Europe’s cheapest and most expensive skiing & snowboarding destinations

For most of us, skiing and snowboarding holidays tend to be very expensive. Unlike, say, going to a beach on an island in Thailand where you can stay in a bungalow for US$15 per night and just sit in the sun during the day, a ski trip means equipment, lift tickets, and typically expensive hotel rooms in small mountain towns.

According to the fine folks at (a price comparison website), there are actually some bargains out there, many of which are not terribly well known, at least outside of their region. They compared (only) 33 ski resort areas around the world to rank them by price including transportation, accommodation, lift tickets, and equipment hire, and they’ve sent me the Top 10 cheapest and most expensive for skiing and snowboarding.

10 cheapest ski destinations

  1. Harrachov, Czech Republic (135km northeast of Prague)
  2. Zelezna Ruda, Czech Republic (between Munich and Prague)
  3. Pamporovo, Bulgaria (230km northwest of Sofia)
  4. Bled, Slovenia (55km northwest of Ljubljana)
  5. Vemdalen, Sweden (515km north of Stockholm)
  6. Bansko, Bulgaria (150km south of Sofia)
  7. Poiana Brasov, Romania (170km north of Bucharest)
  8. Lenggries, Germany (40km south of Munich)
  9. Sauze d’Oulx, Italy (220km west of Milan)
  10. Kranjska Gora, Slovenia (80km northwest of Ljubljana)

10 cheapest snowboarding destinations

  1. Harrachov, Czech Republic
  2. Zelezna Ruda, Czech Republic
  3. Pamporovo, Bulgaria
  4. Vemdalen, Sweden
  5. Bled, Slovenia
  6. Lenggries, Germany
  7. Bansko, Bulgaria
  8. Kitzbühel, Austria
  9. Poiana Brasov, Romania
  10. Sauze d’Oulx, Italy

You’ll notice that the snowboarding destinations are nearly identical to the skiing destinations, which isn’t a surprise. I’d think that snowboard rental prices would be the only difference, but they didn’t send the details.

10 most expensive ski destinations

  1. Sochi, Russia (on the Black Sea, north of Georgia and Turkey)
  2. Val d’Isère, France (300km north of Nice)
  3. Niseko, Japan (80km west of Sapporo)
  4. Meribel, France (300km north of Nice)
  5. Courchevel, France (300km north of Nice)
  6. Vail, USA (100km west of Denver)
  7. Beitostölen, Norway (200km north of Oslo)
  8. Jackson Hole, USA (400km north of Salt Lake City)
  9. St Anton, Austria (220km southwest of Munich)
  10. Lech, Austria (200km southwest of Munich)

10 most expensive snowboarding destinations

  1. Niseko, Japan
  2. Sochi, Russia
  3. Vail, USA
  4. Jackson Hole, USA
  5. Val d’Isère, France
  6. Meribel, France
  7. Beitostölen, Norway
  8. Courchevel, France
  9. Whistler, Canada
  10. Banff, Canada

Eastern Europe appears to be good value

As with anything else when comparing prices, it’s important to not make the mistake of assuming that the cheapest is best. It’s possible that some of the cheap mountains might pale in comparison to anything in the Alps or the Rockies, but for those without an Alps budget it’s encouraging to know that there are plenty of cheaper ski and snowboarding areas not far south of the Alps.

If you compare the areas on this list to the European cities by price index we do you’ll see that most of the cheapest ski areas are quite near the cheapest cities, unsurprisingly. In this era of low-cost flights and long weekends, it seems very possible to get a couple days on the slopes in an area you might not have known about, for half the price of the ones you are familiar with.

Photo of Bansko, Bulgaria by countries in colors on Flickr

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  1. Kate Hill says:

    I think the list is fantastic. I am from Australia and there are many places here that are available prices.

  2. sydney says:

    I feel there would be more US places in the “cheap” section. I assumed wrong.

    1. Stephen says:

      US lift tickets and rental equipment are really expensive so even if the accomodation and eats are cheap that saving is lost in the cost of riding the mountain.