The ‘schhh’, ‘schhh’ under your skis as you gracefully carve your way down the slope in Val d’Wherever may as well be ‘kerching’, ‘kerching’ as your bank balance heads deeper and deeper into the abyss.
Unless you recently won Euromillions or you’re a kingpin class-A drugs smuggler (white powder being your thing), you’ll no doubt wince at the bill for a week’s skiing, especially if you’ve a family in tow. But it doesn’t have to mean champagne in Gstaad. There are some incredible and cheap ski resorts in Europe offering precious powder for a very reasonable price, leaving you a little extra to spend on some seriously stylish ski wear whatever your budget.
So if you’re willing to look at things through new ski goggles, you could find a new way to do things. And it’ll be cheaper too. Way cheaper.
Just by tweaking your plans, and maybe your expectations, you can save a fortune on a skiing holiday this ski season. Looking for more holiday ideas for this time of year? Look at our winter sun holiday guide if you need some inspiration. Or if you decide to stay put you can get access to the alpine bars a little closer to home.
For those that do decide to go abroad for their Alpine fix, these affordable gems are worth checking out.
The cheapest ski resorts in Europe
Before you scrabble for your atlas (and by atlas of course I mean Google Maps) I’ll break the suspense, Slovenia is sort of middle south Europe, two o’clock from Italy. And it’s that lack of name recognition that means, as a ski destination, it manages to stay under the radar.
Slovina? We're Slovin' it!
However, in Vogel, the ski centre of Slovenia, a ski pass is about a third of the cost of an Alpine one. Sure, the nightlife may be pretty low-key, but if you’re craving a party you can get to the capital Ljubljana in about an hour.
Vogel Quick Facts:
Ski Pass: £150 (5 days for adults), £75 (5 days for children)
Hotels: From £50 – £127 per night
Flights: From £60 return
Height: 5,904 ft
Longest run: 6,800m
More info: www.vogel.si
Hotel to try…
– Bohinj ECO Hotel
Eco hotel with four stars (that’s a lot round here) and its own bowling alley!
The Rila Mountains…I’ll bet a fair amount you’ve never heard of them, but it’s probably where you’re headed if you’re considering Bulgaria as a ski destination. And, what’s more, it’s Rila nice.
Keeping it Rila
An hour and a half from Sofia (plenty of direct flights from the UK, though probably Luton), this post-communist state has transformed itself into a trendy destination, and the ski action is very respectable.
Alpine-like Borovets is also famous for cross-country skiing, if that takes your fancy, though standard downhill skiing is where the resort really shines.
Borovets Quick Facts:
Ski Pass: £112 (5 days)
Hotels: From £34 – £300 per night
Flights: From £55 return (albeit Ryanair…)
Height: 4,400 ft
Longest run: 12,000m
More info: www.borovets-bg.com
Here’s everything you need to know to make you want to pack your case and jump on the plane: it’s in Transylvania. Actual Transylvania. Off of vampires!
In the search for the cheapest ski resorts in Europe, Romania is worth having a glance at. Poiana-Brasov is small but would be perfect for a beginner, and for the price (it’s not just that you save on ski passes, it’s the whole thing; accommodation, travel, food and drink (have you seen how much a pint costs in Chamonix?) where the economy of a location like Romania starts to make sense.
Stay or Romain-ia?
As an added extra, they’re not in the Euro, which may offer some protection against the Brexit fluctuations which have made France an even more expensive option of late.
Don’t confuse your Slovenias and Slovakias, they hate that. But if you’ve accidentally tried to book a flight to Vogel and realised you’re in the wrong country you could do a lot worse than Slovakia’s Jasna.
Slovak to the future
The resort has received significant investment of late, with much-improved accommodation, food that’s not just beets and borscht, and a broad system of runs that make it a very credible destination as you ski down Mount Chopok.
Jasna Quick Facts:
Ski Pass: £295 (6 days for adults), £207 (6 days for children)
Hotels: From £40 – £200 per night
Flights: From £50 return (into Krakow)
Height: 6,600 ft
Longest run: 5,1800m
More info: www.jasna.sk
Hotels to try…
– Hotel Grand Jasna
Perhaps ‘grand’ is a little too, um, grand, but the hotel is more than serviceable and includes a wellness spa.
Austria is often a go-to when you’re after an Alpine skiing experience, but don’t want to go Three-Valleys deep in debt.
Söll-ong, expensive resorts
And Söll is a decent option as it’s part of one of the largest ski areas in the country. And with its traditional Tirolean feel it’s a million miles from the austere former Soviet feel of some of the Eastern European resorts.
Of course, you’ll pay for that, with all your costs up, form flights to ski passes, compared with a Jasna or or Borovets, but then which country would you rather be air-lifted to hospital in?
Söll Quick Facts
Ski Pass: £176 (6 days for adults), £88 (6 days for children)
Hotels: From £85 – £250 per night
Flights: From £120 return
Height: 2,100 ft
Longest run: 5,800m
More info: www.tyrol.tl
Okay, so it’s a flipping nightmare to get to, granted (genuinely, you’re looking at three hours from Innsbruck), but the remoteness helps on the price and, even better, it’s a weird little Italian tax haven, which means there’s no VAT!
VAT's pretty good
Added to that the skiing’s particularly good and you’ve all the more reason to consider it.
Livigno Quick Facts:
Ski Pass: £133 (5 days)
Hotels: From £85 – £200 per night
Flights: From £25 return (we were surprised too! With Ryanair to Bergamo)
Height: 5,400 ft
Longest run: 7,000m
More info: www.ski-livigno.com
Hotel to try…
Simple pared-back design and close to the slopes.