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Top Ski Holiday Destinations in Europe

Considering a trip to the mountains? With an extensive list of resorts to choose from for every ability and budget, it’s never been easier to find the perfect place for your ski holiday.

France remains king when it comes to convenience, thanks to purpose built accommodation which provides easy access to the slopes; Switzerland is a picturesque alternative if you’re looking to stay in a traditional alpine village. The Italians promise unbeatable hospitality and stunning mountain scenery combined with some of the Alps’ most affordable prices. Look to Austria if après ski is top of your priority list – gluhwein and schnapps are in plentiful supply in its mountain bars and restaurants.

Don’t forget to take out winter sports insurance before you travel including substantial cover for emergency medical expenses. If you’re planning to venture away from the designated slopes, make sure your policy includes cover for off-piste skiing. Some policies will also include cover for equipment – useful if you’ve invested in your own kit and want to insure against theft, loss or damage. Be sure to read your policy wording carefully to check what you are covered for.

Read on for our pick of the five best ski resorts in Europe.

Ilha Grande

Within easy reach of Rio, the Ilha Grande is the place to go if you’re searching for tropical island escapism. Those looking for 21st Century convenience should holiday elsewhere; cars are banned from the island and ATMs are non-existent. But if pristine beaches and untouched rainforests are on your travel wish list, the Ilha Grande will grant your wishes by the bucket load. The island’s Lopes Mendes beach, a secluded cove of turquoise waters, has deservedly won a place on many a ‘world’s best beaches’ poll. Miles of jungle trails snake around Ilha Grande promising the opportunity for hours of exploration if your legs are up to the challenge. The island’s chequered history is also worth investigating; visit the Museu do Carcere at the site of the former penal reform centre to discover the Ilha Grande’s not so tourist friendly past!

Bahia

Sitting in the centre of Brazil’s east coast, Salvador da Bahia was Brazil’s capital city from 1549 to 1763 and is now the capital of the Bahia region. Salvador’s historic centre has been given Unesco world heritage status and remains a well preserved colonial jewel, with pastel painted buildings and renaissance churches lining its stone streets. The African heritage of many of the city’s residents is well preserved through religion, food, music and dance (the city is a hotspot for the dance and martial arts hybrid Capoeira). Porto da Barra, a long stretch of sandy beach lined by historic fortresses, is a popular meeting point for locals on the edge of the city. Outside of Salvador, the beautiful beaches in the wider Bahia region are worth a visit for secluded sunbathing. It is well worth venturing further in land to visit the Parque Nacional da Chapada Diamantina, a showcase of breath-taking vistas over the Sincora mountain range.

The Amazon

Over half of the colossal amazon rainforest is located in Brazil. Housing a population of over 5000 different animal species, the Amazon is one of the world’s most diverse eco systems as well as being one of the most beautiful. The easiest way to explore the rainforest is via boat, with the city of Manaus – the gateway to the Amazon River – the best place to find a river boat tour into the heart of the jungle for any budget or timescale. Most tour operators will give the option to sleep on the riverboat itself or, if you are feeling adventurous, leave the boat behind and make a jungle lodge your home for a few nights. Follow your tour guide into the vegetation to hike amongst the native animals; alternatively, canoe down the river alongside pink river dolphins to view the wildlife from the water.

Iguaçu Falls

Another of Brazil’s world heritage sites, Iguaçu Falls is a must visit for anyone in search of natural spectacle. Marking the line between Brazil and neighbouring Argentina, Iguaçu is an ever-popular tourist spot for those on both sides of the border. The falls consist of 275 individual drops, which throw large clouds of spray onto the surrounding forests. This spray creates a humid microclimate, the perfect home for a range of rare and endangered plant species. Take a full day to explore the falls and the extensive Iguaçu National Park, where you can follow one of the many hiking trails to search for capuchin monkeys, giant otters and soaring vultures. For added adrenalin, take a helicopter ride over the falls and experience a true bird’s eye view of the remarkable gorge.

Travelling to Brazil?

If you’re travelling to Brazil, here are some essential tips to help better plan your journey: 


Consult with your General Practitioner or Practice Nurse 6-8 weeks in advance of travel. They will assess your particular health risks before recommending vaccines and/or antimalarial tablets. 


Cases of locally transmitted Zika virus have been confirmed in the last 3 months. You should follow the advice of the National Travel Health Network and Centre and discuss your travel plans with your healthcare provider, particularly if you’re pregnant or planning to become pregnant. 


If you become sick or injured during your trip, and need urgent medical attention, dial 192 and ask for an ambulance. You should contact your insurance/medical assistance company promptly if you are referred to a medical facility for treatment. 


Make sure you have adequate travel health insurance and/or accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment abroad and repatriation. Private hospitals will not accept you unless you can present evidence of sufficient funds or insurance. 


Travellers to Brazil are entitled to emergency medical treatment in public hospitals; however public hospitals are often crowded in larger cities. 


However far you travel; however long you travel for; make sure your next trip is memorable for all the right reasons. View our range of travel insurance products here.