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Home » Travel Tips

Top Three European Ski Holidays

Submitted by on 07/01/2013 – 3:41 pmOne Comment

Photo from Flickr by SkiStar Sälen

Cosy chalets, picturesque mountainsides and hearty fireside meals; a classic ski trip is the winter getaway that dreams are made of. While they might sound like an expensive option, ski holidays can actually be quite affordable – but where are the best places to visit?

France

What’s not to love about French ski holidays? Located right on our doorstep, France offers some of the best ski conditions in the world with reliable snow throughout the season. This is evidenced by the 200,000 Brits who make the journey to France’s ski fields every year.

Most of France’s popular ski locations offer a full range of accommodation styles, whether you’re looking for traditional log cabins with excellent snow access or prefer boutique hotels and luxury chalets. When choosing the best ski resort, you should opt for one with the most appropriate level of difficulty for your skiing ability. If you’re a beginner it’s advisable to speak to a travel expert who can steer you towards the best resorts for your ability, ensuring there’s a good ski school and enough beginner runs to keep you occupied.

In France, the Three Valleys ski region is perhaps the best known with plenty of famous resorts such as Meribel and Val Thorens found in this area.  However, the runaway winner has to be Courchevel which was recently named ‘best ski resort in Europe’. With an extensive 480 miles of piste and a maximum elevation of 1,850metres, there is plenty of variety packed into this winter paradise with skiers of all abilities benefitting from stable snow cover and the convenience of 97 ski lifts and 25 cable cars.

If you invest in a Three Valleys Ski Pass, providing you are confident enough to ski beginner-to-intermediate runs, you can enjoy all three of these fabulous and class-leading resorts in the space of one holiday.

Switzerland

 

The Swiss ski experience is much more traditional than the French, with ski resorts built around picturesque alpine villages. Switzerland was one of the first countries to start specialising in ski holiday packages and has some of the best locations for this winter sport.

Zermatt and Verbier are two traditional ski resort locations famous for offering excellent skiing along with that little bit extra, or je ne sais quoi. Holidaymakers who venture to Zermatt can expect charm and elegance off the slopes, with a quaint and beautiful ski village offering transport via horse-drawn sleighs and electric carts. For those looking for a different thrill to hitting the slopes, varied activities cover everything from paragliding to indoor golf and curling – so you’ll never be bored.

Lesser known resorts like Grindelwald offer the same first grade facilities as their big brothers but without the crowds. Access to the spectacular Kleine Scheidegg mountain pass is a great bonus here and one which makes these secret gems one of the best European ski holidays.

Bulgaria

The perfect ski resort for first timers, Bulgaria is not as well-known as some of its Alpine counterparts. However, alongside affordable lift passes, ski hire and lessons, accommodation in Bulgaria can also rival the cheapest in any other country.

The Bansko resort is one which certainly deserves a mention as a great place to visit, with plenty of attractive features. Pistes cover 65km with plenty of off-piste options for those with more experience. A nearby fun peak offers more exhilarating experiences for snowboarders whilst slalom runs and cross-country ski trails aren’t in short supply either.

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Aaron Bradford has written 661 articles. +Aaron Bradford is the leader, mentor and chief geek of HappyTimeblog. He put together the crack team of writers known by codename “The Firm“. He's a permanent traveller and a lifestyle hacker. Wanna know more? Check out my Bucket List or my About page... I'm here to show you how to live a Life Less Ordinary

One Comment »

  • Kirsty says:

    Just back from Bansko, Christmas week traveling with Balkan. Eagles Nest Appartments, Good value for money as a self catering holiday, an option I recommend for families as, unless your children eat a solid diet of Pizza, the food on offer at most hotels and restaurants will not suit most UK people’s tastes. I suggest packing some tins for those with really fussy children…oh and UK tomatoe ketchup if they can not live without it.
    Excellent value for money, for kids learning to ski or even adults learning to board or ski. Although I would not recommend this resort for seasoned skiers or boarders as it will just not hit the spot. Our boarding instructor Emile from Ulen was fantastic and his English was very good, my boarding really improved as well as my confidence on the slope. Lift passes good value for money and we never had more than a 10 min wait in line for any of the lifts, however we appear to be very lucky with this as any time after Christmas the wait goes up to 45min in peak season.
    WARNING – Kid Crèche – for 4 to 7 year olds – unless your child likes to site in a room staring at a TV all day with exception of 1 hours time outside on the snow….DO NOT PUT YOUR CHILD IN THE CRECHE. FURTHER WARNING – if you pay for it which you will have to in advance you will not get your money back if you arrive to find service is not what you are told it is. Visit the crèche first to see if it is suitable for your kids. I only say age 3 to 4 or those who like being inside all day will be happy. You have to book this service in Bansko as you will find you cannot book it direct through Balkan which means paying for it at the bottom gondola and getting to the top to find that the junior ski school is little more than a babysitting service with little for young kids to do out in the snow (sorry one hour of snow play). ADVICE – Get some lessons for your kids before you go so they know the basics then find a Ski school that will take them 2 hours in the morning and two in the afternoon. We did not travel over 12 hours to see my kids locked up in a room so we lost our money on the crèche as none refundable and had to pay extra for them to go to a proper ski class which they lOVED. CHECK OUT CRECHE before booking it may not suit your child. Staff are lovely but it seemed so cruel to keep them inside away from the snow. We did not book our instruction through Balkan so that we could take our first day to find our way around Bansko, which again I recommend, if your arrival is very late at night, you will need the rest and time to find your feet in Bansko. You will find cheaper instruction prices online and for the most they all use Ulen as they are the main ski school, so you can find a broker that will suit your family’s needs in a more flexible manor than the Balkan package. But I do recommend booking ski passes through Balkan or your tour operator as this will save you time as it will be ready for you when you arrive, allowing you to get straight up the mountain first day to see what is what.
    Bansko family friendly 4.5 / 5 everyone had time for the kids everywhere we went. EXCELLENT VALUE FOR MONEY FOR ALL BEGIINNERS TO SKIING OR BOARDING. YOU WONT FIND A CHEAPER WAY TO LEARN IN EUROPE.
    P.s Strazhite Hotel was where my friend stayed, this hotel is beautiful and she really enjoyed her stay, stunning hotel, not far from the Gondola. We had Christmas day at this hotel. Again typical eastern european food. Great pub called the Lion across from this hotel that does a great Steak.

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