Taking a skiing or snowboarding holiday needn’t cost the earth – pick your destination wisely and you can have a low cost skiing holiday without breaking your budget or the bank.
Here's our pick of the ten of the best budget ski resorts for a cheap week - we've chosen them for their high proportion of self-catering apartments or good value hotels, and also for their reasonably priced lift passes.
All of these choices have been hand picked as prime skiing locations that meets the needs of all the family. You can use the links below them to see the cheapest prices of anywhere on the market.
The original bargain basement country, Andorra has increased its prices since the heady days of the 80s and 90s, but if you're a first-time skier/boarder or a keen freestyler Arinsal is still worth a look for its gentle nursery slopes and massive terrain park. A lively atmosphere reigns over the resort's bars and discos. If you want more of an expanse to explore, stay in La Massana down the valley, more conveniently linked into the Vallnord network than Arinsal.
The Bregenzerwald region in Vorarlberg, DH, has over 200km of skiing in Damüls-Mellau (89km), Au-Schoppernau (45km) and Warth-Schröcken (66km) which are linked by free buses and covered by a single lift pass. From December 2013 Warth-Schröcken ski area includes a new lift connection to Lech (one of Austria's most celebrated expensive resorts), but prices are at the opposite end of the price spectrum to Lech. The Bregenzerwald offers snow sure skiing and good value accommodation in family-owned hotels and attracts mostly families and couples so don't come here expecting the kind of vibrant après ski found in some Austrian resorts.
Want to explore the Three Valleys without the 5-star price tag? The clever way to stay and ski Three Valleys 600km of slopes is to pick up a very reasonably priced self-catering apartment inLes Menuires, in the same valley as Val Thorens. It's stuffed with them, and most boast slopeside convenience to the long blue and red runs that spread out above it. Les Menuires caters for all abilities from beginners' nursery slopes in the village through to advanced and plenty of off-piste terrain for experts.
Nendaz in the Valais region of Switzerland offers back-door budget access to the Four Valleys, home to the epic freeride terrain above Verbier. Book into one of the modern but traditional and plentiful apartments in Nendaz and you'll be playing in the off-piste and itineraries above Tortin without having to pay through the nose for a Verbier chalet.
France needn't break the bank - head away from the top-flight resorts and the prices are more reasonable. Not quite Austrian reasonable, but some people will always be Francophiles and who are we to deter that? Teetering on the border with Switzerland and a central part of the massive Portes du Soleil (650km of pistes), Avoriaz is a compact traffic-free resort of jagged apartment blocks perched on angular cliffs. It's beautiful, in a unique way.
Sauze d'Oulx, Italy
One of the cheapest resorts in Italy and part of the 400km Via Lattea (Milky Way) network, Sauze has shaken off its loutish image to become a vibrant but civilised place, surrounded by extensive red and blue terrain that ultimately stretches across the border into France. Wooded slopes and wide open bowls above them make for endless intermediate challenges, while experts can seek theirs off-piste.
Fancy a bit of the easy life? Head to Söll in the Austrian Tirol and spend the week cruising the reassuring runs of the SkiWelt area, a network of over 250km of satisfying pistes with 91 ski lifts and over 70 mountain restaurants and surrounded by nine ski villages. While the village of Sőll may be small, the après ski isn't. You can make the most of the cheap beer and dance the night away to live music and be sure to check out Sőll famous Whisky Műhle disco, but there's also a quieter side to Sőll which is also a popular place for families.
A haphazard but rewarding network of runs and resorts, two of Val di Fassa's villages (Canazei and Campitello) link into the 430km-long Sella Ronda circuit that travels through the breathtaking Dolomites. Declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2009, the skiing is mainly on flattering reds. Campitello isn't as well connected as Canazei, but it is cheaper and quieter, while the Val di Fassa's smaller still resorts are a short drive away.
If you've exhausted the budget options in Europe, the next place to look is the East Coast of the United States. Flying to Boston, USA (gateway for Vermont ski resorts) is cheaper and closer than Denver (for Colorado) and most visitors to Killington are day-trippers or weekenders, so resorts offer good packages for longer stays. Killington may not have the kilometres of the Colorado ski resorts, but it's the largest ski resort in Vermont, with a good snow record and a series of six wooded peaks to explore.
Kranjska Gora, Slovenia
No round up of budget ski destinations would be complete without a mention of Eastern Europe - land of the cheap and cheerful. Slovenia's Kranjska Gora is a prime example and perfect for beginners and families wanting compact convenient slopes. While the resort may boast a World Cup slalom black run, this is not a destination for anyone wanting challenging terrain. Instead, you'll find a pretty village and gentle tree-lined slopes.
Finding the best low cost ski deals
To get the best price for a skiing holiday to many of these resorts, contact the tour operators. If you prefer to travel independently, check for special deals available through the ski resorts tourist offices as they often have great deals for accommodation, lift passes and even ski hire especially in the low season or use the links above to search accommodation and book online.
Author: Rebecca Miles
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