Skiing is undoubtedly an expensive getaway, no matter where you go, but a winter trip to the likes of Val d'Isere, Zermatt or Aspen usually comes with an eye-watering price tag. That doesn't mean you can't enjoy the pistes this winter, however. Just shun the big names and look further afield and you can take advantage of lower prices.
It might not be the first ski destination on your list, but let's not forget that Sarajevo in Bosnia played host to the Winter Olympics back in 1984. Just 30km from the capital is Mount Jahorina, the second highest mountain in the region at 1,916m. The ski resort here has seen a fair amount of investment in recent years, and there is plenty for intermediate and advanced skiers and snowboarders to enjoy from December through to March, when the snow averages between one and three metres. A six-day lift pass comes in at around £65, with seven nights accommodation on offer from just £300. Add to that the fact that you can enjoy a beer for £1, and it's clear to see that it's a big money-saver.
If you're a beginner or are taking the family along, Janske Lazne in the Krkonose mountains, just two hours from Prague, provides a magical wooded setting, with gentle slopes for learners and something for the intermediates too. Lessons are available for around £8 an hour, and it's possible to get a five-day lift pass with accommodation for just under £300. Slightly more out of the way is Spindleruv Mlyn, which has a black and red track for advanced skiers, as well as ample facilities for beginners and families. It might not be quite as glamorous as other ski resorts, but you can enjoy pistes and cross-country skiing without the giant price tag.
Zakopane might not entice the experience skier, but for beginners and intermediates, it's an affordable option. It's pretty and has undergone some modernisation in recent years to provide reasonable slopes in a number of small resorts. For this reason it's wise to go with an operator such as Whiteside Holidays, which can include transport to the resorts as part of the price. A seven-night package including accommodation comes in at £389, and includes airport transfers, daily transport to the slopes, lift passes and ski or snowboard lessons.
Bulgaria is home to one of Europe's cheapest ski resorts, namely Borovets. It's ideal for first-time skiers and families, boasting a ski school with English-speaking instructors, and there are a host of hotels right beside the nursery and gentle slopes. The resort has also been completely modernised and the pistes reach a sizeable 2,600m, with off-piste runs available for advanced skiers. A six-day lift pass costs in the region of £125, and there is plenty to like about the town's buzzing nightlife too.
Popova Sapka in the Dinaric mountains is Macedonia's biggest resort, and offers mountains that rise to a maximum of 2,747m. Unlike so many of Europe's more popular resorts, the mountains here are rounded and make long runs possible, so if freeride is your thing, there's plenty to like about it. Though lift access is limited, Eskimo Freeride operates snowcats that will take more advanced skiers out to the bigger slopes and the freshest powder. A seven-day lift pass is under £90, with accommodation starting at around £130 for seven nights.
Have you swapped expensive ski resorts for a more affordable winter break? Which resorts or areas would you recommend to others? Leave your comments below...