Not So Steep – Readers’ Favorite Affordable Ski Options | ski holidays
Awesome ski school, Slovenia
We took a family ski trip to Slovenia a few years ago with our daughter, who was seven at the time, and wanted to try a smaller resort. We took the train from the UK to Bohinj via Ljubljana and Jasenice. In Bohinj we stayed at the foot of the cable car which goes up the slopes of Vogel. It proved to be the perfect location for our daughter to learn with the brilliant local ski school and for the rest of us to enjoy some of the more challenging runs. The lift passes were relatively cheap (this year €40 per day for adults) so we didn’t feel pressured to maximize our piste time; instead we were also able to explore nearby Bled and the snowy walks in Bohinj.
Big chicken soup and ski slopes, Slovakia
The Mýto pod Ďumbierom ski resort has five kilometers of slopes with five lifts and affordable prices (ski pass €31). There is an amazing restaurant and crèche right next to the slopes. The food there is simply delicious: definitely try the chicken soup. It’s particularly good for families and beginner skiers and snowboarders, with an excellent ski and snowboard school. The village of Mýto pod Ďumbierom offers excellent accommodation options in wooden cottages, and the High Tatras Mountains are less than an hour’s drive away for those wishing to explore further.
Slopes and pools, Slovakia
Jasná in the Slovak Low Tatras offers excellent value for money, with a modern lift system and good snow conditions. There are runs for all abilities, including patrolled freeride areas. A seven-day ski pass costs €255, but cheaper bought in advance. Eating and drinking on the mountain is very cheap; about half the cost of French stations. The town of Liptovský Mikuláš, 18 km to the north, is more suitable for families and non-skiers. The village also has Aquapark Tatralandia – a huge indoor water park and spa – a lift pass brings a big discount on entry.
Family slopes, Pyrenees, Spain
La Molina in the Pyrenees is a two-hour drive north of Barcelona (a train and bus pass is also available). It’s ideal for beginners and families, with less après-ski buzz but good Spanish cafes and a few supermarkets. Adult day passes start at €35.50. Lessons start at €40 an hour for a private tutor, and a bus ticket, equipment hire and day pass cost around €80.
Skiing and swimming, Spain
Ski in the Sierra Nevada in Spain, between Granada and Almería. It is a large seaside resort, the southernmost in Europe. Where else can you ski in the morning and be on the beach in the afternoon? There are 131 runs across 70 miles of piste, making it the largest ski area in Spain. A ski pass costs from €44 for one day.
Affordable Cortina, Italy
For occasional or beginner skiers there is a pretty town next to the famous Cortina d’Ampezzo in the Italian Dolomites called San Vito di Cadore. It’s small, more affordable than its famous neighbor and has a good choice of runs. It’s where I learned to ski, and if you want more, you can always go to Cortina and take in the scenery (and the crowds) for a day. It’s also a wonderful place to try your hand at snowshoeing, sledding and ski touring in a safe environment, and has a charming town centre. Ski passes from €41 per day.
Quiet and charming, France
The smaller French resorts are much cheaper, quieter and more charming than the big names known to British skiers. I would recommend Les Saisies: it’s high enough to get consistent good snow, with lots of variety, from long blue runs with great views to challenging black ones. There’s also a great toboggan run and pools for tired kids after ski school. Ski passes cost €235.80 for six days or €45 for one day.
Perfect for beginners, France
If you fancy France, you can get a 6-day family ski pass in Valloire for less than €800 instead of nearly €1,200 in Les Trois Vallées. There are plenty of small apartments for rent in a real workers’ village, as well as a mountain restaurant where you can get spag bol for 10€, a small Carrefour not too expensive (for a mountain) and a cheap weekly market. It’s a decent, but not massive, ski area well suited for beginners and early intermediates, as well as a limited number of more challenging runs and a link to neighboring Valmeinier. Basically a good family resort that isn’t too high in itself. Alas for cycling enthusiasts, you will not be able to catch up with the Col du Galibier in winter…
Cheap side of Chamonix, France
To discover Chamonix without breaking the bank, try Vallorcine on the Swiss border. It is known by locals as the valley of the bears, and what makes it special is its wild side. From here you can access the La Balme/Le Tour ski area (without the queues) or take a short trip to Les Grands Montets for the challenging pistes and back country. Eat well for a reasonable price at Café Comptoir then set off on a peaceful adventure across the country or on snowshoes. Chamonix offers flexible rates for cheaper off-peak ski passes, and accommodation in Vallorcine is significantly cheaper than in Chamonix.
Medieval mix, France
Stay in the heart of Briançon in the Grand-Serre. You can take the ski train and disembark directly in the medieval walled town, the highest town in the EU and a Unesco World Heritage Site. There is a varied mix of pistes (with access to Monêtier, Chantemerle and Serre Chevalier too), as well as traditional mountain restaurants in the old town and plenty of affordable accommodation close to the main lift. The ski area opens fully from December 10 with a daily ski pass for adults at the relatively reasonable price of €29.