Learn German and ski, Austria

Combine zooming down the slopes with a week of language lessons at the Apple Languages school in Kitzbühel, a medieval mountain village full of chic shops and cosy cafes and one of the most famous locations in the skiing world. The small school’s director is a former ski instructor who often joins students up the mountain, where they can head every afternoon, as the German beginners’ lessons finish at 12.30pm. The bus stop for the lifts is opposite the school. Kitzbühel is the venue for the Hahnenkamm men’s downhill World Cup race each year.
From £688pp per week B&B, applelanguages.com. Fly to Munich, Salzburg or Innsbruck

Snowshoe trek, Estonia


Estonia is magical in winter, and not just in twinkling Tallinn. Smoke saunas, wild swimming, dog-sledding through snowy forests, and the national pastime of bog-walking (yup) can be booked through the tourist board. A two-day “primeval nomadic snowshoe trek” includes a night in a tipi at the Preeriakoda campsite in Rapla, 45 mins south of Tallinn.
Two-day snowshoe trek, from €139pp, visitestonia.com, extra nights from €14pp. In Tallinn, the Welcome Hostel has doubles from €47 and dorm beds from €15

Party igloo, Andorra

Igloo Hotel, Grandvalira, Andorra



Photograph: Nat Montane

The mega resort of Grandvalira is gaining popularity with its wild après ski and low prices. Three places to check out are Les Abelletes Terrace’s igloo bar, with live soul, electro and hip-hop acts; the terrace bar at the Igloo Hotel made from snow; and the Sunset Park freestyle park which stays open until 9pm. In El Tarter, the new Mountain Hostel Tarter, in a revamped 200-year-old building with outdoor whirlpool, should be great fun.
Twins from £72, dorm beds from £29, weekend package offering two-days’ lift-pass and one night in the hostel from €114pp, mountainhostel tarter.com

Snow-kiting, France

Undiscovered Mountain’s multi-activity week, French Alps


Like kite-surfing but on snow, and easier to learn, snow-kiting involves skiing or snowboarding with a kite, for added power for jumps and traverses. It’s set to be the cool new snow-sport of the season. A session can be included along with ice-climbing up frozen waterfalls, snowshoeing, and riding a super-long “snake sledge” – as well as boring old skiing – on a multi-activity week with Undiscovered Mountains, in the little-known Champsaur valley in the southern French Alps.
A week from €723pp room-only, in choice of accommodation, excl flights, undiscoveredmountains.com

Europe’s cheapest resort, Bulgaria

Bansko, Bulgaria



Photograph: Getty Images

Bansko is the most famous eastern European resort, and according to a recent Post Office report is the cheapest place to ski this season: it estimates that a week’s ski pass, equipment hire, ski lessons and lunch cost about £390pp. There are lively restaurants and après ski in the attractive old town centre. It’s a good option for beginners and those who aren’t after steep runs, though there’s good tree-skiing and mellow off-piste – hire a guide with Free Mountains.
£363pp for seven nights half-board at Hotel Pirin, with flights from East Midlands departing 12 January, sno.co.uk

Meet Eddie the Eagle, France

Eddie the Eagle.



Photograph: Alex Grimm/Getty Images

Did you see that film about British ski-jumper Eddie the Eagle that came out a few years ago? Ever wonder what he thought of it? Book one of Ski Weekends’ new short breaks to Courchevel Moriond, in Serre Chevalier, and you can ask him. The Olympic star will join four departures in January, sharing the chalet, dining with guests, skiing with them and sitting down to an evening screening of the flick. The area has a wide choice of green and blue slopes so attracts families. La Boulotte Bar is the place for après ski.
From £470pp for three nights or £789pp for seven, including return flights, transfers, and half-board, skiweekends.com

Whistler hostel, Canada

Pangea Pod Hotel, Whistler, Canada



Photograph: Sama Jim Canzian

The Canadian resort of Whistler is legendary, one of the world’s must-skis, but it’s becoming increasingly upmarket and expensive (a seven-day lift pass costs £422) and budget skiers risk being priced out. Hurrah then, for the new, smartly designed Pangea Pod Hotel, with 88 cheap-but-tiny sleeping pods arranged in small groups (some women-only). After several craft ales in its Living Room bar maybe you’ll forget you’re essentially sleeping on a shelf with curtains. There’s also a rooftop bar where hot chocolate with a dash of Baileys is the thing in winter.
From £46pp per night, pangeapod.com. Flights to Vancouver from the UK from around £500 return

Arty space station, Austria

Skyspace Lech, Austria


The US installation artist, James Turrell, known for works amid incredible scenery which make interesting use of light and the night sky, has a new project above Lech, in the Arlberg. Skyspace-Lech is an underground dome at 1,780 metres near the Schlosskopfbahn ski-lift, with an opening to the sky for spectacular twilight colour effects. Lech’s vast ski area now connects to St Anton and charming Warth-Schroeken, Austria’s snowiest resort.
Skyspace-Lech is €15pp for 40 minutes, check times, skyspace-lech.com. Stay at the friendly and foodie Lechtaler Hof (doubles from €78 B&B) in Warth. Fly to Zurich

Mountain huts, Switzerland

Lenzerheide resort



Photograph: Bernd Kammerer

Lenzerheide is a top Swiss resort renowned for its off-piste skiing and linked to Arosa, but not too familiar to Brits. For maximum immersion in incredible mountain scenery but without killer prices, source a chocolate-box pad from the hundreds of Swiss mountain huts and chalets listed on the country’s tourist board website. Oreas, for example, next to the ski slopes of Valbella, a village that’s part of the wider ski area, is a perfectly cute chalet sleeping five from £733 per week.
alp.holidaybooking.ch

Fun resort, Austria

Franz Ferdinand Hotel



Franz Ferdinand Hotel

The Cube Hotel was a game-changer when it opened in 2004 in the fun little resort of Nassfeld, Carinthia, offering a stylish ski hotel with cut-price rooms. It’s now the Franz Ferdinand hotel, and the takeover means sleeker, more grown-up rooms, including family suites, but still within an affordable price bracket. After skiing (there’s 110km of piste), choose whether to zip down the resort’s five floodlit toboggan runs, or ice-skate across natural frozen lakes. The area has reliable snowfall, too.
Doubles from €135, franz-ferdinand.at. Fly to Klagenfurt from Gatwick with easyJet

Snow camping, Scotland

Ecocamp Glenshee, Scotland


Camping in winter in Scotland and skiing its largest ski resort, Glenshee, which has 22 lifts and 36 runs, makes for a great adventure close to home. Ecocamp Glenshee, a 20-minute drive south of the ski area, has heated wooden camping pods and a shepherd’s hut, or the Modulog Howff, a large new cabin sleeping 10, with a woodburner, lounge area and fire pit. The site can arrange winter mountaineering, ice-climbing and llama trekking.
Pods from £70, shepherd’s hut from £75, Modulog Howff (sleeps 10) from £120 a night, ecocampglenshee.co.uk

Stay in style, Spanish Pyrenees

Parador de Arties



Parador de Arties

The Val d’Aran is home to rustic restaurants, epic off-piste (it’s a developing heli-ski destination) and the top class resort of Baqueira-Beret, where friendly beginner runs in gentle bowls meet terrifying double-blacks. The smart place to stay is in Artíes, a pretty village 15 minutes’ drive from the lifts. The splendid Parador de Artíes was good enough for Don Gaspar de Portola, who “discovered” California – it’s his former home, and a gem of 14th- and 15th-century architecture. Another hotel, Casa Irene, is the place to eat.
Doubles at Parador de Artíes from €100 room-only. Fly to Toulouse, then hire a car

Eastern promise, Turkey

Dedeman Palandoken Ski Lodge, Erzurum, Turkey.



Dedeman Palandoken Ski Lodge

Swap après ski bars for something more adventurous and cultural on a ski trip to Turkey. The prime resort of Palandöken in Eastern Anatolia, north-east Turkey, is the country’s highest at 3,125 metres, with incredible powder but no western tourists. Close to the Silk Road city of Erzurum, home to the beautiful Ulu Cami mosque and the 13th-century Çifte Minareli Medrese, it’s a fascinating place to ski – though you can forget about finding a cool boutique ski hotel here. The Dedeman Palandoken Ski Lodge is one of a handful of rather corporate hotels by the slopes, with bright rooms, and a gym.
Doubles from €58 a night, dedeman.com. Two-hour flights from Istanbul to Erzurum with Turkish Airlines cost from £40 return

Here for the rides – and the beer, Slovakia

Slovakia freeride Jasna Low Tatras



Freeriding in Jasná

Skiing in the Low Tatra mountain resort of Jasná is no longer to be sneered at. Over €200m has been invested in the resort over the last five years, and now 12 freeride zones, 49km of pistes and lively après (beers are €2.50) make it a contender. Try the cooly-styled Dragon’s Lair chalet, whose bar famously hosts live music.
A week costs from £475pp half-board for a group of 16 booking whole chalet, or double rooms from £596pp for five nights half-board, including ski-pass and transfers, dragonslairjasna.co.uk. Fly Wizz Air from Luton to Tatry Poprad

Stars and ski-touring French Pyrenees

Pic du Midi de Bigorre



Photograph: Alamy

The 40 resorts in the French Pyrenees may be less well-known than those on the Spanish and Andorran side, but the skiing’s ace and huge amounts of snow have been known to fall (the area received more than anywhere else in the world in 2013). Grand Tourmalet has 110km of runs and an impressive freeride zone beneath the Pic du Midi, where you can visit the observatory at 2,877 metres, and even spend the night.
Les Cailloux chalet in Bareges (sleeps up to 14, from £450pp per week half-board) is a good base for snowshoeing, with trails from the door, and ski-touring (guided snowshoe weeks from £895pp, introduction to ski touring weeks £1,170pp). Ryanair flies from Stansted to Tarbes-Lourdes

Culture, Kyrgyzstan

Dried fruits in Osh Bazaar, Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan.Bishkek, Kytgyzstan



Osh Bazaar in Bishkek. Photograph: Ozbalci/Getty Images

The mountainous Central Asian country draws summer hikers with its incredible scenery, yurt settlements and ancient culture, but winter tourists can combine that with high-altitude downhill thrills. After a night in the capital Bishkek, for kebabs, craft beer, art and bazaars, travellers visit Cholpon Ata on Issyk Kul lake, the 11th-century Burana tower, then spend two days riding Karakol ski base in the Tian Shan mountains.
A week from £990pp, incl B&B, some meals, excursions and guide, with TravelLocal, excl flights. Return flights from London with one stop cost from about £400 Dec-Feb

Early season packages, USA

Breckenridge, Colorado



Breckenridge

Most skiers want to visit US slopes at least once, to experience those old wild west towns, cowboy bars and fantastic tree-skiing. Getting there for under a grand for flights and accommodation is tricky, but it’s possible if you’re willing to take a chance on the snow and travel in early December. The old mining town of Breckenridge is a great option, with 187 runs, powder bowls, and those old-time facades in town. Free bus shuttles, a free tour of the slopes every day and a fat-bike excursion around the growing crop of craft ale bars ($100pp) are our top tips.
A 7-night stay at the Residence Inn Marriott in Breckenridge is £1,049pp B&B incl flights from Heathrow for 8 Dec departures, crystalski.co.uk

Thermal baths, Italy

Bagni Vecchi, Bormio, Italy



Photograph: QC Terme

Bormio, in the upper Valtellina valley of northern Italy has a major selling point, aside from the skiing: natural thermal waters. Some of the centuries-old bathing pools have been incorporated into the spa complex of the luxurious QC Terme hotel (day spa from €44pp), including two cave-like tunnels flooded with hot water. Medieval buildings, fab pizza and Italian wines add to the town’s appeal, with good intermediate skiing, too.
Hotel Nevada, with smart rooms of wood and grey textiles, plus spa, has doubles from €103 B&B or €151 half-board. Fly to Milan

Train ride to a remote hut, Switzerland

Wooden huts covered by snow near Andermatt/Sedrun



Photograph: Michal Stipek/Getty Images

Andermatt is a serious ski resort (you can’t beat the north face of the Gemstock on a powder day), and this winter its Ski Arena will be fully linked to Sedrun, the result of a three-year project. Beyond the marked pistes, though, is a backcountry wonderland for experienced ski-tourers. For a really independent ski trip, you can catch the Sierre to Disentis train and disembark at Oberalppass, then clip in immediately to ski into the Val Maighels. There, the Camona da Maighels hut is one of the most welcoming in the Alps.
Hut £60pp (less for kids) per night half-board. Fly to Geneva then take train to Sierre, maighelshuette.ch

Railways and cabins, Norway

Ski Safari holiday in Norway. Geilolia Forest Cabins.


A mesmerising ride on one of Europe’s steepest standard-gauge railways from the pretty village of Flåm can now be added as a stop-off for Ski Safari’s ski trips in Geilo. The Flåm line runs 20km from sea level (beside Norway’s deepest fjord, Sognefjord) up to Myrdal, at 863 metres, with amazing views. Accommodation is in a forest cabin in Geilolia, a little satellite resort connected to Geilo. There’s a wide array of activities other than skiing, including fat-biking on snow and ice-fishing.
Seven nights at Geilolia Forest Cabins costs from £515pp in a cabin sleeping four, including flights, skisafari.com. A night in Flåm costs £99pp

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