Want to spend some time on the slopes of Europe this winter? There is still plenty of time to plan a trip this ski season. Europe is the ultimate destination for skiing and is suitable for skiers of all ages or experience. Popular perception is that ski holidays are expensive as at times it can cost anywhere upwards of USD 1400 per person for a weekend of skiing. The cost could also increase depending on the extra expenses, including overpriced food and pricey accommodation. However, for those with strained budgets, but who still want to relish the adventure, here are the top five pocket-friendly ski destinations in Europe.
Thinking of skiing in Bulgaria? A perfect and budget-friendly journey without the sky-high prices of the Alps?Borovets is a town located on the northern slopes of Bulgaria’s Rila Mountains, just 70 km from Sofia, the capital. It was also known as Chamkoria until the mid-20th century and is the first mountain resort of its kind, not just in the country, but the wider region. In the 19th century, when Prince Ferdinand of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha built a hunting lodge in Borovets, he was followed by various wealthy family and friends, leading to the creation of one of Europe’s earliest ski resorts.
Even today, the ski resort attracts thousands of winter sports fans every year and is also a good alternative destination to the Alps. For skiing and snowboarding, there are 58 km of slopes available with 13 lifts to transport the guests. From December to May, a steady snow cover spreads over the slopes. The resort is especially attractive as its pistes are for the beginners and the intermediates alike. Beginners can start from the nursery slopes outside Hotel Rila and later move to the Gondola lift to try something a little more challenging. Advanced and intermediate skiers can test their skills in Yastrebets and Markoudjik areas. From the Gondola to the top, one can try one of the longest downhill runs in Bulgaria, as well as some great skiing on the slopes of the wind-free basin underneath Musala peak. This snowy area doesn’t restrict itself to skiing only, other adventures such as snowboarding, adrenaline rush on a ski mobile and riding horse in the snow. Below the village, there is a lively atmosphere with a perfect lunch spot where one can grab a bite to eat on the slopes. And surprisingly, accommodation can start with a range of as low as 5-12 USD per night for a dorm bed or under 40 USD for a double.
Les Houches, France
French Alps is the home to many national parks, beautiful small villages, picturesque mountain views and freshly-fallen powder snow. It is a dream destination for a skier as it offers around 254 ski resorts, covering 8,506 kilometres of slopes and served by 2,318 ski lifts and cable cars. While some of the resorts are extremely chic and expensive, there are some ski resorts which are pocket friendly. Les Houches, located 6 km from Chamonix, in Haute-Savoie area and Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region of eastern France is one such location.
Fun fact, the first inhabitants of Chamonix-Mont-Blanc Valley arrived via Les Houches in the Bronze Age. For tourism, this is an ideal place throughout the year as in summer one can enjoy hiking and for winter skiing is the best option for visitors. The total slope area for skiing is around 55 km. It also allures one’s eyes with spectacular panoramic 360° views of Mont-Blanc, Mont Joly, Les Aravis, Les Fiz and Les Aiguilles Rouges. Its pleasant slopes are appreciated by skiers of every level of skill. Also, for one who doesn’t want to drain out their banks, it is a good-to-go option with a ski pass at just Eur 45 per day. Les Houches is also the site of a world famous downhill piste that features on the World Cup circuit, the Kandahar run.
With excellent terrains, the country’s bewildering nature combined with exceptional snow conditions makes it the perfect place for a vacation. One of the most popular and beautiful ski areas in Slovenia is Vogel. It doesn’t restrict itself to only skiing, but is also a popular Alpine centre in other seasons. Located between Bohinj Lake and the Julian Alps, it offers spectacular views of the beautiful lake and the Triglavmountains. A total of 22 km of slopes are available for skiing and snowboarding while there are 9 lifts to transport the guests. It is one of the highest ski resorts in Slovenia, with slopes of up to 1800 m and its position as one of the first peaks of the ski chain which guarantees consistently good snow. Skiers at the beginner and intermediate levels can definitely choose this location as their first choice. Skiing is usually in early December and runs until the end of April and is possible without artificial snowfall. Also to experience the real snow, visitors don’t need to spend a bunch since the ski passes start at just Eur 35 per day.
Harrachov, Czech Republic
For Chionophiles, who love cold weather, and orophiles, who love mountains, the Czech Republic has an abundance of things on the offer. It is amazing that within the relatively small landmass of the Czech Republic there are 300 ski resorts, with a total of 692 km of pistes and more than 900 ski lifts dotting the country’s mountainous terrains. With such a diversity of options, at times it can be challenging for visitors to pick a destination. But in terms of those looking for a low-budget experience, Harrachov is the obvious answer. It is one of the oldest mountain towns in the country with a rich history of sports of all kinds. It is a town in Jablonec nad Nisou district in the Liberec region, close to the border with Poland.
Harrachov regularly hosts several winter sports events. The whole region has become important for Alpine tourism in Central Europe.There are ski slopes suitable for all ages and all levels of skiing as Ski slopes of all levels exist, including several ski jumps and a cross-country race track. From a total of 8 km ski track, around 48 pc are easy slopes, so beginners can easily learn and enjoy. Also, when done with adventure, want to go into the past? Harrachov was particularly well known for its large-scale glass production, and one can visit the Glass Museum to see how glass was made in the olden days.
Coming back to skiing, it cost around EUR 8 per day during the peak season. The best time to visit here is from early December till early April.
Want to enjoy spectacular winter landscapes, charming Alpine huts and a cosy atmosphere with a cup of tea after an exciting day on the slopes? In addition to its well-prepared slopes, beautiful winter hiking trails and regional cuisine, Austria is known as the best après-ski destination. Niederau is a small village in Wildschonau which has stunning tree-lined mountains and is one of the prettiest in the Tyrol Valley. Also, did you know that farmers cleared forests from the valley floor and tamed swamps beside mountain streams to create the fertile mountain meadows in the Wildschönau many centuries ago? In addition to winter and summer tourism, farming is still an important part of the valley’s economy today. Summer visitors come to enjoy the valley’s traditional nature and mountain walking, while winter visitors enjoy the unspoiled nature of the scenery – winter walking and skiing. Ski holidays in Niederau are most suited to beginner and intermediate skiers. It has 17 snow cannons scattered across the slopes and natural snowfall for snow reliability throughout most of the season. It has made a name for itself, in the niche of school party skiing. A total of 48 km pistes, with 41 lifts, are available here. The pricing of ski passes starts with EUR 35 per day.