14 Of The Best Affordable Ski Resorts In Europe

14 Of The Best Affordable Ski Resorts In Europe

From purse-friendly Polish pistes to budget Bulgarian breaks, these European ski destinations pack a punch – without the hefty price tag

the thought of glamorous
and ritzy Zermatt‘s
eye-watering prices makes you buckle at the knees, you’re certainly
not alone. Skiing is one of the most expensive pastimes in the
world, so it’s little wonder that these opulent alpine destinations
have earnt themselves a reputation for draining visitors’

But what if you’re in search of a more modest affair?
Thankfully, there’s a growing swathe of slopes out there offering
more affordable options. From fun-fuelled
to a sleepy
snow town, these ski resorts all offer sky-high peaks
at rock-bottom prices.

Snow on a shoestring: the best budget ski resorts in

snowy trees in pamporovo bulgaria

Pamporovo, Bulgaria

best for: beginners

Reliable snow, sun and space on the slopes are three big ticks
that this less-obvious Bulgarian ski town delivers in bucketfuls.
Set among postcard-pretty Norwegian spruce forests in the Rhodope
mountain range, Pamporovo is one of Europe’s most southerly ski
resorts, offering uncrowded runs that are excellent for beginners,
plus a handful of off-piste trails and advanced slopes for more
experienced skiers and snowboarders. The best news yet? This snow
haven is also one of the most purse-friendly on our radar, so you
can dive head-first into the town’s notorious après-ski scene
without skimping on ski school, dog sledding or snowmobiling the
next day. Bottoms up!

Hitting the slopes? We’ve got you…

Grandvalira, Andorra

best for: a snow-meets-city staycation

Host of the 2018 Ski World Cup’s European Cup Finals, this
Andorran snow town’s whopping 200km of swoon-worthy slopes make it
the largest ski resort in the Pyrenees. But for snow bunnies
wanting a day off from the pistes, there’s also a zip line, alpine
coaster and freeride area to enjoy. And, if access to other
tempting destinations comes high on your list of priorities, we’d
highly recommend it: not only is Grandvalira conveniently linked to
five other ski resorts, it’s also only a three-hour bus ride away
from cultural big-hitters Barcelona
and Toulouse. Snow-meets-city staycation, anyone?

Jasna, Slovakia

best for: seriously cheap stays

Perhaps the cheapest ski resort in all of Europe, Jasna also
happens to offer truly excellent skiing. With over 40km of pistes,
you’ll certainly have enough space to work up an appetite for local
potato pancakes stuffed with sheep’s cheese. Despite the
rock-bottom pricing, the area has some seriously wanderlust-worthy
hotels such as Hotel Galeria Thermal Bešeňová. With an
ultra-modern aesthetic and a massive glassy thermal bath enclosed
within a forest, it could almost be a high-end resort despite
costing about as much as your average Barcelona
hostel. If you’re looking for serious bang for your buck and
seemingly limitless options for mountain exploration (there are 23
lifts and cable cars), Jasna is guaranteed to tick the box.

Les Houches, France

best for: gentle skiing with jaw-dropping views

We all know that Chamonix tends towards the pricier end of the
spectrum for ski holidays, much like Zermatt, Megève and Kitzbühel.
A little-known fact, however, is the existence of Les Houches in
the Chamonix Mont-Blanc Valley. With the same access to the
jaw-dropping views of Mont Blanc piercing the clouds and walks
through the adorable hamlets in the area, Les Houches is a cheaper
ski resort that’s also more geared towards beginner and
intermediate skiers. So if the thought of accidentally flying off a
drop makes your heart stop, this is a great spot for getting
accustomed to the mountains (including the après-ski element) minus
the fear factor.

Madesimo, Italy

best for: backcountry powder

are perhaps the most famous Italian alps resort area,
but don’t overlook the mountains of Lombardy – they’re more
under-the-radar and far more affordable. Bormio is perhaps its most
famous mountain town, but others including Livigno and Madesimo are
worthy of a look. The latter, just two and a half hours’ drive from
(passing Lake Como en route) offers varied and extensive skiing,
with ample, uncrowded piste terrain and interesting backcountry
powder routes. A popular haunt for Milanese snow lovers, Madesimo
has lashings of charm and a quintessentially Italian après-ski

Poiana-Brasov, Romania

best for: storybook scenery

Straight out of a scene from The Nutcracker, there’s something
ethereal and utterly fairytale-like about Poiana-Brasov. Home to
wooden huts nestled among pines heaving under snow and grand old
hotels that glow from within, it’s an enchanting option for an
inexpensive ski getaway. Book into the five-star Hotel Aurelius for as little as £55 a night
(unbelievable, we know). Not only does it look and feel like a
castle, but it’s even surrounded by a moat, so call us Rapunzel and
catch us never actually leaving the hotel.

Vogel-Bohinj, Slovenia

best for: crystalline lakes and cross-country skiing

The ski area of Vogel-Bohinj gives new meaning to the word
“breathtaking”. With a gondola that climbs almost vertically up the
enormous peaks dropping into a crystalline lake, you could almost
swear you’re in New Zealand rather than Eastern Europe. Thanks to
its positioning on the lake, there’s also an air of St Moritz,
minus the hefty price tag. Gather a crowd of real winter sports
lovers for this trip to make the most out of the resort’s cascading
slopes and cross-country skiing trails.

Les Menuires, France

best for: groups and down-to-earth charm

Les Menuires is without a doubt the cheapest way to do Les Trois
Vallées. It shares a skiing area with Courchevel and Méribel, but
with cheaper accommodation and less of a focus on glamour. Built
right into the mountainside, the resort area is great for groups of
friends who are keen to rent a traditional chalet and party on the
slopes by day but return to their cocoon for homemade fondue and
vin chaud come dinnertime.

Livigno, Italy

best for: alpine Italian fare

For an injection of Italian spirit into a ski holiday that isn’t
in the Dolomites, look into Livigno, right on the Swiss border.
With consistent powder, a good balance of partying and chilling, as
well as cheap takes on northern Italian food, we’re sold. After a
long day on the slopes, book into Angels
& Demons
(make sure to get a seat on the ground floor,
which has a view of the mountain) for an Italian meal with Alpine
influences including homemade salami, mushroom-saffron risotto and
bucketloads of Tuscan red, all of which will only set you back by
about £20. A lift pass at Livigno will also score you a free half
day at otherwise wallet-draining St Moritz, just over the border.
Livigno is somewhat tricky to reach from Italian airports such as
Milano, so we suggest arriving from Innsbruck.

Borovets, Bulgaria

best for: fair-weather skiers

Set on the northern slopes of Bulgaria’s Rila mountain range,
Borovets spills down the side of the Musala Ridge. With a
practically balmy average temperature of five degrees in January
and near guaranteed powder through April,
the £144 week-long lift ticket feels pretty modest (especially when
compared with a pass for a week in
, which is almost quadruple the price). The clean and
spacious hotels such as the Samokov and the Rila are also only around £40 a night, making
this an absolute steal for a snow holiday.

Flachau, Austria

best for: uncrowded pistes

Part of the Ski Amadé network, one of Europe’s most expansive
skiing areas, Flachau is a favourite among Austrians that has been
sheltered from a heavy influx of tourists thanks to buffering from
Kitzbühel and St Anton. With wide-open cruisers weaving between
thickets of pines and huts dotted across the sprawling pistes
serving up crispy rösti and cheap pints, it’s an authentic Austrian
skiing experience without the cost that’s impossible to avoid
somewhere like Lech.
The Ski World Cup is held here in January, further proving its
credentials as a seriously good ski resort.

Serre-Chevalier-Briançon, France

best for: peace and quiet

Surrounding Briançon, the highest-altitude French town, as well
as an agglomeration of other pocket-sized villages, this area is
exactly the place to go for a relaxed holiday with friends and
family, away from the après-ski buzz typical of French resorts.
Rather than eating out, make like a local and stock up on cheese,
wine and chocolate as well as glass pots of yoghurt for breakfast,
all from the quaint wooden shops in town. Time feels slower here,
and that’s exactly what you should come here for. Make the most of
the glades tucked away across the mountain during the day, and get
cosy with a Scrabble board by the fire come nightfall.

Bansko, Bulgaria

best for: après-ski

Home to picturesque pine forests and surprisingly high peaks,
Bulgaria’s Bansko has been one of the top budget destinations on
our radar for a little while now. Ripping through glades and
watching the surrounding icy mountaintops from the gondola make for
a wholesome day out, while evenings are spent partying with the
Euro crowd at EDM-fuelled Happy End by the base. Despite Bansko’s
smaller presence on the ski scene, Happy End hosts performances
from the likes of Eva Mendes and Baccara. For something more
chilled, jet out to the hot springs at nearby Dobrinishte.

Davos, Switzerland

Best for: varied slopes

Sharing 320km of ski runs with neighbouring Klosters, Davos is
not only renowned for its powdery pistes, but also it’s
wallet-friendly allure. Although its restaurant prices are slowly
climbing, you’ll still find plenty of locally owned (read:
affordable) mountainside bistros – La Cave is our pick for fondue –
in this snow-sure haven. Better yet, with accommodation options
aplenty, rally the squad and settle in for a weekend filled with
good food, great runs and all-night-long après.

This article was updated on 6 January 2022.

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