’s a land of extremes, with miles of rugged, unspoiled landscapes, and loads of ways to explore such as reindeer safaris, dog sledding and snowmobiling. Way less intimidating than the towering peaks of the Alps, Ruka is the perfect place to learn with quiet slopes and a large dedicated beginner area – the most extensive in Finland. More adventurous and mile-hungry skiers might be frustrated by just 24km of skiing – though Ruka’s two terrain parks, complete with a superpipe used for the 2005 Freestyle World Championships may provide a different kind of challenge. But the overall experience is what brings visitors to enjoy this remarkable landscape of endless fells and with the chance to see the Northern Lights. And there aren’t many resorts where you get the option of staying in a cosy log cabin, with a wood fire and private sauna.


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Les Arcs, France

Nearest airport: Chambery

Transfer time: 2hrs 30mins

One of the very best family ski resorts, Les Arcs – lift-linked with La Plagne to form the huge 425km Paradiski area – consists of four linked resort villages with a combined snow-sure ski area that is one of the best in the French Alps. All of the ‘Arc’ resort villages offer ski-in/ski-out convenience and all have adjacent beginners’ slopes. The vast majority of terrain is ideal for intermediates with wooded runs lower down the mountain and exhilarating high-altitude skiing off the Aiguille Rouge, and there’s plenty of scope for inter-piste powder-field hopping plus serious off-piste for more advanced visitors. Each of the villages has a distinct character of its own: Arc 1950 is pedestrianised, and has everything you need close to hand; Arc 1600 is quieter and more relaxing, Arc 2000 offers ready access to the glacier, and Arc 1800 is livelier with the most après. Other more adventurous activities on offer include paragliding, dog-sled rides and snowmobiling. 


Les 2 Alpes, France

Nearest airport: Chambery

Transfer time: 2hrs 30mins

Hugely popular with British skiers, the sunny resort of Les Deux Alpes is a large and lively ski resort in France that boasts huge vertical and a great terrain park; it's also renowned for its full-on nightlife. Best known for having Europe’s largest skiable glacier, Les Deux Alpes also boasts one of the world’s greatest on-piste vertical drops: an exhilarating descent of 2,268m, rideable non-stop all the way. The resort also has one of the biggest snowparks in the Alps and offers 220km of terrain, with a wealth of freeride and off-piste potential, yet has acres of easily accessible beginners’ slopes – including some wonderful runs on the glacier, so you are not confined to the lower slopes - and plenty of off-slope attractions too, making it well-suited to most categories of visitors and an ideal choice for mixed ability family groups. The lift pass includes access to the outdoor swimming pool and ice rink.

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