Europe is the birthplace of skiing (thanks Norway!) and as such is a wonderful place to enjoy some time in the mountains. With hundreds, if not thousands of ski resorts (see the full list here) scattered throughout the continent, you really are spoilt for choice when it comes to choosing a destination. If you are planning to take a ski holiday to Europe, read on to find out some top tips.
A good rule of thumb to follow, especially if you are on a budget, is that the further north you go, the more expensive it will be. Norway may be the birthplace of the modern skiing, but it is notoriously expensive, so if you are looking for a cheap and cheerful holiday, it might not be the place for you. If you really have your heart set on skiing in the Nordics, you could always try out Finland. The only Nordic country to have the Euro as its currency, while its resorts are less grandiose than Norway’s, it does boast fantastic powder snow up into May, more predictable weather and the chance to see reindeer, the Northern Lights, Santa Claus and Lapland.
This North-South divide can also be applied to the Alps, especially in France. The Northern Alps including as they do prestigious ski resorts Meribel, Val Thorens and Courchevel tend to be much more expensive than the smaller resorts of the south. Don’t automatically dismiss the southern alps though; they do boast more sunshine, just as fluffy snow, less crowded pistes and of course cheaper lift passes and in-resort prices in general.
If you are planning to hit up a European resort, then it’s the same as anywhere, try to avoid going at the peak of the school holidays! There is nothing quite like hordes of ski classes spread across the slopes to dim your time on the slopes a little. Check out this site to the list of when and where the holidays are. Booking out-with the school holidays also helps you avoid the high peak season costs.
If money and budget are the primary concerns for your ski holiday, then choosing a package holiday could be the way forward for you. Package holidays are a European invention and they do them well; from standard ski package holidays to more adventurous ski tours of the Alps, you can always keep a sharp lookout for last minute ski deals that can really help save you money. The beauty of package holidays is that your travel, transfers, lift pass, accommodation, and even equipment hire is included, making for a hassle-free trip for you!
There are countless mountains throughout Europe (just try googling the answer!) meaning that there are loads of destinations that you could visit to get in some sun, ski and snow. While Austria, France, Italy and Switzerland boast the most famous reputations as Alpine countries, the largest mountain range in Europe, the Alps, span their way across an impressive 8 countries with the other 4 being Germany, Liechtenstein, Monaco and Slovenia. Aside from the Alps, there are another 50 mountain ranges in Europe, many of which boast beautiful snowy peaks and of course ski resorts. From Scotland to Bulgaria to Turkey and the Czech Republic, you could always visit somewhere a little bit more unusual on your ski holiday.
Skiing conditions can really vary depending on when and where in Europe you decide to go skiing. You may be skiing in t shirt and shorts in early April in Italy, but enduring bitter arctic weather in Sweden at the same time. Some people love spring snow, whereas others are purists for powder; make sure you read up on what typical ski conditions are like before booking to ensure pistes that you can enjoy. Check out http://www.snow-forecast.com/ which has conditions for pretty much every country in the world that has a ski resort!
If you are unable to get away for a winter or spring snow break, then don’t worry, Europe has you covered. Austria, France, Italy and Switzerland all boast summer glacial skiing; whilst the slope lengths aren’t quite as sizable as during the winter season of course, the brilliant views, warm weather and relatively quiet pistes make for a relaxing ski holiday.
Or how about some autumn skiing just for a change? If that’s the case, then it’s the perfect excuse to head north. Many of the northern Scandinavian resorts in Lapland open in mid-October with fresh snow and peaceful slopes making for idyllic Lapland skiing. And let’s face it, who wouldn’t want to spend Hallowe’en on the slopes?!
Even though it’s one of the smallest continents, with its rich cultural history and expertise in catering to the skier, Europe really is a playground when it comes to ski holidays. So do your homework, check your budget and get out there and enjoy some skiing in some of the world’s best resorts. And if you’re a bit stuck, check out this guide for the best of the bunch.
As a keen skier, I have spent time in the Southern Alps as a saissonaire, but have also skied extensively throughout Europe, from Sweden to Bulgaria and everywhere in between. An enthusiastic rather than a gifted skier, take me to the mountains and I’m happy!
You can check out some of my work over on my blog: http://thelowcosttraveller.com/ or follow me on twitter @latresatravels