The seven-nation skiathon

Could you ski seven countries in as many days? Simon Calder lays down a wintry challenge

This winter sees the introduction of an extraordinary number of new flights into the schedules that will inspire the skier or snowboarder in search of new challenges. On Tuesday, for example, easyJet starts flying from Luton to Krakow, ideally placed for the Polish Tatras. Later in the year, charter flights start from Birmingham to Bolzano, serving the Italian Tyrol. With the new breed of no-frills airlines offering unrestricted one-way tickets between Europe's greatest skiing areas, you can ski in a different country every day for a week - filling in the gaps by bus, train or rental car.

This winter sees the introduction of an extraordinary number of new flights into the schedules that will inspire the skier or snowboarder in search of new challenges. On Tuesday, for example, easyJet starts flying from Luton to Krakow, ideally placed for the Polish Tatras. Later in the year, charter flights start from Birmingham to Bolzano, serving the Italian Tyrol. With the new breed of no-frills airlines offering unrestricted one-way tickets between Europe's greatest skiing areas, you can ski in a different country every day for a week - filling in the gaps by bus, train or rental car.

These flight plans start and end in the London area, but with a rapidly expanding range of choices from other UK airports, you can construct your own dream itinerary. Fares include all taxes and were available in reasonable quantities, at the time of going to press, for travel in January 2005.

DAY 1: ANDORRA

Unfashionably, head south to the Pyrenees. The first easyJet flight from Gatwick to Toulouse (£18) should land at 9.50am, just in time - luggage retrieval and cabs willing - to catch the 10.13am train along the spectacular line to Latour de Carol, high in the mountains. From here, hop on the bus to the resort of Soldeu, and start skiing by 3pm.

DAY 2: SPAIN

An early trip back on the bus to Latour, where you change for Puigcerda, and continue to Ripoll and Camprodon; here, you'll need to take a cab to Vallter 2000 - one of Europe's more impressively located resorts, with fabulous views over Catalonia. Enjoy a relatively relaxed afternoon, before heading for Girona, Catalonia's second city.

DAY 3: ITALY

The first Ryanair flight of the day out of "Barcelona Girona Airport" aims for Turin, with a one-way fare of just €14 (£9). The city is venue for the 2006 Winter Olympics, but you should hop on a bus to Cervinia. When sun goes down, take a bus and train to dinner on the Mediterranean, specifically Nice.

DAY 4: FRANCE

Your second visit to France, and at last the chance to ski. Rent a car for the relatively quick drive up to Isola 2000. Be back at Nice airport at sundown for the Helvetic Airways service to Zurich; at €132 (£94) it's not cheap, but it is effective - and, on a moonlit night, a spectacular trip across the Alps. Zurich airport had the world's first McDonald's Hotel, now rebranded as the Park Inn, and a surprisingly sophisticated place to overnight.

DAY 5: SWITZERLAND

Kickstart the day with a two-hour rail journey to Chur, gateway for the Brambrüesch ski area, where a one-day pass costs CHF36 (£15). Back in Chur, you can make some smooth connections for St Anton, across the border in Austria. (If you feel like showing off, build in a side-trip to Liechtenstein.)

DAY 6: AUSTRIA

After a morning at the world-class resort of St Anton, hit the rails again. Pause at Innsbruck to admire Zaha Hadid's dramatic ski jump, then head north across the German border to Garmisch-Partenkirchen; the last train from Innsbruck is at 8.35pm, arriving at one minute to 10.

DAY 7: GERMANY

Garmisch-Partenkirchen is surrounded by tempting mountains, and conveniently located for the last leg of your high-velocity trip; a two-hour train ride to Munich airport, followed by a EUR28 (£20) journey on the last easyJet flight of the night to Stansted.

easyJet: 0871 750 0100; www.easyJet.com

Ryanair: 0871 246 0000; www.ryanair.com

Helvetic: 020 7026 3464; www.helvetic.com

Most trains in Europe can be booked through Trainseurope (0900 195 0101; www.trainseurope.com)

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Babysitter Katie and Paul have terse words in the park
tvReview: The strength of the writing keeps viewers glued to their seats even when they are confronted with the hard-hitting scenes
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
American singer, acclaimed actor of stage and screen, political activist and civil rights campaigner Paul Robeson (1898 - 1976), rehearses in relaxed mood at the piano.
filmSinger, actor, activist, athlete: Paul Robeson was a cultural giant. But prejudice and intolerance drove him to a miserable death. Now his story is to be told in film...
Sport
England’s opening goalscorer Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain battles with Scotland’s Charlie Mulgrew
FootballEngland must learn to keep possession and dictate games before they are exposed by the likes of Germany and Brazil
Life and Style
Make-up artists prepare contestants for last year’s Miss World, held in Budapest
fashion
Sport
Wigan Athletic’s back-of-the shirt sponsor Premier Range has pulled out due to Malky Mackay’s arrival
Football
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Recruitment Genius: Chef De Partie x 2

    £16000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This charming and contemporary ...

    Recruitment Genius: Membership Sales Advisor - OTE £20,000 Uncapped

    £15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The fastest growing fitness cha...

    Recruitment Genius: Personal Trainer - £30,000 OTE Uncapped

    £15000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The fastest growing fitness cha...

    Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Advisor / Administrator

    £13000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

    Day In a Page

    US immigration: President Obama ready to press ahead with long-promised plan to overhaul 'broken system' - but will it get past a Republican-controlled Congress?

    Immigration: Obama's final frontier

    The President is ready to press ahead with the long-promised plan to overhaul America's 'broken system' - but will it get past a Republican-controlled Congress?
    Bill Cosby rape allegations explained: Why are these allegations coming out now? Why didn’t these women come forward earlier? And why has nobody taken legal action?

    Bill Cosby rape allegations explained

    Why are these allegations coming out now? Why has nobody taken legal action? And what happens next for the man once thought of as 'America's Dad'
    Four years of excruciating seizures caused by the 1cm tapeworm found burrowing through a man's brain

    You know that headache you’ve got?

    Four years of excruciating seizures caused by the 1cm tapeworm found burrowing through a man's brain
    Travelling to work by scooter is faster than walking and less sweaty than cycling, so why aren’t we all doing it?

    Scoot commute

    Travelling to work by scooter is faster than walking and less sweaty than cycling, so why aren’t we all doing it?
    Paul Robeson: The story of how an American icon was driven to death to be told in film

    The Paul Robeson story

    How an American icon was driven to death to be told in film
    10 best satellite navigation systems

    Never get lost again: 10 best satellite navigation systems

    Keep your vehicle going in the right direction with a clever device
    Paul Scholes column: England must learn to keep possession and dictate games before they are exposed by the likes of Germany and Brazil

    Paul Scholes column

    England must learn to keep possession and dictate games before they are exposed by the likes of Germany and Brazil
    Michael Dawson: I’ll thank Spurs after we win says defender as he prepares to return with Hull

    Michael Dawson: I’ll thank Spurs after we win

    Hull defender faces his struggling former club on Sunday ready to show what they are missing. But he says he will always be grateful to Tottenham
    Frank Warren column: Dr Wu has big plans for the professionals yet he should stick to the amateur game

    Frank Warren column

    Dr Wu has big plans for the professionals yet he should stick to the amateur game
    Synagogue attack: Fear unites both sides of Jerusalem as minister warns restoring quiet could take 'months'

    Terror unites Jerusalem after synagogue attack

    Rising violence and increased police patrols have left residents of all faiths looking over their shoulders
    Medecins sans Frontieres: The Ebola crisis has them in the headlines, but their work goes far beyond West Africa

    'How do you carry on? You have to...'

    The Ebola crisis has Medecins sans Frontieres in the headlines, but their work goes far beyond West Africa
    Isis extends its deadly reach with suicide bombing in Kurdish capital

    Isis extends its deadly reach with suicide bombing in Kurdish capital

    Residents in what was Iraq’s safest city fear an increase in jihadist attacks, reports Patrick Cockburn
    Underwater photography competition winners 2014 - in pictures

    'Mysterious and inviting' shot of diver wins photography competition

    Stunning image of cenote in Mexico takes top prize
    Sir John Major: Negative West End portrayals of politicians put people off voting

    Sir John Major hits out at theatres

    Negative West End portrayals of politicians put people off voting
    Kicking Barbie's butt: How the growth of 3D printing enabled me to make an army of custom-made figurines

    Kicking Barbie's butt

    How the growth of 3D printing enabled toy-designer to make an army of custom-made figurines