Where To Ski In Europe: The New Breed Of Affordable Destinations

Austria, France, and Switzerland might well be Europe’s prized skiing destinations, with their pristine runs, celebrity après-ski scenes, and luxury five-star resorts, but those trips definitely don’t come cheap. A weekend in Verbier would cost most of us more than a month’s salary, and though skiing alongside Kate Moss would be wonderful, with a bit of careful planning and research, it is possible to hit the slopes elsewhere without having to file for bankruptcy. Let us introduce you to the new breed of European skiing destinations, which offer groomed slopes, affordable accommodations, and dirt-cheap pints.  
Photo: Popova Sapka / Courtesy of Snow-Forecast.
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Popova Šapka, Macedonia
Once upon a time, Popova Šapka was frequented only by local Macedonians. But, now that Europe has caught on to its ultra-cheap prices, long runs, good conditions, and high snow levels, it’s on the radar of many keen skiers and snowboarders. A six-day lift pass hovers around the £50 mark — that’s less than half the price of other European ski resorts.
Kopaonik, Serbia
We know Serbia is great for summer music festivals, but its buzzy nightlife scene is equally alluring in the winter months. In Kopaonik, every night is party night. Despite its quaint, rustic charm, the après-ski scene here is heavy with what they call "TurboFolk" tunes, which keep revelers dancing 'til dawn. The skiing is good, too, with 55 kilometers of trails and 12 kilometers of adventurous off-piste runs on peaks that rise to 2,017 meters above sea level. Stay at Apart Hotel & Spa Zoned, where the Turkish baths and hot tubs will ease your well-worked muscles.  
Zakopane, Poland
Considered to be the winter capital of Poland, Zakopane is a great resort for beginners and pros alike. A flurry of recent investment has cemented its status as a destination worth visiting, thanks to wide ski paths, frequently groomed runs, extra ski lifts, and quality après-ski — whilst pints remain dirt-cheap. The airport is less than two hours away, and if you scout around, you can get a good B&B for less than £50 a night. 
Photo: Courtesy of Ischgl.com.
Ischgl, Austria
Austria’s Ischgl is more for beginners and intermediates than major adrenaline junkies (though St. Anton, one of the best resorts in Europe, is within driving distance if you’re looking for more oomph). The novelty of heated seats on ski lifts is reason enough to visit, and if that can’t sway you, the high number of on-piste mountain restaurants and bars will. It’s all about frequent pint stops in Ischgl. 
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Špindlerův Mlýn, Czech Republic
If your kind of skiing trip is 50% slopes and 50% pubs, plan for Špindlerův Mlýn this year. Ultra-affordable, with pints from 80p and 25 kilometers of great runs, it’s a win-win destination for leisurely skiers. And, if you can steal enough time from the office, extend your holiday with a quick trip to Prague on the way home.
Borovets, Bulgaria
While France, Switzerland, and Austria tend to steal the thunder when it comes to skiing in Europe, Bulgaria offers excellent, affordable resorts. The oldest and biggest is Borovets. It’s suitable for novices and masters alike; good nursery runs can be found on lower levels, with more ambitious ones at 2,600 meters and up. Après-ski is dangerously affordable, with pints of beer from £1.
Poiana-Brasov, Romania
Poiana-Brașov is Romania’s largest and most luxurious winter resort, and a six-day ski pass will set you back just £110. Though advanced skiers might get a little restless here, those who are in the market for leisurely runs on pristine paths will be in their element — as will beginners, as the Ana Ski School is excellent, with more than 140 certified instructors. As for off-piste entertainment, it’s more horse-drawn sleighs than house tunes, but for some of us, that’s perfect.

Livigno, Italy
Unlike most resorts in the Alps, Italy’s Livigno is admirably affordable thanks to it being a tax-free (woo hoo!) destination. As well as being a great resort for gentle skiers (advanced ones might be a little restricted), it’s a good one for snowboarders to keep on their radar, too, as an extensive snowboard park has recently been installed. But, the best thing about skiing in Italy has to be the on-piste pizzerias.

Jahorina, Bosnia
Jahorina hosted the women’s Alpine skiing events of the 1984 Winter Olympics, and if it’s good enough for Olympians, it’s good enough for us. Intrepid adventurers can enjoy 20 kilometres of off-piste runs; the rest of the slopes will make intermediate skiers happy; and those who seek lively après-ski will find just what they’re looking for in and around the slopes, as well as in the nearby city of Sarajevo. A new motorway connects the resort to the international airport at Sarajevo, making Jahorina ever more accessible — perfect for long weekend getaways.

Kolasin, Montenegro
Kolašin was named the second-best-value ski resort in Europe in a recent survey by foreign-currency specialists HiFX, which should certainly make your ears prick. It knows it's less glamorous than its European counterparts, but at 1,450 meters above sea level, Kolašin offers 30 kilometres of runs (predominantly blues) accessed by modern ski lifts. Stay at the Bianca Resort & Spa, and ski straight from the slopes to the spa.
Photo: Courtesy of Visit Scotland.
Cairngorm, Scotland
Real U.K. skiing resorts are sort of unimaginable to those of us who don’t live in the Scottish Highlands, but Cairngorm is a genuine, credible skiing destination with good lifts, wide runs, and even a funicular railway. Hire a car, pack the skis, and get on the road — no passport or Euros required! 
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Jasná, Slovakia
Spread across Chopok Mountain, Jasná — considered to be the cheapest ski resort in Europe — is more modern than most in Eastern Europe, while possessing the charm and character of the much-loved Austrian resorts nearby. Ambitious off-piste runs are readily accessible on the south side of Chopok Mountain, while the north side has a good network of pisted runs as well as the majority of après-ski bars. Adrenaline junkies can wear themselves out in the Red Bull "freeride zones."
Photo: Courtesy of Poiana Brasov.
Livigno, Italy
Unlike most resorts in the Alps, Italy’s Livigno is admirably affordable thanks to it being a tax-free (woo hoo!) destination. As well as being a great resort for gentle skiers (advanced ones might be a little restricted), it’s a good one for snowboarders to keep on their radar, too, as an extensive snowboard park has recently been installed. But, the best thing about skiing in Italy has to be the on-piste pizzerias. 
Jahorina, Bosnia
Jahorina hosted the women’s Alpine skiing events of the 1984 Winter Olympics, and if it’s good enough for Olympians, it’s good enough for us. Intrepid adventurers can enjoy 20 kilometers of off-piste runs; the rest of the slopes will make intermediate skiers happy; and those who seek lively après-ski will find just what they’re looking for in and around the slopes, as well as in the nearby city of Sarajevo. A new motorway connects the resort to the international airport at Sarajevo, making Jahorina ever more accessible — perfect for long weekend getaways. 
Kolasin, Montenegro
Kolašin was named the second-best-value ski resort in Europe in a recent survey by foreign-currency specialists HiFX, which should certainly make your ears prick. It knows it's less glamorous than its European counterparts, but at 1,450 meters above sea level, Kolašin offers 30 kilometers of runs (predominantly blues) accessed by modern ski lifts. Stay at the Bianca Resort & Spa, and ski straight from the slopes to the spa.       
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