Over the past few years, most skiers have been ramping up their search to ensure they get the best possible deal for their annual hit of skiing. So how do you go about ensuring you get the best value for money when you are on the pistes? If you’re the kind of person who wants to cover as many kilometres as possible, skiing different runs every day, you’ll need to balance your energetic side with your holiday budget. To help you out, we’ve calculated the price you pay per km of piste in all of Europe’s top ski resorts based on a 6 day lift pass.
Top 5 Value For Money Ski Passes In Europe
5. The Milky Way (Italy/France) – 44p per km
Made up of Sauze d’Oulx, Sestriere, Sansicario and Claviere in Italy, as well as Montgenevre in France, the Milky Way was one of the major bases for the 2006 Turin Winter Olympics. The 400km of piste is largely dominated by red runs, making it a great place for intermediates to explore the full range of skiing on offer. For families and beginners, Claviere is a great place to base yourself, with some great learning slopes to build your confidence before heading further afield. Sauze d’Oulx is renowned for having a fantastic après scene with plenty of bars around the slopes to keep you dancing in your ski boots well beyond the sunset.
4. The Three Valleys (France) – 42p per km
The Three Valleys is Europe’s largest connected ski area, and it offers some of the greatest skiing on the planet. Runs are available to suit all abilities and with 7 resorts on offer, and there is accommodation to suit all tastes and budgets. The value of this lift pass increases when you consider the level of investment that the resort has put into the ski area over the past few years. Key links across the area have seen new and faster lifts installed to increase capacity and make the experience for the customer more seamless – let’s face it, no one enjoys standing in queues. Another key highlight of the three valleys is the Folie Douce – or should I say Douces – as you will find two in the Three Valleys – in Val Thorens and Meribel. This is a great place to end a day’s skiing, where you can listen to live music and DJs in the open mountain air, with hundreds of other party goers. Also something new for 2014 in Val Thorens will be a 1 mile zip line at an altitude of 3000m. Perhaps not a great idea for those afraid of heights.
3. Portes du Soleil (France/Switzerland) – 33p per km
Another entry for France is the Portes du Soleil. Comprised of three main resorts, Morzine, Avoriaz and Les Gets, this huge ski area has an incredible 650km of piste. What’s more, you can also ski two countries in one day by heading over to Switzerland for lunch. While here, compare who does the better fondue, the Swiss or the French. Morzine and Les Gets are located at a slightly lower altitude and offer a more traditional feel, with classic hotels throughout the town. For the best views, stay in the Hotel Le Viking located at the top of the Morzine Gondola, giving 360 degrees of stunning scenery. Avoriaz is in line with the more modern French purpose built resorts, with most of its hotels having ski to door hotels. Most of the accommodation here is self catering, from small basic apartments to luxury spacious ones with modern and relaxing spa areas like the L’Amara apartments.
2. Zillertal (Austria) – 33p per km
The Zillertal in Austria covers an incredible 625km of piste over numerous ski areas, but is available on one great pass. This means you can experience completely different surroundings each day, and investigate important questions such as which resort serves the best strudel? Red run riders will find themselves in their element here, with a fantastic variety of intermediate pistes to test their skills on. The most renowned resort in the Zillertal has to be Mayrhofen, with its large ski area and almost legendary après bars providing a great way to finish a day on the hill. As ever with Austria the Zillertal offers some beautiful picture perfect villages to stay in, that provide the ideal setting for a great ski holiday.
1. Dolomites (Italy) – 20p per km
The top spot justifiably goes to the largest ski area in the world. This epic ski area is often overshadowed by some of its better known European competitors. However, let’s put its size into context. If you were to build a mega lift in France and connect the resorts of Val Thorens, Meribel, Courchevel, Tignes and Val d’Isere you would still only cover 75% of the Dolomites. Even if you throw La Plagne in there, you wouldn’t quite cover the entire ski area of this Italian giant.
In total, there is over 1200km of piste. That’s more than double the Three Valleys. Within this vast mountain range you will find some of the most challenging skiing in Europe, with red and black runs that will put even the best techniques to the test. Skiing around the Dolomites will provide some of the most jaw-dropping scenery that mountains can provide. You may find progress slow, as you continue to stop for photo breaks. The Dolomite mountains were given UNESCO world heritage status in 2009 to ensure their continued protection for people to enjoy for generations to come.
The ultimate winners though have to be…La Clusaz and Chamrousse (France) – 0p per km
If you really want to find the absolute best value lift pass in Europe though, these 2 resorts win hands down. Both located in France, they both offer a lift pass at the best possible price…free. So what’s the catch? Well there isn’t one. Travel with us to either of these resorts and you’ll receive a free lift pass for the entire duration of your stay. They are both good sized resorts (Chamrousse 92km, La Clusaz 130km) with runs for all abilities. The bonus of the free lift pass makes them very popular with families and beginner skiers, taking the pressure away from having to buy a full lift pass and letting them progress around the resort at their own speed.
If you’re not looking to break the bank this year and make every penny count – then read our guide to going skiing on a budget.