You can cross-country ski at resorts all over Europe, including Davos, Switzerland. Credit: Shutterstock

The Best Cross-Country Skiing Destinations in Europe

Discover five mountain resorts that offer the best Nordic skiing in Europe

by Becky Mumby-Croft

When you think of skiing, the first thing that comes to mind is probably the Alpine type, where people slalom down slopes at high speeds—preferably in jazzy ski suits. However, for those who like endurance over speed, cross-country skiing is an underrated but great alternative. 

But what is cross-country skiing? Cross-country skiing, or Nordic skiing as it’s traditionally known, is when skiers cut across mountainous terrain instead of down it—think of cross-country skiing as more of a marathon than a sprint. Naturally, that means the equipment is different, too; the skis are much longer and poles are used to help propel you across flatter plains. Cross-country skiing is one of the healthiest sports and is a great way to see Europe’s most enchanting snowscapes. 

Davos, Switzerland 

Not just the host of the World Economic Forum, Davos is also home to some excellent cross-country skiing, that’s free for everyone! From the town, you can enjoy more than 68 miles of routes, with 11.5 miles of those being dog-friendly. For those who like to workout with their furry friend, three trails exist where dogs are allowed to enjoy the snow alongside you. The only ask is that dog owners are respectful to other skiers enjoying the alpine frescos. 


One of the most popular routes for dog lovers is Bolgen to Frauenkirch. The course starts near the buzzing après-ski haunt, Bolgen Plaza, and cuts through snow-laden valleys and along the calming Landwasser River before finishing in Frauenkirch. For those who want to get back to the action of Bolgen Plaza faster, there’s a bus that’ll take people (and dogs) back in comfort.  

Kitzbuhel, Austria

In the Tyrolean mountains, you’ll find one of Europe’s hotspots (or should that be cool spots?) for cross-country skiing. Kitzbuhel, Austria, is popular for its vast range of routes, but also because it’s easy to get to by train—it’s just four and a half hours from Vienna. 


The town may be high in the mountains (it has an altitude of 2,500 ft), but there are plenty of flat terrains that are perfect for beginners. So, if you’re toying with becoming a cross-country skiing champ, Kitzbuhel is for you. To get a taste of the action, opt for the Markus Gandler cross-country ski track. Named after Austria’s most successful Nordic skier, the route is a two-and–half-mile loop that affords spellbinding views of alpine trees and snow-covered meadows with Schwarzsee lake as the backdrop.

Kronplatz, Italy 

In the Dolomite mountains, Kronplatz affords picture-perfect vistas for your next cross-country ski trip. For those who want to push themselves, there are plenty of award-winning routes to enjoy. On the Valle di Casies-Gsieser Tal, you’ll find tracks that are fairy-tale like with their dreamy frost-laden trees and crisp, blue skies. And after a long day on the slopes, you can tuck into all the hearty food the region offers.


South Tyrol offers dishes that are a mix of Italian and Austrian cuisine. Savor a  mezzaluna, a ravioli-style pasta made from buckwheat with rich fillings of spinach, ricotta or potato. For an elevated experience (pun intended), head to Corones Hütte. At more than 7,000 feet above sea level, the stunning “alpine-glamourous” restaurant offers a range of local dishes, including mezzaluna.

Ylläs, Finland

Near the arctic circle, in Finnish Lapland, you’ll find more than just a Father Christmas grotto. Ylläs is not only Finland’s largest ski resort but also the world’s most pristine natural park. Home to seven fells, the scenery is something otherworldly. With more than 205 miles of cross-country ski routes, you can try a fresh track every day. 


There are floodlights on some routes, so you can ski well after the sun sets, which is about 4 p.m. in the depths of winter. Spend the evening traversing the brightly lit slopes and then retire to neighboring villages of Äkäslompolo or Ylläsjärvi. At 10 p.m., street lights are turned off, meaning there’s a strong chance you’ll see the Aurora Borealis dance across the sky from your bedroom window!

Otepää, Estonia 

The Baltics rarely get a shout out for skiing, but to overlook them would be a disservice to a plethora of fantastic cross-country skiing routes its nations offer. We recommend Estonia, particularly Otepää, in the country’s south. Surrounded by hills, valleys and towering pine trees, it’s one of the nation’s most popular ski locations. 


For more than 60 years, cross-country skiers have descended on the town during February to take part in the Tartu Marathon. The track, which spreads across rolling hills, starts at the Tehvandi Ski Stadium and cuts through the county’s vast alpine terrain, ending in an old shooting range near the quaint town of Elva. At 40 miles long, the well-preserved course really is a marathon and not a sprint, so although it might not be for the fair-weather skier, it’s just the ticket for cross-country enthusiasts.