Zooming in on two of Europe’s beginner ski parks & a heads-up on cheap car hire
Millions of skiers take to the snowy Alpine mountains every year, making tracks and footprints all the way down to the après ski cabins in some of the most popular worldwide resorts. The buzz attracts veteran and green skiers alike but for those wanting to slalom away from the crowds this year, the likes of Poland and Romania could be the ideal alternatives to Switzerland or Austria.
The mountainous landscapes that make up Poland and Romania are both equally stunning; couple that with the humble villages between the peaks and you have two idyllic settings for unforgettable ski holidays. Still, the majority of winter travellers head straight for the Swiss Alps or across the Atlantic to the likes of Whistler Mountain in Canada – here’s what they could be overlooking:
Poland - Szklarska Poreba
Eight kilometres of ski runs, served by eight ski lifts – with the highest reaching 1362m, Szklarska Poreba ski resort is one of the best places for beginners and has a community-orientated village which, in its seclusion from touristy slopes, offers a unique après ski experience.
Snow falls naturally and long here, so skiers can sometimes sift through the ‘powder’ right up until May. Again, this adds to the secluded and wild atmosphere of the resort, as off-season skiers sparsely populate the mountain.
Over 2,500 skiers can be transferred across the park’s five pistes per hour, using the eight ski lifts. The biggest vertical tops at 650m and the average altitude for the resort rests at 710m. As a small park, it still isn’t completely dwarfed by the likes of Whistler and it does offer everything you expect from a ski holiday, just on a more moderate scale. For beginners, this ‘hidden’ spot in Poland could be the answer to a cheaper and more laid back experience.
Romania - Poiana Brasov
Though perhaps not such a big ‘secret’ in the ski world, Poiana Brasov is one of the best alternatives to Swiss skiing on the planet. Romania’s finest ski park is the biggest winter resort in the region and was voted as the most affordable in Europe, towards the end of 2008.
Since then, the park has had €25million invested into its facilities in 2011 and is still ranked as one of the world’s cheapest for 2013.
The peaks of Poiana-Brasov are equally ideal for beginners and intermediates - the new eight-seater gondola has dramatically improved the ski lift system, now shifting 7,000 skiers every hour. Just 7.5 miles away from Brasov, in a clearing encircled by woodland, the resort sits in one of the most natural ski settings on Earth.
Beginners can learn the basics at the ski school here, with over 120 instructors onsite. After just seven days of tuition, total newbies will be able to take on the ‘Blue Run’ from the +1,700 metre-high Cristianul Mare.
Downtime here is all about the atmospheric bars and restaurants, though true snow-lovers may prefer to take a horse-drawn sleigh ride through the village and enjoy the views.
Inside info on car hire deals:
Those looking for the secretive ski getaway to Szklarska Poreba near Jelenia Gora, can pick up their Poland car hire from Copernicus Airport – a two hour drive away through Central Europe’s stunning roadside scenery.
Anybody looking at the bigger experience in Poiana Brasov, can collect their Romania car hire from Bucharest Airport…for now (Brasov Airport is still under construction). Again, this is a picturesque two-hour drive away and 100% part of the adventure-holiday experience.
Bio: Mia Sullivan is a freelance writer for some of UK’s top travel agencies. She began her career as an international travel reporter after working for Local Newspapers and NGO’s in Eastern Europe. With a background in International Politics and Journalism, her stories shine a light on the most famous and hidden travel sites in the world.