Let's be honest - skiing isn't commonly regarded as a cheap holiday; there's gear to hire, lift passes to buy, and ski school to book. There may be a few more things to pre-purchase compared with a week in the Algarve, but skiing needn't be expensive, nor a holiday reserved for the rich and famous.
It's entirely possible to ski on a budget - you just need to know where to look! To help you out with your search, we've collated the best and most cost-effective ski resorts in Europe.
Bulgaria is a great place to go skiing if you don't want to spend an arm and a leg, and Borovets is the biggest and oldest resort in the country. It's particularly popular with Brits, as they adore the low prices and great nightlife.
Located just an hour's drive away from Bulgaria's capital, Sofia, the resort boasts a wide variety of luxury hotels, fantastic restaurants, lively bars and interesting shops. The skiing area, meanwhile, has a range of high quality pistes, with runs suitable for skiers of all abilities. Intermediates will definitely thrive more here, though.
Borovets offers more than just standard skiing; it caters for snowboarders, night-skiing and cross-country skiing. There is even ski jumps to try out - just make sure you know what you're doing!
If you want to go skiing in France without paying the high prices of the Alps, then we recommend Cauterets. It's not a 'big name' yet, so prices are reasonable -just try to go before it gets too popular!
One of the best things about this resort is its incredible snow records. For this reason, it enjoys one of the longest ski seasons in the Pyrenees. The main ski area itself is a spacious, open bowl, with no trees. If you miss darting amongst the trees, however, head to the Pont d'Espagne ski area - just 7km away from the main base - for cross-country skiing.
Beginner and intermediate skiers would feel most at home in Cauterets, as well as anyone after a chilled-out holiday. The town is known for its fantastic spas, relaxing atmosphere and wonderful restaurants, after all.
With more than 250km of runs, 91 ski lifts and 70 mountain restaurants, you would not peg SÓ§ll as a budget resort. It is a beautiful traditional village in the heart of Austria's Tirol, making it so much more than just a fantastic place to ski.
Don't let that chocolate-box appearance fool you though; there is plenty to do apré¨s-ski, as SÓ§ll has a great nightlife. The beer is cheap and the live music is in abundance. Despite this, it's also a great place for families and couples; you won't find it difficult to enjoy a quiet night in.
Overall, the pistes here cater to beginner and intermediate skiers. Plus, there's a selection of great ski schools.
Slovenia is not famed for its skiing, but perhaps it should be. Vogel has plenty of natural snow to go around, so much so that the ski season tends to run from December until the first of May! Skiers of all skill levels will thrive here, but the majority of runs are suited to beginners and intermediates.
That's not to say experts will be at a loss though. There are a few black runs, and the best goes from the top of Sija, the resort's highest peak at 800m. If you're a confident skier, you should be able to explore almost any run you wish with ease, but don't forget to check out the off-piste opportunities too.
Sauze d'Oulx, Italy
This beautiful mountain village has a wonderful laid-back atmosphere. Even in high season, the slopes never feel over-crowded, leaving you to enjoy the 400km of runs in relative peace. There is a vast range of red and blue runs for intermediate skiers, so many in fact you could try a different one every day!
It is possible to learn to ski at this resort, but to be honest there are better places to do so. Confident skiers will feel more at home, and experts who like a challenge should head off-piste.
The nightlife is just as varied as the slopes, with bars opening early and closing late. Sauze boasts a great selection of restaurants too - stick to traditional Italian pizzas or tuck into a Chinese, the choice is yours!
According to the 2015 Post Office Travel Money Ski Resort Report, a six-day holiday to Soldeu costs just £331 - that includes lift passes, rental equipment ski school and food and drink. Even when you add flights on top, that's not a lot for a skiing holiday.
Soldeu has lots to offer too, with 210km of pistes perfect for skiers of all skill levels, particularly intermediates. The red and blue runs can get busy, but the black routes are a lot quieter. The reliable snowfall makes up for the crowds though, as most slopes are north-facing.
If you want to learn to ski or even just hone your skills, the local school is excellent too.
Don't visit the same old resort every year - shop around and see what you can find. It's always more fun to go somewhere brand new, and you might save yourself a packet! Hopefully the above selection will inspire you; just make sure you've bought the right insurance before you go.
Alpha Travel Insurance and alphatravelinsurance.co.uk are trading names of Travel Insurance Facilities Plc, which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority FRN306537. tifgroup is trading name of Travel Insurance Facilities Plc registered in England No. 3220410. tifgroup; all rights reserved. Registered Office: 1 Tower View, Kings Hill, West Malling, ME19 4UY