If you want a luxury catered chalet with your own private sauna, chef and cinema, in a prestigious resort, you are reading the wrong article, but if you want a cheap ski holiday that’s still big on fun, read on…
Yes, we all know skiing is an expensive way to holiday and when you factor in equipment hire, lift passes, meals out and extra activities, it can seem like an indulgence too far. But skiing on a budget can be done – and be done well! You just have to choose your time and place – tricky, we know, if you’re restricted to half-terms and holiday weeks, as skiing will always be cheaper outside the school holidays peak dates – and the slopes and restaurants are less crowded too! Most companies have early booking offers and a range of cheap ski deals can usually be found. Check tour operators’ websites for the best ski deals.
The other trick is to pick your resort – and pick a less exorbitant place to stay – self-catering apartment over catered chalet, for example.
Here are just a few of the options available this winter…
Andorra is a long-established favourite with UK skiers, and all Andorran resorts are a top choice for value. As the country has low taxation then there are shops selling goods at much cheaper prices than the UK. Prices on the slopes and the bars are much cheaper than most ski resorts as are the ski packs. There are also packages for further savings such as Ski Inclusive (lift pass, equipment and lunch vouchers) and Learn to Ski / Ski Savers (lift pass, tuition and equipment). You can choose from Andorra’s three main resort centres – Arinsal, Pas de la Casa and Soldeu – all offer great value skiing, accommodation and nightlife.
One to try: Hotel Verdu, Arinsal
Friendly hotel located close to the Arinsal gondola and good value for money. There’s good food, nice views and comfortable rooms and they do everything well and look after their guests. From £589ppp for seven nights, half-board.
With France, it’s very much a case of choose your resort carefully, as some of the best-known names can eat up the biggest of holiday budgets. But that doesn’t mean some of those resort areas are totally off-limits: for example, Courchevel 1850 is the expensive flagship resort of the Three Valleys, but stay in a self-catering apartment in Courchevel 1650 and you still get to ski the same slopes as the fancy pants staying up the road. Or try Les Menuires instead of Meribel.
But, especially if you are beginners, it’s also worth checking out less well-known destinations or resorts with smaller ski areas, as the lift passes will be cheaper, and on-mountain food and drink prices may be smaller, too.
Picking a resort where you fly in to Geneva is also a good option, as you tend to have a bigger choice of local UK airports thus cutting down on time and petrol if they are nearer (Bournemouth, Glasgow, Belfast, Liverpool, Leeds, for example).
Here are three other French options:
Brilliant, high-altitude, snowsure, ski-in, ski-out purpose-built resort in the vast 600km Portes du Soleil area. Avoriaz is traffic-free and easily accessible whether on skis, on foot or even horse drawn sleigh. There is a wide choice of shops, restaurants and bars with a varied selection of nightlife. Self-catering apartments start at around £550 pp, but another option here is to go for ski all in deals, to keep the on-mountain costs down. From £1,169 pp for seven nights, all-inclusive
One to try: Hotel Les Cimes du Soleil
An excellent choice for couples, friends or families alike. Soak up the sun on the fantastic terrace. The all-inclusive package includes drinks with your meals, and you can take the lunch option as a picnic if you plan to explore further afield.
A very family-friendly, purpose-built resort with several ‘village centre’ options, all with easy access to the huge Paradiski ski area. The details matter here, as Les Arcs is one of those resorts where you can often clock up a range of good value extras as part of your ski package holiday: for example, Inghams has a discount deal on ski passes available for groups of 3 or more, as well as full area upgrades and free child passes. The full area Paradiski Essentail pass also has a number of special offers on multiple activities in the resort – another real bonus especially for families.
One to try: Chalet Altitude Apartments
A residence in Arc 2000, the highest of the Arc villages, with amazing views of Mont Blanc and the valley and perfectly placed for the skiing. Included here is a Huski Food Delivery service of breakfast, afternoon tea and 3-course evening meals with wine for 6 days: You get two deliveries of quality prepared meals which you just cook at your leisure. Also included is use of the wellness area with heated indoor pool, sauna and sensory grotto. From £939pp, for seven nights, half-board.
An extensive – and often overlooked – ski domain based around four resort centres: Briançon, Chantemerle, Villeneuve and Le Monêtier les Bains. Briançon is a beautiful 17th Century fortified town (and a UNESCO World Heritage Site) and a buzzing place to stay. Overall Serre Chevalier is good value and less expensive than other more well-known resorts. Ski hire packs tend to be cheaper as do food and drink on the mountain. Yet the ski area is amazing, especially for intermediates, with 250km of well-connected pistes and loads of lovely tree-lined runs.
One to try: Parc Hotel and Spa
The hotel is located in the heart of Briancon, close to all the shops and bars and just 300m from the Prorel cable car which will connect you to this fantastic ski area. Again, the value option here is boosted by this being an all-inclusive option, including beer and wine. The hotel has a lovely relaxing area which features an indoor swimming pool and a sauna. From £929 pp, for seven nights, all-inclusive.
In many ways, Austria ticks a lot of the good value boxes, with prices generally cheaper than, say, France. Among the excellent – and extensive – ski areas are the Skicircus, the Ski Welt, Ski Juwel and Arlberg domains, and the country’s resorts have a good record for snow conditions. The key to ski holidays in Austria is its won derful ‘Gemütlichkeit’ culture, which attempts to make guests feel welcome, entertained and well fed, both on the slopes and after the lifts have closed. You’ll find the typical Austrian welcome both on the slopes with genuinely friendly instructors and lively après-ski in almost every Austrian bar when the lifts have closed.
Check out these Austrian gems:
St. Johann in Tirol
A pretty resort ideally placed in the centre of the Kitzbüheler Alpen in Tirol. With its own excellent intermediate area (including a dozen wonderful mountain restaurants!) and a total of 171km of pistes covered on the 3-Länder Freizeit-Arena lift pass, St. Johann in Tirol is an ideal choice for skiers of all levels.
One to try: COOEE Alpin Hotel
Comfortable and convenient, this modern 3-star hotel has everything you need without unnecessary bell and whistles. The hotel has a lounge and bar, as well as a wellness area including a bio sauna, Finnish sauna, and fitness room. It’s in a just 50m from the Hochfeld ski lift giving access to a small area of blue and red runs, and 800m (via free shuttle bus) from the main Harschbichl gondola. From £609pp, for seven nights, b&b.
Resorts don’t come much prettier than Alpbach – a traditional Austrian village with a gothic spired church, narrow streets, and minimal traffic which has won awards for being ‘Austria’s most beautiful village’. Great skiing as part of the Ski Juwel Area, and even non-skiers can enjoy a variety of activities, such as horse-drawn sleigh rides. All guests receive the ‘Alpbach Seenland Card’ which gives either free participation or reductions on activities such as snowshoeing, guided cross-country skiing, ice-skating and torchlit walks.
One to try: Haus Edelweiss
One of the best-value b&b options in Austria, this welcoming and informal small hotel is located close to the nursery slopes and ski bus stop, and offers many homely features, cosy rooms and panoramic views. From £669 pp, for seven nights, b&b.
Home to some of Europe’s best skiing, scenery and food – skiing in Italy is palpably different. Partly it’s down to the mostly sunny climate, partly the beautiful scenery and partly the more laid-back national temperament, but it also has a lot to do with the food, which represents exceptional value for money. Cervinia and Sestriere are among the best-value resorts, while Livigno is a good choice for shopaholics due to its tax-free status.
Catch it while you can as Livigno is one of the confirmed venues for the 2026 Olympics and it’s easy to see why. Not far from the Swiss border, this snow sure resort has an extensive, modern ski area whilst retaining the traditional character of its original three villages. There’s a great selection of shops to choose from, as the resort has held a duty-free status since the 16th century, meaning your money goes much further.
One to try: Hotel Livigno
Traditional and homely family-run hotel with a prime location 100m from the Cassana lift and a 300m stroll from the pedestrianised zone. The service you get here is great – as are the comfy rooms, tasty food and wellness area. After dinner, head to the bar and make sure you’re there for the hotel’s weekly grappa tasting. From £1,029, for seven nights, half-board.
A best-of-both-worlds resort as Cervinia shares its ski area with its more affluent Swiss neighbour Zermatt. The skiing here, under the gaze of Matterhorn, is superb, with bags of variety, including some challenging off-piste, and the obvious benefit is that while you can experience life on the Swiss side, being in Italy means great food, service full of Italian flair and your holiday spending will go a lot further!
One to try: Hotel Punta Maquignaz
Bang in the centre of Cervinia, just 100 metres from the Cretaz chairlifts, there’s a cosy feel to this hotel, with its Alpine features and wood-panelled rooms. The open fire in the lounge is lovely to come back to after a day’s skiing. There’s also a spa area, with steam room, sauna and relaxation area, which is included in the hotel price. From £1,039pp, for seven nights, b&b.