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 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.
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
The Bregenzerwald region in Vorarlberg, Austria, 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. Warth-Schröcken ski area is visible from
Lech (one of Austria's most celebrated expensive resorts), but
Bregenzerwald 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 in Les
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
Fancy a bit of the easy life? Head to Söll 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
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
Fassa valley'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 America. 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 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. And check with the local
tourist offices as they often have great deals for accommodation,
lift passes and even ski hire especially in the low season.
To help you compare, we've also picked out average prices for a
small beer and a three-course evening meal.
|Kranjska Gora, Slovenia
|Sauze d'Oulx, Italy
|Les Menuires, France
|Söll, SkiWelt, Austria
|Val di Fassa, Trentino, Italy
|Killington, Vermont, USA
for winter 2010-11 based on October 2010 exchange rates