Summer Skiing in Europe
If you can't bear to stay away from the snow, you can get your summer skiing fix on glaciers across the Alps where the snow rarely melts!
Although our summers are warming, glacier skiing is still a popular option and ski resorts across Europe have become increasingly adaptable and clever to ensure that they can offer skiing throughout the warmest months. Expect to see huge piles of snow stored under reflective fleeces and snow machines at well above 3000m. It must be noted however that skiing through into August and September is becoming increasingly rare at most resorts (Zermatt and Hintertux are the notable exceptions – they stay open 365 days a year), so for the best conditions head out in June and early July.
The quality of snow can vary hugely throughout the day in summer, with overnight freezing creating firm and fast conditions in the morning, with snow then becoming soft and slushy later in the day. While the number of skiers and snowboarders in the mountain is very small compared to the winter, summer glacier skiing can offer excellent conditions for learning, or for taking part in skill development courses and camps – indeed it is likely you'll be sharing the pistes with race teams and freestylers training for the upcoming season.
At the top of the Ziller Valley, up the road from the popular resort of Mayrhofen the Hintertuxer Gletscher is open all year round. The never-ending season, combined with fairly extensive terrain, makes it perhaps the most well-known glacier ski area in Europe. Even in the middle of summer, skiing is usually possible from 3250m down to 2600m. With Innsbruck (90km), just over an hour away, it’s a great choice for many.
The Kitzsteinhorn glacier at Kaprun is open at certain times during the summer, as well as the autumn. Though smaller than other Austrian glaciers, there is a good variety of terrain. The Zell am See - Kaprun area is also a popular destination in the summer for its alpine hiking and water sports too, with it’s closest airport nearby, Salzburg (100km).
The closest glacier ski area to Innsbruck airport (43km), the Stubai Glacier, is open until early July, then again in September once the warmest summer months are over. It's proximity to Innsbruck and reasonably large skiing area makes it a common choice for summer skiing.
Host of the first World Cup race of the season each October, the high-altitude resort of Sölden is actually home to two glaciers – the Rettenbach and Tiefenbach. There's an extensive ski area and some challenging pistes, plus spectacular scenery and a lively town.
The Grande Motte glacier at Tignes is open for most of the summer and offers a good variety of summer skiing. The glacier is accessed by the funicular from Val Claret, which takes around 7 minutes. The glacier is only open to the public in the morning, which helps to preserve the snow cover. Across in Val d'Isère, the Pissaillas glacier opens for a short summer season in June and July, dependent on snow cover.
The largest skiable glacier in the French Alps, Les Deux Alpes, is home to an impressive snow park and excellent terrain for beginners. Most of the runs in the summer are blue, but there are a few reds available too. Grenoble (70km) is the nearest airport to Les Deux Alpes, making it definitely worth the visit.
Close to the popular spa resort town of Meran, the glacier at Val Senales is open throughout the summer season for snowsports. It may be a small glacier, however it invites an interesting variety of runs, plus the Nitro snow park. It's quite remote, with the nearest airport being Innsbruck, around 190km away, but this shouldn’t put those keen for some summer skiing off.
The Plateau Rosa glacier at Cervinia is one of the smaller Italian glaciers, but still worth putting on your list. The terrain available is fairly limited, but does connect to the glacier area at neighbouring Zermatt. The nearest airport is Turin (120km), making it a very much accessible option for many.
There is a big glacier at Zermatt open almost year round, though the terrain is fairly flat compared with other skiable glaciers. However, with terrain at over 3800m and spectacular views, it is still an appealing summer skiing destination. Geneva is the closest major airport (240km) but travelling to Zermatt by train is a good option too.
Saas-Fee has a great glacier which is usually open from the beginning of July, with 20km of slopes at the Allalin summer ski area, sitting at 3600m. Trains take approximately 4 hours from either Geneva or Zurich.
The glaciers of Laax, Engelberg and Diavolezza above Pontresina also open up for glacier skiing, albeit for a more limited period.
The small glacier at Fonna in Norway is one of the most reliable places to ski in the summer, thanks to abundant winter snowfall. There is only one lift, but it has quickly become home to one of Europe's best summer parks and numerous race teams train here thanks to the reliable snow conditions.
Other ski areas open in the summer include Riksgransen in Sweden and Galdhopiggen and Stryn in Norway.
Check out our regular snow overview updates throughout the summer, as well as our summer snow reports.