10 Great Places to Snowboard on a Budget
Cheap destinations for a wicked snowboarding holiday.
Snowboarding has a reputation for being a rich man's game, but it doesn't have to be. Luxury resorts like Aspen or St Moritz might be slightly out of your price range but there are still plenty of options if you don't can't afford a second mortgage or are unwilling to sell your younger brother/sister into slavery.
Here are 10 of the best budget resorts out there. Not only will these be easier on your wallet than say, Vail or Verbier, but many have the added advantage of being less well-known, so their pistes will be less crowded. Enjoy!
[part title="The French Pyrénées"]
The Pyrénées suffer somewhat in comparison to their bigger, brasher and (geologically) older brother, the French Alps, yet this is a blessing in disguise in many ways. The variety of resorts, the low cost and the lack of crowds mean there is plenty on offer on the French/Spanish border.
The last two years have seen record snowfalls and incredible powder with resorts Peyragudes, St Lary and Piau Engaly — all on the edge of the Pyrénées National Park — providing both exceptional riding in a cruisy, non-flashy atmosphere, and relatively small crowds compared to the big resorts in the Alps.
[part title="Les Carroz, France"]
Underrated and underpriced, Les Carroz shares the huge Grand Massif area with resorts of Samoëns, Morillon and Flaine. While Flaine is on the mountain with easy access to the piste, its purpose-built 1960s concrete accommodation and slightly sterile feel isn’t to everyone’s taste.
In fact, it has nothing on the lower altitude, very French village of Les Carroz, with its great local food, shops and rustic restaurants. It’s a great idea to make a base here with the much cheaper accommodation and food prices, knowing you still have easy access the Grand Massif’s huge terrain and (out of school holidays) limited crowds.
Les Carroz Video:
[part title="Soldeu, Andorra"]
High in the Pyrenees and sandwiched between France and Spain, Andorra has a well deserved reputation as a ideal alternative to the more expensive Alps. Soldeu is the tiny nation's biggest and best resort and offers incredibly cheap weekly passes (often half that of the French Alp resorts), endless budget accommodation options, and tax-free booze!
Plus, with the Grandvalira area tapping out at more than 120 miles of piste, there is some seriously good snowboarding to be found. Fresh powder awaits, assuming you can extract yourself from the legendary après scene.
[part title="Ellmau, Austria"]
Austria’s biggest linked area of slopes is the SkiWelt, which is shared by Söll, Hopfgarten, Brixen and Ellmau. All the resorts offer low prices by current standards, especially when considering the quality and variety of terrain, however Ellmau combines an attractive, traditional village feel, cheaper accommodation with reasonably convenient access to the slopes.
Aside from the genuine blacks at the top of Söll’s Hohe Salve, the SkiWelt offers is a vast area of easy cruising on pleasantly wooded slopes. The lifts are efficient, as is the snowmaking, which is necessary for the relatively low altitudes.
[part title="Cairngorm, Scotland"]
Last year’s Scottish winter was one of the best on record and many snowboarders found out just how good Cairngorm can be when there is loads of snow. Look, it’s no Switzerland, but with the easy access, cheap lift passes and gentle cruisey terrain, you can have a damn fun time here.
Hiking also brings rewards, bringing steeper hills and untracked snow into play. The weather in the Highlands is still unpredictable as ever, but with a fresh dump Cairngorm is well worth keeping an eye on as low cost snowboarding option.
[part title="Vogel, Slovenia"]
The resort and town of Vogel shares characteristics of Slovenia itself, being small, friendly and perfectly formed. Sitting high above the majestic Bohinj Lake, you can catch a fast cable car up from the valley and be on the piste in a matter of ten minutes.
Vogel caters well for beginners, and while good riders could cover the pistes quite easily in a day or two, the super cheap prices for lift passes, accommodation and food mean you won’t mind going over the same tracks twice. As a bonus, if the snow is decent, the off-piste runs are actually pretty good and always untracked.
[part title="Saalbach-Hinterglemm, Austria"]
For many, the Austrian resorts of Saalbach and nearby Hinterglemm aren’t seen as obvious budget destinations. Sure, it’s the at the higher end of affordable, but the key here is the bang you get for your buck.
The hotels are priced well for the high-standard of accommodation and the amazing lift system featuring gondolas and fast, detachable chairlifts means you cover the massive terrain and well-groomed pistes quickly and efficiently. Off the snow, the après scene is justifiably famous, although one that has eaten in too many a budget restaurant.
[part title="Borovets, Bulgaria"]
The oldest ski resort in Bulgaria, Borovets is set amongst the pine forests of the highest mountain range on the Balkan Peninsula. As such, the wide-open pistes become tree-lined as you descend down the hill.
The village offers a tad more charm than its rival Bankso, but is still a lively affair, with the cheapest skiing in Europe popular with the mass-market crowd. Still, it’s as cheerful as it is cheap, and with some well-spent time and exploration offers plenty of piste and off-piste gems.
[part title="Jasna, Slovakia"]
Great snow, cheap food, and even cheaper beer, what more can you ask for from a ski resort? There’s a respectable 1000m of vertical drop here and plenty of great terrain on offer, so Jasna is big enough to keep intermediates and even experts happy if you’re prepared to do a little off-piste exploration.
The many tree runs mean there’s good snowboarding in all-weather and the après is low key, but lively enough to keep you in your boots well into the evening.
[part title="Andermatt, Switzerland"]
When you are talking about budget and snowboarding, Switzerland doesn’t usually pop up as a viable option. Yet Andermatt, close enough to the rather posh and pricey big-name resorts including Saas Fee, Zermatt and Verbier, falls into that category, being one of the cheapest resorts in all of Switzerland.
Additionally, there is some seriously good snowboarding on offer here, with a combination of north-facing slopes and an altitude of 3000-metres providing consistent snow and loads of vertical. In fact, for confident snowboarders there is always untracked fresh waiting to be shredded.