The 5 Best Places to Learn to Ski in Europe

Maybe you’ve been thinking about learning to ski or snowboard, but you’ve never quite got around to it? Maybe you think it’s too expensive, too cold or just too difficult?

 Well, I’m here to tell you that actually you should just take the plunge and do it. Learning to ski or snowboard is a ton of fun, and a great way to really enjoy and even look forward to the winter. Now when the nights draw in you’ll be thinking, ‘Awesome… Where is it snowing?’

But if you’re wondering where are the best places to learn to ski in Europe, it can be mind boggling.

I’ve chosen these great places for their beginner friendly terrain, affordability and all round fun factor. That means things like apres ski (i.e; drinking and partying) and stuff you can do besides ski and snowboarding.

 With all that in mind, where can you head to make the most of those winter months in Europe?

1. Zakopane, Poland

A two hour transfer from Krakow in the south of Poland is Zakopane. This mountain resort is a favourite of Poles and Eastern Europeans for it’s beautiful landscapes and is increasingly popular with Brits too.

I actually learned to snowboard here a few years back and this is why I’ve popped this hidden gem at number one on the list.

 Reasons to learn to ski or snowboard here include:

  • It’s cheap. Like really cheap… Both access to the resorts and lessons is about as cheap as you’re going to find anywhere in Europe.
  • The terrain is very beginner friendly. We got our snow legs at the Bialka Tatrazanska resort about 30 mins from central Zakopane, and it was great. Plenty of room to explore and not crash into anyone.
  • The apres ski is excellent. Whether you want to soothe your aching limbs in a spa, dance til the dawn or ride in a horse drawn carriage, there is plenty to do.
  • Did we mention cheap? Food and drinks are bargain prices.

We went with Whiteside Holidays who are a company owned and run by a British guy, Gaz. But there are plenty of other companies to book with, often offering all inclusive deals and super low prices.

 

ski down mountain

2. Avoriaz, France

Avoriaz is a car free resort set above the popular ski resort of Morzine. It’s part of the huge Portes du Soleil region, which offers something like 300 kms of skiable terrain. But for beginners learning to ski or snowboard it’s excellent for a few key reasons.

Much of the terrain is very beginner friendly, with wide open learner runs and options to level up if you want.

There’s enough to do if you decide you don’t want to ski one day. There are things like fat bikes, swimming pools, spas and excellent restaurants too. There are also options for winter walks or even take a day trip to nearby Annecy.

Overall Avoriaz is one of the safest options for beginners in the French Alps, and you’ll often find a decent package deal on the popular ski sites too.

3. Mayrhofen, Austria

The Austrian Alps are pretty much one big ski resort, and if you fly into Innsbruck or Salzberg, you are not far from some of the best ski terrain in the world. So picking a place for learners to ski or snowboard isn’t easy.

I loved Mayrhofen because it had a good variety of beginner friendly runs and options to go for a more daring choice. Being part of the Zillertal ski region, you also have access to multiple other ski resorts dotted along the valley here. So if you’re learning and you want a quieter slope, you can pick and choose where to go.

The scenery here is stunning, with Mayrhofen sitting at the head of the valley. But after dark, this place comes alive, with some of the best apres ski in the Alps.

I also found Austria to be quite affordable in terms of food and lessons. To be honest though, you could probably pick any Austrian ski resort and find it excellent for learning to ski or snowboard.

4. Grandvalira, Andorra

Away from the Alps and I’m gonna say that I am a massive fan of Andorra. Although the country itself is pretty much one big shopping mall in the Pyrenees (it’s a duty free hotspot), the skiing is excellent.

What makes Grandvalira in Andorra so good is that the terrain is very variable and mostly pretty beginner friendly. If you base yourself in Pas de la Casa or El Tarter you’ll have access to some great learner slopes.

I’m also a fan of the Catalan culture here, with tapas and trappings of Spanish cuisine making this a good alternative to the Alps.

One caveat is that it isn’t the cheapest place to learn to ski in Europe. But if you can find a good deal (which you often can), then it’s definitely a fun place to enjoy on skis.

Oh, and as a bonus, you might also get to check out the nearby Pal-Arinsal resort too which is slightly quieter.

Learning to ski in Europe is great fun, but where is best to go?

5. Sestriere/Sauze d’Oulx, Italy

The Via Lattea, or Milky Way, is a nicely accessible ski area in Italy, just under 2 hours by transfer from Turin. It’s also pretty big, with lots of options for beginners to find their snow legs.

Price wise, I’d say that Italy is somewhere between France and Austria for costs. You’re not going to find a bargain ski package here, but the food and drink off piste is going to be slightly less wallet damaging.

Sestriere is also an apres ski hot spot, especially on the weekends when everyone from Turin comes to party.

If you’re looking for another Italian ski resort to learn, try Livigno. A slightly longer transfer time brings you closer to the Austrian border, but you’ll have a fun time in this duty free resort.

How much does a European ski trip cost?

If you’re worried about the costs of a European ski trip, I’d say that it’s actually not that expensive. In fact, the price is probably on a par with a peak summer trip to the Med.

 You can easily find packages to some of the best European ski resorts starting from around £250 for a week, often including ski passes and bed and breakfast. Equipment rental will cost around an extra £100 for the week, and lessons another £200 right up to £500 for the week. These prices are also excluding flights and transfers.

 The best way to keep prices down is to go out of season. Aim for pre-Christmas, post-New Year and end of season. Avoid school holidays as this is when prices will spike. You’ll find some outstanding bargains in March into April, or over Christmas.