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4 Affordable Ski Destinations in Europe

skiing in France
Allianz - skiing in France

From lift passes and equipment hire to fondues and après-ski drinks, a ski holiday can end up costing more than you bargained for. Luckily, Europe is home to some winter sports hotspots that offer great value accommodations and low-cost passes for the budget-conscious skier.

1. Brides les Baines: A Cheap Stay in the Three Valleys

Do you fancy a stay in one of Europe's most-beloved ski resorts, without spending your life savings? Then book a trip to Brides les Baines. Located just beneath the upscale Meribel Resort, this small spa town houses affordable guesthouses and B&Bs at a fraction of the cost of those swanky resorts found higher up on the mountains. The only downside is the 25-minute gondola ride you'll have to take to get to the main ski lifts. However, once you see the reasonable room rates here, that's probably a compromise you'll be willing to make.

The family-owned Hotel Atlis has a heated indoor pool, sauna, hamman, bubbling hot tub and buckets of charm. All rooms are beautifully decorated with style and comfort in mind, and they also come with private balconies that overlook the snow-capped mountains. The hotel is open year round, so even if your trip is in the off-season, you can still explore the nearby scenic Vanoise National Park or be pampered at one of the wellness centers dotting town. Best of all, Grenoble Isere Airport and Chambery Airport are both located less than an hour's drive away from Brides les Baines.

2. Alpbach: Luxury Accommodation on a Lemonade Budget

Allianz - Alpbach Austria

For cute chocolate box-style chalets and a small village vibe, the pretty postcard-perfect town of Alpbach will tick all the right vacation boxes. Centered around a historic church, a stay here is sure to wow nature lovers and skiers alike. The neighboring Auchenwirt is where you'll find over 145 kilometers of mixed pistes, two long top-to-bottom runs and several beginner's slopes, as well as plenty of off-piste skiing opportunities in the southern area of the Alpbach Valley.

Pension Gratlspitz is one of the cheapest three-star hotels in Alpach, and the complimentary breakfast and cozy rooms make it an excellent choice for those seeking a wallet-friendly Austrian base. For a touch of luxury, check-in to the Hotel Boglerhof. While room rates in this four-star hotel are unsurprisingly higher, it's the ski pass package deals that still keep this four-star hotel in the budget category. The nearest airport to vogel ski Alpach is Innsbruck Airport, which is a 50-minute drive away.

3. Borovets: Bargain-Basement Skiing in Bulgaria

Allianz - Borovets Bulgaria

Bulgaria is fast becoming Eastern Europe's darling ski destination for shoestring travelers. Conveniently located less than an hour's drive from the capital city, in the eastern part of the Rila Mountains, Borovets has excellent ski conditions throughout winter. The many ski slopes cater for beginner, intermediate and advanced skiers, and cross-country skiing, night skiing and ski-doo are also offered here. Aside from the 58 kilometers of pistes, there is also a lively nightlife scene, plus boutiques and a host of authentic restaurants.

Festa Winter Palace Hotel is a firm favorite with Borovet's regulars; aside from the cheap rates, the hotel is nestled in a pine forest, has an indoor spa and pool and a fully-equipped fitness center. Even better, it is just 100 meters away from the gondola ski lift. The nearby villages of Govedartsi, Beli Iksar and Samokav also offer low-cost accommodations that are within easy reach of the slopes. The nearest airport is Sofia Airport. You can book a transfer to take you from arrivals to your hotel, or pick up a rental car at the airport.

4. Vogel: Superb Slopes Suitable for Beginners

Allianz - Vogel Ski

Novice skiers will fare well booking a trip to the Slovenian town of Vogel. With its scenic tree-lined chutes, nearby aqua-marine Lake Bohinj and Triglav National Park, Vogel is surrounded by areas of natural beauty. When it comes to skiing, many of the runs are suited to newbies and intermediate skiers, but one black run that makes its way from the 1,800-meter peak of Sija down to the resort's base caters to thrill-seekers with a little more experience. Negatives include limited lifts and an almost non-existent nightlife, but if you're solely after a cheap spot to hit the slopes or take in mountain views, then Vogel is for you.

Merjasec Mountain Inn has self-catering wooden studios that can sleep up to four guests, and they come with separate living spaces, kitchenettes, private balconies and satellite TV. A bonus is that the ski lift is just 150 meters away from the hotel entrance. Other popular cheap stays include Chalet Burja, Chalet Rusa and Hostel Murka.

Savvy travelers use a number of tricks to further reduce the cost of their holiday. If possible, plan your trip in the low season, stay in a self-catering apartment, buy packages deals, hire a car and self-drive into the mountains, search for Airbnb accommodation and book early or last-minute. Travel insurance is a must for all winter sports, so remember to book yours before you depart on your adventure. Happy skiing!

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