Where to Ski in October
The beginning of October signals the start of falling temperatures, increasing snowfall, and for some - an excellent opportunity for early-season skiing. So, where is best for an October ski getaway?
Autumn ski holidays are perfect for those looking for uncrowded slopes, short queues at the lifts, and stunning, peaceful ski days. Early-season skiing means that you can travel in near-empty airports and arrive at top resorts with newly refurbished features and equipment to have all to yourself. There is also the potential for additional hands-on training in less crowded classes.
It should be noted that skiing in October can be hit or miss in regard to weather and snow. The best skiing is found on glaciers and at high mountain elevations. Below, we have put together a list of our top picks for skiing in October.
Want to get an early start to the ski season? Explore our collection of luxury ski chalets and hotels, and begin planning your luxury October ski holiday today.
Skiing in October in Europe
Although October is not a particularly snowy month, autumn skiers can expect to find top Alpine resorts up and running with fresh glacier snow and minimal crowds. In fact, many view October as the true start of the early European ski season, especially for high-altitude locations.
Keep in mind that skiing in October in Europe will be limited, with no promise of powder. This early into the season, the best places to ski are helped along with snow-making cannons and low autumn night temperatures. Smart travellers will take advantage of the cheaper prices, relaxed airports, and quiet slopes - perfect for beginners skiing for the first time and advanced skiers testing their skills with plenty of space on empty pistes.
There are a number of reliably snowy resorts across Europe in October, mainly in Switzerland, France, Austria, and Italy. Below are some of our favourites and the best skiing in October in Europe.
Skiing in Switzerland in October
In Switzerland, October is the midpoint of autumn, with its natural vistas and mountain villages all the more accented by golden fall colours. Although hiking is incredibly popular during this time, you can expect some to make their way up to the resorts in search of excellent skiing.
The weather can be unpredictable, and many ski resorts’ seasons don’t officially begin until November. We would recommend sticking to the highest ski areas, such as Zermatt, and glacier villages, such as Saas-Fee and Gstaad. Zermatt and Saas Fee ski resorts are generally open from September onwards and are considered the best places to ski in the country in October.
Elevation: 1,608 m
Average monthly snowfall in October: 26.3 cm
Zermatt is found nestled in the valley beneath the perennially snow-capped Matterhorn. Famous for striking views of the Swiss Alps, many would consider Zermatt to be in a class of its own - and with the reduced crowd levels in October, you can enjoy this iconic location for a relaxed, unpressured ski holiday.
Skiing in October in Zermatt can be the perfect introduction to the ski season. The Klein Matterhorn glacier is available all year round and offers up to 20km of slopes - the largest and highest altitude skiing available in October in Europe.
Oxford Ski recommends: Taking the Matterhorn glacier ride - the world's highest 3S cableway gondola ride, featuring four “Crystal ride” cabins that are coated in Swarovski crystals with a clear glass bottom.
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Saas Fee, Switzerland
Elevation: 1,800 m
Average monthly snowfall in October: 33.5 cm
Known as the “Pearl of the Alps”, Saas Fee is a charming glacier village surrounded by a stunning view of 13 mountain peaks. The car-free resort combines its authentic Alpine atmosphere with modern luxury amenities, chic après ski bars, and fine dining.
October is the perfect time to visit Saas Fee, especially if you are looking to get your ski training in early. You can expect perfect conditions with great snow quality across the glacier, and early-season skiers can enjoy over 1,000m of vertical descent slopes.
Oxford Ski recommends: Riding up the Saas Fee gondola and the funicular railway to the Ice Pavillion - enjoy the views from the top of the resort and see impressive ice sculptures and glacier ice that is well over 1,000 years old.
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Elevation: 1,050 m
Average monthly snowfall in October: 45 cm
Another attractive, car-free glacier village, Gstaad is nestled between four gently sloping valleys and surrounded by stunning Alpine scenery. The resort is as picturesque as it is fashionable, and it offers a variety of elegant dining options, designer boutiques, and luxury spas to enjoy.
Gstaad is open for winter sports enthusiasts from the end of October to the beginning of May, with slopes maintained by artificial snow and an impressive glacier skiing area. Keep in mind that the Gstaad Glacier 3000 may only be open during the weekends in October and before the winter season officially begins.
Oxford Ski recommends: Enjoying a half-day or evening excursion on Lake Thun or Lake Brienz - these cruises are available from April to October and offer fantastic catering and banquet facilities.
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Skiing in France in October
Skiing in France in October can be fairly unpredictable, with unruly weather and early snowfall that tends to melt soon after. If you want to start the season early, we suggest Tinges, the best option for skiing in France in October.
Elevation: 2,100 m
Average monthly snowfall in October: 111 cm
Tinges generally opens its doors at the end of September, significantly ahead of other resorts. It sits at an impressive 2,100m and is the second-highest resort in Europe. Looking up from the resort, you will see the stunning Grande Motte Glacier which towers over the area at 3,656m.
In October, six lifts will open to a number of spectacular pistes. Even this early into the year, you can expect to see some of the best athletes in the world training before the winter season officially begins. You can also look forward to spectacular cross-country skiing across the glacier.
Oxford Ski recommends: Staying at the Chalet Refuge V with a wood-burning stove, sauna, and breathtaking views off the balcony.
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Skiing in Austria in October
From harvest festivals to drinking Strum in cosy wine taverns and gorgeous Autumn hikes across the Ötztal Alps, October is the perfect time for an Austrian holiday. This month is packed with traditional and local celebrations
If you are planning an extensive Autumn ski holiday, Austria is the perfect destination with up to eight top ski areas open by mid-October. In fact, there are more places to ski in October across Austria than in any other country in Europe. Although you will need to keep an eye out for snow conditions and the affected opening dates, you can depend on a general good-time atmosphere that comes with traditional Austrian beer festivals.
Elevation: 2,019 m
Average monthly snowfall in October: 80 cm
There are fantastic glacier skiing options in October in Kaunertal, Pitzal, Hintertux, Kaprun and more. Our top pick for the best place to ski in October in Austria is Obergurgl, one of the first resorts to open thanks to its high base and towering slopes.
Enjoy the stunning Alpine landscape and the peaceful atmosphere of this historical ski village. Thanks to Obergurgl’s extraordinary altitude, this resort is often the first to open and is able to offer top-to-bottom skiing by November.
Oxford Ski recommends: Staying at the ski-in, ski-out Hotel Riml - the perfect location to explore the Hochgurgle-Obergurgla area with indoor golf simulators and a large wellness spa that overlooks panoramic views of the Tyrolean mountains.
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Skiing in Italy in October
Although Italy is often overlooked when it comes to early-season skiing, it offers some of the best artificial snow-making and high-altitude terrain available in Europe. In October, Italian resorts tend to be less affected by the warm Gulfstream, with slopes that are located on the south side of the Alps. You can expect better preservation and quality of snow and lower humidity as well.
Our top pick for the best place to ski in October in Italy is Cervinia, a headline resort that offers some of the highest-altitude skiing in the country.
Elevation: 2,006 m
Average monthly snowfall in October: 108 cm
Europe’s most famous mountain, the Matterhorn, is known on the Italian side as ‘Monte Cervino’, and Cervinia is located dramatically below the peak. This peaceful ski village has incredible access to the slopes and offers the best lifts that are centrally located to a number of ski-in, ski-out luxury chalets and hotels.
The amount of skiing available in Cervina in October will depend on snow conditions, but you can usually count on it to extend as far below the glacier as possible.
Oxford Ski recommends: Staying at the catered luxury Chalet La Fenice - positioned on a plateau 60m above the resort and with stunning 360-degree Matterhorn and Alpine views.
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