Making your way down a mountain on skis or a snowboard is a lot of fun. That's something we can all agree on. However, one complaint that's often fired in the direction of skiers and snowboarders is that it's all way too expensive, and that it's not an easy thing to do if you're living your life to a strict budget. And, in fairness, these people do have a point. Looking at the sheer cost of skiing in Europe's traditional destinations, it's easy to understand why so many people are turning their back on it or not even giving it a try in the first place.
Fortunately for you lot, Mpora is here to save the day once more with our essential guide to Europe's cheapest ski resorts. Don't just sit there and let the ski holiday dream die. That wouldn't be fun for anyone. Instead, check out this handy list of fun and thrifty ski holiday destinations in Europe. These places are so cheap that you might not have to sell your vital organs before booking (which is nice).
One thing to get your head round before you start getting excited by the unrealistic idea of bargain bucket fondue and lift passes in Verbier is that the most affordable destinations in Europe tend not to be the traditional alpine destinations you see on chocolate packaging, and alpine postcards. No. The red hot deals, the deals that are so hot you need oven gloves just to handle them, are over in the east of Europe.
Poiana Brasov, Romania
Think of Romania and you probably don't immediately think of skiing. You might think of the matching bleach-blonde haircuts the Romanian football team had at the 1998 World Cup or Dracula's Transylvania, but we doubt that skiing holidays are the first thing that spring to mind.
However, one quick glance at the seriously affordable prices on offer in Romania and it soon becomes clear that there's much more to Romania than vampires and international footballers with matching bleach-blonde haircuts.
Poiana Brasov, in Transylvania no less, offers decent slope-based thrills with minimal overdraft spills. The resort isn't particularly steep, but the pistes are well-suited for beginners and intermediates. According to our sources, the local ski school has also built up a great reputation in recent years for its friendly English-speaking instructors.
Six-day lift pass: £88.40
Seven nights' accommodation in a 3 star hotel: £218
Equipment hire: £53 (including helmet)
Average beer price: £1.40
Flights: London to Bucharest with Ryanair for under £50
If you're looking for a cheap ski resort in Europe, they don't come much cheaper than Borovets. Borovets is ideal for first-time skiers who don't want to spend a million dollars and one of the best ski resorts for families (because toddlers can't pay for their own ski trips apparently...#LazyToddlers).
There's an excellent ski school, run by some lovely English-speaking instructors, and a variety of gentle nursery runs and wide pistes. The majority of hotels are also located right next to the slopes, making your ski holiday in Borovets not only cheap but practical too.
For those of you out there who don't want to fanny about on nursery slopes for an entire week, the 58km of pistes at Borovets have plenty to keep intermediates happy and even some pretty advanced off-piste tree runs for those who really want to take things up a notch.
Still not sure? Borovets is also well known for its affordable and buzzing nightlife. Check out some prices below, and then look us in the eye and tell us you're not tempted by the thought of a Bulgarian ski holiday.
Six-day lift pass: £120
Equipment hire: £55
Average beer price: £1
For more information, check out the Neilson website.
In recent years, Slovakia has started to build up a feisty reputation as one of the best places to go for a cheap yet awesome ski holiday in Europe. Is all this hype justified? Absolutely. Slovakia might be small but, boy oh boy, it does pack a punch.
Jasná, in particular, offers great skiing for anyone who makes it their mission to go there. And before you reach for your generalisation hat, and make comments based on stereotypical views, you might be more than a tad bit interested to know that Jasná possesses some wonderfully modern facilities and chairlifts. There's certainly no skiers getting pulled up the mountains on rickety carts, if that's what you were thinking.
Jasná spreads itself over the picturesque Chopok mountain, which is one of the highest in the Low Tatra range. Those just starting out, as well as intermediates, are well-catered for here. On top of that, when conditions are right, advanced skiers and freeriders will be able to enjoy some of the most breathtakingly untouched off-piste tree runs in all of Europe. The ski lifts are also extremely well-placed, making it easy for adventurous skiers to go up and down the mountain like a winter gear wearing yo-yo.
Six-day lift pass: £145
Equipment hire: £70
Seven nights' accommodation: £179
Average beer price: £1
Flights: EasyJet fly to Krakow from £47 return (3 hours from Jasná).
For more information on Slovakian skiing, visit Ski Jasna.
Zakopane, just south of Krakow, is Poland's most popular ski resort. And while it might not be as well-organised and as efficient as the resorts in Switzerland, it certainly won't let you down when it comes to offering stunning "fairytalesque" scenery. If you're heading to Zakopane, you'll certainly be needing your camera.
But, anyway, enough about the views. Let's talk money. How much is this place going to cost you? And, just as importantly, what sort of things will your money get you? Well you already know about the slightly archaic lift system so we'll leave that topic where it is, and move things onto a discussion about the slopes in Zakopane.
Zakopane's slopes, in all honesty, are a bit tame if you want to be tearing it down black runs from dawn till dusk. However, we think this is the ideal budget ski resort if you're a beginner or intermediate who's interested in vodka and culture...as well just charging it on the snow.
The town itself will steal your heart with its enticing mixture of idyllic 19th-century wooden buildings and cobbled streets. If you can ignore the communist high-rise tower blocks on the outskirts of town, you really will feel for a moment like you've travelled back in time through the medium of affordable ski holidaying.
Sunshine World Poland offers affordable all-inclusive ski resort packages from as little as £175 per person. These include, as standard, a six days ski rental, five days worth of ski instruction, five day lift passes, and five days of return transport to and from the slopes.
Average beer price: £1.20
For more information on Zakopane, visit Local Life - Zakopane.
Janské Lázne, Czech Republic
About two hours drive outside of Prague, up in the Karkonosze ("giant mountains"), sits a cosy spa town called Janské Lázne. There you will uncover a magical 14km's worth of of gentle forest-weaving slopes that are ideally suited to beginners, intermediates, and young children who are just learning the ropes.
Janské Lázne is extremely accommodating for those with children so don't sweat about taking the kids to a restaurant, and having to spend the entirety of your evening avoiding the glares of disgruntled 'tut-tut' customers. Chill out, everyone. It's not that kind of place.
Cheap ski lessons are the name of the game in the Czech Republic, with good-quality instruction available from as little as £8 an hour. The top lift at Janské Lázne is situated at 1,275 metres so the snow depth can be a wee bit fickle. However, the resort has thrown a whole heap of cash at snow cannons in recent years and this has helped immensely. Night-skiing is also available for those who are that way inclined.
Six-day ski pass: £94
Equipment hire (six-days): £60
Average beer price: £1
For more information, visit the Czech ski resort website.