With the Alps in driving distance, Europe has become a premiere destination for skiers looking to hit the hills and find some good powder, and still get a taste of luxury. Val Thorens on the border of France and Italy is the highest resort in Europe at 2300 meters and as such gets access to unique weather and cold fronts, bestowing it with high class powder snow and over 160 kilometers of interconnected runs – as a result, it is one of the more expensive weekend destinations, but also one of the most popular, not only for its skiing but also its attention to gastronomy (which world class chefs) and accommodation.
Alpe d’Huez, a central French commune which is often included in the Tour De France, is another good weekend destination, especially for more seasoned skiers who want to take a stab at the alpine. With 84 different chairlifts and hundreds of kilometers of tracks, like Val Thorens it has a long history with patrons who keep returning season after season. Alpe d’Huez is also famous for having hosted the 1968 Winter Olympics, and its infamous black Sarenne run is the single longest in the world at 16 kilometers.
If you want a bit more toned down and not quite as extreme destination, then Avoriaz is an ideal choice, hosting some of the most beautiful panoramic views of the Dents du Midi and Dents Blanches. Although equable in terms of expense, Avoriaz is unmatched in terms of the sort of sunsets it gets, which turn the peaks a deep blushed-pink. It is also one of the oldest pioneering ski-towns, with some of the their runs dating back to the 1930s.
Puy-Saint-Vincent is another great little ski resort in Europe that is affordable for the weekend ski enthusiast. It is even good for a family budget, if you intend to do the skiing with children or teens. You can find this ski town in the southern French Alps near the Italian border just on the edge of Ecrins national park. This place is home to the cheapest ski pass in the Alps, which is why it’s a favorite among budget travelers who enjoy skiing. While you won’t find any noisy clubs in this charming ski town, you will find a charming resort with plenty of activities for the whole family.
If you are a beginner and want to get skiing or snowboarding lessons from English-speaking instructors at an affordable price for your weekend ski trip, then consider venturing away from the Alps and visiting Borovets ski resort in Bulgaria. And if you enjoy nightlife, then you will love the town as it has several bustling clubs and pubs. And yes, they are just as affordable as the ski school.
For stunning nature on your weekend ski holiday, consider visiting Poiana Brasov in Romania. It has slopes for all skill levels and stunning peaks. This is the most popular ski resort in all of Romania and is an incredible value compared to the Alps resorts. And since this resort is in Transylvania, you can easily take a quick trip to Bran Castle. Or, just hang out at this small resort and enjoy the cheap food and drinks.
The Guardian recently compiled a list of the best ski resorts for the money in Europe, you can find it here.