As summer draws to a close, many of us are planning our winter getaways, what better way to take a break from the daily grind than to embrace the chill and hit the slopes. Unfortunately, ski breaks often come with a hefty price tag and for the budget-conscious among us, we write it off before we’ve even dipped our toe into a Google search. So we decided to delve a little deeper, and it turns out that a ski break doesn’t have to cost the earth; there are some serious bargains to be bagged across Europe this winter.
1. Białka Tatrzańska, Poland
With 18 km of beginner’s terrain, this is an ideal resort for those who are still finding their ski legs. Private rooms start at only €40 a night and include a slap-up breakfast. Białka Tatrzańska also boasts a thermal bath, perfect for relaxing tired muscles after a long day on the slopes.
2. Poiana-Brasov, Romania
The magical landscape of Poiana-Brasov provides a fabulous setting for your winter sports getaway. Value for money takes on a whole new meaning here; you can check into the five stars Hotel Aurelius from just €60. If skiing isn’t really your thing, there are plenty of other activities to try, including snow tubing, luging and ice skating.
3. Bansko, Bulgaria
The soaring peaks and powdery white slopes of Bansko offer a great winter sports destination for all ages. The younger crowd will love the après ski scene at Happy End, a trendy bar and restaurant nestled at the base of the mountain that transforms into a disco-tech in the late evenings. Those looking for relaxation can enjoy the hot springs of neighbouring Dobrinishte.
4. Les Menuires, France
Situated in the usually upmarket Les Trois Vallées, Les Menuires offers a cheaper, more down to earth experience compared with its glamorous neighbours. With 160 kilometers of runs right on your doorstep, including a fabulous off-piste ski area, this high altitude resort will please both beginners and experts alike.
5. Flachau, Austria
Home to the Ski World Cup each January, Flachau is centrally located amongst the Ski Amadé network, one of Europe’s largest Skiing areas. Despite this, it’s still relatively removed from the tourist trail. You’ll be rubbing shoulders with a mainly Austrian crowd and enjoying pocket-friendly beers and traditional Alpine cuisine.
6. Les Houches, France
Nestled amongst the breathtaking beauty of Chamonix Mont-Blanc Valley, Les Houches offers a budget-friendly alternative to the pricier French Alps ski scene. Catering more for beginners and in intermediate skiers, these gentle slopes offer incredible views of the souring Mont Blanc.
7. Bardonecchia, Italy
It’s easy to see why Bardonecchia was chosen to host the 2006 Winter Olympics Snowboarding Championship. With 100km of pristine pistes etched through a backdrop of stunning alpine scenery, it’s a little slice of chilled heaven. The best part is it’s still relatively under the radar of the wider European ski circuit due to its proximity to the widely famed Vialattea ski zone, which pulls in much larger crowds.
8. Grandvalira, Andorra
The resorts of Soldeu, El Tarter, and Pas de la Casa have merged to form Grandvilaria, the largest ski resort in the Pyrenees. This vast area of piste covers a whopping 200 km and offers 66 lifts and 3 gondolas. Because of its size, Grandvilaria has some fantastic options for a budget stay, and with so many winter sports activities, there’s more than enough to keep the whole family entertained.
9. Vemdalen, Sweden
A pocket-friendly pearl amongst the otherwise pricey Scandinavian ski scene, Vemdalen boasts some of the fastest and longest lifts in Northern Europe. High tech snow machines guarantee powdery white goodness from December to April. The spectacular mountain views are worth a visit alone.
10. Sestriere, Italy
Tucked away in Italy’s Western Alps, close to the French border, Sestriere is a purpose-built resort for beginners and experts alike. They regularly host large ski competitions, including the Alpine Ski World cup. It’s right in the heart of Via Lattea, also known as the Milky Way, and offers a Gondola service providing easy access to the surrounding slopes and more upmarket resorts.
11. Ellmau, Austria
This family favourite ski resort is situated on the Northern side of the vast Ski Welt area. You can admire the Wilder Kaiser mountain range as you glide down the slopes above the picturesque snow-covered villages. Unlike other resorts in the area, accommodation won’t cost you a fortune; there’s a plethora of cheap guesthouses and BnBs available.
12. Harrachov, Czech Republic
This small and friendly ski resort is situated in the northern part of the Czech Republic close to the Polish border. It’s a relatively basic affair, but still gives plenty of options for all abilities, including an exhilarating black diamond slope for experts. Indulge in some après ski in the form of deliciously cheap Czech beer and cockle-warming Becherovka.
13. Kranjska Gora, Slovenia
There’s something for everyone at Kranjska Gora, with 18 slopes of varying difficulty. With a max altitude of 1,215m, you’ll be treated to some stunning alpine vistas while you traverse the trails. There’s more than just skiing and snowboarding here; you can try your hand at ice climbing, sledding or snowshoeing, as well as high-speed zip-lining for thrill seekers.
14. Bovovets, Bulgaria
Coming in at less than €500 a week, but still maintaining its luxurious ambience, Borovets is a fantastic choice for a family ski break. High-end hotels go for a bargain price, and with 60 km of pristine slopes and 13 ski lifts, it continues to rank highly in the European winter sports scene.
15. Jasna, Slovakia
Jasna tops the list for pocket friendly winter fun; you’ll struggle to find a cheaper ski resort anywhere in Europe. There’s a large selection of high end hotels featuring thermal spas and exquisite restaurants that can cost as much as a caravan in Blackpool. With slopes to suit every level, and 23 lifts and cable cars, you’ll want to return year after year.
So don’t write off your winter wonderland dreams any longer. Book that annual leave and embrace the beauty of the season because like they say, a bad day on the slopes beats a good day at work.