Budget skiing: 7 tips to ski Europe on the cheap

Posted by Sarah Stirling on 29/01/2016
Jump on the slopes on a budget. Photo: Shutterstock / svariophoto

Fed up of bank-breaking holidays but still yearn for powder? We offer some tricks of the trade for saving cash on ski trips.

1 You may have your heart set on Chamonix or Zermatt, but broadening your horizons to a satellite town could offer you a great deal, including untracked powder stashes.

Escape the hordes by going to Brides les Bains, a 30-minute gondola from Meribel but way cheaper; or La Clusaz an hour down the valley from Chamonix. Plus, everything from drinks to hotel prices to lift passes will be way, way cheaper. There’s also Les Carroz, which shares the Grand Massif area with Samoëns and Flaine, and many more.

2 Once the destination of hard-pressed students happy to brave rickety chairlifts, Eastern Europe is on the up. Do expect cheap beer. Don’t expect Swiss glitz.

WATCH: How To Put Skis On When It’s Steep

You need a bit of nouse for Eastern Europe: remember that bigger resorts which host international competitions will have better infrastructure; bring your own skis as there may not be a huge choice of hire gear; and don’t expect everyone to speak English. Krkonose is the most popular resort in the Czech Republic. The biggest resort in Bulgaria is Borovets, which has been substantially modernised and has pistes up to 2,600m. 

3 Going straight to Easyjet and Ryanair is not always the cheapest option.

Fly with Swiss Air, and your ski equipment goes with you free of charge, plus meals and drinks are included in your fare. Carrying ski equipment is extra on Ryanair and Easyjet, plus a packet of crackers will set you back a fortune and what better start to a holiday than a free beer? Another tip: check out kayak.co.uk’s Price Alert to get the best possible flight deal. The site also shows a fare history graph, allowing you to see whether your fare is headed in an upward or downward direction.

WATCH: Our ski skills playlist from BMC TV

4 Don’t even pretend you’ve got the willpower for self-catering, and don't be ashamed to steal breakfast.

After a day on the slopes you are going to end up stuffing yourself with bread and beer as a ‘snack’, or giving into that heady holiday feeling altogether and going out every night. Cheap-end catered accommodation may not be gourmet but it's usually tasty and hearty. Plus, in-resort supermarkets are more akin to Harrods prices than Aldi. If you’ve got breakfast included and don’t fancy Euro-style cheese and meat first thing, there's nothing wrong with making a sandwich for later.

5 Think outside the box with accommodation.

Airbnb offers some incredible bargains on all kinds of accommodation from renting a house to just a spare room. The latter might seem strange, but you can check out past reviews of hosts and you'll have a local powder informant on hand. Youth hostelling can also access great deals in big-name resorts. 

6 Don't forget the kids. 

Some resorts have great family deals: Zermatt, St Moritz and many others, for example, offer free skiing for under-nines. If you haven't got kids in tow, research when European school holidays occur and avoid the little darlings and the price hikes and trip hazards they cause altogether: check out this useful website.

7 Don't forget the trimmings, either. 

Shop around for things like ski rental in advance. Check out www.best-price-ski-rental.com and, if you’re in a big group, consider calling or emailing a hire shop to ask for a discount. You do not need that €1,200 yellow Mammut onesie. Don't even go into an outdoor shop, you know you'll be tempted! Head straight to TK Maxx for last season's slope-style, or beg steal and borrow to save a fortune. Transfers is another one to factor in: resorts in Austria, for example, tend to be easily accessible by public transport, whereas French resorts often require a pricey minibus. Finally, the 'Affordable Switzerland' section on the Swiss National Tourist Office website, myswitzerland.com, offers all kinds of great deals.

Have fun!


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Anonymous User
04/02/2016
Point number 3 only covers airlines. What about the train, or even the coach to the alps? You can get a return coach trip direct to resort from London for £99 return, and if you don't fancy the long coach journey, the train can still work out cheaper than flying . Plus it's greener - Summit autumn 2015 had a really good article about our addiction to flying and other ways to get to the mountains, so come on BMC please put more effort into promoting the alternatives!

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