Après Ski: A Complete Guide

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For many of us, après ski is a huge part of the skiing experience.

Hell, is there anything better than taking in an ice cold beer or steaming mug of glühwein after a morning spent charging down the trails?

We certainly can’t think of anything 🍻

But for people new to the ski world, it can be a little confusing.

“So… it’s essentially just pounding down the booze and partying after a day of skiing?”

Well, kind of.

But it’s so much more than that.

Après ski is a cultural institution and a community activity. It’s what brings together different skiers from all parts of the mountain — whether you’re taking on bunny slopes or double black diamonds.

Plus, there’s no requirement to actually get drunk. A mug of hot chocolate doesn’t go amiss at the ski lodge.

Time to find out more…

What Does Après Ski Mean?

The literal French translation of après ski means ‘after ski’.

I.e. what you do after skiing.

Now for some people, that will involve pounding shots, dancing on tables and getting generally debauched.

But really, it’s any social activity you do after skiing.

That could be munching on afternoon tea, wine tasting, watching live bands or, if you’re in Europe, going to town on some fondue or raclette.

Regardless of what you’re getting up to, it’s likely that alcohol will at least play some part in the festivities.

apres ski

By Everjean via Wikimedia (CC BY 2.0 licence)

Skiers and snowboarders alike take great pleasure in getting up early and hitting the trails for the morning. It’s something of a badge of honor to be the first on the lifts.

So a nice cold beer is a well deserved treat after an energetic day in the snow.

Other classic après drinks include hot toddies, mulled wine, cider, flavored vodka and Jägerbombs.

Many ski lodges pride themselves on their selection of liqueurs and spirit infusions, so it almost goes without saying that shots are an infamous part of the après ski experience.

If you’re lucky, you might get to take part in a shotski.

You might not feel so lucky in the morning.

A shotski is when a row of shots are lined up on a ski and a few people are called up to partake. You line up behind a shot, holding the ski at face height and get ready to down it at the behest of the bartender.

It can get pretty messy.

Take a look at it in action:

When is Après Ski?

While you might think from the partying atmosphere that après is confined to nighttime hours, you’d be wrong.

Per the name, après ski can take place any time after skiing.

For some people, that might be as early as lunchtime.

For most people, it’s sometime in the late afternoon — just when the sun is starting to set and the groomers are getting cruddy.

It’s generally always before dinner though — and then the party starts back up once you’re fed!

Where is Après Ski?

Anyone who’s spent any time at all in a ski resort will know that these places are absolutely full to the brim with bars, lodges and cafes all ready to serve you.

Some of the best resorts we’ve been to will have après bars halfway up the mountain, allowing you to ski in and ski out to your heart’s content as you while away the afternoon.

As you might have guessed, some resorts are better than others for their après ski offerings.

And some skiers will choose their resort based almost entirely on the après scene. For us, it certainly plays a part (although we’re always trail junkies at heart).

The Best Après Ski Resorts

If you’re looking for the best après ski resorts in the world, you’ve got to check out these bad boys…

St Anton: Austria

St Anton is known throughout the global skiing community as the place to go in Europe for unparalleled après ski.

We’re talking ice bars, Europop clubs, more lodges than you can shake a stick at, cocktail bars, and the 3.30pm daily recording of The Final Countdown like a call to prayer for après.

Stay Here: Valluga Hotel

apres ski

  • Free ski shuttle
  • Spa center
  • Onsite restaurant and bar
  • Next to cross-country trails and toboggan track

Whistler, Canada

Whistler is another favorite that really brings new meaning to ‘lively’ when it comes to après ski.

As a huge resort, it attracts legions of young seasonnaires every year, many of whom like to complement their ski season with some serious partying.

There are a huge number of pubs and clubs here, while dancing on tables is encouraged in many an establishment. Karaoke and live bands are also known to get a look in.

Stay Here: Four Seasons Resort Whistler

what does apres ski mean

  • Outdoor pool and 3 hot tubs
  • 8 minute walk from Blackcomb lifts
  • Onsite steak restaurant and bar
  • Fitness centre and spa
  • Complimentary daily wine reception

what is apres ski

Aspen, USA

With a slightly more sophisticated atmosphere than many of the European and Canadian resorts, Aspen goes hard on cocktails and champagne.

Conde Nast reckons that Aspen deserves the crown for best après in the US and Canada — and it certainly delivers.

If snowcat champagne bars, truffle fries at Ajax Tavern and some truly incredible wine lists tickle your pickle, Aspen could be the après ski resort of your dreams.

Stay Here: The Little Nell

apres ski definition

  • Ski to door access
  • Onsite tavern
  • Award-winning wine list and master sommelier
  • Hot tub and outdoor pool
  • Fitness center and massage

what is apres ski

Après Ski Fashion

One question we hear time and time again from newbie skiing friends is, ‘what should I wear for après ski?’

Our answer: whatever you’re wearing on the mountain.

The true beauty of après ski is the fact that it’s after skiing. Straight after. Not after you’ve gone home to change.

apres ski definition

By Kecko (CC BY 2.0 licence)

For us, it’s only really après if you’re still in your ski boots.

Of course, for many snow bunnies, après ski is the time to show off their threads. And that’s fine — we just think you should reserve that for the party after diner.

Après ski is about letting loose after a hard day on the trails. Let it go! The fashion can come later.

Now you should know everything there is to know about après ski!

What are you drinking?


Featured image is By Anna Moritz (CC BY-SA 3.0 licence)


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