The cheapest and most expensive places to ski in Europe

Feb 9, 2020

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If you’re craving some time on the slopes in Europe, there’s still plenty of time left to fit in a trip this ski season. Or, if you’re super organized and looking to next year’s season, you may be wondering just how far your dollars will go. Ski trips can be expensive, even if you manage to find a cheap flight to your snow destination.

The U.K. Post Office publishes an annual survey of the most expensive and the most affordable ski resorts in Europe. It looks at the costs for a week of skiing across 30 popular European resorts, comparing the costs of items like lift passes, equipment hire and daily food and drinks on the slopes. Accommodation is excluded, as the costs can vary wildly even at the same resort. Flight costs are also excluded from the survey.

If you’re looking to save some pennies, or splash out, here are the two ends of the spectrum when it comes to cost options for 2020 — plus read how to plan your trip with points and miles here.

Most expensive

1. Zermatt, Switzerland

At a whopping $1,344 per person for a weeklong ski trip, you’ll need deep pockets to enjoy a holiday in the notoriously expensive country of Switzerland. Depending on the cost of your accommodation, you could easily be doubling this amount for your week on the slopes.

What’s all this money going toward? According to the survey, ski school lessons are exorbitantly expensive — five to six half-day group lessons will set you back $569.

(Photo courtesy of Zermatt Ski Resort)

2. St Anton, Austria

Only slightly cheaper at $1,257 for your week, this resort is popular for its 88 cable cars and lifts as well as more than 186 miles of marked ski runs, with 124 miles off-piste.

Ski hire is by far the most expensive at St Anton of any resort surveyed.

3. Saas Fee, Switzerland

While still located in pricey Switzerland, the price for your week in Saas Fee will be noticeably cheaper than Zermatt, at $1,138 — more than 15% less for the same items across the week. Ski lessons are less than half the price of Zermatt, according to the survey.

Saas Fee is close to the Italian border, so if you are looking in this region you may want to cast your search a bit wider as you’re likely to receive a lot more value in Italy.

Rounding out the top-five most costly were Wengen, Switzerland, and Obergurgl, Austria.

Least expensive

1. Borovets, Bulgaria

You may be surprised at just how cheap Bulgaria can be for skiing. The same weekly items that can set you back more than $1,300 in Switzerland will be a cheap $578 in Borovets — that’s less than half the price. You can expect all the same facilities in Bulgaria that you would find in any European ski resort — modern ski lifts, plenty of bars, cafes and restaurants both at the top and bottom of the mountain, and snow-making facilities, should there be insufficient snow.

Oh, and your accommodation is likely to be significantly cheaper than Western Europe ski resorts too.

(Photo by Plamen Pulev/EyeEm/Getty Images)
(Photo by Plamen Pulev/EyeEm/Getty Images)

2. Bansko, Bulgaria

The other major ski resort in Bulgaria, Bansko, is a similar low price to Borovets — $584 for the weekly surveyed costs, excluding your flights and accommodation.

So what’s the difference between Bansko and Borovets given the prices are almost identical? Borovets is closer to Sofia (SOF) Airport, meaning quicker, cheaper transfer times. Bansko is an existing town with a ski resort built around it meaning it has plenty of town infrastructure and facilities. Borovets is a purpose-built ski resort, without the existing town, so has fewer facilities than Bansko and may mean higher accommodation prices as there is less available.

Related: From Cyprus to Australia: 5 unusual skiing destinations

3. Bardonecchia, Italy

Only slightly more expensive at $623, Bardonecchia combines good value with delicious Italian cuisine. The Telegraph has even suggested it could be Italy’s most underrated resort. You can expect fewer crowds on top of this decent value proposition, as well as 62 miles of mostly intermediate-level pistes.

Rounding out the top five least costly were Kranjska Gora, Slovenia, and Sestriere, Italy.

(Photo courtesy of Bansko Ski Resort)

Bottom line

Ski trips can vary hugely in terms of costs, convenience and facilities. If you want your dollars to go further, consider looking beyond the usual hot spots of Switzerland, Austria and France.

Featured photo by TPopova/Getty Images

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