Getting to Ski Resorts in the Alps by Rail

    Ever wished you could avoid airport queues and early-morning flights and travel to resorts more enjoyably? Here are ten of the best ski resorts in the Alps that you can reach conveniently by train.

    Resorts by Train

    There's something about that feeling of slipping out of St Pancras on a Eurostar, headed for the Alps: it's a different way of travelling to resorts - more relaxing, more enjoyable and it creates far less pollution. You might imagine that that going by train takes far longer than flying but compared door to door, the daytime journey by train from the UK to many ski resorts is not far off, if you live near London. Or, if you take a sleeper train, you can wake up with snowy scenes outside and ski the day you arrive and leave, giving two extra days on the slopes

    Alpbach, Austria

    There's a hugely loyal following of British aficionados for Alpbach, a charming Tirolean resort. Once you arrive, it's easy to see why. Deep-brown old wooden chalets make up the majority of the village accommodation, and there's a beautiful church at the centre with a magnificent interior. The nursery slopes are a few steps away and there are some lively bars and club nights in the evening, even though Alpbach doesn't have a reputation as a party town. Alpbach's main ski area is ten minutes by bus from the village and from the top of Hornboden and Inneralpbach there are sweeping red and blue north-facing runs that hold their snow well.

    Journey: depart London St Pancras at 16:02 on the Eurostar, change Paris and take the 20:20 City Night Line sleeper train to Worgl, arriving 09:41. From there it is a 15-minute taxi ride.

    Les Menuires, France

    Les Menuires Train

    Set in the heart of the 600km 3 Valleys area, Les Menuires is a resort that has bucked the tendency for high prices and as such is one of the best value ski resorts in the region. There's plenty of slope-side accommodation, of which the newer developments, such as the Hotel Kaya in Reberty, have appealing wood and stone architecture. Intermediates are well-served by the long blues and reds below Mont de la Chambre, and experts will find a hidden treasure in Pointe de la Masse, an area that many skiers miss but which is home to some enticing black runs and accessible off-piste.

    Journey: depart London St Pancras at 10:00 on the Eurostar Direct Ski Train, arriving Moutiers at 18:10. From there it's a 40-minute bus or taxi ride.

    Les Gets, France

    For families in particular, Les Gets makes a good base for the huge 650km Portes du Soleil. Although it's a little further out from the main circuit, its own 110km of slopes are crowd free and for those that only need a local lift pass, excellent value. The nursery slopes run right onto the village centre, making it a great place to learn. There are challenging slopes for experts, such as the steep runs on Mont Chery and La Rosta, and some great off-piste. What sets it apart, however, is the friendly village, which has a traditional French ambience. The shops sell local produce and the abundance of wooden chalets makes it very easy on the eye.

    Journey: depart London St Pancras at 18:02 on the Eurostar, change Paris and take the 22:48 Corail Lunea sleeper train to Cluses, arriving 08:15. From there it is a 25-minute taxi ride.

    Tignes, France

    Tignes is one of the most snowsure resorts in the Alps. Its purpose-built villages are located at around 2,100 metres and give superb access to the 300km Espace Killy ski area, with endless possibilities for intermediates and experts. Tignes' prices are significantly lower than those of neighbouring Val d'Isere, and while a few years back Tignes' brash architecture gave it a reputation as an eyesore, in recent years it has begun redeveloping its buildings to give a more traditional feel. The resort is host to the Nissan X Games and prides itself on its excellent snowparks. Access to the Grande Motte glacier mean you can even ski here in summer.

    Journey: depart London St Pancras at 10:00 on the Eurostar Direct Ski Train, arriving at Bourg St Maurice 18:51. From there it is a 45-minute bus or taxi ride.

    Montgenevre, France

    Set at 1,850 metres, Montgenèvre is a classic village that dates back to 1908, very pleasant by day and fun by night. The resort's local slopes make up a quarter of the 400km Milky Way ski area, and acres of gentle beginner terrain end right at the village, make this a great place for nervous skiers to learn, but with plenty to keep intermediates entertained. The resort also comes out strongly for non-ski activities, with outdoor ice-skating, sleigh rides and ice climbing, and in the evening there are skidoo rides to local Italian refuge restaurants and guided snowshoe walks.

    Journey: depart London St Pancras at 17:32 on the Eurostar, change Paris and take the 22:04 Corail Lunea sleeper train to Briancon, arriving 08:30. From there it is a 30-minute bus or taxi ride.

    Chamonix, France

    Alpine Train

    The approach to Chamonix by train, on the Mont Blanc Express, gives the first clue of the stunning scenery that this resort is famous for, as you pass a vast glacier that pours into the valley. The views of, and from, the Aiguille du Midi are simply magnificent, especially as the sun sets. Chamonix is a Mecca for expert skiers and powder hounds, and the off-piste terrain is excellent and varied. The most famous off-piste itinerary being the Vallée Blanche, a 17km run with a vertical descent of 2,800 metres. Chamonix town is attractive and there's plenty to do, with live bands and a vast array of little bars and clubs that go on into the small hours.

    Journey: depart London St Pancras at 18:02 on the Eurostar, change Paris and take the 22:48 Corail Lunea sleeper train, changing in St Gervais to arrive in Chamonix at 09:39.

    Sansicario, Italy

    If you haven't heard of this little Italian resort, you'd do well to know it. It is right in the heart of the 400km Via Lattea (Milky Way) which means you have access to great intermediate terrain for miles on either side. For beginners, Sansicario's gentle, wide blue pistes are uncrowded and accessible. Like its neighbour Cesana, prices are lower than at bigger nearby resorts, and the village has bags of Alpine charm, set against an impressive backdrop of tree-covered mountains. There are a few late night bars for party people here, but it is food lovers that will be in their element, especially at places such as on the sunny terrace of well-loved restaurant Soliel Boeuf.

    Journey: depart London St Pancras at 10:25 on the Eurostar, change Paris and take the 15:24 TGV to Oulx, arriving 20:05. From there it is a 20-minute taxi ride.

    Wengen, Switzerland

    The British have been making their annual pilgrimage to Wengen for years, with no sign of abating. When you get there, it's obvious why. The car-free village scores five out of five for charm and the setting is spectacular. There's a 30-minute train ride up to the top of the Kleine Scheidegg, and the resort is home to the 4.5km Lauberhorn run, the longest and oldest downhill run on the World Cup circuit. Wengen shares 27 lifts with its neighbour, Grindelwald, and between the two of them there are about 30 mountain restaurants, such as the excellent Mary's Cafe, famous for its hearty soups. The village has a station at its centre and the trip through Switzerland, with several easy changes, is a treat.

    Journey: depart London St Pancras at 06:22 on the Eurostar, change Paris, Basel, Interlaken and Lauterbrunnen, arriving in Wengen at 17:06.

    Soll, Austria

    Soll 's friendly village, an excellent base for the SkiWelt, is a good option both for families and for those looking to party as much as ski. It's a scenic location, with Hohe Salve on one side and the WilderKaiser range on the other, and yet the village can remain sunny all day. The skiing stretches across various peaks: Hohe Salve, Zinsberg, Eiberg, Brandstadl, Hartkaiser and Choralpe, so there are exploration options in many directions. At the end of the day, the run down to the Moonlight bar is bathed in a glorious sunset and the lively après ski welcome is classic Austria - unpretentious and lots of fun.

    Journey: depart London St Pancras at 16:02 on the Eurostar, change Paris and take the 20:20 City Night Line sleeper train to Woergl, arriving 09:41. From there it is a 15-minute taxi ride.

    St Anton, Austria

    St Anton Skiing

    Many skiers rate St Anton as their favourite resort, and there are plenty of good reasons for its popularity. The Arlberg area, at the western end of the Tirol, is a magnet for off-piste lovers, while the lift pass covers five villages, including some superb terrain at Lechs and Zurs - which are well worth a trip. But the resort isn't just for experts or mileage munchers. There are dedicated beginner slopes at Nasserein, with blues and reds to progress to, higher up at nearby Gampen and Galzig. The village is pedestrianised and easy on the eye, and for bars and restaurants you are spoiled for choice.

    Journey: depart London St Pancras at 06:22 on the Eurostar, change Paris and Zurich, arriving in St Anton at 18:57.

    Journey times summary - departing from London UK

    Albach

     

    Night sleeper

    16:02

    09:41

    17:39

    Hopfgarten

     

    Night sleeper

    16:02

    09:41

    17:39

    Les Menuires

     

    Day time

    10:00

    18:10

    08:10

    Les Gets

     

    Night sleeper

    18:02

    08:15

    14:13

    Tignes

     

    Day time

    10:00

    18:51

    10:51

    Montgenevre

     

    Night sleeper

    17:32

    08:30

    14:58

    Chamonix

     

    Night sleeper

    18:02

    09:39

    15:37

    St Gervais

     

    Night sleeper

    18:02

    08:43

    14:41

    Sansicario

     

    Day time

    10:25

    20:05

    09:50

    Wengen

     

    Day time

    06:22

    17:06

    10:44

    Soll

     

    Night Sleeper

    16.02

    09.41

    17.39

    St Anton

     

    Day time

    06.22

    18.57

    12.35

    Author: Daniel Elkan

    Daniel Elkan is a co-founder of Snowcarbon.co.uk - the guide to getting to ski resorts in the Alps by train