Thursday, 16 January 2014

Cheap Ski Holidays Within Easy Reach of Airports, and Exciting Towns and Attractions

Hit the slopes this winter with cheap and affordable ski holidays! 

The following flights, resorts and hotels are excellent options for making short ski trips less expensive, as well as taking advantage of the availability of other exciting attractions in case of sore legs or bad ski weather...

Cheap Ski Holiday #1: French Vosges – Gerardmer & La Bresse

Cheap skiing Vosges France - Colmar town at night
Colmar Town
The Vosges mountains are a great place to visit for lots of great food, scenery and history. The towns Colmar, Plombieres-Les-Bains, and Munster are beautiful and packed with history and delightful little shops, buildings and restaurants. Also the city of Strasbourg is also close by with a stunning cathedral and its 'Little Venice' with photogenic canals and beamed buildings.

A car ferry from the UK to Dunkerque or Calais is a great option for a cheap skiing holiday and mini road-trip. It takes approximately 6 hours, through Belgium and Luxembourg on the toll-free roads, and into France. Remiremont is a very affordable place to stay in the Vosges mountains with a pretty town centre, lit up at night, and an off-the-beaten path feel. It is around 20 minutes by car on a main single carriageway road to the ski resort Gerardmer. 

The Etap hotel is a reliable budget option in Remiremont, around £28-£40 per night. Rooms have a double bed and bunk on top. Remiremont is also on main roads without too much of a sharp climb up into the mountains (if you're anxious about winter driving conditions).

Gerardmer ski resort is a great little place which locals tend to enjoy rather than tourists, although it is becoming more popular with visitors. From the town there is a regular bus, or you can drive straight to the resort. A great little free nursery slope is available with a tow-rope, and some short green runs are just above it. There are also a number of long greens and blues, and a couple of more advanced slopes also. The food in the café is great - it is France after all.

La Bresse ski resort is similar to Gerardmer but with a larger ski area. A great hotel for a little more luxury and good access to La Bresse is 4 star Grand Hotel Le Howald. It is a stylish place with a lovely decor. The breakfast buffet offers hot food and continental, and there is also a free pool, sauna and jacuzzi on site. You may need snow socks or winter tyres as the road to this hotel is fairly winding and climbs quite high.

A great option for driving to the Vosges from the UK is to split the journey up and stay in any of the Belgian towns along the way. Namur is a good option - with its castle and selection of lovely restaurants it makes a welcome stop to weary travellers. There is also a very affordable and reliable Ibis hotel.

Cheap Ski Holiday #2: Madrid – La Pinilla

Madrid - Puerta Del Sol
Madrid - Puerta Del Sol
Madrid is an interesting and exciting metropolis, a great remedy to wind-burned cheeks and a thirst to shop. On a trip to Madrid the beautiful ancient capital of Toledo is just 30 minutes away by car or train and makes a great attraction if skiing is off, or you need a break. 

La Pinilla ski resort is best reached via hire car and is around 1 hour 50 minutes away, however bus links are possible. Cars are fairly cheap to rent from the airport in Madrid or possibly even cheaper downtown.  The journey is beautiful with a number of castles perched on mountains, and a fair amount of dramatic scenery. The historic towns of Segovia and Riaza are also well worth a visit and are not far from La Pinilla. 

La Pinilla is a good beginner and intermediate resort with mainly gentle runs, and some more advanced terrain. There is a good choice of cafes and a few little shops down at the base.

Prices at Pinilla are around £25 for a full day's ski pass for the base/beginner slopes and £35 for the use of all of them. Ski hire is also very reasonable and there are number of places to choose from.

Cheap flights to Madrid are available with Ryanair and other cheap airlines. Check 

Hotels vary in terms of price, but if you are hiring a car it is much cheaper to stay in the periphery of the city. Getafe is very cheap and 3 star Hesperia is a lovely option with free parking, shiny marble corridors and lobby, and very comfortable and clean rooms.

Cheap Ski Holiday #3: Geneva – Saint Gervais

Saint Gervais - Traditional Wooden  Chalet Restaurant
Saint-Gervais is a stunning little French town in Haute Savoie, with iconic and panoramic Alpine scenery. The town straddles a valley and gorge, and there are excellent walks in the vicinity. For aching bones after a hard day's skiing, Les Bains Thermales Du Mont Blanc are an excellent and high-class thermal spa experience to enjoy.   

Saint-Gervais ski resort has excellent terrain for all types of skiers. The high altitude makes snow cover fairly reliable even in April. The ski resort itself is across the valley from the town (a short walk across, and a cable car ride up). Saint-Gervais is a world-renowned resort and prices are higher as a result, however cheap Easyjet flights to Geneva and cheap bus transfers make it possible to spend very little. For good accommodation deals check out for very cheap chalets. April can be especially cheap with end-of-season offers.

Cheap Ski Holiday #4: Bardufoss, Norway – Snowman resort

Northern Norway - Narvik Fjord 
The North of Norway is a stunning mix of icy fjords, snowy forests and twinkling fishing villages. Activities like husky sledding, snow-mobiling and ice-fishing are readily available, as well as sparkling icehotels and very likely Northern Lights sightings.

Check out for flights to tiny little remote and windswept Bardufoss in the North of Norway, or to Tromso.

Snowman resort is around 20 minutes away by car from the Bardufoss airport. Snow cover is very reliable due to the extreme North, and the ski resort itself is a wonderful winter wonderland for all types of skiers. There is later night opening and floodlit slopes in winter, and an excellent little ski shop and café with woodburner, wonderful hot chocolate, and great little bar. Ski rental and passes are around £70 a day for an adult.

On-site accommodation is very affordable with modern little apartments at around £100 per night (sleeping up to 6 people). Bed sheets and cleaning are extra costs but no more than £20 per person, per stay.

Cheap Ski Holiday #5: Oslo – Oslo Vinterpark

Oslo Operahus
Oslo is a delightful city, extremely clean and safe, with some wonderfully 'Norwegian' attractions including the Viking ship museum with enormous genuine Viking longships and artefacts in stunningly good condition. Also of interest is the fantastically educational and interactive Nobel Peace Centre, the Holmenkollen ski jump and museum with simulator, and the huge figurative sculpture park featuring a stunning life's work of human-form sculptures by Gustav Vigeland.

Oslo Vinterpark is a great resort for beginners, with a couple of lovely long, wide and gentle green runs, and some winding blues. There is also a range of advanced terrain and a snowpark with moguls and jumps, as well as some jumps available on the main runs.

Prices for the main slopes are around £70 per person for a full day including ski hire and a ski pass. This drops to around £65 on weekdays, and a small discount is given if you use the same skipass card the second day. Ski lift passes just for beginner slopes are much cheaper.

Travel around Oslo is very affordable - a week pass on the city transport (which includes the ski resort metro stop) is around £30, and a single journey is £3. Day passes are also available.

You can get flights to Oslo Gardermoen, Rygge or Torp. Very cheap flights with Norwegian Air and Ryan Air. These last two airports are quite a way out and transfers from Torp are around £50 return per person.

Accommodation in Oslo city is the best option. The ski resort is literally 20 minutes away by metro, and a short walk or 2-5 minute bus ride. Good deals can be found on lastminute or expedia for a range of hotels in the city.

The following hotels are highly recommended for quality and location. Radisson Blu, Nydalen. 3-4 stars, spotless and distinctive stylish rooms, directly opposite Nydalen metro station. Holmenkollen Park Hotel Rica 4 stars, excellent views of city from hilltop location. 1 metro stop away from Voksenkollen - the bus stop for the ski resort.  

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