Sweden's top resort and the largest north of the Alps. The skiing, which includes a World Cup descent, has been accessed by funicular railway since 1910 from the lovely old town. It has a lively village centre which you can ski all the way to, full of shops and restaurants.
Åre is 'five villages in one resort' - the main one being the original village. Each village has its own ski area, although again by far the largest is that above Åre village itself. This ski area is shared with the newer purpose-built and family-friendly off-shoot of Åre Björnen. The second largest ski area is above Duved and is virtually linked to Åre's skiing (but not quite!). You need to take a bus from one base to the other. Duved's ski area was firmly connected to the village just before the millennium season when a tunnel was built beneath the railway line that formerly separated the slopes from Duved centre. A drag lift through the tunnel makes it possible to travel from the village square to the top of the mountain without taking your skis off. Duved installed Scandinavia's first six-seater chair-lift with a plastic hood for weather protection. It cut the previous bottom-to-top ascent time from 45 minutes to just over five minutes! Huså is better known, however, as the destination of an 8km (5 mile) off piste trail which can be reached from Åre itself if you take the snowcat up from the top of the cable car in high season. Åre's main ski area is an incredible 10km (6 miles) from east to west, with two thirds of trails below the treeline and the top sector a huge empty open snowy expanse. Expert skiers have plenty of off-piste opportunities with heli-skiing available. Of course you should always take a guide but here the avalanche risk is lower than the norm. On piste choices include the World Cup Downhill and the famous Hummelbranten mogul (bumps) run. Intermediates will particularly enjoy Åre's fast easy cruising and the feeling of travelling along the area. Beginners have a high proportion of terrain graded very easy or easy and the ski school guarantees you'll have mastered the basics after five lessons, or they offer a full refund. In common with most Scandinavian ski centres there is excellent cross-country skiing, here 83km (51 miles) of trails.
Åre has one of the most generous free-child lift ticket deals in Europe, with kids aged up to 8 skiing free, providing they are wearing a helmet (also provided free). Åre also has something not even Zermatt can claim - no less than eight self-contained childrens' skiing areas, each with its own lifts and facilities including warming-huts, restaurants and barbecue. The ski school's Snöligan program is especially for children, and all the instructors are specially trained to teach them. The resort recently introduced childcare facilities at a cost of 60SEK per hour. No limit on age of children accepted and the service is available in the evening too.
If you've ever fancied smoked reindeer, baked goat cheese, grilled char or baked salmon stuffed with button mushrooms in a tarragon and mussel sauce then Åre is the place for you. There are three dozen restaurants in the area, half of them in Åre village itself. Local specialities are fish, reindeer and moose dishes, cooked on Swedish hot stones. International cuisine such as burgers, pizza and Tex Mex are also available, and prices are again reasonable compared to the Alps. Some of the best Swedish restaurants include the Bakfickan, Kok 1 and Tottebo.
...or 'After Ski' as it's called locally begins at 3pm and you can choose between a lively bar where you pile your ski boots up in the corner, grab a beer and listen to a live band or something a bit more relaxed, maybe a good old communal sing song (you remember the days before karaoke?). In both cases live performances are usually the order of the day, with bands playing pop, rock, jazz or blues at least six nights of the week in high season. The slopeside Hotel Sunwing is traditionally the liveliest place when the lifts close, with the Diplomat popular later on and right through the evening. Six nightclubs continue with, often, live acts right through in to the small hours. On Wednesday nights the toboggan run is floodlit for night sledging.
The best snowboarding terrain is to be found by the Brõcke lift where the Snowboardland features jumps, quarter pipes and slides. The half pipe to the right of the cable car is floodlit until 11pm. Great opportunities for off-piste 'boarding include the 8km (5 mile) off piste trails to Husä (bus back). A Boarder Cross was created at Tegefjåll. Off the slopes there are 'snowboarders only' shops and the existing high octane 'After Ski' scene fits in well with most 'boarders' idea of a non-stop good time.