Strap on the skis and head east

By | Category: Travel destinations

Romania; learn to ski classes

Some of the best ski bargains of the season can be had in Romania, with a week-long ski package sometimes going for as little as €150.

The country offers downhill and cross-country skiing in over 40 locations and two of the most scenic are Sinaia and Poiana Braşov, in the Carpathian Mountains. The former is quite small, but what it lacks in size it makes up for in sights – several castles and a monastery can be found within the town limits. The bright pink new tele-gondola ski lift takes skiers up to over 1,200 metres, offering excellent views over the area and, of course, pretty decent skiing. The larger of the two resorts, Poiana Braşov, was declared a winter resort as early as 1906, but luckily facilities have been very much upgraded and modernised since then. It now has 9 slopes and remains one of the best established, most popular resorts in Romania. The nearby city of Braşov is also well worth a visit for its Saxon heritage and medieval city centre surrounded by remnants of the old town wall and fortifications.

Neighbouring Bulgaria is also a good bet for the bargain hunters. The Bansko ski resort, near Pirin Mountain, is a relatively new kid on the block, developing as a resort in the last ten years. That’s not to say this is a completely new development, quite the contrary. Bansko town centre is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, dating back 100+ years, with small-scale, cute traditional buildings and cobblestone streets. There are 24 lifts, including an 8-seater gondola and British outfit Cloud Nine Chalets has two chalets, Juniper and Christophe, each sleeping 12, in the resort. 70 kilometres’ worth of mostly red and blue runs makes this an excellent area for the beginner to intermediate skiers. For the more advanced and adventurous, there are the options of para-skiing with a professional paraglider, ski mountaineering and skidoo hire.

Pohorje ski trails, Slovenia

Slovenia, in the eastern Alps, has plenty to choose from despite the rather diminutive size of the country and this season most ski resorts can be accessed on the one ski pass – ESSV AS – which can be booked online at www.activeslo.com. There are individual passes, family passes and a 6-day tourist ski pass, to choose from. The country packs in 300 km of ski tracks and 280 km of cross-country trails for a start, and over 40 resorts, several of which are hosting major competitions this season, including the Snowboard World Cup in Rogla, 18th January 2014. Many events are taking place throughout the winter season; a “salsa ski weekend” and a learn how to ski for free course, both in Golte; a new ski lift for children and beginners and an upgrade of the snow park in Vogel; ski kindergarten and live music in Cerkno; an igloo village and night-time sleigh rides in key resort Kranjska Gora, and much more.

Further north, in Poland, there are several resorts of long-standing repute. Zakopane, in the Tatra Mountains in the very south of the country, is perhaps the best known both nationally and internationally. It’s home to one of the highest peaks, Kasprowy Wierch, which also has the longest run, all of 7 km down to the village below. The Tatras rise up to over 2,500m and although there are shorter, easier slopes catering to the beginner and intermediate skier, to ski the peak itself is only recommended for the more experienced, as it features only red and black runs. Zakopane is a great place to sample traditional Polish cuisine, admire the traditional wooden architecture and enjoy some spa culture, very popular in this part of Poland. Cross-country skiing is another option all over Poland, for the less daring among you.

Finland © ©Visit Finland

Moving further north still, Finland, despite its wintry connotations, doesn’t often feature as a favourite among ski enthusiasts. Somewhat unfair, you might say, given that the ski season in the far north runs until May. The emphasis in Finland is firmly on skiing of the cross-country variety, but that’s not to say they don’t have downhill slopes as well, just not as many or as high, as some of their more mountainous neighbours. Even if you’re not a cross-country fan as yet, Finland might just convert you. There are numerous advantages to cross-country – lower insurance costs, in fact lower costs in general as most of the well-kept, illuminated trails across Finland are free, fewer injuries and oodles of pristine scenery, easy to admire at the gentler pace of cross-country skiing.

Finland © Visit Finland

/”>Finland is also perfect for the novice downhill skier, or the beginner wanting to improve. Ylläs, the largest resort in the country, has all of 61 slopes and 29 lifts, while Pyhä, near the Arctic Circle has more challenging slopes to choose from. The Arctic also offers a wide variety of other experiences from ice-fishing to husky rides and snow-shoe excursions. You might even get a chance to see the northern lights.

What are you waiting for? Head east and hit the slopes.

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