The Carpathian Mountains stretch over 900 miles across central and eastern Europe and are an excellent alternative to the winter playgrounds of popular destinations like Switzerland and France. Although the Carpathian Mountains are known for their beautiful summer landscapes and incredible wildlife, in winter they are no less extraordinary. During the snowy winter months holidaymakers are spoilt for choice when it comes to Carpathian Mountain skiing destinations. If you’re looking for something more than your average skiing holiday here are some fabulous options that you won’t find in most travel brochures:
The Carpathian Mountain range may only touch a sliver of Ukrainian territory in the southwest of the country, but there is no shortage of fabulous ski resorts and charming mountain villages. For fabulous, well-groomed slopes, plenty of snow and evening entertainment you can visit Bukovel ski resort, near Ivano-Frankivsk. It’s the largest ski resort in the Ukraine. There’s 50km of pistes, including several black diamonds for the experts, as well as short tows for kids. There are also high-speed chair lifts.
If you’re looking for a cheaper option you can always try Slavske Ski Resort which is 130km from Lviv, and is popular with Ukrainian students. Although snow cover is only optimal from December to March, you don’t get better value for money and there is a great variety of slopes on the Trostian, Politekh, Pohar, Velykyi Verh Mountains in the area. The most popular slopes are on Trostyan Mountain, where you’ll find 11 pistes with a total length of 22km.
Drahobrat Ski Resort is a great option for advanced skiers. The high altitude means there is reliable snow cover until May. Although it’s a small resort, the pistes are challenging and there are great opportunities for off-piste skiing. The remote location means it’s only accessible via a bumpy ride in a truck, but if you’re looking for an authentic Ukrainian experience off the beaten path, it’s the perfect place for you.
The White Carpathians in the Czech Republic are classified as a UNESCO biosphere reserve thanks to the unique mix of oak and beech forests and amazing variety of flora and fauna in the region. During winter it’s the ideal place for a budget-friendly skiing holiday, with dozens of ski resorts easily accessible from the capital city Prague. Špindlerův Mlýn in the Krkonoše is one of the most popular ski regions in the country and although snow cover is not as reliable as resorts at higher altitudes, it has a great variety of pistes for beginners and intermediate skiers. 16 ski lifts serve 21 pistes with a total length of 26km. There is also 85km of cross-country trails.
Nearby is Ski Pec pod Sněžkou, which is overlooked by the country’s highest mountain – Snezka Mountain, and is ideal for beginners. There are 10 ski lifts, 11 pistes, great snowboarding facilities and 15km of cross-country trails. Experienced skiers can enjoy the challenge of the black slope on Hnědý vrch II, intermediate skiers can criss-cross their way down the red slopes and beginners can find their feet on 3 blue slopes. It may not be a large ski area, but when you see the magnificent scenery you can understand why this is one of the Czech Republic’s top ski resorts.
Poland is a great choice for travellers with an interest in history and culture and of course, winter sports. When you’re not skiing in the Carpathians you can visit historic cities like Krakow, or see the birthplace of Frédéric Chopin. The most popular ski base is Zakopane, which is at the southern tip of Poland near Tatra National Park. From the town of Zakopane ski areas like Nosal, Szymoszkowa, Harenda and Kasprowy Wierch are easily accessible. Nosal Ski Centre is ideal for families with small children as well as beginners. Szymoszkowa ski centre is perfect for intermediate skiers. If you’re an advanced skier or snowboarder you may prefer Harenda or Kasprowy Wierch. There are also several cross-country ski trails in the area. If you’re looking for spectacular views head to Czarna Gora Ski Resort in the south-western part of the country – it doesn’t get better than that.
The entire southern part of the Carpathian Mountains is located in beautiful Romania, which makes it a great place for winter sport. Poiana Brasov is one of the country’s best known ski resorts with 13 pistes. Although there are pistes to suit every skill level, the resort is favoured by intermediate skiers and snowboarders because of the excellent intermediate pistes. There are also 8.6km of cross-country ski trails that criss-cross their way through the pristine forest-covered slopes of the Carpathian Mountains. When you’re not making your way down the mountain there is also a toboggan run and ice-rink to keep you entertained.
Predeal is another fabulous ski resort, with 8.5km of slopes that are ideal for intermediate skiers. If you’re based in the town of Predeal you can also easily access other ski areas like Poiana Brasov and Azugan. If you’re a beginner you may want to visit Sinaia Ski Resort, which has 12 pistes, 9 ski lifts and over 20km of cross country trails. The high altitude of many of the slopes here means that snow cover is generally very reliable during the winter months.
Slovakia has more to offer visitors than wooden churches, striking castles and beautifully preserved architecture. The country is also a great place for enjoying the great outdoors, even in winter. At the foot of Zvolen Mountain you’ll find Donovaly Ski Resort. There are 17 pistes, including a 1km black slope for the advanced skiers. The slopes are well served by 17 ski lifts. There is also an amazing 58km of cross country trails through spectacular mountain scenery.
Jasná – Chopok Ski Resort is located in the Slovak Tatras and is another popular choice for families looking for great skiing destinations. Families staying here will have access to 24 pistes which are served by 17 ski lifts. There is also a snowboard park nearby, and 30km of cross country pistes. The area caters well for skiers of all abilities from beginners to experts.
Have you discovered any off the beaten path skiing destinations that you won’t find in the average ski travel brochure? If you‘re looking for more skiing holiday ideas visit HomeAway’s ski guides for some inspiration and HomeAway.co.uk to find your perfect rental.