Vail vs Breckenridge

We know and love vacations in both Vail and Breckenridge, Colorado. Both destinations are excellent choices when it comes to winter ski and snowboard trips as well as summer mountain getaways, bringing vast terrain, a great selection of bars and restaurants, and unique lodging options. However, there are notable differences between the two. We’ve put together an overview and comparison of each destination to help guide your next Colorado vacation.

Vail vs Breckenridge. Family at the top of Kensho above Bliss at Breckenridge

Why The Travel Whisperer should be the top choice for your next vacation?

What our clients have to say about us

We loved this place!

Easy check in, rent skis downstairs, buy lift tickets and jump on the lift. There is a run that takes you right back there at the end of the day as well. Very clean, soft towels and beds. Awesome place!

Manne W

Extremely positive.

Great management staff, wonderful housekeeping, generous amenities and well-appointed spaces. Decorating was beautiful, bedding comfortable and attractive.

Meredith B

Our stay was amazing!

Basically to sum it up the staff, location, and condo were under-promised and over-delivered. Great stay thank you so much for an outstanding vacation!

Freddie W

Vail

With 5,317 acres of skiable terrain, Vail Ski Resort is one of the largest ski resorts in the world. Spanning that much ground and varied terrain, there is something for every skill level in the group–from kids and families looking to partake in lessons to advanced athletes going off-piste.

Vail vs Breckenridge. Vail Valley at Twilight In Vail, CO.

What makes Vail skiing special and what most avid skiers and riders come for are the legendary back bowls, in addition to Vail mountain. With seven bowls waiting to be explored, this terrain is a dream for both advanced and intermediate guests. Because Vail is so much larger than Breckenridge, there are inevitably more options when it comes to trails and varied terrain during a Vail winter.

The town of Vail was constructed to emulate a dreamy European ski town in the Alps. A world-class resort town, everything from accommodation to food in Vail will likely be more expensive than you’d find in Breckenridge. A variety of Vail lodging options are available throughout Vail Village and Lionshead including hotels, condos, shops, restaurants, and bars. Lodging in the summer is typically less expensive than it is in the busy winter months which makes summer in Vail easier to do on a budget. However, it is still no cheaper than accommodations you can find in Breckenridge. The villages are connected with pedestrian streets following the Gore Creek from Vail Village to Lionshead. Beyond the core villages, East and West Vail both offer cheaper lodging and dining, just a short drive or free bus ride away.

In terms of things to do in Vail during the summer, there are endless activities with something to do for everyone. Take a gondola ride between villages, go horseback riding at Eagle Valley Ranch and stroll the weekend farmers markets in town or hit the Vail bike park. For families with kids, Vail is home to one of the most scenic zipline courses in the Rockies as well as mini golf, a ropes course, climbing wall, and mountain coaster.

Vail and Breckenridge are about the same distance from Denver, so one isn’t any harder or easier to access than the other.

Pros: 

  • More skiable and rideable terrain than Breckenridge. This makes it a more family-friendly destination or better suited for large groups with different ability levels.  
  • Vail’s back bowls are legendary for a reason and hard to beat on a good powder day. 
  • Ski-in-ski-out accommodations as well as off-mountain condo and hotel options in each of the villages. Cheaper in the summer than it is in the winter. 
  • Plenty of shuttles to get around locally. Ubers and Lyfts are also available. 
  • A charming European-style resort town with endless dining and nightlife options.

Cons:

  • Slightly more expensive overall than the town of Breckenridge.  
  • On a good storm weekend, Vail is typically one of Colorado’s most crowded resorts. The back bowls are especially so and it can take quite a while to get to and from in the mornings. To access them from Lionshead it takes several chairlifts and catwalks.  
  • With more Epic passes sold during the 2021-22 season than ever before, Vail experienced a staffing problem with not enough workforce to run all the lifts. This caused lift lines to be exceptionally long on busy days and holiday weekends, which can be frustrating when you spend as much time standing in line as you do skiing.

Where to stay in Vail

Breckenridge

Breckenridge ski resort boasts some of the best skiing in the country with five peaks, 2,908 skiable acres, 187 trails, four terrain parks, and the tallest chairlift in North America. Situated among some of the tallest peaks in the Rockies, this mountain provides a unique skiing experience that has more of a local feel than you’d get at Vail. Breckenridge resort has a vibrant energy that welcomes you into the mountain community.

Part of the Rocky Mountain’s Ten Mile Range, Breck is comprised of Peaks 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10, spanning from North to South. Each of the peaks offers its own terrain style and personality, providing endless opportunities to explore. Although the mountain in its totality has slightly fewer options than Vail, there is no shortage of trails. Breckenridge has some of the state’s best advanced skiing and riding with nearly 40 percent of the mountain being expert terrain. Accessed by the six-passenger Falcon SuperChair, Peak 10, also known as the mountain’s “Wild Child” is one of the most lap-able peaks for advanced terrains.

When it comes to the town itself, downtown Breckenridge is home to a wide array of restaurants, shops, bars, boutiques, cafes, and lodging. There is direct access to the mountain from town via gondola so you can be car-free once you arrive. Breckenridge vacation rentals are available for all group sizes, from grand, slope-side estates, to cozy condos.

While Vail was built primarily as a tourism destination, Breckenridge used to be an old mining town and is bursting with Gold Rush history and culture. So if you prefer historic value and a more casual option for amenities and lifestyle, Breck is your top choice.

Similar to Vail, the summer months are bustling with things to do in Breckenridge, with an abundance of biking and hiking trails, golf courses as well as on-mountain activities for the whole family. The town has a busy summer events schedule complete with food and wine festivals, restaurant week, concerts and more.

Vail vs Breckenridge. Aerial views in Breckenridge, CO.

Pros: 

  • On average, Breckenridge gets more snowfall than Vail. 
  • Better terrain for advanced skiers and snowboarders. 
  • Home to the highest chairlift in North America– the Imperial Express Superchair, which climbs to an elevation of 12,840 feet. 
  • There are more budget-friendly food and lodging options in the town of Breckenridge year-round compared to Vail. It is more of a casual “locals” resort town with history a laid-back feel. 
  • The town is walkable and easy to get around. Ubers and Lyfts are also available. 
  • Unique Breckenridge events schedule.

Cons:

  • Less total terrain options compared to Vail, and specifically fewer beginner trails. 
  • While there are still tons of great hotels and restaurants in Breck, there are not as many options to choose from. Vail has more fine dining. 
  • Also part of the Epic pass, Breckenridge can get extremely crowded with long lift lines on good storm days and holiday weekends. 
  • Vail offers more on-mountain activity options in the summer.

Overall, we love both destinations equally but would recommend Vail for those looking for an upscale vacation suited for families and big groups, and Breckenridge for those looking for a challenge on the mountain and a more laid-back town feel. Contact The Travel Whisperer’s team of personal travel designers today to start planning your trip!

Where to stay in Breckenridge

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