As the ski season reaches its peak and thousands of Britons celebrate their return to the slopes, new research has found that prices in many of Europe’s most popular ski resorts have tumbled since many were last able to visit.
The annual Post Office Money ski resort report, now in its 15th year, suggests the cost of going on a ski holiday has fallen in two-thirds of the 32 resorts surveyed.
In further positive news, skiers now needn’t worry about the additional cost of Covid testing in order to hit the slopes. Compulsory testing for vaccinated travellers returning to the UK has been scrapped, and France, Austria and Switzerland no longer require all arrivals to test before their holiday.
The report, which is produced in partnership with the UK’s leading ski operator Crystal Ski Holidays, studies the prices of all the ski holiday essentials this season and last; lessons, equipment, lift passes, meals and drinks, in some of Britain’s most-loved destinations, across seven nations – to generate a realistic view of how much it costs to hit the slopes in 2022.
Resorts are ranked by the price per adult to help skiers choose a purse-friendly winter trip. It also looks at the specific costs faced by snow-loving families in 28 child-friendly resorts.
The cheapest ski resorts in Europe
Leading the budget-friendly chart are two resorts in Bulgaria – Borovets, which remains relatively untracked by British skiers, has been named the best-value resort for the third year running. Hot on its heels is the better-known resort of Bansko – the total cost of a ski holiday in both totalled £435 and £488, respectively, down by 7.3 per cent and 5.1 per cent compared to last season. Lunch on the mountain in Bulgaria over the course of a week’s holiday will set a skier back no more than £45 – this is almost three times cheaper than dining on the slopes in the most expensive resorts in the report
However, it’s Italy that comes out as the overall cheapest skiing nation among the seven surveyed – prices have fallen in all six of the resorts included in the study. Four Italian winter hotspots made the top 10 best-value, with prices in Bardonecchia falling by 10.6 per cent, compared to a year ago, to £495 – claiming it third place in the chart. The savings are obvious when comparing the essential costs – a six-day lift pass in the Italian resort totals less than £145, while in Switzerland the price is more than double.
Boosting Italy’s thrifty credentials further are Sauze d’Oulx (fourth), Sestriere (fifth) and La Thuile (seventh), with Cervinia (11th) and Selva (12th) just outside the top 10.
Resorts in Andorra have long been known for the purse-friendly credentials – this winter is no different. The nation’s most popular resort Soldeu – where a week’s supply of morning coffee stops will only set skiers back £9 – ranks eighth cheapest in Europe, with an average holiday cost of £638 per person. For those with a sense of adventure, Ruka in Finland also offers prices well below average at £648, down 7.6 per cent compared to previously, clinching it 10th place.
According to the report fans of skiing in France will only be able to find budget-friendly solace in one resort for under £700 per person – British favourite Morzine, in sixth place. Likewise, only one Austrian resort was able to clinch a spot in the top 10. A ski holiday to Ellmau (ninth), part of the SkiWelt area, totals less than £700 per person at £647 – but prices have begun to rise here (by 2.1 per cent) like many of the other Austrian (and French) resorts surveyed.
The most expensive ski resorts in Europe
At the other end of the price spectrum Switzerland, which has been the most reliable destination for restriction-free skiing for the past two years, remains the most expensive place to visit during the winter months. This is despite prices there having fallen across the board, according to the report. Zermatt, home to a raft of Michelin stars and five-star hotels, is the most expensive resort surveyed – a ski holiday here costs £1,158 per adult. Skiers will find themselves spending close to £900 on a lift pass, equipment hire and lessons combined. Prices in Wengen and Saas-Fee also exceed the £1,000 mark per person for a week too – no Swiss resorts make it into the top 20 cheapest in Europe.
France, which had nine resorts included in the survey, does offer some budget-friendly options (Morzine has been ranked the fifth cheapest resort in Europe), the majority of its resorts lie outside of the top 10. Prices in French ski resorts have also risen the most in Europe. British favourite Val d’Isere is the nation’s most expensive destination with the average price of a ski holiday totalling over £980 per person – some of the biggest expenses include a lift pass and lunches on the slopes. Resorts in the 3 Vallées ski area – Méribel (24th), Les Menuires (23rd) and Val Thorens (21st) – also have prices exceeding £800 per person for a week’s break, with prices rising in the latter two out of the three.
Austria too has its fair share of blow-the-budget destinations with party hotspot St Anton named its most expensive resort (28th) with an average price of £930 per person. A daily beer at lunchtime in St Anton’s Arlberg ski area will set skiers back £21 over a week, with wine drinkers needing to set aside £34 for a daily glass. Elsewhere Kitzbühel (27th), Obergurgl (26th) and Zell am See (25th) were all ranked as some of the most expensive destinations on the continent. Costs across Austria have also risen, with five out of the nine resorts seeing price hikes and Kitzbühel, home to the world-famous Hahnenkamm race, seeing the largest increase in costs out of all the European destinations surveyed.
Where to go for a budget-friendly family ski holiday
As well as breaking down the cost of a ski holiday per adult, the report also investigates the changing prices of family ski holidays. Studying the cost for a family of four (two adults and two children) the report reaffirms Bulgaria’s position as the leading budget ski destination – with Bansko ranked the cheapest family-focussed resort with a total cost of £1,358 for a family for a week.
Italy also positions itself as a good value choice. Five Italian resorts are ranked among the top 10 cheapest for a family trip with total prices at £2,000 and under – Bardonecchia, Sestriere, Passo Tonale, La Thuile and Cervinia. Unfortunately though, due to tough Covid rules families with unvaccinated teenagers aren’t currently able to visit this winter.
While Austria’s budget-friendly credentials took a hit when pricing a ski holiday for adults, when focusing on family-specific resorts the destination comes into its own. Mayrhofen, Scheffau and Niederau all appear in the top 10 cheapest resorts for families.
Is it safe to book a ski holiday right now?
Ski holidays are back and travel restrictions have eased, meaning there’s never been a better time to book a budget-friendly getaway. Top tips for securing your place on the pistes include booking with an Atol-bonded tour operator, or – in most cases – paying for your holiday with a credit card, you will get a refund in the event of the operator going into insolvency. Package holiday providers have a legal responsibility for your safety, so they won’t take you to a destination that the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office advises against, or if resorts are closed because of lockdown measures, and they are legally obliged to refund you for a cancellation.
Winter sport travel insurance specialists MPI Brokers and Battleface have specific policies for snow-sport fans looking for extra cover, for coronavirus, ski-specific claims or travel against Foreign Office advice.
Before booking, you need to check explicitly the policy of the operator or airline you are dealing with and whether they will allow you to cancel without penalty if travel restrictions are reintroduced or if a positive test impacts your ability to travel.