The popular ski slopes of St Moritz and Zermatt are packed with skiers at this time of the year, so why not pack your poles and slope off to some of the globe’s lesser known pistes to get your snow fun this winter?

From groomed runs near Beirut, to lava hot action on the slopes of Mount Etna, here are our top ten under-the-radar ski resorts.

Stylish slopes near Beirut


Where is it? The carefully maintained slopes of Faqra ski resort are an hour’s ride from Beirut, Lebanon’s lively capital.

Why go there? Touted as the Middle East’s largest ski area, the lofty slopes of 2,465 metre tall Mzaar Kfardebianin offer panoramic views over neighbouring countries and endless exciting kilometres of ski runs. Icing on the cake: This stylish resort is a magnet for the planet’s in-crowd who come here for the fashions shows and other hip après ski events.

When’s best? December to April.

Stay where? The InterContinental Mzaar Hotel & Spa has a private ski lift that will whisk you up to the slopes.

Getting there: FlyDubai have direct flights to Beirut, from Dh1,384.

Snow fun in Sweden

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Where is it? Topped by the lofty mount Nordalsfjäll, the Swedish resort of Riksgränsen, high in the icey mountains of Lapland, is the globe’s most northerly ski slope.

Why go there? For adrenalin ski- and snow- activities that you can’t find anywhere else, you can’t do better than this remote spot where the Scandinavian Big Mountain Championships are held each year. Roads linking the resort to the outside world were only built a few decades ago and even today it’s a long (but worthwhile) trek to get here. Apart from perfect powder, intrepid ski lovers can expect hot saunas and lashings of local cuisine.

When’s best? February to June.

Stay where? For assured comfort check into the Arctic Eden.

Getting there: Emirates have flights from Dubai to Kiruna, changing in Stockholm, from Dh5,091.

Lava thrills on Mount Etna

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Where is it? One of the globe’s most active volcanoes, Italy’s mount Etna rises from the plains of Sicily and there are two main ski areas on the northern, and southern flanks.

Why go? Mount Etna in itself, which has been continuously erupting for thousand of years, is a big enough attraction, but in winter when those lava-slathered slopes are thick with snow it’s an astounding sight. Rifiugio Sapienza in the south is the largest, with five well groomed pistes, whilst Piano Provenzana in the north is the smaller resort, but has the best views of mount Etna. With the Greco-¬Roman ruins of Taormina, and the castles and museums of Catania close by there’s plenty to do when the skis are off, too.

When’s best? November to March.

Stay where? It has to be the luxurious Monaci delle Terre Nere hotel.

Getting there: Emirates have flights to Palermo, changing in Rome, from Dh2,997.

Malam Jabba, ‘Switzerland of the East’


Where is it? This resort high in the Hindu Kush, which was once a British hill station, lies in the mountains of northern Pakistan, 314km from Islamabad.

Why go? The area is packed with history: Princely ruler the Wali of Swat spent his summers at Malam Jabba and this glorious region was subsequently named ‘Switzerland of the East’ by Queen Elizabeth II when she visited in 1961. Apart from the charm of being in such a historic spot, the newly refurbished ski slope has several excellent runs, there’s a chairlift and there’s even an ice-skating rink.

When’s best? November to March.

Stay where? The elegant PTDC hotel is the closest spot to the slopes.

Getting there? PIA have flights from Dubai to Islamabad from Dh925. From there, get a connecting flight to Pakistan’s Saidu Sharif airport.

Downhill in Dizin


Where is it? One of Iran’s largest ski resorts, Dizin is 70km north of Tehran in the 3,600m high Alborz mountain range.

Why go? The quality of snow, said to rival many top European stations, is one of the biggest reasons to visit this fabulous resort whose wide variety of slopes offer a thrilling range of skiing and snowboarding opportunities. Off piste there are tennis courts, snowboarding, and several restaurants serving Iranian specialities, including delicious Persian lamb herb stew Ghormeh Sabzi.

When’s best? Mid-November to May.

Stay where? Check into the charming Dizin hotel to be right at the heart of the action.

Getting there? Emirates have flights from Dubai to Tehran from Dh2,676.

Snowtime in Shymbulak

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Where is it? In the mountains of southern Kazakhstan, a thirty minute drive from the former capital of Almaty.

Why go? One of the biggest ski resort in Central Asia, this is also one of the most luxurious. The 3,200m high slopes of this brand new resort have ski schools, restaurants, a snow park, a slalom course and night skiing. Add to that some exciting après ski action and plenty of glitzy nightclubs, and you’ll understand why this resort is so popular with celebrities, including British prince Harry.

Stay where? Shymbulak resort hotel ( ) offers old-style comfort close to the slopes.

When’s best? December through to April

Getting there: FlyDubai have flights from Dubai to Almaty from Dh1,090.

Mythical slopes in Greece


Where is it? Mythical home of Greek god Zeus, Mount Olympus is in northern Greece.

Why go? A short hop from the Aegean’s beautiful beaches and only half a day’s drive from the Parthenon this mountain, which was the legendary dwelling of the 12 Gods of ancient Greece, is now home to the Elatochori Ski Center, with six slopes and two lifts, snowboarding and sled runs.

When’s best? December to May.

Stay where? For comfort and situation you can’t beat Litohoro Resort Villas & Spa.

Getting there? Turkish Airlines have flights from Dubai to Athens, via Istanbul, from Dh2,035.

Scenic trails in Tasmania


Where is it? The volcanic island of Tasmania lies a couple of hundred kilometres south of Australia. The Ben Lomond ski slopes are 42km from the town of Launceston.

Why go? This volcanic island in the middle of the Pacific ocean is famed for its white sand beaches but this is also Australia’s most mountainous state and the views from the top of Ben Lomond are breathtaking. These exotic slopes have been used by skiers since the 1920s and there are even several Super Wizzard snowmaking machines to ensure good cover.

When’s best? July to October.

Stay where? Launceston’s luxurious Grand Chancellor hotel makes an ideal base for the slopes.

Getting there? Emirates have flights from Dubai to Tasmania, via Melbourne, from Dh7,400.

High in the Himalayas

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Where is it? Gulmarg is in Kashmir in the Himalayas.

Why go? Adventurous ski- and snowboard- enthusiasts will love this resort, formerly a colonial hill station. The resort is linked to the slopes by the world’s highest ski lift, which whisks snow lovers up to 3,979m, where they can slip and slide in perfect powder snow as they admire panoramic views over the Himalayan peaks into India and over to China.

When’s best? December to April.

Stay where? The delightful Hotel Highlands Park ( is one of the region’s best hotels.

Nearest Airport: Air India have flights from Dubai to Srinigar, via Delhi, from Dh1,218.

Virgin slopes of Bamyan

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Where is it? As far from the madding crowds as you could hope to find, The Bamyan Ski Club is hidden in a remote region in the Hindu Kush, 120km west of Kabul.

Why go? For intrepid skiers this destination is about as remote as you could hope to find, but be warned: there are no ski lifts, so skiers hike to the top of the mountain before skiing down through perfect powder snow. If you’re feeling really adventurous, Bamyan also the starting point of Afghanistan’s only ski race, which pits locals against ski tourists.

When’s best? December to April.

Stay where? The Silkroad hotel ( is cosy and ideally situated.

Getting there? FlyDubai have flights from Dubai to Kabul from Dh1,319.