4 European ski destinations that won’t break the bank
Skiing is expensive. It costs to get there, to stay there, to rent the gear, to get up the mountain, to come down again, to fix things if you don’t do it in one piece, to eat, to drink; quite frankly, it costs a fair bit of cash to do pretty much anything when you’re halfway up a mountain.
Of course, if you’re still desperate for a snow fix but don’t want to break the bank one of the best means of cutting costs from the outset is to avoid traditional destinations. You shouldn’t expect the same conditions and facilities as those on offer at popular Alpine resorts, but if you don’t mind roughing it and taking your chances on the weather then keep reading…
Slope altitude: 990-2600 m
Destination airport: Sofia
Just over three hours flight from the UK and with three resorts of note, Bulgaria is one of the cheapest place in Europe to ski. Granted you may end up staying in a brutal Soviet-era accommodation, but while your snaps may not be postcard perfect, the slopes on offer in Bansko are perfectly adequate for beginner and intermediate skiers. Lifts up the mountain are quick, although queues do put a dampener on things. An old town set in the Pirin national park there has been significant investment in the skiing infrastructure but it has come at the expense of traditional Bulgarian culture which has been supplanted in favour of Brit-friendly nightlife. If cheap and cheerful is what you're after you can't go too far wrong.
Poiana Brasov, Romania
Slope altitude: 1020-1775 m
Destination airport: Bucharest
If Dracula were to ever go skiing he’d probably hit the slopes at Poiana Brasov set deep in the Transylvanian mountains. A couple of hours in the car from the capital Bucharest the resort offers cheap on-the-spot prices, pretty scenery, enthusiastic instructors and fine hotels. That being said its pistes are modest in size – there are only eight – which means that experienced skiers will likely grow bored quickly. Better suited to beginners and those looking to hone their skills it’s also suffering from a lack of modern facilities including below-par mountain toilets and food outlets.
Pistes: 50 kms
Slope altitude: 1030 -1960 m
Destination airport: Krakow
Two hours from Krakow, Zakopane - on the border with Slovakia - is Poland’s best-known ski resort. More suited to those looking for fun rather than an intense session on the slopes it is a little rough around the edges but has long been a favoured destination for the Polish intelligentsia so has added appeal for culture vultures. There are seven ski areas around Zakopane offering more than 50 lifts between them, but most are short drag lifts, either running parallel or not connected to one another.
Pistes: 30 kms
Slope Altitude: 950-1829 m
Destination airport: Poprad
Jasna’s association with skiing dates back to the 1930s and as one of the largest open ski areas in Eastern Europe it also put its name forward to host the 2006 Winter Olympics. Given its vaunted credentials you won’t be surprised to learn that it offers excellent off-piste skiing on both the Chopok North and Chopok South sides of the mountain and has challenging red and black runs for intermediates as well as a few green slopes for beginners. For those looking for extra fun the Jeleni Grund snow park offers night skiing as well as moving kickers, a beam and a pipeline for those eager to express themselves. The ski season lasts between December and April with travellers from the UK best served by Poprad airport.