Unearthing the best après in Europe

As R Kelly once sang ‘after the party there’s the after party’, and so it is with skiing.

Apres is a tradition almost as old of the sport of skiing itself, and just as much of an endurance test. Hard core après-ers start at around 3pm and party on to the wee hours, but let’s be honest – that’s probably a bit stupid. After all, you go on a ski (or snowboard) holiday to ski, not to do one run down a baby bluey at midday then head back to bed to nurse that monster hangover.

Our advice for making the most of those fun après hours? Start at around 4pm with a fun bar on the slopes (probably one we’re about to list below), have all the gluhwein guzzling/stein raising/table top dancing/lederhosen wearing fun you can, but try to be in bed for 11 – 12pm at the absolute max. Maybe we’re lame, but we want to be up early for that fresh pow pow.

Anyway, motherly advice aside, we do still love ourselves a bit of après, especially if it involves any of the below…

St Anton, Austria

The original and the best, St Anton is the birthplace of the party on the piste, with pop-up bars, igloo bars and ice bars a-plenty. The majority of après joints sit along blue run 1 – one of the main runs down to the town – so have a constant captive audience of skiers and boarders still riding the adrenalin wave of making it down the mountain alive. Most likely, you’ve already heard of Mooserwirt – it’s pretty much legend on the après scene, and featured in Chalet Girl (c’mon, we know you’ve seen it). Krazy Kanguruh is its neighbour and close rival, and both offer up pretty much the same deal – ear-splitting Euro pop, raucous table dancing, copious shots of Jägermeister and endless fun times.

apres in europe - moosewirt

Méribel, France

A popular ski season choice, Méribel offers up awesome skiing thanks to it being in the centre of the Trois Vallées. But we’re not here to talk about the skiing, we’re here to talk nothin’ but par-taaay, and Méribel also serves up plenty of that. The party gets going several hundred metres up the mountain at La Folie Douce, a Val d’Isère institution that kicks off daily at 3pm with DJs, singers and dancers to entertain the crowds. A little further down the mountain at 1,650m Rond Point is another popular choice amongst the slightly more sophisticated crowd, where live music gets going from around 5pm. If it’s after hours action you’re after, you won’t be short of options – Jack’s, Doron pub and O’Sullivans (Irish, of course) keep the party going to the wee hours.

apres in europe - La Folie Douce Meribel

Hopfgarten, Austria

Oh Hopfy how you steal our hearts. Nestled in the foot of Hohe Salve, Hopfgarten is the kind of quaint, cute and cosy ski resort you imagine up when you think of quintessential Austria. But what it lacks in size, it makes up for in atmosphere. Most action kicks off either on the bars lining home run, or at Rundell’s in town from around 3pm, where great beers are on tap and the crowd high on life after a day of hitting the slopes. The party then moves on to Gasthof Schoneck, the Contiki owned traditional Austrian guest house where the vibe is fun and the rule is anything goes. Known for its legendary theme parties (bring something bright, white and tight is all we’re saying) and boozy Schnappy hour, be sure to line tummies well in advance – the snowboard of shots is seriously dangerous…

Les Deux Alpes, France

A popular choice for when you don’t want to blow your entire years travel budget on one snow holiday, Les Deux Alpes is lively, informal, and unpretentious. The après gets going at Pano Bar, and when you hear how high up the slopes it is (OK we’ll spill, a whopping 2600m) you’ll understand where the name comes from. Because it is so high up the mountain, go easy on the gluhwein –  you’ve still got nearly 1000m of vertical downhill to master for the journey home. Back in town, The Secret Bar is a winning choice with live bands and happy hour from 4-5pm, or if you’ve got an appetite for rum, give Bar Rhumerie a go. Don’t care what time you roll into bed? You’ll probably be fist pumping into the wee hours at L’Avalanche, where doors close around 4pm.

Livigno, Italy

Sitting in a high, remote valley near the border of Switzerland, Livigno is a great choice for beginners or second weekers still a little nervy on the snow. Many of the old wooden houses in the village centre have been turned into cool bars, restaurants and clubs, meaning the après scene is diverse and pumping. The Stalet pub is pretty much an après must-do, as is the Tea del Vidal at the base of the Mottolino gondola which stays open till early hours and claims to be the birthplace of the bombardino – a devilish hot egg nog laced with brandy. If it’s dancing you’re after, make on over to Il Cielo for yet more Euro pop (seriously you can’t escape it) shenanigans.

apres in europe - Tea del Vidal

Want a slice of apres action for yourself? Check out Contiki’s winter & ski trips for snowy inspo...