The chances of a white Christmas in Ireland this year are 4/1 if you live in Dublin or 6/1 if you live in Cork according to Paddy Power. Not the worst odds, but still, the chances of being able to crack out the skis across Ireland this Christmas are, as always, pretty slim!
Unless you’re planning on hitting the dry slopes up at Kilternan Ski Club, you may need to look further abroad to find those elusive fresh tracks. Not to worry, there are hundreds of options for skiers just a few hours away in Europe. While you may think you can’t go too wrong as long as you have plenty of snow, it’s always nice to know what else a destination can offer you.
So whether you’re a beginner looking to learn or a pro who can’t wait to tear it up off-piste, it’s important to know where the hottest - or should we say coldest - destinations are.
Here are three of our favourite ski destinations for the upcoming winter season.
1. Best for families: Les Trois Vallées, France
As the biggest linked ski area in the world, Les Trois Vallées (Three Valleys) is perfect for a group of skiers with different abilities. With more than 600km worth of slopes across 330 marked pistes, along 180 different lifts, Les Trois Vallées is a true juggernaut of a ski area.
Kids can learn on the Inuit piste in the Méribel resort, while more advanced skiers will have no trouble finding a slope to match their ability in this winter wonderland.
No matter how long you go, you’ll never find the time to experience all of the wonders Les Trois Vallées has to offer. You might just find yourself coming back because the resorts all stay open until at least late April, so they’re an option for midterm or Easter too. Topflight.ie has prices starting from around €650 per person in Méribel Valley.
2. Best for luxury: Lech, Austria
Sticking with the Alps, Lech is one of the most famous skiing areas in the world, and it's even said that Princess Diana used to ski there. If you go to Lech, you will get a real ski experience. Good quality snow is a near guarantee in this part of Austria, something that is often overlooked by novices when booking.
Thanks to the new gondola link to Warth, Lech has never had this many skiing options. All the while, its proximity to Zürs only adds to the attraction. If you’re feeling extra adventurous, then you can try going off-piste, which is extremely popular in this area. Just remember to take the proper precautions.
As one of the most truly charming resorts in the world, it’s no wonder that Lech is so popular year after year. And the lively après-ski scene certainly doesn’t do its reputation any harm.
3. Best for value: Jasna, Slovakia
With the cost of living crisis seemingly not about to end anytime soon, a budget ski holiday might well be on the cards for the upcoming winter. There are several options available but we’ve gone for the Slovakian resort at Jasna which is generally considered one of the cheapest places to ski in all of Europe.
Slovakia might not be a country that immediately comes to mind with skiing, but there are certainly many excellent locations that lie away from Europe’s iconic Alps region. Jasna comes with over 40 km worth of runs, along with 23 lifts or cable cars, and is varied enough to cater for all levels and ambitions.
Ticket prices are low, as is the accommodation, with the excellent Hotel Galeria Thermal Bešeňová a gorgeous location with room prices that are almost unmatched in other ski resorts for the same level of quality.
4. Tips for saving money this ski season
As we move towards the end of 2022, there remains plenty of uncertainty and financial worries are a big part of this. Ski holidays can be incredibly expensive but there are a few ways you can keep overall costs down.
You may think you’ve found the perfect ski trip. But by the time you add on the cost of ski hire, lift pass and lessons it can really add up. It’s also well worth looking out for deals with lift pass and ski hire included or booking accommodation and budget flights separately.
Snowtrex.ie allows you to book a hotel and ski pass together and already has some excellent deals, including a package in Valfréjus in France from €169 per person. This includes a lift pass valued at €178. The nearest airport is Grenoble which is served by Ryanair.
There’s a little more work involved in putting a trip together yourself but this is a good option if you have the time to research it. It’s also a good idea to subscribe to the Skiworld mailing list, which is an excellent way of staying updated with the latest ski deals.
Travel in a group if possible
Generally speaking, the larger the group the cheaper the price. If there’s the possibility of booking a holiday along with another family, you could find yourself seeing some significant savings compared to if you just went on two separate holidays.
Obviously, this doesn’t mean you have to spend every moment of the day with them, and even if you are just sharing a chalet you should see a sizable price difference.
Travel outside of peak times
We know that if you have kids this becomes virtually impossible as peak times tend to neatly coincide with school holidays, but for those travelling without children, booking outside of these periods will save you a considerable sum.
Yes, it is lovely to be in a quaint ski town during Christmas and New Year’s, but you are paying a premium for the privilege. January (after the schools have reopened) always seems to be one of the cheapest times to go skiing.
Another great option to lower costs while on a ski holiday is to book self-catering accommodation. This gives you a much greater degree of flexibility and means that you can eat out some days and eat in on others.
When you’re booking a ski holiday it can be all too easy to focus simply on accommodation, ski passes and flights, but if you’re eating out three times a day for a week, that’s going to put a huge dent in your wallet. Self-catering accommodation will normally come with basic cooking utensils and equipment that allows you to keep your budget lower by cooking at home.
Lastly…don’t forget your Insurance!
Skiing is not necessarily the safest way to spend your time - it's incredibly fun and thrilling at times - but accidents do happen and the last thing you need is to be saddled with a large hospital bill after an incident.
Before you head off skiing don’t forget your Travel Insurance from 123.ie. We’ll cover you for skating, skiing and even husky-sledge driving, so whatever your winter sports plans, get in touch with us first.