Europe’s winter season is prime for skiing getaways and trips. Eastern Europe offers some of the best yet affordable resorts for skiers, whether they are learning the sport or fancy a good challenge.
Eastern Europe is the place to be for snow fanatics this winter, as it features three of the six resorts with the best value for stay worldwide – Bansko in Bulgaria, which holds the best value for a full stay, Sochi in Russia and Kranjska Gora in Slovenia. There are plenty more to visit, though. Discover the eastern charm.
Kranjska Gora, Slovenia
Set in the Julian Alps, an hour’s drive away from the airport, Slovenia’s most famous resort looks more western than most other Eastern Europe’s offers. Featuring a World Cup-scale slalom track, this resort exudes a sophistication reminiscent of its Austrian counterparts, but also affords the convenience of having all kinds of accommodation, amenities and restaurants at the foot of the slopes, which makes it an excellent budget option.
The landscape may be marred by a TV mast, but that doesn’t take away from the quaint charm of the village which hosts this resort in the Bulgarian countryside, less than two hours away from the nearest airport. Slopes are more suited for beginners and intermediates, which makes this another great place for a first-time skier or a snowboarder. The village itself, although small and mostly quiet, also offers a good selection of restaurants and bars to entertain guests in the evening.
Bansko needs no introductions – the cheapest resort in Europe attracts tourists with breathtaking views of the Aegean Sea, historic value and affordable prices. There is a large offer of different types of slopes which are easily accessible through the lifts and gondola, but while infrastructure is great for the price, it still has a lot of room for improvement.
Mariborsko Pohorje, Slovenia
This resort is located near Maribor, Slovenia’s second largest city, and two hours away from the airport. Accommodation and transportation are affordable and easily available, while the surrounding forest affords the resort a magical atmosphere. The runs are mostly aimed at beginners and intermediates, but the illuminated slopes, which are meant for skiing at night, are the best selling point.
45 minutes away from the nearest airport and with plenty of challenging runs for skiers and boarders, this resort can certainly be forgiven for lacking the surrounding infrastructure. Recent renovations have greatly improved the accessibility of the resort, and the fact that there are more advanced runs, freeride zones and parks than anywhere else makes it perfect for true snow fanatics.
Popova Sapka, Macedonia
This mountainous area is a prime location, in spite of being 90 minutes away from the nearest airport, not only because it is a short distance from several countries, but also because snow coverage is constant, something rare in Eastern Europe. The resort itself isn’t very interesting, but the off piste is sought after, both for day and night skiing.
Jahorina, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Jahorina is only 40 minutes away from Sarajevo, but its infamous role in the Bosnian War still haunts its renovated and upgraded mountain slopes. This modern resort offers great regular slopes for beginners and forest slopes. Night skiing is also available on some days.
Rosa Khutor, Russia
This was one of the resorts built for and featured in the 2014 Winter Olympics, held in Sochi, so it is not surprising to see that it has some of the best and most challenging slopes of Europe.
Sochi isn’t the easiest place to travel to, but the airport is only 25 minutes away from the resort, which is located right on the slopes, that aren’t for the faint of heart. Prices aren’t accessible to everyone, but Sochi offers the opportunity to visit four different resorts and then enjoy the seaside, a rare combination indeed.
Infrastructure isn’t great in this Serbian resort of sorts, but the terrain speaks for itself and reminds snow fanatics why it used to be so popular before the war. Runs are easy, for the most part, but there is also a terrain park with boxes, rails and a kicker.
Poiana Brasov, Romania
Romania’s only international resort is three hours away from the nearest airport, but it may be paradise for a ski beginner. Here, guests can find easy slopes, good accommodation and great cuisine, not to mention beautiful sights and a lively nightlife. The snow itself isn’t abundant, but it is a great place for beginners to have a taste of a ski holiday, as even lessons – in fluent English – are available.