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Ok, so there are some winter resorts out there that are, how can we say it politely, a little bit shabby ? However, the one saving grace that even the ugliest of resorts have is that, thanks to the beauty of mountains, the scenery around them is usually pretty good.

But we're not interested in pretty good, we want to know which resorts are surrounded by the most spectacular scenery - the sort of views that don't just knock your socks off but send your ski boots flying too.

Anyway, here's our top 10...

  1. Zermatt (Switzerland)

If there's a more stunning location for a mountain resort than Zermatt then we've yet to come across it. Just sit back and enjoy the journey up the valley from Brig to the car-free village and get ready for your first glimpse of the Matterhorn, you wont be disappointed. Zermatt sits at the end of the Mattertal valley and is surrounded by 4000m peaks and glaciers, although naturally it's the Matterhorn that grabs your attention for most of the time. Oh yes, and the skiing's not bad either.

  2. Grindelwald (Switzerland)

It's a tricky thing having to hand this resort second place to anyone else in the scenery stakes » and it was a close run thing with Zermatt. Grindelwald sits on the side of a valley at a height of 1034m with an alpine backdrop that is the envy of the world - the Eiger » Monch » Jungfrau and Wetterhorn. To be honest pictures don't do the location of Grindelwald justice » you have to go there to witness the sheer scale of the Eiger looming over you. Dont be too disappointed if there's a cloud » seeing the top of the North Face appearing high above you sometimes feels more dramatic than on a cloudless day when the whole wall is in view. Most of the skiing takes place on the slopes facing the Eiger » such as First » so the view from the pistes is as good as that down in the town.

  3. Wengen (Switzerland)

Nestling high up on a ledge above the Lauterbrunnen Valley, Wengen is another glorious traffic free village which is only reachable by a cogwheel railway. Dominating the skyline above Wengen are the snowy masses of the Eiger, Monch and Jungfrau whilst the scenery in another direction is pretty impressive too, with waterfalls dropping from the hanging valleys of Murren and the peak of the Schilthorn on the other side of the Lauterbrunnen valley. The sheers cliffs rising up from the village to the cable car station at Mannlichen are pretty impressive too.

  4. Chamonix (France)

Situated in the valley of the same name, Chamonix has some of the best scenery in Europe thanks in no small part to it's location at the foot of Mont Blanc, Europe's highest mountain. Whilst Mont Blanc's shape may not look as dramatic at the Matterhorn's pyramid, or have a slope as terrifying as the Eiger's north face, the sheer scale of it is incredible. Hardly surprising when you consider that Chamonix down on the valley floor is below 1000m, whilst the peak of Mont Blanc is 4810m, nearly 4000m of vertical difference. The Chamonix valley is truly stunning - deep and narrow with mountains rising each side. From the valley floor it's hard to get a true reflection on the scale of the peaks above, so it's really when you start ascending in the cable cars and can see both above and below you that you get a true feel for the magnitude of it all.

  5. Val Gardena (Italy)

There are 3 resorts in the Gardena valley: Selva, Ortisei and Santa Crestina, and to be honest there's nothing to choose between them in terms of the stunning scenery on offer. Located in the Dolomites on the eastern side of the Alps, the village is sat amongst the Sassolungo, Puez and Sella Group of mountains, with the Sassolungo (also known as the Langkofel) standing out in particular with it's almost knife-like appearance. Val Gardena is like a showcase for everything the Dolomites has to offer - huge faces of jagged rocks sat on top vast expanses of alpine meadows, with the peaks changing colour constantly throughout the day, often giving off spectacular shades of pink and red. For those heading there in the winter months you wont be disappointed either - the valley is part of the vast Dolomiti Superski area, with an incredible 1200 km of pistes on offer !

  6. Saas Fee (Switzerland)

It's not hard to see why Saas Fee is nicknamed 'The Pearl of the Alps'. Whilst it's often overlooked in favour of near neighbour Zermatt, Saas Fee is a spectacular destination in it's own right, with thirteen 4000m+ peaks surrounding it, including the Allalinhorn and Dom, Switzerland's second highest mountain at 4545m. The village is situated high up in the Saastal Valley at an altitude of 1800m and has a fantastic view of the Fee Gletcher (glacier), which really dominates the far end of the valley and almost appears to be tumbling down into it. It goes without saying that it's a top ski and snowboarding resort, also offering summer skiing up at Mittelallalin, but for non-skiers who want to take in in a good view of the scenery, take the world's highest underground funicular, the Metro Alpin, up to the Mittelallalin Restaurant, the highest revolving restaurant in the world, at 3456m. Just keep your finger's crossed that it's a clear day. You can get to the village by road, but if you're travelling by car you need to park just outside the village as it's been traffic free since the road was built in the 50's.

  7. Murren (Switzerland)

Often overlooked in favour of neighbouring Wengen and Grindelwald, Murren's scenery is still absolutely stunning, with it's views of the Eiger, Monch and Jungfrau towering over everything in one direction and the Schilthorn in the other. It remains a hotly debated topic as to which of the big three Jungfrau resorts has the best view, but to be honest you can't go wrong with any of them. The views down the valley towards Lauterbrunnen and over to Wengen and Mannlichen are equally amazing, and on a clear day there are only a few resorts in Europe that can match the quality of views that Murren has on offer.

  8. Cortina d'Ampezzo (Italy)

Surrounded in every direction by the dramatic peaks of the Dolomites, Cortina d'Ampezzo's scenery is almost as beautiful as the people who frequent this most stylish of resorts. Situated in the Valle del Boite, the peak of Tofana di Mezzo dominates above Cortina but there's something magical about the location as a whole that makes it one of the most scenic resorts in Europe.

  9. Les Diablerets (Switzerland)

When it comes to scenery Les Diablerets is a real hidden gem. Set in the bottom of a valley high up in the mountains, one of the sides of the valley is a sweep of dramatic sheer-dropping cliff faces that provides a great panoramic view extending right round to the Col du Pillon and the mass of rock that the glaciers sit on top of. The other side of the valley is not as dramatic but most of the accommodation is built on the lower slopes of it anyway and face the other side of the valley. The village centre is also home to one of the best located football pitches anywhere in the world (down next to the conference centre), it has to be seen to be believed. Smashing home a last minute winner is great, but doing it on that ground must be extra special !

  10. Zell am See (Austria)

The Austrian resort of Zell Am See is beautifully located next to the Zeller See (that's lake to non-German speaking folk). The town's nearest peak is the Schmittenhohe, pleasant enough to look at but hardly awe-inspiring at only just above 2000m. However, the various pistes and restaurants on the slopes have fantastic views of some of the surrounding mountains, such as the Kitzsteinhorn above neighbouring Kaprun and Grossglockner, Austria's highest peak. And the vast majority of the slopes all look down on the lake, iced over for the majority of the winter, but home to boats and swimmers in the summer. The town itself has a great feel to it in both winter and summer. If you're visiting in summer and want even more scenery, take a trip out onto the famous Grossglockner High Alpine Road, one of the most panoramic drives in Europe. If you're there in winter, just head for the slopes.



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