The first snowflakes have started falling all over Europe, mountains and countryside are turning white and the air is filled with a wintery atmosphere. This time of the year has come again: get ready for winter holidays, skiing and sliding downhill, and recovering your energy with fondue and hot chocolate. Europe offers numerous options for skiing, and the first country that might pop to mind is Switzerland, famous for its beautifully snow-covered mounts and luxurious ski resorts. Fortunately for those who are on a budget, there are also plenty of much cheaper options that make ski holidays affordable to many! Here are some suggestions that you might want to have a look at.
1. Bansko, Bulgaria
Bansko is THE station to go to in the Balkans. It attracts visitors from all surrounding countries including Greece, but it is also growing more and more famous internationally. This, unfortunately, means that the prices are slowly going up – so this year is a really good year to try it out – but it also means that the infrastructure is getting better and better. Bansko offers everything from cheap accommodation to luxury resorts with all the comfort for much cheaper than you could find in France or Switzerland. The ski slopes offer variety and are accessible with a free shuttle from Bansko town.
The Plus: with beers costing around €1 and great sights – such as the capital city of Sofia – Bulgaria is worth a longer stay.
6-day ski pass: €166
2. Jahorina, Bosnia and Herzegovina
The cheapest option on this list, Jahorina nonetheless offers 25km of slopes, great snow (which can be complemented by artificial snow when necessary), bars, clubs and everything you would hope to find in a ski resort. Jahorina also hosted the Women’s Alpine competitions for the 1984 Olympic Games of Sarajevo. There are ski slopes for every level, from beginner to expert – although the difficult slopes represent only 16% of the total zone. If you like winter holidays but are not that much into skiing, quite a few other sporting facilities are available, for example, cross-country trails.
The Plus: in addition to all of this, Jahorina station permits night skiing and is very close by to the city of Sarajevo, if you fancy a day trip.
6-day ski pass: around €87
3. Livigno, Italy
If you want to combine ski holidays and a great culinary experience, we suggest you head to Livigno in Italy. With great slopes for intermediate skiers and enough good off-piste to keep even the most experienced skiers and snowboarders busy for several days, Livigno is a really good ski destination. To keep it exciting, you can also try the house-height jumps, or at least the rails and kickers if you are more reasonable. With prices quite low on and off the skiing domain, the resort has also become a popular spot for younger crowds looking to combine a ski trip and parties.
The Plus: combine skiing with shopping – Livigno is a duty-free zone – and gastronomy – after all this is Italy!
6-day ski pass: between €150 and €229 depending on the period
4. Ruka and Puhä, Finland
For the full winter experience, head to the Ruka and Puhä resorts in Finnish Lapland. One would never expect Finland, especially the magical area of Lapland (the ultimate northern lights viewing spot) to offer a cheap option. And yet, Ruka and Puhä offer really affordable combined ski passes, with one of the longest ski seasons in Europe (around 200 days). The Ruka and Puhä resorts are a great destination to ski with the family, as it offers a secure and well-maintained infrastructure as well as slopes for all ages and performance levels. The snow is just right, the sights breathtaking, and you might run into a few deer!
The Plus: We know we had you at “northern lights”.
6-day ski pass: around €180
5. Kranjska Gora, Slovenia
Kranjska Gora in Slovenia is a really good option for families looking for snowy fun but constrained by a tight budget. It offers cheap prices in the station but also in the surrounding area, which allows for spending quite some time there without breaking the bank. Keep in mind that the most experienced skiers might not find what they need here, but the slopes are pleasant and the charming town feels very homey. Add great views and a calm atmosphere, and you get a great family holiday or romantic escapade.
The Plus: Kranjska Gora offers countless extra activities such as ski touring, ice climbing, sledding, snowshoeing, zip-lining, ice skating and much more.
6-day ski pass: €162
6. Söll, Austria
Söll is one of the rare Austrian ski resorts that remains relatively cheap and quiet, probably because it is overshadowed by more well-known neighboring stations. With a network of 250 km of slopes and 9 surrounding ski villages, you have enough variety for your ski sessions and other activities to last you at least a week. To complete that tempting picture, note that Söll is a great family destination (and you can find super cute chalets at a decent price), but also offers a good nightlife.
The Plus: after a day of intense skiing, enjoy a refreshing beer at a good price and delicious Austrian pastries.
6-day ski pass: between €200 and €235 depending on the period