Where To Ski Off The Beaten Track In Europe

10 October 2014

Not rich? Not famous? No worries! You can still ski like someone that is. If just the price of a ski holiday normally makes you feel feint, take a deep breath and read about these off-the-beaten-track ski destinations in Europe that are sure to appeal to snow-sports enthusiasts and adventurous travellers alike.

 Get your ski fix in the Ukraine's Carpathian Mountains

Ukraine

Isn’t it about time Ukraine started to make headlines for non-political reasons? Of course it is, and thankfully the Carpathian Mountains in the west of the country are where you’ll find some excellent value skiing.

Largely frequented by BMW-driving nouveau riche Ukrainians and students with wealthy parents, Bukovel Ski Resort is the most developed of the Ukrainian ski areas.

With day passes currently costing just AU$30 and major plans for expansion, it’s a good idea to get there soon before word gets out about the good quality snow and excellent Ukrainian beer.

Russia

Okay, so Russia didn’t exactly impress the world with its snow quality during the 2014 Winter Olympics and skiing or even visiting Russia isn't on the top of everyone's list. Still, if you do make the effort to get a visa, you’ll definitely come back with plenty of stories to tell.

Black Sea resorts Krasnaya Polyana, Mount Elbrus and Rosa Khutor are the highest profile and all have lift passes for less than AU$50 a day, while Urals resorts such as Abzakovo and Adzhigardak are even cheaper and offer the driest snow.

If you just want the experience of skiing in Russia more than the powder-covered pistes, then Golden Valley and Red Lake located close to St Petersburg allow you to combine a ski holiday with visiting Russian highlights such as the Hermitage Museum and Peterhof Palace.

 Carving powder at Bankso resort, Bulgaria

Bulgaria

Word’s already been getting out about skiing in Bulgaria for a few years now, and so it should! Located only 10 kilometres from the capital Sofia, Mount Vitosha offers pretty decent ski coverage from December right the way through March.

The country’s biggest and best resorts, however, are Borovets and Bansko, which both rise to over 2,500 metres and are home to luxury hotels and state-of-the art lifts.

Though it’s still cheap at about AU$40 a day for a lift ticket, Bulgaria was long ago an insider’s secret. It’s ideal if you want a bargain ski holiday with nightlife and all the other trappings, but if you’re looking to make your own ski tracks, there are better places on the list.

Israel

Israel? We’ve got to be kidding, right? Nope! Though you may see sand when you picture the Kingdom of David, in actual fact you can also see snow. Israel might not be hosting the Winter Olympics anytime soon, but skiing is a popular pastime for locals.

Mount Hermon is the country’s main ski resort. For less than AU$30 you’ll find a vertical drop similar to what’s on offer for triple the price back home in Australia. Accommodation is unfortunately on the lean side, so if you want to take to the slopes in the Holy Land, your best bet is to base yourself in Tel Aviv so you can walk the beach in the morning and hit slopes in the afternoon. Are you pinching yourself yet?

 Cosy up in a Swiss-style ski chalet

Switzerland

“What’s Switzerland doing on this list?” you ask. Well, not everyone in Switzerland can afford to ski at St. Moritz, but just about everyone in Switzerland sure wants to ski!

While you might need to speak a few more words of French or German to get by at the local frequented towns, lower profile resorts including Disentis, Moleson and Obersaxen all offer ski passes for about AU$50 a day.

Though there are fewer trails than at the big resorts, you’ll know if you’ve ever skied somewhere like Zermatt for a week that it’s impossible to get through the whole mountain on a short trip.

Danny Venzin

Danny Venzin is a writer, photographer and musician who loves getting off the beaten track. Ask him his top three travel destinations and he'll tell you India, Brazil and Russia. Ask him his favourite band and he won't be able to narrow it down so easily.