Ski holidays can be costly, but one thing is for sure - they are worth every cent! In this article we'll go through what costs you should consider and what the total cost actually is. We've also included some handy tips how to save money during your ski trip!
The question everyone asks before considering changing their life (for the better) by booking a skiing holiday, is how much does a skiing holiday cost? Without a doubt, a skiing holiday is going to be more expensive than your beach break, as there are many additional costs that are an essential part of the trip, which comes out more pricey than sitting on a beach with a towel for 6 days, but all these additional costs can become a minefield and difficult to budget if you're not expecting it. So we want to make this easy, lay it all out and get to the point, breaking it down by the essentials for any skiing holiday.
There are few things we can be sure of in life, but one thing we can be certain of is that even if your skiing holiday is stretching the purse strings, you won’t regret it!
Now, let’s dive into the actual costs. There are things you should consider booking beforehand and things like restaurants and food that you don’t necessarily need to plan or consider before hitting the resort. Also ski schools and lift passes can be organised and bought straight from the resort, but booking online in advance might save you a nice amount of euros. Same goes with your flights and transfers, we recommend booking well ahead in time to get the best deals!
The flights themselves are not really the expensive part, as many of the European budget airlines have regular routes in the winter season that go to the main airports considered to be the gateways to the Alps (think Geneva, Milan, Innsbruck, Lyon, Turin to name a few). Flights to Geneva, Milan or Innsbruck can be around 100€ return if you book well enough in advance. However, you do have to account for the extra luggage you may take, as those woolly jumpers, helmets, ski jackets and ski pants are not the most streamlined for packing. If you own the equipment, such as skis and boots, then you have to book an extra ski bag, which is on average 50€ each way. In this case, you may want to look at the more premium airlines such as SwissAir and BA which have ski carriage included in the fare and can sometimes work out similar fare as the budget.
By landing in one of the major airports in Europe, you will find the transfer to some resorts to be less than an hour drive, such as Geneva to Morzine. Whilst others can be a hefty 3-4 hours. The easiest way to get from the airport to your resort and back is by booking a shuttle service, and there are lots of different companies that do this and they often take you door to door. This can often be an expensive option though, pricing at least 100€ per person.
If you love the freedom and fancy the adventure of driving through the mountainous roads yourself then you can hire a car at the airport. For a 7 day hire, it starts at around 450€, increasing with the swankiness of the ride. But if there are more of you, then this works out as a fun and economical option, for example, if you fill a car it could be around 120€ per person return (inc. petrol).
Another option, which tends to work out the cheapest, is getting public transport from the airport. Most airports have train stations and Europe has famously inexpensive fares. Many resorts also have train stations, such as St Anton in Austria, which has a direct line from Innsbruck to the resort, costing as little as 10 € each way. However, watch out for local taxi fares up the mountain, which could cost you 100 € one way. Do your research on transfers, as efficiency to get to the resort is key to getting on those skis quicker!
There are many different options for accommodation in ski resorts, it's difficult to decide, but the one thing that tends to remain the same is the closer to the slopes and the centre of town, the more expensive accommodation can be. The hotels tend to be well placed, but are most likely your more expensive option. However, because you are barely in the room, you may want to keep it simple and book a basic B&B for around 100-150€ a night. The fancy hotels will of course be more expensive, but you may get perks such as spa facilities or a free shuttle straight to the lifts.
Catered chalets are a special experience and are popular in the French and Swiss resorts. You can get a luxury catered chalet with all meals, your own chalet hosts and a swimming pool starting at around 15 000€ a week (can go up to 100 000€+). But it can also work out being economical if there are lots of you, with some chalet companies charging only around 1500 € a week per person, saving you money on meals out and drinks (and yes that means all the wine you can drink!).
Skiing doesn’t have to be about fancy hotels and fur coats, many are solely focused on the love of the sport, so luxury is not essential. Many of the bigger ski resorts have hostels and apartment rentals that could cost you less than 100€ a night.
If this is your first time hitting the slopes, we recommend you rent your ski equipment in the resort, before you invest in your own gear. There will be the option of beginner, intermediate, and advanced equipment depending on your experience level. The beginner will of course be the cheapest option but don't sell yourself short, get the right level for yourself.
You will need to hire skis (and poles) or snowboard, ski or snowboard boots and a helmet. The average price for the whole package in Europe is between 100 to 200€ for 6 days of rental. You can also rent your ski jackets and pants, but of course, we recommend you buy your own, for comfort, quality, and style. Ski jackets and ski pants will always be an investment purchase that can carry you through the winter, no matter where you are.
A lift pass is like your key to the mountain and to inevitable good times, so, of course, it is an essential purchase. The beauty of the lift passes is that you will often be given many different options of passes at different prices, for example, half-day or Flexi-day options, area pass or a single resort pass.
Lift passes in Europe are often subject to how many kilometres of piste there are, for example, the likes of Val D’Isere/ Tignes in France there is 300km, whilst Pila in Italy, only has 70km. On average, 6 days of skiing can cost between 250 to 300€, whilst a day pass can be as little as 40€. It does work out better value for money, the more days you have the pass.
Ski lessons are always encouraged when you are starting out on your snowsports adventure, but it's also recommended to have the odd lesson even once you’re feeling smug on the slopes, to keep the skills fresh.
If you are just starting out, you may want to go into group lessons or ski school (no one is too cool for ski school). You and a group at a similar level can book to do 2 to 3 hours (a half-day) for 6 days, costing from 200€, up to 350€ at peak season. Or you can get private lessons, one on one, or with your friends/family, which can cost anywhere between 50€ to 150€ an hour.
Ski lessons also may vary in price depending on your skillset, for example, a beginner or child's lesson will be cheaper than an advanced off-piste lesson.
Food in ski resorts is not always the cheapest, but it's worth every penny. Think about fueling your body with the best cheese, bread, and meats to keep you fit and strong for the slopes. If you get breakfast at your accommodation, this is the best way to carb up in the morning which saves you from buying breakfast on the mountain. Although typically in Europe, a croissant and coffee won’t cost much more than 5€.
At lunch, there tend to be many options on the mountain, which may not be the cheapest places in the resort, but are always the best spots for a rest and amazing views. To keep it simple, most mountain restaurants offer quick sandwiches and chips which cost on average 5 to 8€. Or you can unwind by a cosy fire in a log cabin and tuck into a more substantial meal. Big mountain lunches will cost anything from 10-15€ for a bowl of pasta or 25€+ for meat dishes.
Most mountain towns offer relaxed options, such as pizzeria’s costing around 15€ a person. But there are a lot of local cuisines to try which are worth splashing out on. For example, in the Swiss and French Alps, you can get local cheese fondue costing 25€+ a person, with sides. In Italy you can find meat dishes from the local farms, costing on average 20€ for a main course.
Of course, there is also the beer to take into consideration, which can cost anything from 5€ for a large and up to 10€ depending on the establishment and the resort.
To map this all out and help you visualise all the costs, we have put together a mock spending sheet. We have planned an epic 1 week, 6 days 7 nights mountain adventure, in Les Deux Alpes, France. We have based this on flights from London to Geneva in late January. The price is the average for 1 person who is not a beginner.
Flights -From London Gatwick to Geneva, British Airway +, 23kg bag allowance, return.
Transfer - Car hire for 2 people, VW Golf, plus €80 petrol for 7 days
Accomodation - 7 nights, double room shared with 1 other, 2* hotel, 350 yards from ski lift, breakfast included.
Lift Pass - Big Area 6 day ski pass
Ski Hire - Blues ski pack inc. skis, poles, boots and helmet. 6 days
Food - Average lunch €20 €, average dinner €40 x7
Other - Average €10 each day on coffees, water, snacks, a couple of days apres ski drinks money, plus extra for 1x 1 hour private ski lesson at €70.
Insurance - 7 days travel insurance, including winter sports cover
Total estimated cost
On top of planning, these extra tips and hacks can save you fair bit of money during your ski holiday.
So there you have it, we hope in a long-winded but informative manner, we have fully addressed the question of how much does a skiing holiday cost. The key point here is that there are options of doing a skiing holiday on a budget, options for living it a little more freely and options to splurge. Skiing holidays and most resorts cater to all three types, so you can live your best life in the mountains, no matter the money in your pocket. Research and plan accordingly and we know it will be the best decision (and holiday) you will ever go on.