Livigno is the kind of resort you hear whispers about. A friend of a friend once went, a colleague mentioned it a few years back, a family member saw it written about in a corner of a travel magazine. But why is no-one shouting the praises of this amazing resort from the rooftops? Well, there’s a very simple reason – nobody wants to share it!
Livigno truly is one of European skiing’s best kept secrets, but it’s gradually gaining the recognition it deserves – Livigno won the title of European City of Sport 2019. After visiting the area this January, we felt we simply couldn’t keep such a fantastic resort to ourselves (as much as we might want to!). Plus, with companies such as Livigno Ski Holidays offering seamless trips and incredibly easy travel options from the UK, now’s the best time to discover this hidden gem for yourself.
Now it’s not the most easily accessible resort in the Alps. Transfers can take over three hours from major airports and this does tend to put some travellers off. However, if you can deal with sitting still for a little longer than normal, you will reap the benefits. It’s this isolated location that led the government to grant Livigno tax-free status back in 1805 in a bid to encourage visitors and residents to the area. This tax-free status remains, making Livigno one of the best value for money ski resorts around.
So why do so many skiers return to Livigno year after year, not wanting to share this secret skiing paradise?
A Superb Ski Area
Thanks to its high altitude position (the resort sits at 1816 metres above sea level), in Livigno, decent snow is virtually guaranteed. This makes it not only a highly reliable ski area from late November until early May, but also a great resort for those looking for the best chance for a legendary powder day.
The resort is split into two separate ski areas on either side of the Valley, Carosello and Motollino, with a number of high speed lifts available to whisk you up from the town in no time! Free ski buses run throughout the day across the whole resort, so it’s easy to get between lifts as well as to further flung corners of the resort.
The ski area is made up of 29 blue runs, 37 red runs and 12 black runs, making Livigno fantastic choice for beginner and intermediate skiers. The area boats some of the widest slopes I’ve ever seen in a European resort, with long, open pistes providing skiers masses of space. Forget bottlenecks where you feel you’re just metres away from the next person, here you can practically have the pistes to yourselves. Whether you’re skiing in mid January or over the school holidays, this is a resort where you’ll be shocked to see a lift queue, never mind feel crowded on the slopes. As such, it’s an ideal resort for those beginners and intermediates who may feel nervous at the prospect of having to ski alongside others and don’t want to have to worry about bumping into anyone!
At 115km, the ski area isn’t the largest, so more advanced to expert skiers will probably find themselves able to explore the whole area in a few days. However, thanks to the length of many runs, Livigno is one of the only places where you will want to ski each run two, three or four times, finding a different experience each time.
So for an enjoyable week’s skiing, the 78 pistes are more than enough for all abilities and if you’re lucky to get some fresh snow, any worries about the number of pistes will be long forgotten. Why? Because Livigno is a true powder paradise. With designated off piste routes and secured freeride areas – “Freeride Approaching Areas” Livigno is the ideal place to explore and advance off piste, without all of the danger that often comes with the backcountry.
For more expert backcountry skiers, advanced guides and routes are available, as well as the option to try heliskiing for a true once-in-a-lifetime experience!
Livigno is also renowned as one of the best freestyle destinations in Europe. If you follow any of our GB freestyle athletes on Instagram, chances are you’ll have seen a fair amount of action taking place at the Mottolino snow park. Its huge jumps and varied features are hugely popular amongst creative skiers, making it a great place to watch some live action. There’s no surprise it’s been named the venue for the snowboarding and freeriding competitions for the Milan-Cortina 2026 Olympic Games! If you fancy taking on a little freestyle yourself, the area has a number of more gentle fun parks and kids zones, perfect for the whole family to try something different.
A Charming Resort
The village of Livigno stretches out along the Valley, with a large pedestrianised street running through the middle of the town. I had envisaged Livigno to be a small, quaint, almost sleepy town. Boy, was I wrong!
Close your eyes and picture the perfect ski village. What do you see? If it’s snow-lined cobbled streets, twinkling lights looped above charming bars, with steam rising from vats of mulled wine and people laughing and smiling, then you’re picturing the centre of Livigno.
It sounds rather cliché, I know! And believe me, if I hadn’t seen it for myself I’m not sure I’d believe it was really that quaint. But this is a resort that does make you feel you’ve stepped back into a different time. It brings you back to when ski holidays were purely about enjoying the mountains, the incredible scenery, the delicious food and, of course, the skiing.
All the buildings are built in a traditional style, with not a concrete high rise apartment block in sight. It’s a breath of fresh air, and it that has allowed the resort to expand and develop without losing its unique Alpine charm.
Livigno epitomises the relaxed nature of the Italian way of life. Skiing here is less of a sport and more of a gentle pastime. Off slope activities are almost as popular with visitors as the skiing itself – from a vast Nordic skiing area, to snow-shoeing routes, paragliding and a huge spa complex. The streets are lined with shops, restaurants and bars, buzzing with activity no matter what time of day. With 250 shops to choose from, you’ll find classic souvenir shops alongside a vast range of luxury designer stores, selling everything you could possibly want.
A Buzzing Après-Ski Scene
Now, onto that all important question – what’s the après-ski like?! Well, good news! It’s incredibly varied and a lot more energetic than in most other Italian resorts. On both sides of the mountain, you have a selection of on-slope bars to suit all tastes, from modern DJ mixes to energetic Europop.
On the Mottolino side of the mountain, après kicks off early, with Camanel (above) providing unbelievable views from a lively sun terrace. On the other side of town, underneath the Carasello gondola, you can find the largest après bar in Livigno, Stalet, which is often packed from the afternoon right through to closing at 8pm. Plus, right next door is the ever-entertaining Alegra, the only place to head if you want to get your dancing boots on!
For a more central après drink or two, Miky’s Aperitif bar is an always popular choice, with an Alpine atmosphere and a large sun terrace. Later, slide below the bar (we’re not kidding, entrance is literally via a slide…) to Livigno institution, Miky’s Discoclub. With dancing through to the early hours and delicious cocktails, it’s a great choice for anyone looking for a fun-filled evening!
Impeccable Food Options
Now we all know Italian cuisine is amongst the best in the world, but many are often sceptical that you will find the pinnacle of Italian quality in the heights of the mountains. You need not worry though – in Livigno, good food comes as easily as good skiing. From classic Italian pizza and homemade pasta, to traditional mountain fondues and even sushi, there’s something for all tastes!
Our personal favourite for something a little special? Local hotspot Bivio, which offers three separate venues depending on your mood and budget! There’s a casual bar, an a la carte restaurant and a five starred restaurant which has a seafood menu to die for. Fresh fish in a ski resort? We were a little sceptical too, but we were blown away by the offerings here. Whether you fancy a hearty crayfish pasta dish or a simply mouth-watering salt baked sea bass, Bivio can certainly provide! If seafood isn’t your thing, their menu is extensive, so you’re sure to find that something special. Good food, good wine and extremely friendly staff make this a great spot to fill that hungry post-ski stomach and from 9pm, the popular dance club here opens up so you can go straight from après aperitif to a delicious dinner, to a night out!
Where to Stay
When it comes to a more niche resort such as Livigno, it’s imperative to book with a company who truly know their stuff. Of course, the larger companies might offer the most persuasive prices to begin with, but in resort, you can’t put a price on years of local experience.
Livigno Ski Holidays are the ultimate experts when it comes to all things Livigno, having operated in the resort for over 25 years. They offer a truly flexible booking process, whether you want to put together your own bespoke holiday or sit back and let the experts take care of it all.
As part of their offering, you can choose to add on numerous activity options throughout the week, from tobogganing to the famed Mountain Meal, a raucous feast up on the mountain, which was one of the highlights of our week!
What makes Livigno Ski Holidays different to the larger tour operators is that they work with a large range of accommodation, ski school and equipment companies, so you can be sure you’re getting exactly what you need. But it’s not just this that sets them apart; it’s the truly personal feel of the service you receive. Staff are on hand from the moment you arrive to the moment you leave, and are always available for any support you might need. They’re happy to show you around the ski area and join you for a fun evening at Livigno’s range of après spots, really making sure that you have the best experience possible.
For more information, head to livignoskiholidays.com