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Discovering Adventure: Winter Travel on a Budget

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Discovering Adventure: Winter Travel on a Budget

The clocks have gone back, it’s dark and it's cold. I therefore believe we’re all fully justified in starting to have a good think about that most magical time of the year … ski season. Or if like me, you enjoy both feet strapped to a singular mass of wood and fiberglass, snowboarding season.

Now when thinking about European ski destinations, it has to be the Alps right…? I mean, the Alps are beautiful, stunning even, they are a skiing and snowboarding paradise, but they aren’t half expensive too! A week spent on blues, reds and blacks can easily set you back £1000 per head once you’ve factored in flights, transfers, accommodation, hire, lessons, meals and après. I daresay it's money well spent, memories over material! However, it’s still a lot of money and not necessarily within everyone’s budget, especially once you’ve factored in Xmas and NYE.

Fear not though, for whilst the Alps are amazing, there are a number of alternatives if you’re in need of a snow fix, but on a budget. Powder can still be found, log fires can still be sat around and après ski can be enjoyed… and in some cases maybe enjoyed a little too much. We live and learn.

If you know where to look and when to book, a snow holiday can be just as affordable as any other.


A bit left of field, but base yourself in Sarajevo and you’re within 45 minutes of two different snow resorts – Jahorina and Bjelašnica. Both resorts have a history in the 1984 Winter Olympics, so it’s safe to say they’re of a certain calibre. Having different resorts to choose from each morning is always nice, so too is the option to have a day off in the city…

Sarajevo itself is also great spot for history buffs and those of you who like to sit with coffee in hand and watch the world go by. As with any winter holiday, there is always the chance of there not being enough snow and so having a backup plan such as exploring a city like Sarajevo, or even getting to train down to Mostar for a day or two is certainly an option. I know this from experience.

  • 6 Day lift Pass – 170KM/£78

Jahorina Sarajevo


Just a short hop from Krakow, Zakopane and its surrounding areas are fast becoming a new fave with budget seeking snow fans. It’s not the biggest resort, or should I say resort s. One of the big pluses of this part of the world is the different number of resorts/mountains/hills all within close proximity, this obviously adds a nice amount of variety. The drawback to this however is that the different areas are not linked and all require different lift passes. That’s a bit of a hassle admittedly, but some vodka will help numb that pain, as will prices versus what you would pay in the Alps.

 Krakow, Zakopane

Photo source: - 25777650@N08


High above the city of Brasov and set in the stunning Carpathian Mountains sits Romania’s most popular snow resort – Poiana Brasov. Ideal for beginners to intermediates owing to its laid back vibe, recent works have seen new snow cannons installed and the length of the slopes increased from 13.8km to 23.9km.

Transfer time from Bucharest is around 2.5 hours.

Poiana Brasov

Photo Source - - dkpto


Bansko may be a 3 hour transfer from Sofia airport, but it has powder, and a solid après scene.

The lines for the gondola each morning can stretch back some way, but another gondola is in planning. Truth be told I've experienced Bankso more than once and making first lift is tough! The après ski in resort is decent (curryoke anyone!?) and so having a lie in and heading up the mountain a little later in the morning is sometimes a necessity rather than a choice.

One run of note is the long, blue ski road which takes you all the way back down to town at the end of the day, and handily drops you back at the hire shops and on the doorstep of a few pubs. A great way to end a day.



You’ve no doubt seen countless photos of the magical looking castle at the centre of Lake Bled, but did you know that just 45 minutes from the lake is the Vogel snow centre. Granted it’s quite low altitude, but please don’t let that put you off. This spot is beautiful and that includes the gondola ride up to base camp, during which you get incredible views over Lake Bohinj.

What’s also great about this resort is that a lift pass covers the bus to and from Lake Bled each day and in turn Bled is just a 20 minute transfer from Ljubljana airport. Transfers from the airport to the slopes made easy!


Author: Neil Barnes travels the world on a budget whilst holding down a 9-5, read more about him on Backpacks and Bunkbeds

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