Millions of people head to the mountains each winter for a skiing holiday but costs can be high and the best known resorts very busy. Many travellers are looking to cut the cost of their trips and novice skiers are often anxious not to invest too much into their first forays onto the pistes in case the sport is not for them. Some skiers also prefer quieter resorts where they can avoid the queues for the lifts and congestion on the slopes. So what resorts should you consider if you are searching for good value and a less hectic holiday experience?
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The Kanin ski area is located above the town of Bovec in the Julian Alps of Sloevnia. The resort is connected by gondola to the resort of Stella Nevea on the Italian side of the mountain affording 9 lifts and 19 named runs across the twin resorts. The snow conditions are generally excellent with skiing possible into early May and the setting is spectacular with views extending to the Adriatic. The runs available are mainly suited to novice and intermediate skiers and there is a ski school offering group and individual lessons. Prices for lift passes and accommodation are very reasonable in comparison to the neighbouring countries of Italy and Austria and the resort can be reached easily from both Ljubljana and Trieste airports. The Kanin resort is as yet largely undiscovered by skiers outside of Slovenia and the slopes are generally very quiet, particularly on weekdays.
Photo by Nick Russill
The Ski centre of Vogel is another undiscovered gem in the Slovenian Julian Alps. The resort is situated high above the picturesque lake Bohinj in the Triglav National Park and enjoys excellent snow conditions throughout the season. The resort can be reached in under one hour from Ljubljana and there are 8 lifts and 14 named runs mainly suitable for beginners and intermediate skiers together with some excellent off-piste opportunities. The lifts rise to 1800m and there is a ski school and snowboard park. The gondola which transports guests from the lake area to the slopes can get busy at weekends but accommodation is available at the summit. Prices are reasonable and the resort is worth visiting for the stunning views alone.
Photo by aurifex14
When you think of skiing Poland probably isn’t the first country that comes to mind but the resort of Zakopane in the Tatras Mountains is well worth considering. The town itself is pretty enough to rival anything in Switzerland and Austria and the region offers slopes to suit all abilities. There are logistical issues as the runs are accessed from several villages in the region and are operated independently with no area-wide lift passes available. These disadvantages are amply compensated for by the variety of pistes and extremely low prices. Competition between the operators and resorts has kept prices down with lift access, food and accommodation costing only a third of what you would pay in a leading alpine resort. Zakopane can be accessed easily from Krakow.
Photo by Sofica
Poiana Brasov is Romania’s premier ski resort and is nestled in the forests at the foot of the Carpathian Mountains. The resort offers 13 pistes accessed by 8 lifts and is mainly suited to novice and intermediate skiers. Prices are excellent and things look ripe for development with the imminent arrival of a new airport and improved transport links from Bucharest. The town has a great reputation for good hospitality and lively nightlife and the resort was recently declared the best value ski destination in Europe in a Daily Telegraph survey.
Try Something New
If you are looking for great value or empty slopes then consider visiting some of Europe’s less high profile destinations. These resorts often offer first class snow conditions and great facilities at a fraction of the cost of the better known centres and are easily accessible from across the continent. Who knows you may save enough money to afford an extra trip so pack your ski pants and get planning!
Sally Stacey is a seasoned traveller and extreme sports enthusiast who has visited many of the places named in this article. Find out more about Sally on her Google+ profile page.