How much will it cost you to go skiing in Europe? Not so much actually if you hit the cheapest ski resorts. If you’re traveling on a budget, it’s no secret that travel prices in Europe come down quite a lot in the winter, when there are fewer tourists around. You might as well embrace the cold if you’ll be there though and spend at least a little time on the slopes.
Skiing in Europe can be surprisingly affordable if you stay away from the ritzy resorts in France and Switzerland. Most Americans probably equate European skiing with high prices, but overall it’s cheaper to hit the slopes these days on the other side of the Atlantic. Granted you may not get the same breadth of choices on the trail map that you would in Deer Valley or Vail, but most people don’t manage to cover more than a fraction of what’s available in those places anyway.
Oddly enough, one of the cheapest one-day lift tickets I could find in Europe was Willinghem, Germany. There you can hit the slopes for €27 or get a 6-day pass for €115. The altitude is only 580 to 843 meters, but they have snowmaking and 18 downhill runs, the longest being a mile.
I wanted to highlight places where everything is a bargain though when you’re off the slopes, so here are the cheapest ski resorts in some of The World’s Cheapest Destinations.
Here’s what you can expect for the cost of skiing, fun, and lodging. Hotel prices are mostly from Trivago, apartment prices from HomeAway, AirBnB, and Flipkey.
Harrachov, Czech Republic
A one-day lift ticket is only €24 for this resort that’s less than two hours from Prague. There are just two lifts and a rope tow serving the five main runs, but they are long ones and there’s also cross-country skiing in the area. Last time I checked, it was pretty easy to get a great beer for a couple euros or less when the day is done and the Czech Republic has some great wine that’s seldom exported, also a bargain.
This one tops them all for cheap accommodation by the slopes. On Airbnb you can find chalets with eight beds for under 40 euros! Per person that’s cheaper than a city hostel.
Typical 3-star hotel room double: €47 – 74
Typical apartment rental: €24 – 49
Bulgaria’s oldest ski resort dates back to the 1800s and is the country’s largest. You can start from an altitude of 1,390 meters, but the slopes are only about an hour and a half from Sofia.
You can ski above the treeline part of the way and the slopes are wide enough that beginners and intermediates won’t feel threatened. Thanks to a young crowd and cheap drink prices, the nightlife is hopping too. A daily lift ticket is usually around €30 (less for half day) and ski + boot rentals around €10.
Figure 3 euros or less for a cocktail or glass of wine and less for a big beer or shot of local hooch. You can get here by bus from the capital.
3-star hotel: €60 – $80 (not much to choose from)
2BR apartment: €26- 98
Bansko is not quite as high up as Borovets, but it makes up for it in most other respects with the newest equipment, the most natural snow, the best snowmaking, and fast lifts–including a gondola that comes right into the city below. That city is the best part of skiing here as it’s easy to get to and filled with places to stay.
Ski and boot rentals can be found for 10 euros a day, daily lift tickets run 30 euros. The multi-day pass prices don’t save you much, but 5 days is about the walk-up price for 1 day at Aspen, Colorado. This would be a good choice for a family ski vacation that won’t cost the equivalent of a couple mortgage payments.
You can book a transfer by road from the Sofia airport for €20 or take the much slower thrice-daily train for €3 (with one train change). Even though Bansko has tourist town prices by Bulgarian standards, you can find a filling meal for a few euros and turn your tired legs to jelly for less than 10.
3-star hotel: €17-39
Apartment rental: €24 – 52 (some of those are 4 bedrooms!)
The most popular resort in Romania is nestled in the mountains of Transylvania, near the gorgeous city of Brasov. The slopes have plenty to to keep you busy, with nine miles of marked trails. Most slopes are not too taxing and there’s night skiing for a lower rate. Romanian food is bargain priced and so is the wine and plum brandy, so you can probably afford to eat and imbibe to your heart’s content at least one big meal a day. A train from Bucharest train station should run around €8.
3-star hotel prices: €33-79 in Brasov (There are only a few resorts on the slopes and they are expensive.)
2BR apartment by the slopes: €28 – 149 (2-6 bedrooms)
Jasna Nizke Tatry, Slovakia
The biggest ski resort in Slovakia has nearly 50 kilometers of runs on two sides of a 2,000-meter peak and smaller surrounding mountains. As I write this they’re offering five days of lessons for €89, or private lessons for just €15 an hour. All-day lift tickets are normally €39 and they have night skiing for just €15. Full rentals run €25 and up slopeside, but you can probably find better deals in town.
Typical 3-star hotel: €24 – 80
Rental apartment: €82 – 164 (but get a house with 14 beds for €210)
Wherever you are in Slovakia, there’s probably a ski resort you can get to in a half hour. See all of them here.
Tatranska Lomnica, Slovakia
Jasna may be the biggest in Slovakia, but Tatranska Lomnica has the longest run. It has a steep vertical drop of 2190 meters to 1300 meters. Another wide slope for less experienced skiers is 6.5 kilometers long. Surrounded by the High Tatras Mountains, the lift rides also have gorgeous views. All-day adult lift tickets are €35.
You can get here by train from Kosice in just over two hours for around €7, or double the time (at least) and price from Bratislava. You can find a double room off the slopes in this region for under €20. Great beers are under €2 and hearty meals are about 1/3 what you’d pay at a U.S. (or French) ski resort.
Typical 3-star hotel: €30 – 69
Typical 2BR apartment: €47 – 84
US $87 a night for this 3BR chalet in Slovakia.
Zakopane may win the prize for the cheapest lift tickets for beginners and intermediates, currently coming in at around €20 or under for Harenda, Szymoszkowa, or Nosal resorts. If you want to hit the best one for experts, an all-day pass for Kasprowy Wierch—only open when there’s been plenty of natural snow–is €32. After the ride up, one slope is 2 kilometers and the other is 1.4.
Getting here just takes two hours on a four-euro ski bus from historic Krakow. You can find a big beer for €2.50 and a full dinner for €5-10. If you like sausages after a full day on the slopes, you’ll be in heaven.
Typical 3-star hotel: €36 – 64
2BR apartment: €34 – 70
Sure, Hungary’s highest mountain won’t win over any serious shredders at just 1.014 meters and 8 ski runs, but it’s less than 2 hours from hopping Budapest and all-day lift tickets currently come in under €20. Their website only seems to be in Hungarian, but you can check out the live webcam anyway.
You can enjoy some of the best wine nobody has heard of for bargain prices and it’s hard to beat a €4 bowl of goulash after a day on the mountain. This would be one of the best cheap ski resorts for beginners that is easy to get to.
3-star hotel: €64 – 89 (or head back to Budapest)
2BR apartment/house: €39 – 59
I’m cheating a bit since this resort is not really in Europe but it’s an easy car or bus ride from European Istanbul to get to Bursa. The lifts are small and creaky, and the night life restrained by the increasingly dictatorial Turkish government, but there are 25 slopes to explore and some backcountry options.
There are also around 30 places to stay in the ski village (not counting the town of Bursa) between hotels and condos, but rentals are more reasonable. The lift tickets are around €25 depending on the Turkish lira exchange rate and less than €20 for a half day. Some hotels have their own lifts that are cheaper, but then you can only use that one. Equipment rentals are €10-20 depending on quality.
You can generally get a filling Turkish meal for €5-10, but alcohol is no bargain anymore in this increasingly Islamic country.
3-star hotel room: €44 – 60 in Bursa 6 miles away (Uludag resorts are more expensive)
2BR apartment/house rental: €32 – 109
Also Worth Considering
There are a few other lesser-known resorts outside the cheapest places to travel that are also a relative bargain.
Vogel, Slovenia – Ski all week for €119 and pick up good local wine and beer for bargain prices.
Livigno, Italy – Perhaps the best bargain in the Alps, this duty-free zone has lower prices on most consumer goods (including food and drink) and lift tickets are usually around 30 euros for a day. Great terrain park for snowboarders too.
If you haven’t used AirBnB before, as you can see from the above it can save you some big bucks. Get a $40 credit on your first booking.
Your turn. Where have you found a ski slope bargain in Europe?