It's really easy to get to Val Thorens from all around the world and that's because the ski area is located just 200km from Geneva International airport, the second-largest airport in Switzerland (about two hours and 30 minutes on a good day). Flying isn't your only option, you can always drive here and there are also trains and coaches available.
Feeling spoiled for choice? That's because you are. However, this also means that there's more than one option to consider when deciding how to come here, and that's what we're here for. We've written the complete guide of the best options to travel to Val Thorens. Let us help you figure out what's the perfect choice for you.
Best ways to get to Val Thorens
Val Thorens is located in southeast France, in the department of Savoie, part of the Rhône-Alpes region. It sits at the heart of the Three Valleys, the world's largest ski area with 600km of runs across the Vanoise massif, in the Tarentaise Valley.
What’s the best way to get to Val Thorens?
We're not just going to give you one route to Val Thorens, and below you'll find what we think are their main pros and cons:
- Pros: Fast – you just can't beat flying for pure speed. Geneva airport also offers the greatest selection of airlines, most frequent flight times and lowest prices while airport transfers are the fastest way to reach the ski area – you’ll be at your accommodation’s doorstep in two hours 45 minutes.
- Cons: Carbon footprint – to be honest, we feel a bit bad about flying these days. You can make up for some of this by not hiring a car and opting for an airport transfer instead. More and more transfer companies are trying to offset their emissions and electric transfer vehicles are becoming a common sight on Alpine roads.
The extensive network of European motorways makes it easy to come to Val Thorens by car.
- Pros: Convenience – you'll have a car to move around resort and even visit neighbouring ski areas.
- Cons: Time-consuming and air pollution – it can take quite a long time to reach the Alps and you may have to split your journey into more than one day. You'll also need to consider the impact of your car's emissions on the valley's environment, as this area suffers from high levels of air pollution. Plus, you'll have to be ready and equipped to drive on the snow or in inclement weather conditions while parking in resort or at the foot of the slopes may be difficult during peak seasons. For the winter season, from 1st November until 31st March, it is mandatory to have snow chains in the boot of your car or winter tyres fitted.
Eurostar ski trains from London and high-speed TGV trains from Paris stop at Moûtiers, around an hour from Val Thorens.
- Pros: Eco-friendly and comfortable – carbon footprint can be reduced by as much as 90% when travelling by train. Trains also have more legroom, so you'll be able to relax while you enjoy the everchanging scenery and even take a stroll along the aisles or visit the onboard café.
- Cons: Speed – travelling by train takes longer than flying for more or less the same amount of money. However, transfers from Moûtiers are much shorter so you'll catch up time, plus you won't have to wait at the airport.
Coach or long-distance bus
It's possible to get to Val Thorens on a coach or long-distance bus, although it's probably our least favourite option.
- Pros: Price – coming to Val Thorens by coach is usually the cheapest alternative (although this isn't always the case). Plus, coaches are more environmentally friendly than flying, releasing seven times less CO2 per person. Buses are also quite sociable so you may get the chance to make new friends before you set foot on the slopes.
- Cons: Less comfortable and more time-consuming – it can take up to 20 hours or more to reach Val Thorens and buses aren't the most comfortable places to sleep on, you'll be quite exhausted when you reach the pistes!
Flying to Val Thorens
Our experience has taught us that flying is the most convenient way to travel to Val Thorens – it’s faster, easier and sometimes cheaper than any other means of transport.
Which airports are near Val Thorens?
At a glance, these are the main travel hubs for Val Thorens. Times and distances are approximate and can be affected by snow, bad weather or peak holiday times:
|Nearest Airports to Val Thorens | Times & Distances|
Where do you fly to for Val Thorens?
Geneva is the most convenient airport to fly to for Val Thorens. It offers frequent flights to and from many European destinations, including cities all around the UK, as well as capitals in America, Africa, Asia and the Middle East. Flight times to Geneva airport from most cities in Europe are under two hours, with London just one hour 40 minutes away and Paris even closer, at one hour 10 minutes.
Below is a list of European flight destinations to and from Geneva airport. Bear in mind that some international flights may only be available during the high season, while their frequency may increase during the winter months, from December to March-April.
|Geneva Airport | Direct Flight Destinations & Airlines|
|UK and Ireland||Aberdeen, Belfast, Birmingham, Bournemouth, Bristol, Dublin, Edinburgh, Exeter, Glasgow, Isle of Man, Jersey, Leeds Bradford, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Newcastle, Nottingham and Southampton||Aer Lingus, British Airways, Easyjet, Flybe, Jet2.com, Swiss|
|Northern and Central Europe||Austria (Vienna), Belgium (Brussels), Denmark (Copenhagen), Finland (Helsinki), France (Ajaccio, Bastia, Biarritz, Bordeaux, Calvi, Figari, La Rochelle, Lille, Nantes, Nice, Paris, Rennes & Toulouse), Germany (Berlin, Frankfurt, Hamburg & Munich), Latvia (Riga), Luxembourg, Netherlands (Amsterdam), Norway (Oslo), Sweden (Stockholm & Goteborg), Switzerland (Zurich)||AirBaltic, Air France, Austrian Airlines, Brussels Airlines, Easyjet, Eurowings, Finnair, KLM, Lufthansa, Luxair, Norwegian, SAS, Swiss, Transavia|
|Southern Europe||Greece (Athens, Heraklion & Kalamata), Italy (Brindisi, Cagliari, Catania, Milan, Naples, Olbia, Palermo, Rome & Venice), Portugal (Faro, Lisbon & Porto), Spain (Alicante, Barcelona, Bilbao, Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria, Ibiza, Madrid, Palma de Mallorca, Santiago de Compostela, Tenerife & Valencia)||Aegean, Alitalia, Easyjet, Iberia, Swiss, TAP, Vueling|
|Eastern Europe||Albania (Tirana), Belarus (Minsk), Bulgaria (Sofia), Czech Republic (Prague), Hungary (Budapest), Poland (Krakow & Warsaw), Romania (Bucharest), Russia (Moscow & St Petersburg), Serbia (Belgrade & Pristina), Ukraine (Kyiv)||Aeroflot, Belavia, Easyjet, LOT, Swiss, UIA, WizzAir|
Geneva airport also offers direct flights to and from America (US and Canada), Africa (Algeria, Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Mauritius, Morocco and Tunisia), Asia (China) and the Middle East (Israel, Kuwait, Lebanon, Turkey, Qatar and UAE).
Getting from the airport to Val Thorens
Geneva airport is 200km away from the centre of Val Thorens. There are several ways to make the trip, including airport transfers and regular buses.
How do you get from Geneva airport to Val Thorens?
The easiest and fastest way to get to Val Thorens is to book an airport transfer. The Geneva to Val Thorens transfer time is around two hours 45 minutes but will be longer on snowy days and in peak weeks, such as Christmas, New Year, school holidays and Easter. Learn more on our Transfers Guide page.
How do you get from Grenoble airport to Val Thorens?
There are private airport transfers from Grenoble airport to Val Thorens running throughout the season. In winter, Ben's Bus also operates regular bus transfers from Grenoble airport to Val Thorens on Saturdays, as well as a morning service on Sundays. The bus transfer time from Grenoble to Val Thorens is around three hours 30 minutes.
How do you get from Lyon airport to Val Thorens?
Private transfers run from Lyon airport to Val Thorens throughout the season. There are also regular buses connecting Lyon airport and Val Thorens every weekend during the winter season, with extended frequencies on Saturdays. The bus transfer time from Lyon to Val Thorens is around three hours 45 minutes, changing at Moûtiers.
In winter, Ben's Bus operates regular bus transfers from Lyon airport to Val Thorens on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays with a journey time of around three hours and 45 minutes.
How do you get from Chambery airport to Val Thorens?
Chambery is the nearest airport to Val Thorens with a transfer time of one hour 40 minutes. Private transfers run from Chambery airport to Val Thorens throughout the season. There are also regular bus services connecting Chambery airport and Val Thorens on Saturdays and Sundays during the winter season, changing at Moûtiers. The bus transfer time from Chambery to Val Thorens is around two hours 45 minutes.
Trains to Val Thorens
Trains are a great option to get to Val Thorens. Even if they may sometimes take longer than flying, they’re more eco-friendly and allow you to carry more luggage without additional charges. It's also really easy to get to Val Thorens by train in the winter.
How do you get to Val Thorens by train?
Moûtiers is the closest train station to Val Thorens, located 38km from the ski resort (around one hour and 15 minutes by bus). Regular high-speed trains to and from London (Eurostar ski train) and Paris (TGV) stop here. The total train travel time from London to Val Thorens is around 10 hours. We've compiled a very comprehensive guide with everything you need to know to get to Val Thorens by train.
Driving to Val Thorens
Bringing your own vehicle with you to Val Thorens can be a good choice if you want to have more flexibility once you’re here, even if you don't really need a car in winter to get around resort thanks to the free shuttle buses.
How do you get from the UK to Val Thorens by car?
It's not a short trip from the UK to Val Thorens but it can be done in one or two days, depending on where you leave from. Most people driving from the UK to France will need to cross the English Channel from Dover to Calais, the nearest French town. The Calais to Val Thorens driving time is around nine hours and 45 minutes for a distance of about 930km. The most direct route is via the French motorways A26, A5, A39, A31, A6 and A43.
You can cross the Channel by the Eurotunnel or a cross-Channel ferry which takes cars from Dover to Calais in around 90 minutes. We recommend you book tickets in advance. There are also ferries from Portsmouth and Poole to Caen, Cherbourg and St. Malo in the north of France, while from Hull you can travel by ferry to Zeebrugge in Belgium and then make your way down to Val Thorens.
Another thing to take into consideration when bringing your car to Val Thorens is that the road on the way up to resort from Moûtiers is around 40km long (a 45-minute drive more or less) and quite winding in places. Even though snow clearers operate every day in winter, driving conditions can be challenging. For the winter season (from 1st November until 31st March), it is now mandatory to have snow chains in the boot of your car or winter tyres fitted, and local police carry out regular spot checks. Read our Driving to Val Thorens Guide and find more information on our Parking in Val Thorens page once you’ve arrived.
Coaches & long-distance buses to Val Thorens
Getting to Val Thorens by coach takes considerably longer than flying. However, it’s also usually cheaper, making it a good option when travelling on a low budget. There are a number of international coach companies that travel between the largest cities in Europe and Lyon, Grenoble and Geneva, from where a bus or transfer will take you to Val Thorens. These include FlixBus, Eurolines, BlaBlaBus and RegioJet.
Are there any regular coach services from the UK to Val Thorens?
Yes. There are regular coach services from London Victoria Coach Station to Moûtiers in the winter, stopping at Folkestone and operated by Snow Express. The London Victoria to Val Thorens coach travel time is around 20 hours. These coaches run every week, leaving on Friday evening and returning on Saturday evening, travelling through the night to allow you to spend more time on the slopes.
Bringing your skis, snowboard or bike to Val Thorens
Airlines, trains and transfer companies are well versed in catering for customers who travel with their own sports equipment. Each company will have its own individual policy terms and conditions depending on the type of gear you are transporting so it’s well worth checking the details in advance. Here's a snapshot of the different transport options and a guide to their restrictions:
How to bring your sports gear to Val Thorens by plane
Most airlines charge a fee for taking skis, snowboards, bikes, golf clubs, parachutes and mountaineering equipment on board, so check before you book. However, a few airlines, such as Swiss, will fly the first set of skis or snowboard for free. Also, make sure you pack your gear well and ensure it falls within the packaging guidelines specified by the carrier.
How to bring your sports equipment to Val Thorens by train
On Eurostar ski trains, you can take one pair of skis or one snowboard onboard for free with you, in addition to your standard two-bag luggage allowance. Skis are also allowed for free in TGV trains. Bikes can be transported in special luggage carriages or on board when disassembled and stored in a carrying case in French trains, although fees may apply so check before you book.
Can you bring skis, snowboards or bikes with you in airport transfers?
Shuttle buses are usually well equipped to transport sports equipment but it’s always important to let them know exactly what you’re bringing so that they can ensure they have sufficient capacity. Sports equipment may be subject to a surcharge, please ask when booking.