Here comes the winter! And if you’re a winter sports head, that means heading to the mountains… So where can you find the early season ski conditions?
Although there are no guarantees when it comes to snowfall in the Alps at the major resorts, there are several fairly snowsure options.
And one of the best things about an early ski season in Europe is… The price! Skiing in mid December can be an absolute steal compared to after new year, and there will be barely anyone on the mountain too!
Where do you find these incredible value early season ski deals in Europe? It’s gotta be Snowtrex.
Covering pretty much all of the most popular and snowsure resorts across the Alps and Pyrenees, if you’re looking for a cheap deal, with lift pass included – make sure to check Snowtrex out.
When does ski season start in Europe?
Some resorts in Austria, France, Italy and Switzerland actually start their lifts running toward the end of October. So yes this does mean you can ski from late October in the Alps.
But, what about snowfall?
Most of the resorts that open early are those at high altitudes, often 2500-3000 meters. In short, they’re pretty high up and much more likely to have snowfall and decent coverage for your early season ski trip. Is that a guarantee? No, but most major resorts are also covered by snow making facilities, so even if they haven’t quite had the right snowfall then they can beef it up a bit.
The best early season ski resorts
1. Stubai Glacier, Austria
In the Tyrol valley, you’ll find this huge glacier sitting at the head of the valley close to the Neustift municipality. Made up of a patchwork of small towns, the resort here opens at the end of September, meaning you can be making fresh tracks in the snow before the winter has even started!
You’ll find deals in Stubai from under £500 per person for a 7 day stay with lift pass. Stubai is also a popular area, with lots of great dining and apres ski too.
And at just 45 minutes from Innsbruck, it also qualifies for one of the shortest transfer times for a ski resort too,
2. Solda (Sulden), Italy
On the Italian side of the Tyrol valley, Solda is another great early season ski resort to tempt fanatics. Although the 44 kms of pistes offers less to choose, vs Stubai, Solda has got everything you need for a week of serious snow action.
Snowboarders take note, there are barely any drag lifts in Solda too. And if you’re looking for a snowpark,
Solda opens on 29th October in 2022, so just in time for a Halloween ski! Find some early season Solda ski deals here.
3. Saas Grund, Switzerland
Maybe it’s not as famous as Saas Fee, or obviously Zermatt… But when it comes to early season skiing in Swizerland, Saas Grund offers a very tempting option. With the resort of Saas Grund opening on the 29th October, visitors can explore the 147kms of piste before most of the Alps is even open.
Being Switzerland, you can expect quality ski resorts and great hotels too. And with Snowtrex you’ll get lift passes included so you don’t need to sweat about the price.
4. Cervinia, Italy
At the foot of the Matterhorn, the fantastic Cervinia is a first class ski resort in more ways than one. Of course the quality of the skiing here is top notch, but the resort itself is also bundles of fun, with buzzing apres, lots of great places to eat and a some great hotels too.
Another thing about Cervinia is that you get to enjoy Swiss levels of terrain and snow, but for less money, as we’re in Italy here. That said, it’s not the cheapest option on this list. But with lifts opening from 20th October, it definitely offers lots of potential for some great early season skiing.
5. Maribor, Slovenia
Nestled at the far end of the Alps, Slovenia offers some fun and budget opportunities for early season ski enthusiasts. Although not the earliest on the list, with the resort opening on 27th November in 2022, it is probably the cheapest option for early season in Europe.
With 42 kms of pistes across the resort, and with your pass also getting access to 5 ski areas in total, Slovenia is a great wild card option. If you’ve only ever skiied in the high Alps, you might find the less challenging conditions a little slow for your tastes. But budget and family winter sports enthusiasts will find lots to love in Maribor and Slovenia as a whole.
6. Val Thorens, France
Of course, France is packed full of fabulous ski areas, and the highest resort is Val Thorens. This is part of the legendary Trois Vallees, or Three Valleys, which is also the world’s biggest interconnected ski area.
Val Thorens is one of the earliest opening ski resorts, and being so high is also snow sure both early in the season and well into the spring months.
The ski resort at Val Thorens opens on the 11th November in 2023. To add to this, Val Thorens is actually quite budget friendly, with deals on Snowtrex coming in at under £300 per person with lift passes for 7 days! An absolute steal for budget snow sports fiends…
Val Thorens offers exceptional coverage with 150 kms of pistes, with more than 600kms if you count neighbouring Courcheval and Meribel. A true winter sports dream destination!
Check out this guide about how to find cheap ski deals in Three Valleys.
7. Grandvalira, Andorra
This huge resort in the Pyrenees gives you a totally different opportunity to enjoy early season skiing with a different backdrop. But… The Pyrenees? Yes, they do get snow early in the season and Grandvalira is both HUGE and excellent.
I had a thoroughly excellent trip to Andorra back in 2020, and can’t recommend the terrain highly enough. And although it’s not the cheapest place to ski or snowboard, you will find some great deals online.
If you’ve not been to Grandvalira before, I recommend Pas de la Casa, El Tarter or Soldeu. If you can, avoid staying in Andorra la Vella as the commute to the slopes is a bit longer….