The best French, Swiss and Italian ski resorts near Geneva Airport
If traffic’s light and road conditions are good, you can be on your skis within an hour of leaving Geneva Airport. But which of the nearby ski resorts is best for families, for high snowsure pistes, for beginners, for off-piste freeriding, or for a romantic weekend? And if you have a mixed group who all want different things, which is the best all-round resort?
Below is our pick of the best ski resorts within easy reach of Geneva for each of these categories. We have included estimated transfer times to and from Geneva airport, but these are based on normal road and traffic conditions. At peak times, or in bad weather, you should allow more time. Or better still, use a specialist ski transfer company because they know what they are doing and have vehicles equipped for driving on mountain roads in wintry conditions, with plenty of room for skis, snowboards and the rest of your luggage. There is a list of good transfer companies at the end of this article.
Best Ski Resort near Geneva for Families: Avoriaz
Approximate drive time from Geneva Airport for Avoriaz: 1 hour, 35 mins
Avoriaz is family-friendly right from the moment you arrive, which is normally by cable car from Morzine after a short transfer from Geneva airport, followed by a ride in a horse drawn sleigh to your accommodation, which should get even the most cynical child excited about their holiday. The resort is car-free and very compact: everywhere is close to a piste or lift so there is no need to walk far or queue for a bus. The childcare facilities are among the best in France and there is an excellent choice of child-friendly ski schools. In most seasons, Avoriaz is high enough (1800m) and snowy enough for children to be able to ski and play on proper snow, but not so high to be unpleasantly cold during the day. The futuristic architecture is not too everyone’s taste, but children, especially young teenagers tend to like it, because it reminds them of films like Star Wars. And most importantly of all, there is a lot of good skiing for every standard here, not just locally, but in the wider Portes du Soleil ski area, which Avoriaz is in the middle of.
Best Ski Resort near Geneva for high snowsure pistes: Nendaz
Approximate drive time from Geneva Airport fr Nendaz: 1 hour, 45 mins
Nendaz is lift-linked to Verbier and together with six other villages they form the high and huge 4 Valleys (“4 Vallées”) ski area with over 80 lifts and over 400kms of runs. But Nendaz has three advantages over its more famous neighbour. Firstly Nendaz is quicker to reach: it’s less than 2 hours by car from Geneva airport, although if you want a really easy transfer you should fly to Sion Airport, because that’s about a 15 minute taxi ride away from the resort; secondly the slopes immediately above Nendaz face north, and therefore despite being 140m lower than Verbier, its local slopes usually have better snow; and thirdly Nendaz is not as expensive. But whether you opt for Verbier or Nendaz, you will always get access to the high snowsure slopes of Mont Fort (3330m), Mont Gele (3025m), Col des Gentianes (2950m), Greppon Blanc (2700m) and Les Attelas (2730m).
Best ski resort near Geneva for beginners: Flaine
Approximate drive time from Geneva Airport for Flaine: 1 hour, 15 mins
Flaine has everything beginners need: free nursery slopes close to the accommodation with reliable snow; some nice easy runs for beginners to progress onto which are covered by a special discounted ski pass; and an excellent choice of English-speaking ski schools for beginners of all ages. And it’s also important that Flaine is not just a beginners resort, because novices often make up only part of a group, and they don’t want to feel that they are constraining the skiing of the others – and on that count, they won’t have any worries because Flaine is part of a large ski area (le Grand Massif) with plenty of high class skiing for intermediates and advanced skiers as well. There are hardly any chalets in Flaine and the centre of the resort is rather ugly, so if these are deal breakers, you should try Samoens which is lift-linked to Flaine and one of the most attractive resorts in France, but not as convenient. And whether you choose Samoens or Flaine, you will benefit from quick transfers from Geneva airport.
Best ski resort near Geneva for rural charm: La Clusaz
Approximate drive time from Geneva Airport for La Clusaz: 1 hour
La Clusaz is the sort of ski resort where on a couple of the runs as you approach the village, there is a distinct tang of farmyard animals in the air, and where one of the apres-ski activities is a tour of an organic cheese maturing cellar followed by a tasting of the local produce. If nature is more your thing, keep a watch out for Bearded Vultures circling overhead, or mountain goats scrabbling around on the rocky slopes of the Aravis, and maybe spend one day off skis and on snowshoes in the woods on the aptly named Beauregard Massif. Most of the mountain restaurants specialise in traditional Savoyard dishes that you would never find in more famous cosmopolitan ski resorts. But the skiing in La Clusaz is just as good, with over 200km of ski slopes if you include nearby bus-linked Le Grand Bornand, with runs for all standards and excellent off-piste and ski touring for those who prefer to roam free across the mountains.
Best ski resort near Geneva for off-piste freeriding: Chamonix
Approximate drive time from Geneva Airport for Chamonix: 1 hour, 10 mins
There are plenty of reasons to grumble about Chamonix: the ski areas are fragmented and only connected by buses and trains that are often crowded; the standard Chamonix Valley lift pass does not cover the highest lifts or the best tree skiing; and there is very little slope-side accommodation. But these are just minor irritations to true off-piste enthusiasts who know Chamonix is the freeride centre of Europe, because nowhere else has the same combination of high lifts, large snowfalls and steep sided mountains; and nowhere else has so many guides to help you explore them. Transfers from Geneva airport take just over an hour.
Best ski resort near Geneva for a romantic weekend: Megeve
Approximate drive time from Geneva: 1 hour, 15 mins
Megeve tugs on all the heart strings, particularly after a dusting of snow: cobbled streets; horse-drawn sleighs; an old church; a medieval car-free centre with upmarket shops selling antiques, jewellery, fine foods and fashionable clothes; the best mountain restaurants in all of France; and hotels that range from the super luxurious to smaller, cosier family-run establishments. And then of course there is the skiing. Megeve’s vast Evasion Mont Blanc ski domain is shared with St Gervais, Saint Nicolas, Les Contamines and Comboloux (which all make pretty good romantic boltholes too) and with its tree-lined slopes is almost as pretty as Megeve itself. It’s probably too low-lying and short of tough pistes to keep an expert busy for a full week, but for a weekend it’s perfect, whatever your skiing standard.
Best all-round ski resort near to Geneva: Morzine
Approximate drive time from Geneva Airport for Morzine: 1 hour 25 mins
Nominating Morzine as the best all-round ski resort within easy reach of Geneva might be contentious as it’s not really a ski resort at all: it’s an attractive small town in the mountains which just happens to have access to great skiing, both on the local slopes it shares with Les Gets, and in the wider Portes du Soleil ski area, which stretches across to Avoriaz, Chatel, Champery and lots of other smaller resorts. There really is something for everyone here, including non-skiers, family skiers, advanced skiers, keen skiers, party skiers (it has one of the liveliest apres-ski scenes in France) and even skiers on a tight budget. But be careful booking a holiday here either at the start or end of the ski season, because Morzine might be many things to many different people, but even its fans admit it’s too low to be 100% snow-sure.
Getting to the Resort: Transfer Companies Vs Car Hire
Generally, using a transfer company is a better way of getting to a ski resort from Geneva airport than hiring a rental car. Driving on wintry mountain roads in an unfamiliar car is not fun, and trying to remember how to put on snowchains in the middle of a blizzard is a rotten way to start a holiday. And parking in a ski resort is becoming increasingly expensive. So instead we recommend you use a reliable transfer company, such as:
Ski-Lifts Airport Transfers
Each year Ski-Lifts helps thousands of skiers and boarders get to their accommodation in ski resorts, with a range of hassle-free, door-to-door transfer options from all major airports and train stations, and 24/7 English language assistance if needed. Get an immediate quote and book online >>>
Alps2Alps Airport Transfers
Alps2Alps provides private and group transfers to all major Alpine ski resorts from airports in France, Switzerland, Austria, Italy and Germany. Our 24/7 multilingual customer service assistance and dispatch centre keeps you informed. Book online and get a real time quote in seconds >>>
Author: William Micklethwait