1. Les Houches, France
Nestled in the heart of the Mont Blanc massif, Les Houches is located at an altitude of 1000 metres and offers an exceptional panorama of the peaks around Chamonix. Les Houches has more than 50 km of slopes and 15 lifts and is a perfect skiing resort for families and beginners. It has a convenient bus shuttle service to the slopes. The accommodation in Les Houches is a great deal more affordable than in any nearby resorts. For example, the RockyPop Hotel, offers air-conditioned rooms, ski lessons, children’s playground, and a restaurant at a great price.
2. Madesimo, Lombardy, Italy
Just over 2 hours from Milan Malpensa, passing Lake Como, Madesimo offers varied and extensive skiing. It has 60km, mostly uncrowded pistes between 1,550 and 2,880 metres. Highlights are the piste and off-piste runs of the Val di Lei, Canalone, and Camosci. Lunches on-mountain cost around 20 euros with wine. Lift passes from about 40 euros, six-day from about €160. Hotels offer double rooms from 470 euros a week half-board.
3. Pohorje, Maribor, Slovenia
This small ski resort hosts the FIS Ladies Golden Fox ski event. If the snow is good, it is excellent, with several not overcrowded slopes for all levels. While skiing, you can overlook the city of Maribor. However, you still feel like you’re in the middle of nowhere. You can cross over to Areh and other areas and hardly see a soul. Several bars and restaurants are offering good pizza and pasta. Ljubljana airport is about two hours away; Graz, Austria (served by Ryanair) is less than an hour away.
4. Poiana-Brasov, Romania
Poiana Brasov ski resort offers 25 km of slopes and ten lifts and is the largest and most luxurious mountain resort in Romania. It is located deep in the Carpathian mountains, close to famous sights such as Dracula Castle (23 km), Rasnov Fortress (12 km), and the medieval town of Brasov (14 km). It is one of the most untouched and best-preserved mountain areas in Eastern Europe.
Poiana-Brasov offers skiing for an average price of 600 euros a week in high season for two people everything included. For example, check the prices of hotel Piatra Mare.
You can get to Poiana Brasov by car from Bucharest, which takes about 3 hours. Or take a train from Bucharest to Brasov (about 15 euros), then a bus to Poiana Brasov (about 2 euros).
5. Pamporovo, Bulgaria
Pamporovo, in the Rhodopes, is a sunny and not overcrowded ski resort three hours from Sofia with snow guarantee. It is ideal for beginners, but also has advanced slopes, off-piste slopes, après-ski, and a freestyle area. Pine trees prevent avalanches, the signs are clear, and the lifts and instructors are fantastic. There are also dog sleigh rides, snowmobile rides, and comfortable hotels with double rooms for around 60 euros.
6. Termignon, Val Cenis, France
With 125km of pistes, this authentic village of the beautiful Vanoise national park offers affordable and convenient ski hire. This place has some excellent offers on late-season passes (children ski free with two adults), reasonable food prices on the slopes, and the right choice of accommodation.
7. La Norma, Maurienne Valley, France
This is the ideal place for families with small children. Almost all accommodations are located directly on the piste, so that the children can easily slide down to the ski school. The parents can then take advantage of the large off-piste area. Due to the altitude, snow lasts for weeks, and powder snow areas can be accessed from the peak of La Norma. You can also reach the vast tree skiing area from the blue runs that zigzag across the mountain. Self-catering accommodation is cheap and comfortable, and a few restaurants offer excellent basic food.
8. Abetone, Tuscany, Italy
Located close to Pistoia and about 1½ hours’ drive from Florence and Pisa, this simple ski resort has enough pistes to satisfy beginners as well as intermediate-advanced skiers. Although it’s not very high, the snow is usually good. The whole place has the feel of a Tuscan town, as opposed to a ski resort. There are several comfortable hotels along the single main road, and several restaurants selling rustic Tuscan mountain food such as polenta with boar ragu. It’s perfect for families, less so if you’re looking for nightlife, as there isn’t very much.
9. Harrachov, Czech Republic
You can reach this gem of a small ski resort by train from Liberec. A couple of lifts take you to the top of the Čertova Hora peak, then ski down through snowy trees to a classic wooden hut serving tasty bramboračky (potato pancake) and crisp pilsner beer. A one-day lift pass costs around 25 euros, the hotel doubles from 60 euros.
10. Niederau, Tyrol, Austria
Niederau itself has a rather small network of pistes, but on the same lift pass, you can use other pistes in neighbouring villages. You will also find some challenging runs which are ski-able right down to the town with lively après ski bars and several restaurants doing great Tyrolina food. Hotel Austria is a simple family-run hotel 50 metres from the main gondola, with half-board from 67 euros per person.
11. Grandvalira, Andorra
Only three hours by bus from Barcelona, this resort has more than 200 km of slopes. Home to the 2018 World Ski Championships, it is also one of the cheapest ski resorts with hotel rooms starting at 65 euros in March. The resort connects five cities – Encamp, Canillo, El Tarter, Grau Roig, and Pas de la Casa.
12. Jahorina, Bosnia
Remember the Sarajevo Olympics? Well, those ski slopes are still present but now with modern lifts installed. The food is excellent and cheap, and the people are super-friendly. You can fly to Sarajevo, and a short transfer takes you up the mountain. A five-day ski pass is only around 100 euros.
13. Sauze d’Oulx, Italy
Sprawling across the France-Italy border, the 440km Via Lattea (Milky Way) ski area has some fantastic tree-lined runs. Most of the runs are on the Italian side and can be easily reached from Sauze d’Oulx. With two-thirds of pisted areas rated red (intermediate), this is prime terrain for intermediate skiers.
Sauze d’Oulx village has kept its local charm with numerous trattorias offering Piedmont wine, polenta with rabbit, local vegetables, and other tasty northern Italian food. Self-catering apartments provide the best value, with week-long stays close to the lifts costing less than 600 euros.
The high-season lift pass is around 200 euros for six days (Via Lattea Italian side). How to get there? Fly to Turin and a 90-minute bus transfers to Sauze d’Oulx costs around 40 euros.
14. Jasná Nízke Tatry, Slovakia
Jasná is the largest ski resort in Slovakia, offering low prices. The resort is a 49 km long spider’s web of runs on the Chopok mountain (2024 m), with over 20 fast lifts, snow-making on more than half the area, a freeride zone, and night skiing.
Jasná is also at the heart of Slovak highland culture, which means you can enjoy a hearty local cuisine such as the national dish bryndzové halušky (gnocchi-sized dumplings with sheep’s cheese and bacon) including beer for less than €10. Vlkolínec, a fairy-tale 14th-century mountain hamlet, is only 45 minutes away. Jasná offers some excellent value accommodation like the Hotel Galeria Thermal Bešeňová. The high-season lift pass price starts from about 150 euros per six days. You can take a budget flight to Poprad-Tatry Airport. From there, a taxi, train, and bus combo (via Liptovský Mikuláš) cost less than 10 euros.
15. Boí-Taüll, Spain
Boí-Taüll is at 2020m, and from here, you have access to some of the highest slopes in the Pyrenees, an area with 45 km of mostly red and black (advanced) slopes. The resort is rarely overcrowded, very family-friendly, and north-facing – crucial for long-lasting snow. An apartment or hostal (guesthouse) is available for less than 450 euros per week.
Off the slopes, try delicious Catalan dishes like trinxat, a sort of non-egg omelet made with boiled potatoes and cabbage. Plus, the region offers some fantastic medieval architecture to visit like the famous frescoes in the Vall de Boí’s or several Unesco-listed Romanesque churches. The high-season lift pass price is around 180 euros for six days. You can either fly into Barcelona or Toulouse and then go by car or by bus.
16. Vogel-Bohinj, Slovenia
Vogel-Bonhinji, with its beautiful unspoiled nature, is getting more and more popular. Located beneath Slovenia’s mythic Mt Triglav, believed by early Slavs to be the home of a triple-headed deity, Vogel Ski Resort provides 22km of blue (beginner) and red pistes plus a snowboard park. Although it’s not a big resort, and snow is not always guaranteed, Vogel is a great bargain, with breathtaking views of the Julian Alps. Looking for some off-piste activity? Beautiful Lake Bohinj or Lake Bled are both reachable by car in less than one hour.
Accommodation rates start at a budget-friendly 50 euros per double. If you care about the environment but still want a lot of comfort, the Bohinj Eco Hotel is an excellent option with panoramic views of the Alps. The high-season lift pass price is around 150 euros for six days. Vogel is a 90-minute drive from Ljubljana Airport.
17. Białka Tatrzańska, Poland
In Poland’s biggest winter sports resort, Białka Tatrzańska, the villages Kotelnica, Bania, and Kaniówka make one interconnected ski area that’s ideal for beginners. However, the same lift pass grants access to neighbouring resorts with more challenging pistes. All resorts share the warm Polish hospitality and great views of the Carpathian Mountains.
Private rooms, often decorated with wood-carved furniture, are just €40, usually including a big breakfast. The local food like pierogi (dumplings) and żurek (sour soup) are hearty and tasty, often comes with free shots of Żubrówka vodka and costs less than 5 euros. The high-season lift pass price is about 110 euros for six days for the multi-resort Tatry Super Ski Pass. To get there, you can choose between private transfers from Kraków Airport which are good-value for groups (around 100 euros for four people) while public buses from Kraków Główny train station (two hours) is excellent value at about 5 euros.
18. Borovets, Bulgaria
Borovets has been a winter resort since the late 19th century. Its 60km piste and 13 lifts of mostly blue and red runs weave beneath Bulgaria’s famous Mount Musala (2925m), reaching a height of 2560m.
Budget accommodation often involves boxy hotels. However, here you can find a comfy double room for around 300 euros per week. A great hotel is the Yastrebets Wellness & Spa hotel at the foot of the ski slopes.
The high-season lift pass price is only around 160 euros for six days. Transfers from Sofia airport to Borovets start at 12 euros (and no extra charge for ski carriage) and takes about 90 minutes. Even cheaper is a bus to Samokov and then a shuttle.
19. Sudelfeld-Bayrischzell, Germany
Compared to the well-known resorts in neighbouring Austria, Sudelfeld-Bayrischzell with just over 30km of pistes is modest – but so are the prices. A one-week stay in a cozy guesthouse will cost you around 500 euros per week and at the same time, provide access to some exciting red slopes and a freeride area ideal for experienced skiers.
Meaty Bavarian dishes aren’t always cheap, but low-cost alternatives like currywurst or flammkuchen (baked flat-breads with sour cream and onions) leave enough change for tasty Bavarian Weissbier. The high-season lift pass price is €210 for six days. You can conveniently get to Bayrischzell by train from Munich’s central train station at around 25 euros, and it takes 90 minutes.
20. Val Cenis, France
Who needs Val d’Isère’s glamorous ski scene when the French Alps can be yours for a très petit price tag? The five villages of Val Cenis access 125km of great skiing pistes. Beginners can roam far, with blue runs extending from village level to top of the resort – a sky-scraping 2800m in altitude – plus there are abundant red and a handful of black runs.
Apartments that sleep four to six people go for about 450 euros per week, per person. Keep in mind that you’re also close to the Italian border, meaning authentic pizza at moderate prices – what more could you ask for? The high-season lift pass is 180 euros per six days. How to get there: Turin, Grenoble, and Chambéry airports are all less than two hours away. By public transport, TGV (fast train) hub Modane is a 45-minute bus ride from the valley.