Six of Europe’s budget ski resorts that you probably haven’t thought to try

Six of Europe’s budget ski resorts that you probably haven’t thought to try

Skiing isn’t known for being the most accessible, affordable type of holiday, but there are ways to plan a mountain escape without breaking the bank. It starts with choosing a budget-friendly destination.

We’ve found six of the best-priced ski resorts to consider for a ski trip this winter, factoring in accommodation, ski passes and transfers.

Jahorina and Bjelasnica, Bosnia and Herzegovina

Two resorts, Jahorina and Bjelasnica, make up Bosnia and Herzegovina‘s mainstream ski scene in the Dinaric Alps. They are both around 40 minutes’ drive from Sarajevo, which was the host of the 1984 Winter Olympics and is well worth a day trip.

Jahorina is the bigger of the two ski resorts. It is perfect for beginners and intermediates with both wide open summit runs and tree-lined trails to base. It was also recently named the best value ski resort for families in an annual ranking by Post Office Travel Money. The price survey was based on typical ski holiday costs for a family of two adults and two children, including a six-day ski pass, ski and boot hire for six days, 5–6 half days of ski school, various drinks and six lunches on the slopes. A ski pass for a family in Jahorina was around £116 cheaper than the resort with the next cheapest pass.

Bjelasnica, meanwhile, is steeper and offers more off-piste skiing. Both resorts are relatively small in kilometre-of-piste, so visiting both and including a stop in the city would ensure a culturally interesting ski trip. Après is a relatively quiet affair, but snow tubing and night skiing (with small price tags) make up for it.

  •   Adult daily lift pass €20, with single lift rides available for €4
  • Wizz Air offers return flights from £40, with airport-to-resort transport options including train (€3), bus (€12) or taxi (€45) 
  • Three-star hotels start at £50 per night in peak season 

Roccaraso, Abruzzo, Italy

Roccaraso, L'Aquila, Abruzzo, Italy - March 15, 2019: Ski instructor on the Macchione children's ski slopes
Children’s slopes in Roccaraso (Photo: Getty)

Swap the Dolomites and Italian Alps for an off-the-beaten-track side of Italy, heading south to the Roccaraso ski area in the Apennines. With few Britons visiting this area, you’ll ski with Romans and Neopolitans (just a two-hour drive from either city) on 100km of slopes.

The Italian attitude to skiing is a big appeal – a national preference for long lunches tends to leave the pistes empty in the afternoon. The rural Italian prices help, too. We’re talking €1 coffees, wine and beer for a little more, and rustic dining from a region known for producing talented chefs. Sitting in the National Park of Abruzzo and of Majella, the landscape is Unesco protected and ideal for walking or cross-country skiing.

  • €105 for a weekend lift pass/£215 for a week’s pass with reductions for children and seniors 
  • Fly to Pescara (though Rome and Naples are possible) for as little as £15 one-way in January with Ryanair, from STN. A bus between Pescara and Roccaraso costs €13 and takes 1.5 hours 
  • Rooms from €100 a night. February half-term family skiing in Roccaraso offers up plenty of deals. A stay for a family of four, half-board, in a three-star hotel (including shuttles to the slopes and return airport transfers) is available from €499pp. 

Les Carroz, France

People queue to take a ski lift, on February 23, 2017 at
You can find Alpine charm in Les Carroz (Photo: Getty)

One of the world’s biggest ski nations, and the most accessible from the UK, France has to feature. In Les Carroz, you can find well-priced ski breaks with traditional Alpine charm. Empty, long wide pistes and forest runs make Les Carroz an intermediate’s paradise, but with plenty of scope to ski into the Grand Massif area, there’s something for everyone. There’s no real nightlife in the quiet, wooden-chalet village, but there’s dog sledding, nighttime cross-country skiing, igloo building and tobogganing to try. And, with under-eights skiing for free, it’s ideal for young families.

  • Beginner six-day lift pass costs €162/€318 for general lift pass (access to Les Carroz, Samoens, Morillon pistes). Under-8s and over-75s ski free 
  • A 55-minute drive from Geneva airport, there’s plenty of flight options, with cheap shared transfers from €35pp  
  • Mid-season double rooms go for €142 a night 

Jasna, Slovakia

Slovakia. Winter ski resort Jasna. Sunny weather and blue sky over the ski slope. Ski lift and panorama of snow-capped mountain peaks on the horizon
Jasna is Slovakia’s largest ski area (Photo: Mikhail Pavlov/Getty)

Jasna offers big mountains and small prices. Indeed, Slovakia’s largest ski area gives the better known Alpine resorts a run for their money. And while Jasna prices sit alongside the rest of the eastern bloc ski resorts – expect to pay €8 for a main meal and €2–3 for a beer – the offering is superior.

The lifts are modern, the rental kit solid, and the slopes wide ranging, from gentle blues, long reds and challenging blacks, to freeride zones and excellent (extensive) off-piste opportunities when the snow’s in. The downside is there’s no real resort centre, but the nearby town of Liptovský Mikuláš has plenty of action with bars, restaurants and the country’s biggest waterpark.

  • Four-star accommodation costs from €50 per night, B&B 
  • If you book ahead, using GoPass.Travel, six-day adult lift passes cost €250 
  • Wizz Air flies to Poprad, which is less than an hour from Jasna by road, with a handful of flights weekly from £18 each way. A train from Poprad to Liptovsky Mikulas is possible, but hiring a car or taking a taxi (€80) is easiest 

Bansko, Bulgaria

Shiligarnika ski area
Bansko offers additional activities, such as snowmobiling, as well as well-priced skiing (Photo: Evgeni Dinev/Getty)

Bansko is the Bulgarian resort that’s often topped the charts for budget-friendly skiing – and for good reason. There are modern lifts (save for the infamously slow main village-to-mid-mountain gondola) and snowmaking on 75km of slopes reaching above 2,500 metres, with extra activities such as snowmobiling that won’t wreck your budget.

It’s great for first-timers, as well as groups, with a lively après ski scene in the old town taverns and clubs. All in all, a ski holiday to Bansko can cost half that of a major Alpine resort. Despite having fallen from its long-held position as the cheapest resort in the latest Post Office Travel Money survey, it still offers cost-effective instruction and ski rental, and meals for under £10.

  • Lift passes £226 for six days, with packages including ski hire, lessons and lift pass a steal from €410 for five days 
  • Return flights to Sofia from £42. Transfers from Sofia centre (take the metro from the airport) to Bansko by bus costs €10 one-way, taking around four hours, in all. Shared shuttles cost from €20 (2.5 hours) 
  • Four-star accommodation from around £87 per night, with options as little as £19pp per night