April 17, 2024

Most affordable ski destinations in Europe

Ski holidays have a reputation for being pricey, with: Ski passes, renting equipment, accommodation and the aprés-ski! ? But, hold onto your ski poles… If you’re thinking a ski holiday is out of reach for your backpacker budget, then think again. There are plenty of alternatives to the luxury chalets, Michelin-star restaurants and finest mountain spas that grace the Alps. We’ve comprised a list of cheap places to ski in Europe. So, grab your goggles and pack your thermals, you shall go to the ball slopes! Feast your eyes on these cheap places to ski in Europe.

1. Poiana Brasov, Romania

Poiana Brasov is nestled at the foot of the Postavaru Massif, deep in the Carpathians mountain range, at an altitude of 1200 metres. With 24km of slopes and 12 pistes, it isn’t the biggest of ski areas, but some of the runs are impressively long and tree-lined. The aprés-ski features a good selection of bars and restaurants. This destination is ideal for those who want a little more than just skiing during their holiday. You can visit the medieval city of Brasov and take a day trip to Dracula’s Castle in Bran, Transylvania on a horse-driven sleigh.

Best Suited for: Beginners

Average Cost of Ski Pass: Six-day ski pass – €105

Average Cost of Beer: €2-3

How to Get There: Fly to Bucharest, and drive to Poiana-Brasov from here (45 minutes). You can also catch a train from Bucharest train station for €9

Aprés-ski: Try “vin fiert”, the local wine

cheap places to ski - Poiana Brasov, Romania

? clofu’ via Flickr

2. Jasna, Slovakia 

Jasna has 50km of slopes and stunning dedicated off-piste zones. The modern ski lift is fast and efficient and the highest altitude is the peak of Chopok sitting at 2024m above sea level. For aprés-ski, enjoy lively and affordable bars, or gourmet restaurants for a relaxed night.

Best Suited for: Intermediate and advanced skiers and snowboarders, particularly those that like to head off-piste.

Average Cost of Ski Pass: Six-day ski pass: €53.

Average Cost of Beer: €1-2

How to Get There: Just a 30-minute transfer from Poprad airport

Aprés-ski: Try the local craft beers


3. Borovets, Bulgaria

Borovets is the oldest ski resort in Bulgaria and you’ll find it at around 1,300m in the Rila Mountains. Skiers can reach a height of 2,600m, so the runs are ideal for experienced skiers. There is also a good freestyle scene with the largest snow park in Bulgaria.

Being lively, cheap, and cheerful, Borovets is often a popular stag and hen destination. While it’s not everyone’s ideal aprés-ski to be surrounded by bachelor/ettes, it does mean the nightlife is much livelier in comparison to other areas.

Best Suited for: Experienced casual skiers

Average Cost of Ski Pass: Six-day ski pass: €140

Average Cost of Beer: €2-3

How to Get There: Fly to Sofia, then drive (90 minutes) or catch the minibus to Borovets.

Aprés-Ski: The modern town centre has a good choice of modern restaurants, shops, nightclubs and bars.

cheap places to ski - Borovets, Bulgaria

? Klearchos Kapoutsis via Flickr


4. Krvavec, Slovenia

Krvavec is unique as there is no accommodation surrounding the slopes, enabling panoramic views of the sprawling plain around the mountain. Visitors usually stay in Bled, where there is a free bus service to Krvavec. While this ski area is small, it has everything you need including a ski park and free ride zone. The highest peak of Krvavec is 1,971 m above sea level. This is more than a ski destination, as shopping, sight-seeing, and other activities are only 30 minutes away in Ljubljana, the capital.

Best Suited for; Beginners

Average Cost of Ski Pass: Six-day ski pass: €150

Average Cost of Beer: €2-3

How to Get There: Ljubljana’s airport is only 8 km away. There is ski bus which will take you from Ljubljana’s main bus station to Krvavec.

Aprés-Ski: There are several bars, restaurants and sun decks to enjoy refreshments.


5. Les Houches, France

If you’re keen to head to a recognised skiing destination, consider visiting Les Houches in France. Just a short distance down the valley from Chamonix.  The slopes have incredible views of the Mont Blanc Valley, so it’s perfect for leisure skiers and is inexpensive compared to its loftier neighbours!

Best Suited for: Leisure skiers

Average Cost of Ski Pass: Six-day ski pass: €215

Average Cost of Beer: €3-6

How to Get There: Fly to Geneva Airport, and drive (1 hour) to Les Houches.

Aprés-Ski: Les Houches has happy hour at bars between 5-7pm

cheap places to ski - Les Houches, France

? James via Flickr


6. Pamporovo, Bulgaria

If you are looking for sun, guaranteed snow and tranquil surroundings, Pamporovo is the place for you. Located in the Rhodopi mountains, Pamporovo is the most southernly ski resort in Europe, it offers a great combination of reliable snow coverage, sunshine and spacious slopes throughout winter. This destination will suit all levels as it is excellent for beginners, but also has advanced slopes like the “Wall”, off-piste trails and a freestyle area. Skiers can reach a height of 1,950m.

The town centre of Pamporovo is abundant with shops, bars, and restaurants – making it ideal for aprés-ski.

Best Suited forV Everyone

Average Cost of Ski Pass: 5-day pass including equipment hire is €159

Average Cost of Beer: €2-3

How to Get There: Fly to the closest airport Plovdiv and take a bus which costs €2-5 and takes 1h 21m.

Aprés-Ski:  Pamporovo town centre is ideal


7. Livigno, Italy 

Due to ancient tax laws, the duty on everything in Livigno is practically zero, making it a more affordable skiing holiday. It is renowned for its freestyle scene, incredible terrain park, pro-sized jumps, rails and kickers. This destination is popular with younger skiers who are looking to socialise as the après-ski here is first class.  The cheap alcohol prices (by Italian standards), affordable food and a variety of clubs means you can party into the early hours.

Best Suited for: Everyone, Beginner to Advanced

Average Cost of Ski Pass: Six-day ski pass: €161, day pass; €30

Average Cost of Beer: €3-5

How to Get There: Fly to Milan and catch a bus transfer to Livigno

Aprés-Ski: There are over 150 bars to choose from here. With the low price of alcohol and plenty of venues, it is easy to get into the party mood.


8. Janské Lázne, Czech Republic

About two hours’ drive outside of Prague, in the Karkonosze (“giant mountains”), is a homely town called Janské Lázne. Here serene forest-weaving slopes are best suited to those just learning the ropes. There are good quality ski lessons for as little as £8 an hour. The top lift at Janské Lázne is situated at 1,275 metres. Another unique feature is the night-skiing, available for those who won’t let sun down stop them from getting in their practice.

Best Suited for: Beginners & first-time skiers

Average Cost of Ski Pass: Six-day ski pass: €110, Equipment hire (six-days): €70

Average Cost of Beer: €1-2

How to Get There: Two hours’ drive outside of Prague

Aprés-Ski: Bars, Restaurants, Sun decks, Ice bar


9. Gudauri, Georgia

Sitting between Russia and Turkey in the Greater Caucasus mountains, this destination is on the Europe Asia continental divide, making Gudauri a unique travel experience and ski destination. With dozens of slopes, Gudauri has trails for skiers of every level. It’s 3 300 meters above sea level and the runs cover a total of 57 kilometres.

If you are up for a new challenge, Gudauri boasts some of the best heliskiing. Helicopters transport skiers and guides to distant peaks for some of the most challenging (and affordable) skiing anywhere in the world.

Best Suited for: Everyone, Beginner to Advanced.

Average Cost of Ski Pass: Seven-day ski pass: €140

Average Cost of Beer: Just under €1

How to Get There: Take a local minibus (marshrutka) from Didube bus station in Tbilisi. The trip will take 2 hours to arrive in Gudauri.

Aprés-Ski: Try (at your own risk) the homemade wine and liquor (chacha) that is available in restaurants street stalls.

cheap places to ski - Gudauri, Georgia

? Vladimer Shioshvili via Flickr

10. Bankso, Bulgaria

Nestled at the foot of the Pirin Mountain, the main appeal of this destination is the night life, low-cost ski passes and ski packages available. The season runs later than most of the northern hemisphere, until mid-May, so it is possible to pick up a late season deal. Bankso has the most modern ski facilities in Bulgaria, the best snow record, the longest ski season in the country, 65 km of pistes and the highest peak which is 2,600 m above sea level. This destination is great for snowboarders, as Bankso boasts the first snow park in the Balkans, complete with a halfpipe, kickers (for both beginners and advanced riders), multiple rails, rainbows and fun boxes.

If you want a break from the slopes, head to the town and take a walk through Banko’s narrow cobbled streets, past small stone houses and be transported back in time.

Best Suited for: Beginners and intermediates

Average Cost of Ski Pass: 6-day Ski Pass – €170 (Add €20-30 for equipment rental and ski school)

Average Cost of Beer: €1-2

How to Get There: Take a bus from airport you will have to go to Sofia bus station first and then catch a bus for Bansko.

Aprés-Ski: Visit a traditional inn (“mehana”) and try rakia (a very strong spirit made of fermented fruit).

cheap places to ski - Bankso, Bulgaria

? bdmundo via Flickr

11. Popova Shapka, Macedonia

Just 35km from the capital city of Skopje, Popova Shapka is a free-riding paradise. Here you will find spectacular landscapes for off piste skiing, high annual snowfall and plenty of sunny days. However, the main reason for visiting Popova Shapka is for the Eskimo Freeride operation. Eskimo Freeride has two specially converted snow grooming vehicles enabling you to explore remote areas without breaking the bank on heliskiing.

Best Suited for: Off piste skiing enthusiasts

Average Cost of Ski Pass: 6-day lift pass – €69

Average Cost of Beer: €1-2

How to Get There: Fly to the Macedonian capital, Skopje. Catch a bus to Tetovo, the closest city (only 8 away) to the slopes.

Aprés-Ski: The area is quiet and there isn’t much of a night life, which might suit you well after an exhausting day of off piste skiing. You can try the food at Meze Bar Bure Barut in Tetovo.


12. Špindler?v Mlýn, Czech Republic

Špindler?v Mlýn ski area is the most modern in the Czech Republic and consists of 25 km of slopes, 100km for cross country skiing and 3 parks to rip on. The resort has 95% artificial snow coverage, so it stays open until the end of April. Food and drink are affordable and there are a wide selection of clubs, bars and restaurants for aprés-ski.

Best Suited for: Intermediate skiers

Average Cost of Ski Pass: Four-day ski pass – €125

Average Cost of Beer: €1-2

How to Get There: Fly to Prague, then drive to Špindler?v Mlýn, which costs €14-21 and takes just under 2 hours

Aprés-Ski: Affordable food, drinks and a wide selection of clubs and bars.

cheap places to ski - Špindler?v Mlýn, Czech Republic

Elbe River in Spindleruv Mlyn Ski Resort ? Breta Valek via Flickr


Keep on reading

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