1. Les Houches, France
Considering it costs €300 for a ski pass in Chamonix during peak season, you’ll make a tidy saving by skiing a little down the valley in Les Houches, France. In Les Houches there are marked ski runs from 950 to 1,900 metres with epic views of the Mont Blanc Valley, so it’s perfect for leisure skiiers – however, if you’re craving a black run and open air clubs, make your way over to Chamonix’s ski fields. They’re only 6km away!
Average cost of a drink: Make your way back down the mountain for Happy Hour in Les Houches bars (between 5-7pm). It’s not anarchic apres-ski, but it’s still good fun.
Average cost for a ski pass: €43 (£35) for a day, and €215 (£180) for a 6 day pass.
How to get there: Fly to Geneva Airport, and drive (1 hour) to Les Houches.
2. Crested Butte Mountain Resort, Colorado
A daily lift ticket at Vail or Aspen can set you back up to $800 a day. A daily lift ticket here? Just $95. This is a favourite with locals from Colorado, as it’s within easy reach of Denver. It’s a far cry from the apres-ski in Aspen. Instead, this is a family friendly resort, with nooks for those with little ski bunnies and those on a weekend getaway with friends – expect small restaurants and artisan shops instead of open air clubs. There are double diamond runs and one black one for the experienced skiers too.
Average cost of a drink: $6 (£4.50) for a glass of wine, $2 (£1.50) for a coffee
Average cost for a ski pass: $95 (£75) per day, and $294 (£235) for a 6 day pass.
How to get there: Fly to Denver, then catch a transfer or drive to Crested Butte.
3. Vogel, Slovenia
An ideal spot for couples or families, Vogel is a truly beautiful ski area. Overlooking Lake Bohinj, Vogel is part of the Triglav national park. The modern cable car hauls people up from lakeside to the mountains in minutes, allowing skiers access to the largely treeless terrain which offers ample opportunity for off-piste exploration. Night life is low key, but with capital Ljubljana a little over an hour away, a day trip is perfectly possible.
Average cost of a drink: €2 for a beer, and €5 (£4) for a bottle of wine if you purchase it in the supermarket.
Average cost for a ski pass: A six-day lift pass costs £119.
How to get there: Fly to Ljubljana, then drive down to Bohinj. Private transfers are also available.
4. Livigno, Italy
Duty-free zone Livigno offers excellent intermediate skiing in an area that should just about keep advanced skiers and snowboarders happy for a week if you’re happy to explore a little off piste. One of the Livigno’s big attractions is its excellent terrain park which has pro-sized jumps (think: house sized!) as well as rails and kickers for mere mortals. The price of food and drink in and around the slopes is all very reasonable – meaning it’s a place popular with the younger ski crowd who come to party.
Average cost of a drink: €3-5 for a beer, depending on which bar you frequent.
Average cost for a ski pass: A 6 day ski pass costs £161, and a day pass costs €30 (£25).
How to get there: Fly to Milan Bergamo, and catch the easy bus transfer up to Livigno.
5. Söll, Austria
Söll is a small village in Tirol, often overshadowed by Kitzbuhel – which we’re almost thankful for. This means it’s still relevatively quiet and affordable, despite the fact it’s perfect for families and new skiers. This resort is part of Ski Wlet, Austria’s largest network of linked ski slopes (but you can get on the sloeps for as little as €29!). Söll, Elmau and Westendorf are all great places to find a little chalet or ski-hotel, neighboured with local restaurants and bakeries. Tirol’s other strength is it’s baked goods: there are 4 different bakeries in Soll, and you’ll have to try kiachl (traditional fried dough) when you’re off the slopes too.
Average cost of a drink: €4 for a beer, around the same cost for wine.
Average cost for a ski pass: €200 (£160) for a 6 day pass, or €29 (£22) for a pass after 1pm.
How to get there: Fly to Salzburg, then catch a transfer or drive to the resort.
6. Cauterets, French Pyrénées
Whilst most of Europe flies to the centre of the Alps, the locals from France and Spain keep it within the southwest – the Pyrenees have a totally different vibe to the Alps. There’s a less developed ski culture here: you feel like you’re skiing in France, not just with the neighbours from back home. There are 23 runs in total, with 2 expert, 8 advanced and 9 that are intermediate. There are also a number of ski schools, ideal for families and groups that are having their first time on the snow.
Average cost of a drink: €3-6 for a beer, wine tends to be cheaper.
Average cost for a ski pass: €182.50 (£140) for a 6 day pass, and €36.50 (£30) for a day pass.
How to get there: Toulouse is the largest international airport, and it’s 90 minutes drive away from Cauterets.
7. Borovets, Bulgaria
Along with its cousins, Bansko and Pamporovo, the ski resort of Borovets is a great choice for the bargain hunter. A lively, cheap and cheerful town, Borovets is the oldest ski resort in Bulgaria. Nestled at around 1,300m in the Rila Mountains, it’s comprised of three separate zones (which aren’t yet fully linked).
The upper half of the mountain is largely above the tree line and offers plenty of wide open pistes, most of which are fairly gentle – ideal for beginners and intermediates. The ski instruction here is top notch and the après ski is lively, so it’s particularly popular with party animals.
Average cost of a drink: 3-4 Levs (£1.30-60) for a drink. This is why it’s a party place.
Average cost for a ski pass: A 6 day lift pass is £124.
How to get there: Fly to Sofia, then drive (90 minutes) or catch the minibus to Borovets.
8. Andermatt, Switzerland
Admittedly, the cost of skiing in Andermatt will still outweigh the cost of skiing in Slovenia or Bulgaria, but if you want to find a cheap place to ski in Switzerland this is your ticket. Andermatt has two main skiing areas, Nätschen and Gemmstock – the latter being the crowning glory meeting the ski at 2,963m. This is a snowy skiing playground with multiple terrains and activities for those who are less-than-confident on the slopes: snowshoeing, sledging and spa days are all solid activities here. Whilst you may be ona budget, it’s well worth peeping into the Chedi Andermatt’s spa – the hydrotherapy and hot outdoor pool will be a welcome break from the ski runs.
Average cost of a drink: 5.50 Franc (£4.30) for a beer.
Average cost for a ski pass: A 5 day pass costs 241 Francs (£200), and if you want a day pass after 1pm, it only costs 45 Francs.
How to get there: Fly to Zurich, then make the 90 minute drive to Andermatt (the roads are beautiful!).
9. Poiana-Brasov, Romania
The most popular resort in Romania, Poiana-Brasov offers around nine miles of marked terrain. Its small size means it’s best suited to beginners or families, and with floodlit night skiing on offer too, you can maximise your time on the snow. Off the slopes, you can try winter camping and snowshoeing in the surrounding forests and after dark the bars offer cheap and cheerful food and drink.
Average cost of a drink: £2 for a beer.
Average cost for a ski pass: A 6 day lift pass will set you back £92.
How to get there: Fly to Bucharest, and drive to Poiana-Brasov from here (45 minutes). You can also catch a train from Bucharest train station for £8.
10. Powder Mountain, Utah
This 7,000 spare acres of beautiful white snow are rarely crowded, as it’s one of Utah’s most remote ski resorts. However, if you’re happy to make the journey up (you’ll need more than a four-wheel drive or chains for getting up there), there’s a huge variety of terrain to choose from. It’s probably not ideal for families, but if you’re very active and looking for cat skiing or kite skiing, give it a whirl!
Average cost of a drink: There’s only one pub on Powder Mountain – The Powder Keg. Drinks are very affordable, at around $5 a beer.
Average cost for a ski pass: A day pass is $79 (£65), whereas a 6 day pass is $427 (£310). You can also purchase a kite skiing pass for $20.
How to get there: Fly to Salt Lake City, and drive to Powder Mountain from here (1 hour).