Ski day passes ranked: Where to find affordable skiing at top European resorts

Affordable skiing on the horizon - a view of Bansko in Bulgaria
Affordable skiing on the horizon - a view of Bansko in Bulgaria Copyright  Vitaliy Paykov via Unsplash
By Saskia O'Donoghue
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While the average cost of a day’s skiing has shot up in the last near-decade, it’s still entirely possible to find places that won’t break the bank.

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Skiing is more often than not associated with the rich and, while resorts in the likes of Switzerland, Italy and France can cost a great deal, there are less expensive alternatives.

A new study has found that the average price of ski day pass prices across Europe has risen from €47.40 in 2015 to €66.46 in 2023/24. That’s an increase of some 34.8% above inflation.

Radical Storage, a luggage and ski equipment storage company, has been analysing the cost of the passes at 100 popular European resorts since 2015.

Resorts in Switzerland, perhaps unsurprisingly, make up 9 out of 10 of the most expensive day passes, with northern Italy rounding out the list.

Spots on the Matterhorn - like Zermatt, ​Breuil-Cervinia and ​Valtournenche - charge the most by far. There, a day pass will cost you €108.00 for every day you’re on the slopes.

Even Grindelwald-Wengen, also in Switzerland, which comes in in tenth place on the most expensive list, charges €78 - a figure out of reach for many.

If you are keen to see some snow this winter, though, you might want to cast your net further afield and to more affordable destinations in Europe. Here are some of the best value for money resorts - and day passes - on the continent.

France: Where are the cheapest ski resorts?

If you’re wedded to the idea of skiing in the Alps but Switzerland is out of your price range, you could cross over into France and, namely, the Espace Diamant resort. It’s been found to be the most affordable in the region, with a peak season day pass costing €47.50. That’s half the cost of many resorts in Switzerland and it’s within a 90-minute drive of Geneva with easy access to the ever-popular Mont Blanc.

Saint-Lary-Soulan is another French option. Situated in the Pyrenees region, passes cost €52 for a day’s skiing.

Visit an affordable winter wonderland at Saint-Lary-Soulan, France
Visit an affordable winter wonderland at Saint-Lary-Soulan, FranceMehdi-Thomas BOUTDARINE via UnSplash

Serbia: Cheapest skiing in Europe

If cost is more your priority than location, choosing to ski in eastern Europe’s fast-growing resorts could be for you.

Serbia comes in with the cheapest day pass in Europe. The Kopaonik resort in the south of the country will cost you €37 for each day you hit the slopes.

Only slightly more pricey is Bansko in neighbouring Bulgaria. A town at the foot of the Pirin Mountains, it’s well established as a resort - and a day pass will set you back just €46. Read our full skiing Bansko guide.

Scandinavia: Surprisingly cheap skiing in Norway, Finland and Sweden

Scandinavia may well not be on your radar for ski resorts - but it has plenty of them and many are affordable, too. They have also experienced less warm weather this season, meaning the snow quality is likely to be high.

Although the region is known for its relatively high cost of living, the same can’t be said for many snow spots.

In fact, a day’s skiing in Kläppen, Sweden will cost you just €44. The destination boasts great reviews as well as 26 km of slopes and elevations of between 340m and 655m.

Cross the border into Finland and you will find the nation’s largest resort, Levi. For €51.50 a day, you are guaranteed excellent snow - and, due to its privileged permission in the heart of Lapland, you may even catch a glimpse of the northern lights.

Go slightly further west and you will discover Hafjell in Norway. At €53 for a day pass, it’s a truly world class resort, having hosted the alpine skiing technical events at the 1994 Winter Olympics - and managing to maintain that standard ever since.

You could catch a glimpse of the stunning Northern Lights if you choose to ski in Scandinavia
You could catch a glimpse of the stunning Northern Lights if you choose to ski in ScandinaviaHendrik Morkel via Unsplash

Austria: Hit well-maintained slopes at a low cost

Leave Scandinavia behind and travel into Austria and you’ll find not one, but two very well priced resorts - Tauplitz-Bad Mitterndorf and Kühtai, which cost €48 and €52 a day respectively.

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Both options are well known for their well-maintained slopes - and you’ll be sure of some hearty fare after a long day on the runs.

The picturesque Kühtai in Austria is another affordable options for skiing fans
The picturesque Kühtai in Austria is another affordable options for skiing fansCarlo Knell via Unsplash

Spain: Girona has good quality powder

While Spain might not be the first place you think of when it comes to skiing - and, sadly, a large chunk of resorts there have been affected by a lack of snow this year due to unseasonably high temperatures, La Molina + ​Masella in Girona has maintained top snow quality this season.

For €53 per day, you can indulge in your favourite wintry pastime while being almost guaranteed to feel the pleasant Spanish sun on your face as you descend the breathtaking mountains.

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