Ski destinations with the least Covid restrictions – ranked and rated

Advice

After two winters of misfortune, British skiers and snowboarders are set to be among the first group of travellers to benefit from easing travel restrictions across Europe.

As the ski season enters its final few months nations on the continent are making efforts to allow Britons to visit without so much as a negative test or passenger locator form. On March 1, Italy lifted its long-running requirement for all arrivals, regardless of vaccination status, to swab before arrival, following the lead of both France and Switzerland. 

“Right now is the easiest time to go skiing for two years,” says Richard Sinclair, managing director of specialist travel agent Sno. “With new snow and new freedoms making the Alps feel as fabulous as they always used to, it’s going to be an amazing final month of the season.”

Telegraph readers look set to be among those making the most of the return of ‘normality’ on the slopes – a recent poll on Twitter revealed the majority are yet to ski this season, but have a trip booked and are eagerly awaiting departure.

It’s not just Italy pulling back the curtain either. Austria is on track to drop the majority of its Covid measures this weekend – just in the nick of time for those eager to make the most of spring on the slopes. “March is a great time for spring skiing. It is already a bit warmer, the snow is still great, and everyone who wants to make use of the additional hours of sunshine can start with morning skiing from as early as 7am in some ski resorts,” explains a representative from the Austrian National Tourist Office.

Operators are also revelling in what’s left of the seasons too. “Restrictions are certainly easier now than they have been for most of the last two winter seasons. We have extended our programme for an additional week in April to offer guests the best chance to book a ski holiday to the Alps and to keep up with increased demand,” says Joe Ponte, CEO of Inghams.

Below we outline the current state of play in each of the top ski destinations, for full details and the latest updates as they happen follow our ski holiday tracker. What’s more If you’re in the minority who are leaving it until the last minute to book a ski holiday now the red tape has been scrapped there are still deals to be had and snow lying thick on the ground.

Italy

Hassle-free rating: 3/5

Italy has dropped the requirement for fully vaccinated British arrivals, or those who have recently recovered, to test before they visit. Unvaccinated travellers can also now enter without the need to quarantine as long as they have proof of a negative test. It’s a landmark move which brings Italy’s policies, which have long been some of the most stringent in Europe, inline with those in its Alpine neighbours.

What rules remain?

Despite eased restrictions at the border, family ski holidays, with children aged between 12 to 17, could still proved to be problematic in Italy where the ‘Super Green Pass’ continues to govern entry to the likes of restaurants, hotels and bars and access to the slopes. Everyone over the age of over 12 must have proof of full vaccination (second dose within the last six months, or a booster) or proof of recovery within 180 days to activate their pass – otherwise you will need to take a PCR test every 72 hours (or antigen every 48 hours) to access the mountain. However there is hope on the horizon, Italian prime minister Mario Draghi has told the press that after Italy’s state of emergency ends on March 31, the use of the Super Green Pass will be phased out gradually. Find out what other rules are still in place in Italy here.



Hotel Hermitage, Cervinia ski holidays


The five-star Hotel Hermitage in snow-sure Cervinia is a good spot to book


Credit: Hotel Hermitage

Can I still book?

Elegant Resorts (01244 897581; elegantresorts.co.uk) offers the five-star Hotel Hermitage, with spa and fine dining restaurant, in snow-sure Cervinia, from £3,695 half board, based on a superior room, including a 50 per cent reduction on the final night saving up to £315 per person. Departs April 2.

Austria

Hassle free rating: 4/5

Austria will lift most of its remaining Covid restriction by this weekend (March 5), including curfews on bars and restaurants and allowing nightclubs to reopen – welcome news to fans of Austria’s thigh-slapping apres ski. This follows news that the nation has recently eased rules at the border (see below). Health pass restrictions have also been relaxed, allowing unvaccinated people to return to restaurants, bars and non-essential shops if they have been tested – from this weekend the scheme, as well as the ‘Ninja Holiday Pass’ required for children aged 12 and over, will be scrapped entirely.

What rules remain?

When Covid measures in Austria come to an end, as outlined by Chancellor Karl Nehammer recently, very few obstacles will stand in the way of fresh tracks on the slopes. Britons can now enter the country with either proof of full vaccination, including a booster if 270 days has passed since your second dose, recovery from Covid in the past 180 days or a negative test, without the need to fill in any pre-travel clearance forms. The requirement to wear protective FFP2 masks is to remain in place but only for certain busy areas including public transport (including enclosed gondolas and cable cars), essential shops and pharmacies. As ever, each individual Austrian province continues to be permitted to enforce its own rules. 

Can I still book?

Ski Solutions (020 7471 7761; skisolutions.com) offers the four-star Valluga Hotel in party hotspot St Anton, with a spa and near the resort’s shops and restaurants, from £1,990, room only. Departs April 2. 



St. Anton am Arlberg, Austria ski holidays


Austria will lift most of its remaining Covid restriction by March 5 (pictured: St. Anton am Arlberg)


Credit: TVB St. Anton am Arlberg_Patrick Bà ¤tz

Switzerland

Hassle-free rating: 5/5

The Swiss haven’t been shy about the fact their mountains have been open to all for (almost) the entirety of the pandemic – it’s no surprise then that they were the first to entirely drop all Covid restrictions in ski resorts recently, including health passports that were required to enter restaurants and bars, and mandatory mask wearing in most indoor spaces.

What rules remain?

All that is required to go skiing in Switzerland right now is proof of vaccination for everyone over the age of 16. If more than 270 days have passed since your second dose you’ll need a booster. You may still be required to cover your face when riding on enclosed gondolas. 

“Fully vaccinated British guests can travel to Switzerland without restrictions and the only Covid related measure in place is the mask requirement for public transportation, which will end by April 1 and make travelling even more relaxed,” says Alex Herrmann, Director Switzerland Tourism UK & Ireland.

“It’s not too late to ski this winter season: most Swiss resorts will be open till Easter and we can’t wait to welcome British guests for some spring skiing in the Swiss Alps.”

Can I still book?

Ski Independence (0131 243 8097; ski-i.com) offers stays at four-star Hotel Mirabeau Zermatt, which stays open for skiing 365 days of the year, with a spa and views of the Matterhorn, from £2,099 b&b. Departs April 10.



Gornergrat, Zermatt, Switzerland ski holidays


The Swiss were the first to entirely drop all Covid restrictions in ski resorts (pictured: Gornergrat, Zermatt)


Credit: Getty

France

Hassle-free rating: 2/5

Short of removing the requirement for double-jabbed travellers to test before their arrival, our friends across the channel are yet to follow the trend and ease the Covid restrictions that have plagued ski holidays this winter. Outside of North America, it remains the destination with the most red tape for skiers and snowboarders.

What rules remain?

You must be fully vaccinated (including a booster if your second dose is older than 270 days) to ski in France – but you do not need to test before departure. If you are not fully vaccinated, you may only travel under exceptional circumstances. The pass vaccinal continues to rule life in France, including on the ski slopes. All over-16s must have two vaccine shots and a booster, if the second dose was more than four months ago, to access the likes of restaurants, bars (even to sit outside) and the slopes. Teenagers aged between 12 and 15 years are required to show a pass sanitaire. This means proof of full vaccination or a professionally taken negative antigen every 24 hours or recent recovery. Masks are still compulsory in all indoor spaces in France, including those covered by the health pass such as bars, cafes and restaurants, when not seated, eating or drinking. But this hasn’t put keen skiers off. 

“Ever since January 16 this year when the borders opened up again, the travel process has been getting easier and easier – and we’ve full every week,” says Nick Morgan, managing director of Le Ski. “No testing is required to enter either France or Britain and the UK’s passenger locator form is a simple formality, which is apparently being scrapped soon anyway. All 33 of our chalets are completely full until the end of March and we’ve even extended the season in Courchevel to April 17 to cope with the demand.”



Skiing holidays in France


You must be fully vaccinated but you do not need to test before departure


Credit: Andy Parant

Can I still book?

Mark Warner (0344 2736793; markwarner.co.uk) offers the slope-side Chalet Hotel Aiguille Percée, with spa and onsite childcare, in Tignes, which has glacier skiing until May 1, from £1,499 based on a family of four sharing. Departs April 10.

Norway 

Hassle-free rating: 5/5

With no testing, no forms, no masks and no social distancing, Trevor De Villiers, from Norway Home of Skiing, sums up the current state of play for ski holidays in Norway succinctly: “With total restriction-free access to Norway now, we are definitely back to the pre-Covid way of travelling and enjoying our ski holidays to Norway.”

What’s more: “We have also been lucky enough to have been hit by a massive snow dump across all our resorts and skiing over in Norway right now is just perfect.”

What rules remain?

None. Norway has lifted all of its Covid-related travel restrictions, including tests, vaccine passes and passenger locator forms and any rules on the ski slopes.

Can I still book?

Ski Safari (01273 977751; skisafari.com) offers the four-star Scandic Voss, a large modern hotel with sauna facilities , by the railway station (easily accessed from Bergen) and next to the Voss Gondol lifts, from £899, b&b. Excludes transfers. Departs April 3.



Skiing in Norway


Norway has lifted all of its Covid-related travel restrictions, including tests, vaccine passes and passenger locator forms, plus any rules on the ski slopes


Credit: Getty

Andorra

Hassle-free rating: 3/5

To visit the slopes in Andorra you need to pass through either France (where you no longer need to take a test if fully vaccinated) or Spain (which now permits unvaccianted arrivals with proof of recovery). Once you’ve arrived, you can hit the slopes, whether you’re vaccinated or not.

What rules remain? 

To hit the slopes in the likes of the Grandvalira ski area, the largest in Andorra, you need a health passport – this can be obtained with proof of full vaccination, recovery within the past six months or a negative test. Masks are still mandatory indoors too, but lifts are running at full capacity.

Can I still book?

Neilson (0333 014 3351; neilson.co.uk) offers stays at Hotel Del Clos in El Tarter, a spacious hotel with views of the slopes from its broad sun terrace, from £879 including free guiding and coaching. Departs April 3.

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