1. GO IN JANUARY OR MARCH
One of the best ways to find a cheap skiing holiday is to be flexible on your dates. The peak weeks in European ski resorts include Christmas and New Year, plus all of February for the various half-term holidays. These weeks often sell out a year in advance and are traditionally a lot more expensive. January skiing in the Portes du Soleil is a much quieter month, so the prices are lower. You will also benefit from quieter pistes, hardly any queues for lifts, restaurants are less busy and transfer day is a lot less hectic at Geneva airport and on the roads. You may also find cheaper deals at the very start of the season (Early Bird rates) and in March / April towards the end of the season.
2. BUY YOUR SKI PASS ONLINE IN ADVANCE
You can often save money on your ski trip if you buy your ski pass online a few months before you travel. Check the resort’s website you are going to and see if you can buy your ski pass online. There are often pre-season sales, so keep a look out!
3. LOOKS FOR DEALS ON SKI GEAR
If it’s your first ski trip, have a look in Decathlon which has a decent range of ski gear and basic thermal layers. If you’ve got children, then friends are often more than happy to lend ski gear or you can bag yourself some bargains on Facebook groups and eBay. Also, check websites like Snow + Rock for sales andd TK Maxx which offers last season’s gear at reduced prices.
4. CREATE A DIY SKI TRIP
If you have the time, you can create a cheap skiing holiday by avoiding expensive private taxis and ski transfers. Look for an Airbnb and avoid booking flights that arrive very late at night. Public transport options maybe limited after 6pm.
Germany / Austria – fly to Munich, take a two-hour train to Kufstein in Austria and a short taxi to the SkiWelt. The train station in the Kitzbuhel alps, Austria is quite easy to reach from Munich. The Garmisch-Partenkirchen is a well-known German ski resort and is less than 90 minutes’ drive from Munich. If you take the train from the Hauptbahnhof in Munich, it takes about the same time. There is also a frequent Flixbus coach service from the Munich bus station to the Garmisch-Partenkirchen train station.
Switzerland / France – both Zurich and Geneva have train stations in the airport. The majority of Swiss resorts can be accessed by public transport, many by train with one connection from the airport, which can help in the quest to find a cheap skiing holiday. If you fly into Geneva, you can get the bus to Chamonix or the train to Verbier – the bubble at the train station, Le Chable, takes you right into Verbier. From Geneva airport you can also take the train to Bourg-Saint-Maurice to access Les Arcs and La Rossiere in France.
Another option is to fly to Nice and jump on the ski bus direct from Nice airport up to Isola 2000 which only costs a few Euros! One of a few places where you can combine a ski and beach holiday in the same trip.
If you don’t want to fly, take the Eurostar London to Paris which takes 2 hrs 15 and then take a train from Paris to Lyon. From there, you can book a local train to Modane, then a short taxi to resorts like Valfréjus and Val Cenis. Another Eurostar option could be to Paris, then take the train to Clermont-Ferrand, followed by a train to Le Mont-Dore. This is the closest ski resort to Paris and by far the cheapest, but the train journey takes 4-5 hours.
If you are looking for a larger resort, stay in Châtel in the Portes du Soleil, which is just 90 minutes from Geneva airport and simply book a shared bus transfer (return) for €50 per person with ABChatel Transfers.
Austria – fly into Salzburg, then access the Austrian ski resorts by train and a short taxi ride. For example, the Zell am See District can be accessed by a public bus outside the airport.
Italy – fly to Venice and get the ski bus which takes around 2.5 hours to resorts such as Cortina d’Ampezzo in the the Dolomites.
Norway – fly to Trondheim in the Trøndelag county, spend a day or two exploring then jump on the train across the border to Åre in Sweden. You could also take a train to Stockholm and fly home from there.
5. STAY IN A CATERED SKI CHALET
The cost may seem high but catered ski chalets include breakfast, a three-course dinner plus some après-ski drinks. This will work out cheaper than buying food in the resort every day. Prices for groceries in Alpine resorts are expensive unless you can get to a large supermarket. You’ll need a car to do a big shop, so consider a fully catered chalet which may be cheaper in the long run.
6. HIGHER THE ALTITUDE THE HIGHER THE PRICE
The higher resorts in Europe (Val Thorens, Avoriaz, Tignes, La Plagne, Les Arcs, Obergurgl, Lech, Zermatt and Cervinia) are expensive. Don’t be afraid to check out alternatives for a cheap skiing holiday. The big-name resorts like Courchevel, known for its glamour and Val d’Isère, renowned as one of the world’s best ski resorts, also command high prices. The lower resorts in France such as the Portes Du Soleil are cheaper and easier to access. Check out Everything you need to know about skiing the Portes du Soleil.
7. LOOK AT ALTERNATIVE SKI RESORTS
There are plenty of alternatives to the more expensive French Alps. You will need to research them thoroughly and check the reviews on TripAdvisor. The smaller, cheaper resorts may lack the traditional alpine atmosphere and apres-ski but if you’re looking for a cheap ski resort, then here are a few to consider.
Kranjska Gora in northwestern Slovenia is located near the Austrian and Italian borders. It’s a fantastic option for a budget ski holiday. The slopes are perfect for beginners and the value for money is excellent. There aren’t many mountain restaurants so a lot of people eat lunch in the village.
You could head to Kufstein in Austria and ski the SkiWelt. This is one of the most affordable and largest interconnected ski areas in Europe. It’s located in the beautiful Wilderkaiser mountain range. This is a great beginner’s area with lovely views and the apres-ski won’t disappoint.
Gudauri in Georgia offers enough skiing for 2-3 days and the alternative resort of Bakuriani offers accommodation for every wallet. You could also spend a few nights sightseeing in Georgia’s capital city Tbilisi.
Bulgaria’s largest ski resort is Bansko which is known for its cheap skiing holidays. The old town is lovely for dinner and there are plenty of bars. Borovets is also located in Bulgaria, cheap, cheerful and also adequate for beginners.
Folgarida in Italy, is a leading winter destination and a great option for first-timers and families. It’s a small, purpose-built ski resort with pretty, tree-lined slopes.
Arinsal in Andorra is another pretty village located in the northwest. Arinsal offers excellent skiing and snowboarding for beginners. There is a good range of runs for intermediates too. It has a great atmosphere, is relatively cheap with a good ski school. Soldeu is also a good ski resort for first-timers. It’s one of Andorra’s most popular ski resorts and shares its ski area with Pas de la Casa, Grau Roig, El Tarter and Canillo. Soldeu has become the place to snowboard in the Pyrenees. This is a perfect place for beginners to learn on wide, gentle slopes that are served mainly by chair lifts.
8. BUY OR RENT YOUR SKI GEAR
If you go skiing every year then consider buying your ski kit instead of renting it each time. If your trip is just a one-off or your first, then just buy some basics like thermal layers and socks. Borrow a jacket and salopettes if you can. Rent the skis and boots until you’re sure a) what you need to buy and b) you know you will return year after year.
9. TAKE GROUP SKI LESSONS NOT PRIVATE
If you are looking for a cheap skiing holiday, book group lessons instead of private ones. In the Portes du Soleil in France, a 1 hour private lesson costs €52. A lesson for two people costs €62 and for every extra person just add €10 per hour. Ski school provides even more savings, you can buy 5 or 6 lessons with ESF for €154.
10. WORK IN A SKI RESORT
If you have finished school, are looking for a gap year or just a break from the real world, you could work as a seasonnaire. It’s hard work and you’ll need to be pretty fit but a cheap skiing holiday is guaranteed. You’ll get your accommodation looked after, maybe even your ski pass and will be able to go out skiing most days. This is a great way to experience living in the mountains. Other jobs regularly advertised include drivers, chefs and childcare roles. Brexit has made this trickier for Brits however it is still possible with a visa.
If you’re looking for an afforable ski trip, check out Chalet la Fontaine our catered ski chalet, located just 90 minutes from Geneva airport.