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Many people assume that a ski break is going to be expensive. Here at Hostelworld.com we beg to differ and we’ve compiled a list of top winter break destinations where you can enjoy a budget ski holiday.
1. Whistler, Canada
Visited by huge numbers of people each year, Whistler in British Columbia, Canada is a skier’s paradise. Whistler itself is a pedestrian-only town with plenty of other attractions for when the day’s skiing ends. When it comes to the slopes, the Whistler Blackcomb ski area covers over 8,100 skiable acres spread out across two mountains. This encompasses in excess of 200 trails, 38 lifts and even some glaciers. It’s no wonder that this winter wonderland was the official alpine skiing venue for the 2010 Winter Olympics.
2. Interlaken, Switzerland
One of the most traditional resorts in Europe, Interlaken is situated in the heart of the Swiss Alps, between the lakes of Thun and Brienz at the foot of a famous trio of peaks, namely the Eiger, the Monch and the Jungfrau. The Junfrau region provides 113 miles of downhill trails served by 45 cable cars and lifts. For the extreme-adventurer there is heli-skiing, heli-boarding, ice hiking and many other activities to get the adrenaline pumping.
3. Sapporo, Japan
One of the world’s most famous Asian ski resorts, Sapporo was the host of the 1972 Winter Olympics. Some of the popular skiing areas here include Sapporo Teine, Sapporo Moiwayama, Sapporo Kokusai, Mokomanai and Rusutsu Resort. From beginners to experts, all levels of skill are catered for and there’s a huge variety of runs to try. Sapporo is also the home of the popular Snow Festival, one of the largest events of its kind in Japan. Taking place each February, this festival attracts around 2 million visitors from around the world.
4. Carrbridge, Scotland
Not many people would think of the UK as a ski destination but Carrbridge in Scotland is just that. When the snow is good in Scotland, Scottish skiing is right up there with some of the best in Europe. Cairngorm and Aviemore offer skiers and boarders some of the best and most challenging runs in Scotland and there is also plenty of off-piste skiing which is popular with snow boarders. The tops of the mountains are relatively flat so if cross-country is your thing there are plenty of routes for you to follow. If you need a break from the slopes, the Cairngorm Sleddog Adventure Centre offers you the chance to experience a few adrenaline-filled hours of handling a team of dedicated sled dogs.
5. Breckenridge, USA
At Breckenridge Ski Resort, you can enjoy quality skiing on 155 different trails which are suitable for various different levels of proficiency. There are plenty of other winter activities to enjoy here too, including ice skating, sleigh rides and sledding. After you’ve spent some time sampling the skiing, you can also check out the town of Breckenridge which has plenty to offer in terms of shopping, bars and restaurants. It also boasts some interesting historic attractions including the Barney Ford House Museum.
6. Chamonix, France
Based in the heart of the Alps and with the stunning Mont Blanc for a backdrop, Chamonix is one of the most famous ski resorts in the world and is rightly considered one of the best spots for a skiing holiday. It offers a multitude of fantastic runs based in three main areas and three smaller areas. A number of world-class events take place throughout the ski season in Chamonix adding yet another dimension to this exciting resort.
7. Salt Lake City, USA
The Wasatch Mountains are just a short drive from Utah’s Salt Lake City and are home to seven top-notch ski resorts. These include the Alta Ski Area which is a favourite with locals, Powder Mountain Resort which is one of the largest ski areas in the US and Snowbird, one of the biggest resorts in the area. Popular with both skiers and snowboarders, the numerous slopes near Salt Lake City provide wonderful winter fun for everyone from beginners to experts.
8. Bad Gastein, Austria
Bad Gastein is one of Austria’s skiing gems. With 200 kilometres of slopes and optimal skiing conditions, this is a resort that deserves to be visited. Winter sports enthusiasts, families with children, casual winter hikers and athletic ice climbers can all find their slice of paradise here. The numerous hot springs that feed the spas of Gastein offer the perfect place to relax after a day of skiing.
9. Rossland, Canada
One of the top ski resorts in North America, Rossland’s Red Mountain Resort has 88 different runs and six lifts. Skiers and snowboarders will both be happy at this resort, with something available for beginners on up. The town of Rossland, which is located very close to the US border in the province of British Columbia in Canada, has plenty of après ski activities to offer visitors consisting of numerous shops, bars, restaurants and more.
10. High Tatras Ski Hostels, Slovakia
High Tatras in Slovakia is a spot where budget skiers can enjoy great skiing and cheap beer (preferably not at the same time). The best known slopes here are around Strbske Pleso and Tatranska Lomnika. The former offers some of the best cross-country skiing in the world as well as night skiing, while the latter remains more low-key but offers some of the more difficult runs in the region. When you’re there make sure to take a cable car ride up to the summit of Lomnicky Stit for spectacular views of a glacial lake and a dramatic view of all the Tatras.
11. Lillehammer, Norway
Host to the 1994 winter Olympics and just two hours from Oslo’s airport, Lillehammer offers ski lovers a wide range of unique opportunities including off-piste skiing and hundreds of miles of Olympic cross country trails through forested or mountain terrain. For the less extreme skier, there are numerous less advanced runs to suit every level of ability. The bustling town of Lillehammer also offers an abundance of alternatives for those not wishing to take to the slopes including adrenaline filled bob sledding and bob rafting. Four-man bob sledding is the ultimate experience - riding on a genuine Olympic style bob sled that reaches speeds of 120km/hr.