The first time I tried my hands on skiing, I felt like a very awkward penguin trying to stay upright on the piste, but when I finally learned the ropes and managed to cover some distance going down the slope without falling, I felt invincible. The distinct crunch of snow beneath your feet, the feeling of cold air against you as you go down the slope, and the rush of your blood that goes with it will make you want to do it again and again.
That’s when I realized why there are so many flourishing skiing destinations all over the world. Skiing can be very addictive. It’s not always affordable, but it’s very addictive.
When someone hears the word “skiing destination,” the first image that comes to mind is a vast expanse of land thickly covered in snow somewhere in the Alps. True enough, the top skiing destinations are in Europe. Austria, Switzerland, France and Italy are just some of the countries in the continent that boast world-class ski resorts, but there are also lesser-known ones that might better suit your budget when you’re not yet ready to burn money to ski. So in this article, we’re rounding up the top skiing destinations in Europe that would fit every budget.
MATTERHORN PEAK. The municipality of Zermatt lies just below if the iconic mountain.
Switzerland isn’t the cheapest country on our list. In fact, even the most affordable Swiss resorts may be more expensive than the average ones in other European countries. The Zermatt luxury ski chalet accommodation starts at around 8,000 CHF per week during the winters months, all the way up to 200,000CHF p/w.
If you’re feeling fancy, St. Moritz, the oldest (and one of the most exclusive) winter holiday resort in the world, is the way to go. It was voted as the top skiing destination in Europe in 2014 by Conde Naste Traveler. Zermatt, which is known for its party scene, and Verbier, for its challenging terrain, are also good luxury alternatives.
The ski resorts in Val d’Anniviers valley are about 25% cheaper than their high-profile counterparts and are well-worth the visit if you’re staying longer because of the variety of pistes that you can experience there. Andermatt, which is only a fair distance from Zermatt and Verbier, is still one of the cheapest Swiss resorts, even if there are already some high-profile accommodations on the rise in the area.
THE FRENCH ALPS. Skiing, snowshoeing and snowboarding are popular activities here in winter, but hiking and mountaineering are common in summer.
The French Alps are favorite to many European ski enthusiasts for its good variety of resorts in the country. Like Switzerland, French resorts are on the pricier side, but there are some good alternatives for the budget skiers as well.
The fact that the Rothschilds started Megeve means that this skiing destination is never supposed to be affordable for many, but its 5-star hotels, Michelin-starred restaurants, and glittery shops make it THE place to be seen in the French Alps. Courchevel 1850 and its well-groomed pistes give it a run for its money, having more 5-star hotels than any other parts of France (except Paris).
Known for being a spa town, Cauterets offers great beginner to intermediate pistes for a fraction of a price of the ski resorts in the Alps. Another budget-friendly option, Les Houches will give you a bang for your buck for skiing with the view of the epic Mont Blanc valley.
AUSTRIAN MOUNTAIN RANGES. These mountains provide the perfect backdrop to some of the best ski resorts in the country.
Austria is a relatively more affordable skiing destination compared to France and Switzerland, with options just as extensive as the two; this is the reason why many skiers all over the world choose to flock there.
Lech-Zürs are actually two exclusive ski resorts marketed as one. Huge off-pistes and well-manicured slopes make this a top skiing destination in Europe for the rich and famous with almost a hundred four-star and five-star accommodations between the two.
In spite of its low altitude, Ellmau is a skiing village fit for families, as it has excellent nursery slopes for the kids and beginners. The nearby Söll is another family-friendly skiing community with also offers scrumptious baked goods. Bregenzerwald is also an alternative good-value resort that attracts families and couples in Vorarlberg.
THE DOLOMITES. This UNESCO Heritage Site provides a beautiful scenery to the ski resorts in Cortina.
This country may be known for its food and wines, but Italy also has its fair share of exclusive and budget ski resorts, which also makes it one of the top skiing destinations in Europe.
Cortina, with the Dolomites as its backdrop, definitely has one of the most breathtaking skiing views with a price to match. Aside from its slopes, it is also famous for its fur and jewelry shops.
Part of the 400-kilometer Via Lattea network is Sauze d’Oulx, a resort perfect for intermediate budget skiers. Livigno is another intermediate skiing haven with pro-sized jumps and beautiful terrain. Both resorts offer reasonable prices.
The east part has some of the top skiing destinations in Europe, with Vogel in Slovenia leading the pack. This pretty resort is located in Triglav National Park, just above the country’s largest natural lake, and offers affordable rates.
In Bulgaria, skiers on a budget cannot go wrong with Borovets. This is the oldest ski resort in Bulgaria with a cheerful and lively atmosphere fit for parties. Poiana-Brasov in Romania, on the other hand, is a reasonably-priced, family-friendly resort that offers night skiing if you want to make the most of your time in the snow.
If Spanish luxury is what you’re looking for, Baqueira Beret offers an experience fit for royalties. King Juan Carlos even has a holiday home there. Heli-skiing and diverse terrains make this resort an excellent choice for intermediate skiers.
That wraps up our recommendations for the top skiing destinations in Europe. I hope that this post will help you decide where you’ll spend this skiing season. Wherever you choose to go, remember to bring the right equipment and book in advance to avoid the hassle. Preparation is key!
Got more recommendations? Sound off in the comments!
I am an ultimate travel enthusiast and the founder of ‘Justanomadiclife.com’. I am a 26 year old-something, fun, passionate and free-spirited individual who set up ‘justanomadiclife’ blog as my public diary to document all of my amazing personal travel experiences which hopes to provide answers to your travel questions and (hopefully) inspire you to go places.