The Essential Skiing Guide: The rest of Europe
Sunday 07 November 2010
Almost every country in Europe – even Croatia, Cyprus and Portugal – has at least one ski area. And as well as the "big four" Alpine nations, UK tour operators offer holidays at dozens of resorts in eastern Europe, the Pyrenees and Scandinavia.
Resorts in Spain and Andorra have invested heavily in superb new lifts and have better snow records than you might expect, but lift prices can be high at the top areas – higher even than Switzerland.
There are about 1,000 ski areas spread across eastern Europe, most of them basic. British tour operators currently offer holidays to some of the best in Bulgaria, Slovenia and, cheapest of all, Romania. Most of these now have modern facilities, but services and snow cover can be patchy if you're unlucky.
Scandinavia offers snow-sure skiing and exceptional opportunities for cross-country skiers. Resorts in Lapland (through Inghams) offer dog-sledding, snowmobiling and reindeer safaris, along with limited downhill skiing and the magical atmosphere of the far north, including, hopefully, a glimpse of the Northern Lights.
Closer to home, Scotland's five ski areas have had three good seasons in a row, and with a white covering in late October it's looking promising for this winter, too. Those empty roads they use in the car adverts await if you drive up, or there are good rail and air links.
Did you know?
Spain's Sierra Nevada, Europe's most southerly snow sports resort, stands above the Mediterranean close to Malaga.
Germany's Garmisch Partenkirchen will host the World alpine skiing championships this February – the biggest event in winter sports outside of the Olympics.
Some bargain berths, from £19, are available on Scotrail sleeper trains from London to Aviemore or Fort William for the Nevis Range.
Andorra's Grandvalira ski region has grown to be one of the world's 50 largest, but the €221 six-day lift pass is now pricier than in Cortina, Courchevel, or Lech.
For a late-season trip, Riksgränsen in the Swedish Arctic offers great value heli-skiing and skiing under the midnight sun from late May.
Best resorts for novices
Kranjska Gora, Slovenia (00 386 4 5809440; kr-gora.si); Lecht, Scotland (01975 651440; lecht.co.uk); Tryvann, Norway (00 47 22 145482; tryvann .no); Vallnord, Andorra (00 376 878 078; vallnord.com); Vemdalen, Sweden (00 46 684 15300; Vemdalen.com).
Baqueira Beret, Spain (00 34 973 639010; baqueira.es), Bled, Slovenia (00 376 4 5741122; bled.si); Grandvalira, Andorra (00 376 808900; grandvalira.com); Nevis Range, Scotland (01397 705825; nevisrange.co.uk); Sierra Nevada, Spain (00 34 958 249100; sierranevadaski.com).
Åre, Sweden (00 46 647 17754; areresort.se); Glencoe, Scotland (01855 851226; glencoemountain.com); Hemsedal, Norway (00 47 32 055030; hemsedal.com); Lillehammer, Norway (00 47 61 289800; lillehammerturist.no); Riksgränsen, Sweden (00 46 980 40080; riksgransen.nu).
Aviemore, Scotland (01479 810930; cairngormmountain.com); Formigal, Spain (00 34 974 490000; formigal .com); Levi, Finland (00 358 16 6393300; levi.fi); Ruka, Finland (00 358 400 200; ski.ruka.fi); Ylläs, Finland (00 358 16 5705700; sportresortyllas.com).
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