Winter is now just around the corner, as temperatures continue to plummet and bring masses and masses of that aesthetically pleasing but ultimately irritating white stuff. Most of us can be forgiven for turning our minds back to the summer and warmer times, but we here at In Your Pocket are looking to make the most of the extra snow. How are we going to do that? By skiing of course!
What better way to pass the time in winter than by heading up the mountains for a few downhill runs? If that doesn’t tickle you, how about watching others ski while you enjoy a glass of wine or two? Either way, booking a ski holiday is a splendid way to start 2020, so we’ve put together a few alternative options for you to ponder.
On the list below you’ll find individual ski resorts scattered about the continent of Europe, but we thought we’d start things off with an entire country: Andorra! Officially listed as the Principality of Andorra and also known by the name of the Principality of the Valleys of Andorra, is a landlocked microstate in the eastern Pyrenees, situated in a territory between France and Spain. Andorra is the 16th smallest country in the world, consisting of around 460 square kilometres of land and having no more than 77,000 citizens.
Fascinating as this is, Andorra welcomes more than 10 million tourists every year. Its breathtaking nature, well-organised infrastructure and numerous attractive locations for tourists are the main reasons which make more and more people choose to visit this county. The country has a few very well-equipped and highly professional skiing resorts with good slopes, lifts and numerous après ski activity options. Every skiing resort in Andorra offers its own set of unique additional activities – off-track skiing, ski schools for all age, a snowmobile safari and even a helicopter fly over the Pyrenees.
On a clear day you can see as many as six countries from the vantage point at Chäserrugg, and that alone is reason enough to visit this gorgeous mountain in the canton of St. Gallen. It also happens to be an excellent spot for experienced skiers and young ones alike. At just over an hour from Zurich by car it also happens to be immensely accessible.
Slovenia is a country with more stunning views than it knows what to do with, so it takes something special to stand out in that environment. Vogel does this with aplomb however, offering panoramic views of the Julian Alps and the magical Lake Bohinj. The ski resort became famous because of those views, although the 19km of piste certainly don’t do any harm either.
Latvia isn’t exactly the first country that springs to mind when ‘skiing’ is mentioned, but don’t sell the Baltic nation short on the subject. The nation’s highest peak doesn’t exactly thrust itself into the clouds above, but the downhill runs offer something different to the heavily-touristed slopes throughout the rest of the continent. Žagarkalns is the best of the bunch, but do check ahead for opening times.
It is no longer accurate to refer to Romania’s best known ski resort as a ‘secret’. Poiana Brasov has featured in travel brochures across the continent for decades, so it is somewhat surprising that serious investment didn’t come until the last couple of years. That investment was sorely needed, and Poiana Brasov is back to something approaching its best form. Skiing takes place here all the way until April, so look no further for a late ski option in 2020.
Don’t mess with the classics. Borovets is Bulgaria’s oldest ski resort, its fame dating all the way back to the final year of the 19th century when Prince Ferdinand decided to build three palaces and a hunting lodge in the area. Spectacularly thick pine forests cover the area, providing one of the most beguiling skiing aesthetics on the continent. If skiing isn’t your thing (in that case why are you reading?!), there are plenty of restaurants and cafes waiting to be enjoyed too.
If you’ll permit us the luxury, we’re going to move into the pricier section of our alternative skiing options. Heliskiing is downhill skiing that takes place far away from the traditional slopes, and access is only possible via helicopter. The craze (not entirely accurate) took off (pun intended) in the Great Caucasus Range, so get yourself to Gudauri if you’re an experienced skiier with a few hundred euros to spare.
Zagreb is currently bathing in the glory of its award-winning Christmas market, but there are plenty of reasons to visit the Croatian capital once all the twinkling lights have been put away. The Sljeme peak on Medvednica mountain above the capital is a great spot for a bit of snow-filled fun, and skiing equipment can be hired at the top.
The furore surrounding the football extravaganza that was the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia is in the rearview mirror, and the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics have long faded into a distant memory. The time to rediscover it is now – who wouldn’t want to ski on Olympic-quality slopes? Rosa Khutor is one of the best ski resorts around the southern Russian city, near to the fascinating town of Krasnaya Polyana.