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Crystal Ski Holidays, France, Skiing

Everything you want to know about booking a ski holiday

From the Dolomites to the Swiss Alps, we've got all the info on the best ski resorts in Europe, including the best places for après-ski. And whether you're completely new to skiing or are a seasoned shredder, we've also got the top tips on how to book the best ski deals.

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Our favourite ski destinations for all levels


Why you should ski here: If you're not sure if there will be snow for your skiing holiday, we always recommend going higher. Luckily, France is home to some of the highest ski resorts in the Alps! Because of the altitude, you'll also find more accommodation close to the slopes, which can be a big plus when it comes to convenience. Impressive mountain ranges, beautiful alpine meadows, excellent snow conditions, fine gourmet cuisine and cool après-ski parties – the French Alps have it all.

Where to ski: For après-ski enthusiasts, Val Thorens is an excellent choice, with a range of slopes suitable for mixed-ability groups. Flaine, located in the Grand Massif ski area, is ideal for beginners, with free beginner lifts just outside the town and gentle slopes around the resort. Other top ski resorts include Alpe d'Huez, which enjoys over 300 days of blue skies per year, and Avoriaz, which also offers a variety of slopes.

Après-Ski: In France, skiing and après-ski go hand in hand. We recommend Le Cocorico, the most famous après-ski bar in Tignes. We also recommend the 360 Bar in Val Thorens, with its breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains, and the La Folie Douce ski chalet in Val d'Isère, with its club sounds.


Why you should ski here: This tiny country in the Pyrenees is sandwiched between France and Spain and guarantees snow from December to April. One of the reasons we like it so much is that it's a great place to learn to ski with English-speaking, BASI-approved instructors. And the lessons are great value compared to many other countries.

Where to ski: Andorra has nine resorts - Pas de la Casa, Soldeu, El Tarter, Canillo, Encamp, Grau Roig, Pal, Arinsal and Arcalis - spread over two ski areas, Grandvalira and Vallnord. We can recommend Arinsal, which is a great place for beginners, thanks to its fantastic ski school. There are also plenty of blue runs and all the pistes lead back to the same spot, making it easy to meet up with family or friends if you don't want to stick together.

Après-Ski: Groups flock to Andorra's ski resorts for their lively nightlife - which costs a lot less than partying in the Alps. We are all for partying in style on a budget! Perhaps the most famous après ski resort is Pas, thanks to its wide range of affordable bars. You can party from the top of the mountain at Iqos Terrace all the way down to the Underground nightclub.

Bosnia and Herzegovina

Why you should ski here: This might be our top pick if you're new to skiing. The ski resorts here are packed with beginner-friendly slopes at a budget-friendly price tag. And while the former host of the Winter Olympics may not be on most people's radar, there are plenty of snowy activities that won't break the bank, including night skiing and snowmobiling.

Where to ski: There are two ski resorts, Bjelašnica and Jahorina. The latter is the largest ski resort in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Great value lift passes and equipment hire coupled with some of the best lifts in the region make this an easy choice for us! It's a great place for beginners, with plenty of gentle slopes to get you started on skis or a board. For more experienced skiers, there is a floodlit slope where you can continue skiing after the sun goes down.

Après-Ski: While Bosnia and Herzegovina doesn't have a reputation for being the liveliest of après-ski spots, drink prices here are some of the lowest in Europe. Both Jahorina and Bjelašnica tend to be quieter in the evenings, so if you're looking for some après-ski fun, your best bet is probably the hotel bar if you're looking for a late-night drink.


Why you should ski here: Just like Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bosnia is a very budget-friendly place for skiing. Ski lessons and lift passes cost a lot less here than elsewhere in Europe, which means you won't have to blow your yearly holiday budget in one go.

Where to ski: Borovets topped the table of best-value ski resorts for adult skiers in Bulgaria according to the Post Office Travel Money Ski Report in 2022. Located about 1.5 hours from Sofia, the small ski area is perfect for first time skiers, with plenty of practice runs to keep you occupied.

Après-Ski: The ski village comes alive at night, with club-lined streets where you can dance until dawn. Head to the Black Tiger Bar for some karaoke or go local and visit a typical Balkan bar, known as a mehana, where you can often see live folk music and dancing.


Why you should ski here: Austria can be a bit more pricey than some of the other ski destinations, but there are still savings to be had if you know what to look for! Plus, the Austrian Alps are some of our personal faves. We love the cosy alpine villages filled with family-run hotels.

Where to ski: Ischgl was named Austria's "buzziest ski resort" by Snow Magazine. The publication gives the resort a 10 out of 10 for the ski area and aprés ski — so you'll have fun during the day and at night.

St Anton is another popular choice for veteran skiers. The resort features miles of seamlessly connected slopes, including the Run of Fame – a 65 km route that starts in St Anton and ends in the resort of Warth-Schröcken.

Bringing children to ski for the first time? Here are some resorts that offer free practice slopes or where children do not have to pay for a ski pass.

  • Kitzbühel, Austria: Free practice slopes in the valley

  • Almenwelt Lofer, Austria: Children under 15 can ski for free when accompanied by an adult

  • Großglockner, Austria: Children up to 5 years old ski for free when accompanied by a parent

  • Stubaital, Austria: Children up to 10 years accompanied by an adult ski for free

Après-Ski: St Anton is a charming village, that has a pretty legendary nightlife, there are lots of slope side après spots where you can end the day dancing in your ski boots. Or head to the high street's bars and pubs.


Why you should ski here: Italy sees less ski tourism than France and Austria, which means fewer crowds on the slopes! Just what we like to hear. The Italian ski season runs from December to April. If you are looking for bluebird slopes, try to book in April when the skies are at their clearest. Also, food and drink is a lot cheaper this side of the Alps.

Where to ski: Cortina d'Ampezzo offers quiet slopes, perfect for beginners. Both beginners and more experienced skiers will enjoy Passo Tonale. The resort has 10 lifts at the village level to practise on gentle blues and a few easier reds. Corvara impresses with Dolomite views, and gives access to one of the world’s largest ski areas - Dolomiti Superski.

Après-Ski: Cortina d'Ampezzo may be a quiet ski resort, but the social scene is anything but! You'll have the slopes to yourself during the day and have plenty of new people to meet as you make your way through the buzzing nightlife. Another good shout is Sauze d’Oulx, which is famous for its lively bars, pubs and clubs.

Our top tips to find the best ski deal

1. Choose your destination wisely

When booking a ski holiday, location is everything! And of course there will be cheaper destinations than others, but you should focus on overall value and savings. Andorra, Bulgaria and Bosnia and Herzegovina are three countries that are known for offering good value for money, with lower costs for food, drink and lift passes. If you're new to skiing, you might want to look at booking your holiday in one of those destinations.

Surprisingly, Austria, France and Italy can also offer great deals if you know what to look for! That's where choosing a lesser-known resort can come in handy. If you have your sights set on a certain area, look for a well-known resort that has a lesser-known neighbour. For example, if you really want to ski in the Three Valleys, you could stay in Les Menuires instead of the popular (and more expensive) resorts like Méribel or Val Thorens.

Another tip is to look for accommodation a bit further away from the ski resorts. Hotels and resorts close to the slopes can cost a fortune in the high season. In most cases, it is worth looking at package deals where you get accommodation, meals and a ski pass in one booking. Plus, you’ll often find that they come with a few extras, such as a free shuttle to the ski resort.

2. Timing is everything

If you're trying to book dates that fall on major holidays, you're probably doing it like everyone else. If you want to find a great deal, we recommend looking at less popular dates, booking well in advance or booking super last minute. There are plenty of resorts that offer off-season snow, giving you more options when planning.

Ski resorts with guaranteed off-season snow:

  • Sölden, Austria: Boasting three three-thousand metre peaks and 2 glaciers, the season runs from September to May.

  • Zermatt, Switzerland: Famous for stunning views of the Matterhorn, with slopes above 3,800 metres, the resort is open all year round.

  • Saas-Fee, Switzerland: Surrounded by several four-thousand metre peaks, Saas-Fee features glaciers at 3,600 metres. The season runs from July to the end of April.

  • Sulden am Ortler, Italy: Surrounded by 14 three-thousand metre peaks, it's one of the highest ski resorts in South Tyrol with a season that runs from October to May.

🏴‍☠️ Pirate Tip: You can often find good deals for the week just after New Year. It's off-peak, sandwiched between the busy festive period and February which is very popular with families.

3. Look for Ski specific deals

Not all ski deals include lift passes, which may seem a little counterintuitive, but it's always best to check that the introductory prices include lift passes or there is the option to add ski passes for those who are keen to ski.

Another thing to be on the lookout for deals with discounted lift tickets. For example, Crystal Ski Holidays have food and drink vouchers, a buy one, get one offer, as well as free lift passes for kids on select resorts and destinations.

Those who are new to skiing can book a 'Slope Starters' package that is geared towards those who would like to try skiing or snowboarding for the first time. The package includes flights, transfers, accommodation, food, lessons, ski hire, lift passes, and activities!

🏴‍☠️ Pirate Tip: While self-catering may be cheaper, groceries in the supermarket in the Alps are expensive! If you're looking for packages that include your meals, we suggest you go for a half board option, as you'll most likely be on the slopes for lunch. Most resorts have buffet style restaurants or canteens with free hot water. Meals there can often be expensive, so we like to bring a cup of noodles, fill it up for free at one of the canteens and eat it outside in the sun.

Feeling inspired? Check out these great ski deals:

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