Best ski resorts for children

Most keen skiers started early, so only it’s natural they’d want to introduce their own children to the world of snowsports. But if you want to ensure your little ones have a pleasurable experience, picking a resort with plenty of alternative activities to try, plus engaging kids clubs, can make all the difference.

Prices are for packages for a family of four, typically with two under-12s travelling, during school holidays.

The Independent’s ski holiday recommendations are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and book, but we never allow this to affect our coverage.

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Soldeu, Andorra

Once popular with the party crowd, Andorra has reinvented itself as a family destination, investing heavily in excellent snowmaking, fast, modern chairlifts and stone-cladding to soften ugly blocks. Its biggest area, Grandvalira, offers delightful sunny skiing on 205km of linked pistes through glades of bright green pines.

Alternative activities are available in Soldeu (Soldeu)

There’s snowmobiling, dog-sledding and snowshoeing – as well as ice diving and piste basher-driving sessions. And the state-run ski school has an excellent reputation with a huge number of native English-speaking instructors, particularly in Soldeu.

Staying there

Crystal Ski Holidays offers a week’s half board at the Hotel Sport from £955pp (based on two adults and two children sharing a family room), including flights and transfers, departing 22 December 2019.

Seefeld, Austria

Just half an hour from Innsbruck airport, Seefeld is more a charming, traditional Austrian village than a conventional ski resort. Around a church in the middle of a high, snow-sure plateau, you can ice-skate, try curling or go winter walking, snow-shoeing or cross-country skiing on beginner-friendly trails. The ski area has a timed giant slalom run by the side of the piste, where parents and children can race each other in safety. Plus the Ski Plus City pass now covers 13 downhill resorts around Innsbruck, giving access to 308km of slopes, 111 lifts, and eight resorts with night skiing and tobogganing.

Best snow sculptures at Sapporo Snow Festival through time

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Best snow sculptures at Sapporo Snow Festival through time

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"Star Wars" produced by the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force

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Sapporo's local idol group, Team Crereco performs on a stage in front of a 10-metre high and 18-metre-wide ice statue of the National Palace Museum in Taipei

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Ice sculptures od Disney characters

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Visitors watch the projection mapping show at the snow statue of "the Central Golden Hall, Kofukuji temple in Nara"

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People gather in front of an ice sculpture entitled "Friends in the Southern Ocean"

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People admire the large snow sculpture of mammoths

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An animation is projected onto a large snow sculpture of "Tomb of Itmad-ud-Daula" that is in India

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Thailand team makes their snow sculpture entitled "Buffalo Still Alive"

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Snow sculptures lit up

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Star Wars snow statue

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Ice sculpture with real fish frozen inside

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Snow sculptures of seals and fish

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Visitors admire a large ice sculpture of former city hall of German's Leipzig at Odori Park

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A soldier of Japanese Ground Self-Defense Forces makes snow sculpture replica of the painting 'Mona Lisa' in three-dimension

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Visitors watch the huge snow sculpture of "the Antarctic" featuring the Japanese Antarctic expedition ship 'Soya," the Sakhalin huskies, Taro and Jiro and Antarctic animals

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An ice sculpture of the Palace of the Heart

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The Arc de triomphe de l'Etoile snow statue

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A family poses in front of the snow sculpture of the Disney character Stitch

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A large snow sculpture of the Hsing Tian Kong, a popular temple in Zhongshan Distric in Taipei

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A snow sculpture of Japan's figure skater Yuzuru Hanyu

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Tourists visit an 18-metre high and 28-metre-wide snow statue of the Sultan Abdul Samad building

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An animation is projected onto a large snow sculpture

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"Winter Sports Paradise, Hokkaido"

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A singer performs on the stage of the Taipei Guest House snow statue

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Children look at the 15-metre-tall snow statue of "Attack on Titan"

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Visitors pose in front of an ice sculpture featuring Melbourne's Royal Exhibition Building

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Japan's game soft character Monster Strike

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Visitors look at a large snow sculpture called the Manila Cathedral of the Philippines

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Visitors gather around colorful ice sculptures

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Children play on a snow slide

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A 'Taiwan' snow sculpture

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"Star Wars" produced by the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force

AFP/Getty

2014

2/45 2014

Sapporo's local idol group, Team Crereco performs on a stage in front of a 10-metre high and 18-metre-wide ice statue of the National Palace Museum in Taipei

AFP/Getty

2009

3/45 2009

Ice sculptures od Disney characters

Getty

2017

4/45 2017

Visitors watch the projection mapping show at the snow statue of "the Central Golden Hall, Kofukuji temple in Nara"

AFP/Getty

2009

5/45 2009

People gather in front of an ice sculpture entitled "Friends in the Southern Ocean"

AFP/Getty

2007

6/45 2007

People admire the large snow sculpture of mammoths

AFP/Getty

2014

7/45 2014

An animation is projected onto a large snow sculpture of "Tomb of Itmad-ud-Daula" that is in India

AFP/Getty

2019

8/45 2019

AFP/Getty

1964

9/45 1964

Getty Images

2014

10/45 2014

Thailand team makes their snow sculpture entitled "Buffalo Still Alive"

AFP/Getty

2001

11/45 2001

Getty

2006

12/45 2006

A Narnia snow

Getty Images

2015

13/45 2015

Snow sculptures lit up

AFP/Getty

2019

14/45 2019

Star Wars snow statue

AFP/Getty

2009

15/45 2009

AFP/Getty

2001

16/45 2001

Getty Images

1972

17/45 1972

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2009

18/45 2009

Ice sculpture with real fish frozen inside

Getty

2012

19/45 2012

Snow sculptures of seals and fish

AFP/Getty

2005

20/45 2005

Visitors admire a large ice sculpture of former city hall of German's Leipzig at Odori Park

AFP/Getty Images

1999

21/45 1999

A soldier of Japanese Ground Self-Defense Forces makes snow sculpture replica of the painting 'Mona Lisa' in three-dimension

AFP/Getty

2007

22/45 2007

Visitors watch the huge snow sculpture of "the Antarctic" featuring the Japanese Antarctic expedition ship 'Soya," the Sakhalin huskies, Taro and Jiro and Antarctic animals

AFP/Getty

2014

23/45 2014

An ice sculpture of the Palace of the Heart

AFP/Getty

2008

24/45 2008

AFP/Getty

2017

25/45 2017

The Arc de triomphe de l'Etoile snow statue

AFP/Getty

2007

26/45 2007

A family poses in front of the snow sculpture of the Disney character Stitch

AFP/Getty

2015

27/45 2015

A large snow sculpture of the Hsing Tian Kong, a popular temple in Zhongshan Distric in Taipei

AFP/Getty

1972

28/45 1972

Getty Images

2015

29/45 2015

A snow sculpture of Japan's figure skater Yuzuru Hanyu

AFP/Getty

2014

30/45 2014

Tourists visit an 18-metre high and 28-metre-wide snow statue of the Sultan Abdul Samad building

AFP/Getty

2015

31/45 2015

An animation is projected onto a large snow sculpture

AFP/Getty

2014

32/45 2014

"Winter Sports Paradise, Hokkaido"

AFP/Getty

2017

33/45 2017

A singer performs on the stage of the Taipei Guest House snow statue

AFP/Getty

2016

34/45 2016

Children look at the 15-metre-tall snow statue of "Attack on Titan"

AFP/Getty

2006

35/45 2006

Visitors pose in front of an ice sculpture featuring Melbourne's Royal Exhibition Building

AFP/Getty

2015

36/45 2015

Japan's game soft character Monster Strike

AFP/Getty

2015

37/45 2015

Visitors look at a large snow sculpture called the Manila Cathedral of the Philippines

AFP/Getty

2019

38/45 2019

AFP/Getty

2015

39/45 2015

Visitors gather around colorful ice sculptures

AFP/Getty

2014

40/45 2014

Children play on a snow slide

AFP/Getty

2006

41/45 2006

Getty

2006

42/45 2006

A 'Taiwan' snow sculpture

Getty

2008

43/45 2008

Getty

2013

44/45 2013

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Staying there

Inghams offers seven nights half board at the Hotel Seefelderhof from £1,206pp (based on two adults and two children sharing two rooms), including flights and transfers, departing 21 December.

Ruka, Finland

For a long time, Finland’s two biggest resorts Levi and Ylläs attracted most British skiers. But Ruka has been investing heavily, last season extending its gondola, linking the existing village to a new pedestrian village on the other side of the mountain.

Ruka is built in Alpine style (Ruka)

Just 20 minutes from the airport, Ruka is purpose-built in the style of Alpine resorts and has wood-clad bars, curio shops and restaurants decked with strings of lights in the pedestrian area at the foot of the downhill slopes.

There are plenty of kid-friendly excursions, including a visit to the snow and ice castle, snowmobiling, husky-sledding, reindeer sledding and even visits to see Santa.

Staying there

Crystal Ski Holidays offers a week’s self-catering at the Ruka Cabins from £847pp (based on two adults and two children sharing a cabin) including flights and transfers, departing on 16 February 2020.

La Clusaz, France

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The five linked sectors of La Clusaz ensure that each day’s skiing is different. In Manigod, the most beginner-friendly, you can try out riding a ‘paret’ for free. This sledge looks like a bit like a hobby horse and every Tuesday and Wednesday evening at the Blanchot piste the resort brings out about 50 (along with mulled wine for parents) all free of charge.

Just seven minutes away by ski bus there’s also Le Grand Bornand, offering more terrain to explore and traditional Savoyard charm.

Staying there

Peak Retreats offers seven nights self-catered at Les Grandes Alpes apartments in La Clusaz for £452pp (based on four sharing an apartment), including Eurotunnel crossings, departing 4 April.

Borovets, Bulgaria

Bulgaria always tops the best-buy list for package ski holidays, and the Bulgarian ski school has a good reputation too.

Despite its 1980s functionality, older lifts and more limited snowmaking, Borovets offers a great-value base, with reasonably priced excursions including atmospheric candlelit walks in the woods, dinner in forest restaurants and snowmobiling. The village accesses three interconnected ski areas: Markudjik, Yastrebetz and Sitnyakovo.

Borovets offers great value (Borovets)

Staying there

Balkan Holidays offers seven nights’ half board at the Hotel Festa Chamkoria for £929pp (based on two adults and two children sharing a family room), including flights and transfers, departing 15 February.

Arosa, Switzerland

From the town of Chur in Switzerland’s eastern Graubünden canton, a rack railway runs from the valley to charming, wooded town of Arosa, where horse-drawn sleds and carriages await to whisk guests to exclusive hotels.

Arosa’s 100km of pistes are supplemented by those of the neighbouring lift-linked Lenzerheide. The resort offers snowbiking – which is enormous fun, as you go over jumps, into natural half-pipes and along the ski school’s off piste trail – plus a maze of runs through the trees called ‘Inner Arosa’, which children adore.

Staying there

Powder Byrne offers seven nights’ half board at the Waldhotel from £2,695pp (based on two adults and two children sharing a family room), including flights, transfers, ski guiding and resort driver, departing 15 February.

Les Gets, France

Les Gets is at the western end of the giant Portes du Soleil ski area and benefits from its secluded location. Its ‘secret’ mountain – Mont Chéry – is rarely busy, as you need to catch a little train from the main ski area to reach it, and there is lots to do in the village, with its wooden carousel, mechanical museum and electric snowmobile circuit for children.

Les Gets is part of the Portes du Soleil ski area (Les Gets)

The piste map gives skiers directions on how to make the most of the claimed 650km of runs by going from one corner of the Portes du Soleil to the other, which is helpful.

Staying there

Crystal Ski Holidays offers a week’s self-catering at Les Fermes Emiguy from £687pp (based on two adults and two children sharing an apartment), including flights and transfers, departing 21 December.

Geilo, Norway

In Geilo, two modest-sized ski areas rise up either side of the valley, through which runs the train line that will bring you either from Oslo or Bergen airport.

Foreign holidaymakers mostly check into Geilo’s six big hotels, which have swimming pools and saunas. Norway is particularly popular with families; activities include dog sledding and a horse-drawn sleigh ride to the Vestila Hotel for dinner.

Staying there

Ski Safari offers seven nights’ half board at the Vestila Resort from £1,035pp (based on two adults and two children sharing a family room), including flights and train transfers, departing 16 February.

Lech, Austria

Elegant Lech has long been a favourite with families, but in the past few years a series of new lifts has vastly expanded the skiing possibilities. On one side a chondola – a combined chairlift and gondola – has linked Lech to its less upmarket neighbours Warth and Schröcken, near the German border, while the Flexenbahn now links Lech’s close neighbour Zürs to St Anton, so you can reach the legendary après capital on skis. Aside from the extra skiing, the links also provide a way to find cheaper lunches than in more high-end Lech.

Lech has long been popular with families (Lech Zuers Tourismus)

Off the piste, little ones can enjoy sledding, snowshoeing, horse-drawn sleigh rides and ice skating, all offered in resort.

Staying there

VIP Ski offers seven nights’ half board at Hotel Theodul for £1,009pp (based on two adults and two children sharing a family room), including flights, transfers, wine and afternoon tea, departing 12 April.

Hokkaido, Japan

A trip to Japan remains a goal for many skiers, and an advantage for families of travelling long-haul is that the prices do not dramatically increase over half-term.

Plenty of cheap accommodation has been springing up in the principal resort of Niseko, which makes it a good base.

Spectacular photos of Lake Michigan frozen over

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Spectacular photos of Lake Michigan frozen over

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Frank Lettiere's eyebrows and eye lashes are frozen after walking along Lake Michigan's ice covered shoreline

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Ice covers the Lake Michigan shoreline

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A harbor light is covered by snow and ice

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Temperatures dropped to -20 degrees F (-29C)

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Steam rising off the frozen lake

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Marius Radoi keeps his balance as he walks on the edge of Lake Michigan's shore line

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Ice forms along the shore

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Ducks rest in Lake Michigan

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A young boy tosses a chunck of snow into Lake Michigan

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Frank Lettiere's eyebrows and eye lashes are frozen after walking along Lake Michigan's ice covered shoreline

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Meanwhile, at Rusutsu there’s just one vast hotel, inside which is a three-storey recreation of a Bavarian village surrounding a full-size carousel. Nor is the ski area any less remarkable. You can ski through a funfair, as the resort is a theme park in summer.

Staying there

Different Snow offers six nights’ B&B at the Green Leaf Hotel in Niseko and one in an airport hotel en route home for £2,650pp (based on two adults and two children sharing two rooms), including flights, transfers, lift passes and ski hire, departing 15 February.

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