If you’re a snow bunny hopping abroad, you’ll probably want to explore some of Europe’s breathtaking ski spots. Student budgets and skiing are not always compatible, so here’s a list of some memorable destinations where you can enjoy the peaks without breaking the bank.
As its name suggests, Interlaken is situated between two lakes and is a stunning home base from which to explore the surrounding mountains. Take advantage of low winter hostel rates and the free ski-bus and hit the slopes of the Jungfrau Region. This area is one of the top ski spots in the Swiss Alps—if you go in mid-January, you might catch the annual Lauberhorn alpine ski races. The downhill course is the longest in the World Cup circuit and the race is one of the best-attended ski events in the world.
The Post Office ranked Livigno as the third most affordable ski destination in their 2013 report. The Italian town has slopes for beginners and experts, and its relatively cheap prices attract lots of young snowboarders. With a perfect mix of good snow, lively bars, Italian food, and affordability, Livigno is a choice spot for student skiers.
St. Anton, Austria
St. Anton neighbors Lech, a ritzier ski town, and offers a more affordable charm of its own. Skiers from the area helped popularize alpine skiing, so St. Anton has a long history with the sport. Spend the day on over 200 miles of marked ski runs, and then prepare for one of the world’s best après-ski scenes. If you’re not too tired, legendary slope-side bars serve up both rowdy parties and relaxed live music.
Zermatt is a car-free ski town, so it’s a great place to relax against the backdrop of the Matterhorn. The quiet town, which offers plenty of après-ski options, is situated on the border between Switzerland and Italy. One study-abroad student remembers that while skiing down the mountain, he passed signs pointing to both countries. He and his friends grabbed lunch in Italy and were back in Switzerland for dinner. If you want to straddle international borders while skiing, Zermatt is the place to do it.
Chamonix-Mont-Blanc, the site of the first Winter Olympics, offers plenty of affordable chalet-style accommodations for student skiers. Mont Blanc is the third most visited natural site in the world. Tackle the highest summit of the Alps by foot or—perhaps more realistically—by cable car. The cable car to the Aiguille du Midi is one of the highest in the world, transporting its passengers to incredible views and unforgettable skiing.