top tips for skiing holidays for beginners
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Ski Holidays for Beginners – My Top 10 Ski Tips

What ski resort is best for beginners, should you choose a hotel or chalet, and what lessons to book? Check out my top tips for ski holidays for beginners.

From picture perfect Austrian villages to purpose built French resorts, choosing the right ski holidays for beginners can be daunting. France has some of Europe’s highest and best ski resorts – but do you need to pay for them if you are just starting out? Andorra and Italy have some of Europe’s most popular ski resorts for beginners, but lengthy airport transfers can be off putting. Bulgaria is one of the cheapest places to learn to ski, but does it have the same atmosphere as the alps? 


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If après ski is just as important and skiing, then you should probably consider the cost of dining out and drinks prices too. There is also the possibility that you, or someone in your party, may not like skiing – so choosing a resort with non-skiing activities is also important.

There are SO many things to consider when planning ski holidays for beginners, hopefully by top 10 tips will help.



1. Do your research 


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Booking with ski specialists like Topflight or Crystal Ski will save you a lot of time searching for the right hotel and resort to suit your needs, and may even save you money too. You may think a popular hotel is fully booked, but in some cases it has been allocated for sale through a ski tour operator, and could be still available.


Some hotels and apartments only allow seven-night stays in peak season, so short ski-breaks are not always as easy to book as you may think. Common change-over days in hotels are Saturday and Sunday. This means if you are searching for a hotel from Friday to Friday it may show fully booked, but if you change the search to arrive on a Saturday or Sunday, you may find it available. 

It is not only the resort and accommodation that are important (more on that below), but check transfer times from the airport too – three or four-hour transfers are not uncommon on skiing holidays.

top tips for skiing holidays for beginners

The time of year you travel is important for many reasons. If you are travelling in December or late March / April, it is vital you choose a high altitude resort to give you the best chance of good snow conditions. Most modern resorts have snow-making machines but they may not be available on the lower slopes.


New Year and mid term breaks are always busy in ski resorts – and it is important to check the dates in continental Europe too, as sometimes these are different to our own mid term breaks. Not only are prices inflated during school holidays, but busy slopes and lifts are not ideal for beginners ski holidays.


Early December or mid-January tends to be the best time to travel if you are looking for keen prices. However, March is also worth checking out. Temperatures are usually warmer, and prices are not as expensive as February – the most popular month for skiing holidays in Europe. 



2. Choose a ski resort with lots of beginners ski slopes

The Travel Expert's top ten ski resorts for beginners

Just because some resorts are popular and family friendly, that doesn’t necessarily mean they are ideal ski resorts for beginners. You will want to ensure that the resort you choose has plenty of nursery / Green and Blue slopes. Slope colours refer to the steepness of the gradient and the level of difficulty.


Green is the colour predominantly used in the USA to describes beginners slopes. In Europe you will see mostly nursery slopes and Blue slopes for beginners – these are usually wide slopes, making it easier to turn. Blue runs are used for beginners to intermediates – you should be able to ski on these during the first few days of lessons. Red slopes are for confident skiers and Black slopes are for advanced skiers.


Popular resorts for ski holidays for beginners include:  Cortina and Passo Tonale – Italy,  La Plagne and Meribel – France, and Ellmau, Saalbach, and Neiderau  – Austria.

As it is your first time to ski, you should not overlook Bulgaria. Pamporovo Ski Resort is just 90 minutes drive from Plovdiv airport – an airport served regularly by Ryanair. Slopes here are good for beginners and the cost of living is much lower than other European ski resorts.



3. Choose a resort with non-skiing activities too


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I love skiing, my husband on the other hand – not so much… Skiing isn’t for everyone, so its important that you choose a resort that has plenty of non-ski activities too, just in case someone in your party isn’t a fan.


Choosing a hotel with a swimming pool, or a ski resort close to a large town can be a lifesaver of you fancy a break from the mountain. Tobogganing is popular in many resorts, as is husky-dog sledding, ice skating and snowshoeing, which can provide winter wonderland feels without skiing.


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Popular beginners ski resorts that are also good for non-skiers include: Val d’Isere – France, for snow activities and après ski, Bad Gastein – Austria, for Spa lovers, Cortina – Italy, for shopping, Soll – Austria, for restaurants and après ski, Seefeld – Austria, for close proximity to Innsbruck (45 minutes). 

Read:  Skiing in Soll, all you need to know

Read: My love affair with Val d’Isere



4. Chalet, hotel or apartment – which is best for ski holidays for beginners?

ski village of soll, Austria - a good resort skiing holidays for beginners

The type of ski accommodation I recommend depends on your own personal taste and who you are travelling with. The après ski can be extremely lively in some resorts, and you may not wish to leave it to go back to your hotel for dinner at a specific time. It is also nice to sample local cuisine, and dine on the mountain from time to time. If you like a lively atmosphere and like to dine out, I would choose a hotel or apartment without meals included.


However, if booking ski holidays for beginners with kids, I suggest the opposite. A full day skiing followed by lively après ski is usually long enough for kids – the last thing you want to do is go back out searching for restaurants at night time. A catered chalet or hotel on a half board basis is ideal for first time family ski holidays.


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Apartments or catered chalets are usually ideal with groups too. In some cases you can book a full chalet with friends where you can enjoy late nights in a communal lounge after a group dinner. Catered chalets usually include meals for six out of seven days, giving you the opportunity to dine out on one occasion.


Top Tip: Regardless of which accommodation you choose – being close to the lifts is paramount. Believe me you don’t want to carry heavy skis and back packs (while walking in ski boots), for any longer than you have to.

If you happen to spot a bargain hotel that is far from the lifts, check that there is a ski bus that stops close by, and rent a locker at the lift station instead. The cost of the ski bus is usually included in your lift pass.  


Note: ‘Door-step skiing’ or ‘ski-in ski-out’, are terms used to describe a hotel or chalet where you can ski right to the door from the mountain. This is an amazing facility if you are an intermediate or advanced skier – but may not be of much use if you are a beginner. Don’t pay high prices for a property that has this facility unless you are able to use it. 



5. Take lessons at a dry slope before you travel – even one!

dry slope skiing

I recall what it was like wearing ski boots for the first time – it was, and still is, not pleasant. I’m still waiting for someone to invent a pair of ski boots that actually feel comfortable to wear! I guarantee that your ski boots will initially feel too tight or uncomfortable, and you will probably think you need to change them. This isn’t easy when you have started a lesson on the mountain…


Taking lessons on a dry ski slope like the one we have in Kilternan, before you ski, cuts out on any teething problems that may arise in resort.

If you arrive in resort with experience on a dry slope, you will likely but placed in whats known as a ‘beginners two’ group. This can make a huge difference to how much you progress over a week’s holiday.



6. Pre-book lessons, lift pass, skis and boots  


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It is best to pre-book your ski lessons, lift pass and ski equipment before you arrive. Whatever you do don’t buy skis or boots – it is your first skiing holiday, remember there is a possibility that skiing isn’t for you! 

Top Tip: Depending on the time you arrive in resort, I suggest going to the ski station straight away to get fitted for your boots and skis – this way you will avoid the early morning queues. Don’t forget to rent a helmet too!


Top Tip: When booking your lift pass you will see prices for a local lift pass and a whole area or region lift pass – this usually allows you to ski into neighbouring resorts. Check the prices of both and unless the price difference is minimal, opt for the local lift pass. If you are a beginner it is unlikely you will be skiing into neighbouring resorts – only pay for it if you think you will use it.


I hope it goes without saying that beginners need lessons! Ski school is the most reasonable way to book lessons and usually works out great for beginners. There will be different levels of beginners so if you have taken my recommendation and skied on a dry slope before you arrive, you will probably be put in one of the higher beginners classes. 


If you happen to pick up skiing quickly, or are the opposite and keep falling over, don’t worry the ski instructors will put you in the right class to suit you ability. I recommend putting children in a separate ski kindergarten, unless you opt for private lessons. Private lessons are more expensive but can be reasonable if travelling with a large group. 



7. Borrow ski gear and bring the right clothes


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As this is your first ski trip – borrow what you can. Don’t splash out €300 for a ski jacket and salopettes if you can borrow them instead. It is vital you have a good waterproof ski suit though, so if you can’t borrow, you will need to purchase them.

It is important to bring plenty of layers too. Skiing is a tough sport and you will probably be hot on the mountain, even if it is -10 degrees. Light layers are better than thick jumpers, as you can take them off as required. You will also be stopping for lunch during the day, and possibly enjoying some après-ski in the bar after skiing, so you want to be able to be comfortable in what you are wearing.


People rarely dress-up in ski resorts, in fact you will often see people dining out at night time in their ski gear, as they haven’t bothered to get changed. I would suggest bringing plenty of light long sleeve tops, rather than heavy jumpers. Proper ski socks, waterproof boots, and good gloves are a must, and under armour can be useful if temperatures are particularly cold.



8. Put the kids in ski kindergarten


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Children learn to ski at a much faster rate than adults, so the dedicated ski kindergartens are ideal for them. They will be skiing with kids their own age, and will be whizzing past you on the slopes in no time. You may be able meet them for lunch during the day, and depending on how fast you have progressed, go for a short ski with them when their lesson ends.


Private lessons are another great option if all of your party are beginners. They are expensive for couples, but if you are travelling with a group or a large family, they can work out at a similar cost to group lessons. You can also be much more flexible and opt for four or five days, half day lessons etc. 

Regardless of which option you choose, keep your last day free so you can all ski together and show off your new found skills!

Read: My top tips for family ski holidays



9. Don’t miss out on the après ski

For some, the après ski is more important than the skiing! First time skiers are always amazed at how lively some resorts are, and the varied night life or après ski that is available. Traditionally, après ski kicks off at about 4pm in bars on the mountain, or at the base of the mountain.


Skiers usually congregate in their ski gear for post-ski drinks, and families are welcome too. Some decide to stay out, while others go back to change for dinner, and enjoy more après ski in the resort towns at night time. 

Après ski varies from local bands playing traditional live music, to international DJ’s having full on raves! I’ll never forget the sight of women dancing on the tables in ski pants and bikini tops in Val d’Isere Folie Douce – one of the top après ski bars in France. However, if that’s not your thing – don’t worry, there will be plenty of bars with live music to suit all tastes.



10. Travel Insurance


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Most people tend to take out annual travel insurance, however, it is important that you ensure you are adequately covered for winter sports. This is usually an add-on to a standard travel insurance policy, and has a nominal fee. Ski holidays for beginners carry a higher than normal risk of injuries, it is vital you have the correct travel insurance for beginner ski holidays.

I use every year and make sure to add on winter sports and travel disruption cover.

Read: 5 Reasons why you should have ski insurance here.


I hope this post on ski holidays for beginners will help you plan a ski trip soon. While every effort is made to ensure accuracy, facilities and amenities in resorts are subject to change. Some of the links in this post contain affiliate links where I receive a small commission if a booking is made, but at no additional cost to you.

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