Published: Sept. 11, 2018 By
Skiers and mountain views

It’s something every skier anticipates more than anything else as school starts back up. The leaves start to turn, and there’s a crisp chill in the air: ski season.

You don’t want to miss a single second of fresh powder and the bright mountain sunshine on your face, and why would you? Luckily, there are lots of Education Abroad dream destinations for the ski Buffs who just can’t get enough. These top nine cities, in no particular order, all boast nearby mountain getaways and spectacular slopes.

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Santiago, Chile

Chile may not be the first location that comes to mind for snow sports abroad, but Santiago offers a proximity to adventurous and unique South American ski experiences.

Under 90 minutes from Santiago is (and we’re totally serious) El Colorado, which has a variety of slopes from beginner to expert. Chile also boasts several skiable active volcanoes, including Llaima, Lonquimay, Villarrica, Mocho and Choshuenco, as well as opportunities for more rugged cat skiing and eco-skiing in Patagonia.

Strasbourg, France

Not only is Strasbourg a charming French town, it’s near off-the-beaten-path ski destinations, as well as access to the Alps. Strasbourg is under 90 minutes from the Vosges Mountains, host to 25 ski resorts, and two hours via train from the Black Forest, Germany, which offers exciting, scenic skiing for about half the cost of the Alps.

Vienna, Austria

Vienna is a city full of rich culture and arts, but when you’re ready for a weekend away hitting the slopes, it’s just a quick flight to most Austrian ski resorts. Austria is home to world-famous ski towns like Kitzbühel, Lech, St. Anton, Innsbruch, Saalbach, Alpbach and Sölden.

If you love watching elite ski races, attend the annual Hahenkamm downhill race in Kitzbühel, Jan. 19–27.

Geneva, Switzerland

Switzerland has the highest percentage of skiers in the world, coming in at an impressive 37 percent of its population.

When you’re not studying international policy at the U.N., take some time for fresh powder and alpine air. Nearby skiing is under 90 minutes from Geneva for day trips; and when you have a little extra travel time, Swiss and French ski towns such as Zermatt, Verbier, Gstaad, Val d’isère and Chamonix are readily accessible by train.

Tokyo, Japan

Living in vibrant, metropolitan Tokyo may not be the instinctive choice for students looking to hit the slopes abroad. However, Japan is well known for its light, fluffy powder and is a haven for international skiers.

Tokyo is four hours from the famous Hakuba Valley, which has nine resorts, endless miles of runs and excellent facilities after hosting the 1998 Winter Olympics. Further away, Niseko in Hokkaido is an great for skiers looking for a fusion of the resort and traditional Japanese experience—several resorts have onsen to warm up in after a long day in the cold.

Christchurch, New Zealand

Christchurch is perfect for the student who can’t bear to be too far from the mountains. Mount Hutt, Mount Olympus, Mount Cheeseman, Mount Dobson, Mount Lyford, and New Zealand’s tallest, Mount Cook, are all within one to four hours of Christchurch and all have great skiing, not to mention the resorts, basins and valleys in between.

The Southern Alps aren’t too far away, either, for a weekend trip to experience the Wanaka-Queenstown skiing scene.

A few helpful hints
  • Epic Pass holders: For you dedicated skiers out there who have your Epic Pass already lined up, the full pass includes skiing at some resorts in Japan, France, Italy, Switzerland and Austria.
  • If Chile and New Zealand caught your eye on this list, remember that seasons are reversed in the Southern Hemisphere, so ski season is different. Southern Hemisphere ski dates run June through October, and most Education Abroad program dates will be February-July for Spring semester, and July-November for Fall. Go in the spring and spend your winter skiing in Colorado, then catch the beginning of ski season June-July at the end of your program. Fall students will have one, long ski season- skiing abroad from July through October, then nearly the full season here in Colorado once you get back.

Dunedin, New Zealand

New Zealand is the outdoor enthusiast’s dream, and the skiing there is no different. Ski in scenic New Zealand Southern Alps, about four to five hours outside of Dunedin by bus.

There are several runs for more advanced skiers, but if you’re not quite up to the black diamond slopes, not to worry—there’s a great range of skiing for the less experienced, too. Snowboarders can get their thrills on New Zealand’s only Olympic-sized superpipe between Wanaka and Queenstown, and Christchurch is just a stone’s throw away.

Milan, Italy

This list wouldn’t be complete without a destination in northern Italy! Not only is Milan near all of the skiing in Alps-bordering countries, it’s also near excellent Italian ski towns and the famous Dolomites.

Spend time your down time in scenic towns such as Cortina D’Ampezzo, Cervina and Madesimo. These towns have a unique multicultural atmosphere in addition to rich historic roots that date back to ancient times.

Uppsala, Sweden

Uppsala is a great choice for the skier looking for a day-to-day smaller-town vibe and a university setting. On days off, it’s a little bit of a journey to the slopes, but well worth the travel time.

Boasting 90 pistes, night skiing, snow parks, World Cup events and a lively town scene, Uppsala is six to seven hours from Åre, the biggest ski resort in Sweden. Or try out Kläppen, Vemdalen or Sälen, some of which have over 100 different slopes.

So, snow Buffs, go bravely into your adventure abroad knowing you can still ski to your hearts’ content while enjoying a new culture and living abroad!