We’ve all been there. You have finally arrived at the ski resort after months of planning and are itching to feel the snow beneath your skis. But you’re stuck in a chair lift queue that doesn’t seem to be moving! With the ski season looming and more people looking to escape to the mountains, you may be worried about how much time you'll be waiting at the ski lifts instead of carving up the snow. To help you make the most of your trip, we've put together a list of our top ski lift tips and hints to avoid the crowds.


Before you get there




Before you book your next ski trip, you can reduce the time you spend queuing for the ski lifts by choosing a quieter destination. Avoiding the big names in Europe will not only help reduce your waiting time, but it can often be a lot cheaper too. To help you find the right resort for your skiing preferences and ability, check out our blog on Undiscovered European Resorts




Before you even get to the slopes, you can give yourself a head start by sorting out your equipment and passes before you get there. Most ski resorts let you buy your pass in advance, either posting it to you or letting you collect it the night before so you can skip the long ticket lines the next day. On the equipment side, many ski shops stay open late on transfer days, so you can go sort out rentals quickly and easily. Even better, you can invest in your own skis, boots or boards, so you're ready to hit the mountains as soon as you arrive at your resort. 




Knowing the resort runs before you arrive at the resort will put you ahead of the game when it comes to avoiding the queues. So if you find your planned route was busier than expected, you can opt for a different lift and ski somewhere differently. Putting the work in before you leave for your ski trip means you won’t need to consult your map while in the hustle and bustle of a busy lift queue. 




You know the saying if you can't beat them, join them. Ski schools have priority queues that mean you can skip the ski lift queues and maximise your time on the slopes. Plus, ski instructors are the best places to show you the best but least crowded areas around the ski resort as they have been skiing it all season long. Not only will you become a better skier, but you'll get more skiing in. Even the most experienced skier can't argue with that logic. 


So, get online and book some ski lessons before you leave.


At the resort




There is a reason that the Early Bird gets the worm. Getting up earlier means shorter queues and more time on the mountain- so it's a win-win. Some ski resorts even offer Early Bird passes for the particularly bright-eyed and bushy-tailed that let you get ski lifts up to half an hour before the lifts officially open. You might be limited to certain runs as some lifts may not be open, but those first empty runs will set you up for the rest of the day. So whilst it may be hard to set your alarm and drag yourself out of bed, the empty slopes make it completely worth your while.


Ask the locals: Talking to the locals is an invaluable way to get insider knowledge. If you are staying in a chalet, talk to your chalet hosts - they often know the routing of the ski resorts and can give you the best advice about what's busy when. Forums are also great as they have a lot of insider lift tips from people who go to those ski resorts regularly.




By heading for your lunch a bit earlier, you will not only get served quicker, but you’ll be back on the slopes as everyone else is heading off for theirs. Don’t panic we’re not suggesting you eat at 10am, but try and stick as close to midday as possible. We think 11.45am is the sweet spot as you’ll avoid queueing for a table and be back on the slope by one-ish when everyone else is just heading off. It’ll give you at least an hour when the slopes and lifts are much quieter. Make the most of your time by skiing the routes you’ve been avoiding because they’ve been too busy.




One of the best ways to avoid queues on the slopes is to adapt your plans depending on how busy certain lifts are. However, there are some things to bear in mind that can help you make plans. Generally, newer lifts in the resort tend to attract more people than more rickety-looking lifts, which do the same job. So if you want to make the most of your time, we suggest exploring your options and not discounting a lift because it’s not quite as fancy as the new one.


The other thing to think about is your route – the most popular runs tend to be closest to lifts, so look out for runs a bit further from a lift, and you’ll generally find the queue for that lift is quieter. It’s why we recommend familiarising yourself with the resort ski map before you leave.





We get it you want to ski with your mates, but that’s just it – you want to ski with them, not stand in a lift queue for an hour. So to get moving, head for a single queue lift and meet your friends at the top.




If mornings aren’t your thing, fear not, as you can get some pretty good skiing in later in the day. Most skiers will have been on the slopes since the morning, so quite a few will be winding down from 3pm onwards, meaning it can pay to have a relaxing morning and head to the slopes late afternoon and into the evening. Many resorts light up at least some of their routes, giving you the chance to keep skiing even when it starts to get dark.




If you want to avoid the queues completely and are an experienced skier, why not consider ski touring, which involves hiking up the mountain and skiing back down.  If you’ve never tried it before, then it’s probably best to hire a guide who will be able to take you on the best and safest routes. Some resorts even offer specialist ski touring training, giving you the chance to learn everything you need to know about walking with skis on and heading into the backcountry.


However, bear in mind that ski touring is not for the faint-hearted. You need to be a confident skier and willing to ski off-piste, and you need a good level of general fitness. Hiking up the mountains in your skis is much harder than normal hiking, so it’s a good idea to increase your fitness level before you give it a go.


And that's all our tips and hints. Hopefully you’ll manage to put some of them to good use this season and make the most of your time on the slopes. 

Let us know you agree to cookies

We use marketing, analytical and functional cookies as well as similar technologies to give you the best experience. Third parties, including social media platforms, often place tracking cookies on our site to show you personalised adverts outside of our website.


We store your cookie preferences for two years and you can edit your preferences via ‘manage cookies’ or through the cookie policy at the bottom of every page. For more information, please see our cookie policy.