10 Best budget ski destinations
Cheap ski holidays
Want to get into skiing but think it's going to cost a ridiculous amount of money? You'll be glad to hear you're wrong. We've made it easy for you with our top 10 budget ski destinations to ensure you get your snowy fix without breaking the bank.
Bulgaria has for some time been something of a bargain ski destination, and none moreso than its oldest and biggest ski resort Borovets. Being situated outside the eurozone means that prices are much cheaper than some of the more glamorous Alpine resorts. Borovets has seen a lot of money invested in the resort, and big expansion plans to create 'SuperBorovets' is due to be completed by 2012 and will turn the resort into a completely modern ski area. But surely such modernisation will be followed by a hike in cost, so go now before it becomes too popular and too costly.
While it might not be Andorra's most attractive holiday ski resort, Soldeu - a family and beginner orientated resort — provides great value for money for those on a tight budget. Its tax-free status makes accommodation, après ski, and shopping, good cheap options. Although it's not the most charming resort — the main road into France runs through the middle of the village — it's a good cheap option without the snobbery associated with other resorts. Having joined forces in 2002 with neighbor, Pas de la Casa, to create the Grandvalira mega-area helps provide greater options for more adventurous skiers, while still doing it on the cheap.
The Bohinj ski resort is a good value budget ski destination, with its location in the middle of the Triglav National Park making it convenient to visit the slopes at both Kobla and Vogel. Kobla is the lesser well-know ski area, and offers skiing for all abilities. Significant development is expected in the coming years, meaning that prices are expected to hike as a result. Vogel is a great all round resort that offers something for both beginner and expert. The Bohinj is around two hours by road from Ljubljana Airport, but is also reachable by train if you don't mind taking longer to get there and are looking for a way to cut more costs.
High and Low Tatras, Slovakia
The Tatras provide great budget skiing opportunities compared with many of the better known resorts of Europe, yet are often overlooked. The High Tatras, are considered great for families and beginners, the noted resorts being Tatranska Lomnica and Skalnate Pleso. More advanced skiing opportunities are to be found in the Low Tatras at Jasna. The resorts of the High and Low Tatras are a cheaper option because they offer much shorter transfer times — the High Tatras being just 30 minutes from Poprad airport, and the Low Tatras just over an hour away.
Poiana Brasov, Romania
Poiana in Dracula country has long been a ski resort, but a lack of major airport (the nearest is 85 miles (128km) away at Sibui), this is all set to change with a new Brasov international airport scheduled to open in 2012, which is likely to bring low-cost airlines to the area. That said, Brasov has always been popular due to it being relatively inexpensive in comparison to some of the other resorts of Europe. Its beautiful natural setting sees it often compared to the likes of Cortina d'Ampezzo or Chamonix, although it thankfully doesn't have a cost to match, with accommodation and nightlife catering for all tastes and pockets.
Bansko is fast earning a reputation as a budget ski destination for the beginner. Clearly if you're only just making your first forays onto the slopes then it makes little sense to pay for an extensive ski pass when you're going to be happy to just remain upright. This is where a smaller and cheaper resort like Bansko comes in. In recent years, Bansko has had a big investment in its facilities, and yet its prices have remained low. Eating out is cheap (with often generous portions), childcare costs remain low, and ski tuition is superb value with sessions often much longer than you'd get elsewhere. What more could you want if you are just starting out?
Brides is perfect location for those on a budget who want easy access to the superb Trois Vallées ski area without the alarming price tag. The spa town, located just below Méribel has a much more relaxed feel than some of the resorts further up the mountain and was once the Olympic Village for the 1992 Savoie Winter Olympics. Brides is linked by high speed gondola (25-minute trip) to Meribel, opening up the full range of snow guaranteed skiing in the Three Valleys. Accommodation is considerably better value than the higher altitude resorts.
Zakopane has long been considered the favourite winter mountain resort of Poles, but has in recent years started to attract visitors from further afield. Its world-class ski slopes, and great value accommodation, means that it is rapidly becoming a favourite among everyone from beginner to expert. The resort is an excellent place to learn to ski, with tuition a fraction of the cost of some western European countries. Zakopane is just over 65 miles (104km) away from Krakow airport, making it easily accessible with flights offered by most of the low cost airlines, if you're wanting to arrange your own trip.
The resort of Schladming lies just an hour away from Salzburg and therefore becomes a realistic prospect for both the weekend or week-long skier. Cars can be hired at the airport, while for the more prudent, there is also a bus service or train service directly to the resort. The resort lies in the Dachstein Mountain region, and has seven ski areas — much of which is for the intermediate and advanced skiers — and can easily be reached in one of the free local buses that run in the main season. There is a good selection of reasonably priced accommodation in and around the town.
Keep your costs to a minimum by remaining on these shores with a ski trip closer to home. Aviemore in the Cairngorm National Park provides variable opportunities for skiing, but you'll need to keep a watch on weather conditions as they can be indifferent. When conditions are good, the 30 available slopes can provide excellent skiing opportunities, generally for beginners and intermediates, at almost any time between early December through to mid-May. There are also resorts at Glenshee near Edinburgh, Nevis Range at Fort William, Glencoe Mountain and The Lecht if you are looking for other options