Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 30 July 2014

Europe’s unlikely ski destinations

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When it comes to skiing holidays , the countries that immediately spring to mind are European hotspots France, Austria and Italy. And this trio have certainly earned their place in skiing’s hall of fame; beautiful landscapes, friendly locals, well-known resorts and plenty of tourist hotspots are perhaps what make them some of the most popular skiing destinations in Europe, if not the world.

The opportunities for great skiing, however, exist in more countries than one would imagine. Every year, new destinations, resorts and towns are hailed as the next big skiing thing. So, if you’re already planning your winter break, why not choose to go off the beaten path this year? Not only will you experience something completely new and unexpected, but you may also save money.



Although only a small country nestled in central Europe, Slovenia’s awe-inspiring rugged landscape, natural beauty and picture-perfect slopes are often overlooked in favour of its more famous neighbours.



Offering a wonderfully refreshing ski holiday away from the hoards of tourists and tourist traps, Slovenia offers great skiing against an absolutely stunning backdrop.

Its unique selling point has almost certainly got to be the beauty of the country’s many lakes, so be sure to base yourself around a lake, such as Lake Bohinj for fabulous views. Make sure you also enjoy the local cuisine and take in the charm of the culture during your après ski routine.



Although Bulgaria has grown recently in popularity as a hot skiing destination, partly due to its particularly reasonable prices and great slopes, you can still enjoy the wild side to this country by steering away from some of the more populated areas.



While resorts such as Bansko remain great for skiers of all abilities, those who want to experience the wilderness of nature at its best should take the short 10km drive to the neighbouring town of Dobrinishte. There you’ll find some great off-piste skiing and almost deserted slopes, perfect for those wanting to truly be at one with nature.



For an up-and-coming destination that hasn’t quite hit the mainstream yet, Sochi, in Russia, host of the 2014 Winter Olympics, couldn’t be a better choice.



If you’ve got London Olympics nostalgia, or are simply after somewhere a little bit different that hasn’t yet been populated by hordes of tourists, this quaint Russian resort town is it.



Don’t underestimate its potential to blow your mind—with hundreds of kilometers worth of recently opened ski runs and lifts, as well as perfect snow and the exotic taste of a ski resort by the Black Sea, this is definitely going to be a destination worth your time.

And, with President Putin’s estimated €24.5 billion cost of redeveloping the region as a whole, there can be little doubt that it is set to become the ski hotspot of the next few years.

Going on a skiing holiday is great—but going on a skiing holiday to a destination that is just that little bit mysterious and unusual will really make for an outstanding holiday.

Don’t forget to check the snow reports before you book or go on vacation, just to make doubly sure of the conditions you can expect, and you’re all set for a great, powdery break!

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