With winter on its way we put together this round up of the cheapest ski resorts in Europe we’re adding to our bucket list. We love to snowboard; however, there is no denying it comes at a high cost.
Of course, we’re not along in our passion as many people including our readers love to head to the mountains come winter time for some fresh powder laps. Even if we have to travel to another country it’s not going to stop us from getting our thrills and the new destination is half the fun of it all!
With all that travel, equipment, lift tickets, food, transportation, and lodging, ski can be tough on your wallet. The world may have its fair share of top-tier ski resorts and world-famous runs that come are reserved for the rich and passionate ski bums. However, it’s possible to find those secret spots where the quality of the slopes are not represented by the lift ticket fees.
Here are some of the cheapest ski resorts in Europe. Places where you can have a great and authentic alpine getaway at a fraction of the cost you may have to pay in Switzerland. It won’t be Zermatt, but if you’re after some fresh powder, beautiful views, and a true European experience, we’ve got you covered.
The Cheapest Ski Resorts in Europe
Les Houches, France
The Chamonix Valley in eastern France is dotted with ski resorts thanks to its large number of tiny towns, making it a pretty popular spot for skiers to convene once the snowfall hits and the mountainside is blanketed with powder.
This is a great spot for groups with a mix of skill levels since the ski resort has a mix of beginner to advanced slope difficulties and even two black-grade runs. Make your mark in the fresh powder at Les Houches even on a budget; a six-day pass goes for only €147.
Overlooking a lake and located on the edges of Triglav National Park, the ski resort of Vogel, Slovenia boasts nothing but Mother Nature’s best. With a terrain nearly unobstructed by heavily-treed areas, this particular landscape is perfect for stepping off the runs and doing a little exploring.
Another bonus – if you’re bummed about the lack of nightlife, plan ahead and make Vogel your day trip; it’s only an hour outside of Slovenia’s capital city, Ljubljana. A single day pass for these slopes rings up at only €32. Make sure to take a boat tour on Lake Bohinj. It will definitely have you thinking you’ve been transported into the movie Frozen.
A great spot for the slightly more daring alpine adventurer, Livigno is located near the Swiss-Italian border. Its terrain is over four kilometers wide, giving ample space for really spreading out.
Those looking for a bolder and more authentic alpine experience can get a little outside their comfort zone and go looking for a serious adrenaline rush since Livigno offers heli-skiing, off-piste skiing, and even night skiing. Six-day passes are available at €242, but there are weekend passes for only €49.
Must do: Though not a spot for nightlife seekers, Livigno’s high street has several restaurants and bars. After a day of skiing, grab a wood-oven-baked pizza at Il Cenacolo.
The gentle and forgiving slopes of the Söll ski resort in Austria are perfect for beginner and intermediate skiers, and those who are looking for a quieter, more small-scale, and authentic European ski experience. The surrounding villages of SkiWelt Wilder Kaiser – Brixental all come in at the same price so don’t be afraid to look around.
Particularly popular with British and Irish travelers, the lower altitude attracts smaller crowds – meaning that slower skiers can take their time and enjoy the slopes – and for an affordable price; a 6-day pass is only €206.
Must do: For a bit of après-ski fun, head to Hexenalm for dancing and a few beers. If you worked up an appetite, be sure to order a witches’ platter: a bed of fries with pork, chicken, sausage, salad and mushroom sauce!
The best possible bang for your buck is found in the energetic ski town of Borovets, in Midwestern Bulgaria. With a colorful après-ski scene, this particular resort is a getaway for party animals, particularly those come up from Sofia, only an hour and a half’s drive away.
The notably top-notch quality of the ski instruction makes this a good choice for beginners or intermediates who need a bit of a refresher or some direction; there’s even a ski daycare for kids between four and eight years old operating for the whole day, meaning mom and dad can slip away and get some runs in.
Must do: The chicken fajitas & toffee vodka shots at Bobby’s Bar are invaluable for some post-slopes fun.
Located at the foot of the Pirin Mountains in southwest Bulgaria, only around two hours from Sofia, the ski resort at Bansko, Bulgaria, has everything you’ll need for a great time away without breaking your bank.
Though there are one or two difficult and moderate ski runs, Bansko favors the beginner and intermediate skiers, who come from far and wide to take advantage of the high elevation and clear skies. Seventy kilometers of combined ski runs means that there are many different ways to spend the day. The only bad thing is during high season the resort gets insanely packed. Read all about our experience at Bansko here.
Must do: For an authentic après-ski experience, grab a table at one of the traditional restaurants (called mehana) for lip-smacking national cuisine and traditional live music.
The ski slopes at Vemdalen, Sweden, are surprisingly affordable given the multitude of activities offered there. Across three alpine ski zones, cross-country skiing, dog sledding, and horseback riding (even in the snow), you’ll leave Vemdalen already planning a return trip.
With so much to do, this doesn’t seem a fitting candidate for a budget ski resort list, and yet a four-night stay is as low as €115, including lodging.
Must do: Sweden offers some of the freshest food sourced from local farms & often scavenged from the wilderness. Head over to Anorak after your day on the slopes for Swedish tapas.
Cauterets, French Pyrenees
The Pyrenees are a still-underrated ski slope region; a lesser-known and smaller-scale alternative to the nearby Alps. However, while the latter are glamorous and charge the rates to match their fame and status, the Pyrenees are smaller and more quaint. Cauterets, a small, centuries-old town two and a half hours south of Toulouse on the border between France and Spain, still boasts an impressive ski resort.
There are nearly two dozen runs, varying in difficulty levels, to appeal to a wider range of skill levels and make you feel like you can go, whether you’re a seasoned ski bunny or a newcomer to the slopes. Five-day passes go for €183.
Must do: Come in from the cold to La Grande Fache for a steaming serving of raclette.
Though this one is a little pricier than many listed here, it’s still likely to be the cheapest ski resort in Switzerland, at €165 for a week pass. For a country that is famous for its world-class skiing, Andermatt is a deal you’re unlikely to find elsewhere in the country.
The resort includes two ski areas – Nätschen and Gemsstock, both accessible from the village via ski lift. Where Andermatt was becoming something of a ghost town, it has experienced a resurgence due to the expansion of the village and is now quickly becoming a top ski resort in the area. It’s a great spot for deep-snow, off-piste exploration if you’d rather escape the crowds into a more open space.
Overall we found prices in Switzerland to be cheaper than the United States if you’re strategic. Check out our posts on Davos, Zermatt, and Nendaz to find out more about those world-famous ski resorts.
Must do: Take a short morning trip to the nearby Schöllenen Gorge, where the Teufelsbrücke (Devil’s Bridge) connects over two sheer drops. Bring your camera for the wild view from above the gorge looking down.
Another one that’s practically like a mini-Alps, Poiana-Brasov in Romania is world-class skiing on a smaller scale, meaning you get a more authentic – and less crowded – experience. Having almost doubled in size since 2010, Poiana-Brasov has grown to host events such as figure skating competitions and alpine skiing festivals.
For six days, you really get your money’s worth at only €117, and no matter your skill level, the resort covers all ground, with two beginner pistes, two intermediate, and three advanced.
Must do: Traditional mulled wine and a specialty pepper-spiced alcohol made from plums, called țuică.
This little gem in Austria – often named as one of the prettiest cities in Europe – managed to stay small and low-key while the world grew around it. Thanks to strict bylaws on building construction size, during which time many buildings were erected and still stand today, the size of the edifices is tiny and maintains the image of a quaint alpine village.
The range of activities offered here – snowshoeing, skiing, snowboarding, snow trail walks, and tobogganing – as well as the availability of many beginner-level slopes, make this great for families and friends alike. Be warned, however, this is more a location for a little R&R and has little in the way of nightlife or apres-ski activity.
Only a few hours away from major cities like Innsbruck, Salzburg, and Munich, this could easily be a one or two day trip from a nearby city.
For those who have skied a fair few times, it comes as no surprise that most resorts have a ski season, outside of which the ski slopes are closed or transition into hiking trails in the summer months. But at Hintertux, in Austria, the slopes are open year-round for those who fancy themselves, all-weather skiers.
With 60 kilometers of piste ground, there’s no shortage of runs to be had at this glacier. There’s even a freestyle ski zone for those who like to get a little creative and sidestep the traditional downhill ski runs in favor of something more exciting. Depending on the specific resort you choose within Hintertux, 6-day passes range from €170 to €250.
Must do: Nature’s Ice Palace, part of the Hintertux Glacier that has been adapted for human exploration. Inside the walls of ‘eternal ice’, you can try stand up paddle boarding, kayaking, or ice swimming for the truly brave.
There’s a reason that this bang-for-your-buck ski resort hosted the 1984 Winter Olympics; being that the capital city of Sarajevo is just a stone’s throw away, this particular resort is equipped with everything you’ll need for a great winter getaway. It also means you can stay in the city and grab a bus for a day trip to the mountains.
Hotels, bars, and clubs are all on-site at the resort for those staying in the area, so whether you want to ski and party with other slope-goers or have a night on the town in Sarajevo, your options are near-limitless.
Must do: If you’re passing through over the holidays, catch the Christmas markets in Sarajevo, right by the bus stop to the mountain resort!
A total of 41 slopes means no shortage of powder for those who come to the Jasna ski resort in Slovakia. Also available is a range of difficulty levels in their slopes, whether you’re up for a challenge or feeling like kicking back and taking an easy day with a beginner-level piste.
For those who would rather be out under the stars, the resort offers night skiing as well, and there’s even a ski school for anyone who needs to do a little extra practice before setting out on the slopes solo.
Kranjska Gora, Slovenia
Aside from a great location – nestled between the Italian and Austrian borders – this is a great spot to be if you want to make the most of your trip and jaunt over for some quick visits.
The ski resort at Kranjska Gora, Slovenia, boasts 30 kilometers of piste coverage, meaning you can really get your powder on. There are also slope-side hotels if you never want to be far from the action. Plus, a daily pass is only €32.
Must do: Wander through the nearby town for quaint cafés, bars, and beautiful historical structures!
Save money on your ski holiday
There are a lot of ways you can save money on your ski holiday. One of the first ways is with your accommodation as I mentioned earlier – it’s likely your largest expense after plane tickets.
- Lift Tickets: There are a couple of ways to save on lift tickets. Purchase in advance, six days+, as a group, or a family pass. Wherever you are walking up to the window day of will yield the highest lift ticket prices.
- Avoid Unnecessary Expenses: It’s easy to lose track of expenses when traveling. All of those cappuccinos, wines, and souvenirs can add up really quick. Especially when you’re on a ski holiday, where eating out isn’t exactly a poor man’s activity. It’s often the small experiences that can add up and break a budget.
- Pack that lunch: On mountain food is expensive. That being said the food in the Alps and Europe is some of the best we’ve had while on a ski trip. However, for those on a budget pick up the ingredients to make some sandwiches for lunch on the mountain. Peanut butter and jelly, protein bars and shakes, and apples are always a good go-to food option.
- Pick the Right Time: Peak season will always see higher prices. Even lift tickets can fluctuate in price, but the biggest difference in price will be regarding accommodation. If the snow looks good you can always book later in the season with good assurance there will still be snow while getting a lower rate on accommodation.
Practice safety in the mountains
The mountains can be a dangerous place, and although it may not seem like it, skiing/snowboarding definitely comes with risks. Wherever we can we attempt to mitigate risks and make sure we are being safe.
- Have Proper Equipment: We believe everyone should wear a helmet. That means expert riders and especially beginners. Make sure your equipment is in good condition and technically sound. Here is our full ski and snowboard packing guide.
- Ski to Your Ability: There is a big difference between pushing yourself and getting in over your head. The latter puts yourself and even others at risk. You should also always be in control, too often do we see beginners straight lining down the mountain at crazy speeds. Remember, whoever is downhill has the right of way.
- Be Prepared: Always carry an extra layer in case temperatures drop and pack necessities like water and chapstick. If you’re going into the backcountry or anywhere out of bounds you should have all necessary avalanche equipment.
- Safety Code: Make sure to always ahead to the safety code.
- Always stay in control.
- People downhill have the right of way. Their ability level does not matter!
- Stop in a safe place for you and others.
- Whenever starting downhill or merging, look uphill and yield.
- Prevent runaway equipment.
- Observe signs and warnings, and keep off closed trails.
- Know how to use the lifts safely.