Après-Ski: a French term that translates literally to after-ski. This beautiful term encompasses the glorious post-ski beer, the needed post-ride snack, and the required unwinding of an epic day. Nothing beats hitting up the go-to happy hour bar and enjoying a local brew in a mountain town. Ski towns often get a bad rep for being overly expensive, too touristy, and not what they “used to be.”
It takes a unique combination of factors to create the perfect ski town. Factors include unique restaurants and bars, affordable accommodations, the perfect après-ski spot, a crew of seasoned locals, and a passion for the outdoors.
Snow magazine complied a list of the top ski towns around the world, combining the best of terrain and small-town fun.
1. Banff, Canada
Banff is the hub of the famous SkiBig3 featured on the Ikon Pass. A beautiful and isolated town, surrounded by Banff National Park, will leave you feeling at one with the mountains towering above. No better après-ski activity than a relaxing soak in a natural hot spring.
Nearby skiing: Sunshine Village, Mount Norquay, and Lake Louise.
2. Innsbruck, Austria
One of many cliché-looking, Euro-style ski towns around, Innsbruck is not as quaint as others. It has a population well over 100,000 so accommodations will not break the bank. One of the best parts is that the Nordkette Cable Car takes visitors straight to the mountain from the city center. In addition to skiing, they have amazing summertime mountain activities and a zoo that’s worth a visit.
Nearby skiing: Many, including Nordpark, Patscherkofelbahn, and Glungezer.
3. Chamonix, France
Having the honor of hosting the very first winter Olympics in 1924 speaks for itself. It features one of the world’s greatest ski runs: a 13 mile, 9,200 ft. run down the mountain. There is no shortage of terrain in the vicinity of town with 5 separate ski resorts, and it attracts tourists year-round with plenty of activities. No shortage of après-ski spots in the country that created the phrase!
Nearby skiing: Grands Montets, Les Houches, Le Tour/Balme, La Flegere, and Le Brevent.
4. Interlaken, Switzerland
Like many towns on this list, it sits near a body of water. Not one, but two: Lake Thun and Lake Brienz sandwich the town creating an infinite amount of summer-time fun. Accessible by train from Zurich, Interlaken is a picturesque Swiss town that won’t be friendly to your wallet. It will provide world-class Alps terrain an incredible overall experience.
Nearby skiing: Grindelwald, Murren, and Wengen ski centers.
5. Wanaka, New Zealand
Cradling the southern edge of Lake Wanaka, this town is one of the smaller ones on this list. Hosting some of the best southern hemisphere skiing, there are several resorts nearby. Locals recommend heading to the Soho Basin for incredible cat skiing as well.
Nearby skiing: Cardona Ski Resort and Treble Cone.
6. Niseko, Japan
Summertime kayaking and wintertime pow is only the beginning. Boasting stunning Japanese cuisine and rich history makes Niseko an obvious choice as a world-renowned ski town. Train access from Tokyo and gondola access from town make it extremely accessible too. Finish off the day with some aprè-ski ramen and sake.
Nearby skiing: Niseko United.
7. Park City, Utah
A short drive from salt lake city and home to the US Ski Teams winter home is just the beginning. A beautiful mountain town offers close service to the self-proclaimed “best snow on earth. It is on the pricier side, but affordable Salt Lake City is a short drive away.
Nearby skiing: Park City, Deer Valley, and a newly approved resort between the two.
8. Golden, Canada
An hour and a half drive from #1 Banff, Golden is an incredible Candian ski town of its own. It rests on the Colombia river and has some of the best pow in all of the Canadian Rockies. A good food scene, several national parks nearby, and insane mountain biking make it a year-round destination as well.
Nearby skiing: Kicking Horse Resort.
9. Editors Choice: Bariloche, Argentina
Editor’s choice on this list, Bariloche is an unforgettable experience. Located deep in Argentinan Patagonia, this mountain town borders the incredible Lake Nahuel Huapi Lake. It also has incredible craft beer, euro style chocolate factories, and Argentinian style barbeque that make for great après-ski spots. Ample hostels and public transit to the resort make it very accessible too.
Nearby skiing: Cerro Catedral.