Skiing for beginners – the complete guide

Thinking about sloping off for a cheeky winter break, then skiing could offer the perfect solution for anyone who’s unable to take a long-haul slog to the sun. Skiing for beginners – the complete guide

Despite what your local ski-bore tells you, the amount of fun you have on the mountain is not directly equivalent to your chances of being a gold-winning champ at the next winter Olympics.

Ski holidays offer so much more, from glorious mountain scenery to an electric nightlife, with your rime on the slopes just an added bonus.

If you’re thinking of venturing on to the slopes for the first time, following our beginners guide to ski holidays will help ensure your trip doesn’t hit the skids.

Best resorts for beginners

Nursery slopes of Courchevel: <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Courchevel#mediaviewer/File:Courchevel.jpg" target="_blank">image credit</a>

Nursery slopes of Courchevel: image credit

Skiing is just as much about confidence as it is technique. So, heading to a resort that offers good nursery slopes and a varied transition of green and blue runs as you head further up the mountain is essential. Here’s a few of our favourite resorts for first-time skiers….


Courchevel, France

View from Saulire peak: <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Courchevel#mediaviewer/File:Saulire-2700m.jpg" target="_blank">image credit</a>

View from Saulire peak: image credit

The nursery slopes are more than adequate, but it’s when you glide beyond the foothills and head to the mountains good and proper that the magic really starts for beginners. With some of the longest and widest green runs anywhere, the sweeping runs will allow beginners to both enjoy their skiing and improve technique. It’s widely accepted that Courchevel offers one of the best and most satisfying transitions from beginner to intermediate. All runs are reached by gondola, which is another big advantage for novices in poor weather conditions. It’s also one of the top resorts in Europe, so don’t expect to pick up any budget deals. Research suggests you’ll pay around £1151 per person for a week on the slopes – and that doesn’t include the cost of the holiday or accommodation.


Les Arcs, France

View of Les Arcs 1950 and 2000: <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Les_Arcs#mediaviewer/File:Les_Arcs_1950_2000.jpg" target="_blank">image credit</a>

View of Les Arcs 1950 and 2000: image credit

With nursery slopes directly above each of the resort’s main villages, beginners aren’t likely to panic and head for the lowlands before they even step into their skis. The resort provides a free beginner’s lift, along with a decent roster of more advanced slopes as you quickly progress up the mountain. As with all French resorts, there’s a good selection of friendly English-speaking instructors to tease the powder-hound from your tentative first runs.


Janské Lázne, Czech Republic

Janske Lazne: <a href="http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jansk%C3%A9_L%C3%A1zn%C4%9B#mediaviewer/File:Jansk%C3%A9_L%C3%A1zn%C4%9B_(2).jpg" target="_blank">image credit</a>

Janske Lazne: image credit

If you’re looking for somewhere that’s great for both novice kids and adults, then this small town in the Karkonsze mountains will certainly sit pretty at the top of your shortlist – it should also tick the ‘budget’ box. Just two hours’ by road from Prague, its 14km of wide, tree-lined slopes are perfect for novice and intermediate skiers, alike. Nursery slopes are gentle for absolute beginners, while lessons are available for less than £10 an hour. Hard to beat for value.


Zakopane, Poland

Zakopane: <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zakopane#mediaviewer/File:Zakopane_-_skiing_(35).JPG" target="_blank">image credit</a>

Zakopane: image credit

If you want to step back in time then Zakopane could be the destination for you. Beginners and intermediates will feel at home on easy-going slopes, while the town’s cobbled streets and 19th Century architecture combined with the juxtaposition of communist-inspired high-rise tower blocks make for an eclectic destination to explore if you fancy a break from the slopes. There are also plenty of activities such as snowmobile and husky sledding trips to keep any non-committed skiers amused.


Passo Tonale, Italy

Passo Tonale in summer: <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tonale_Pass#mediaviewer/File:Passo_Tonale_summer.jpg" target="_blank">image credit</a>

Passo Tonale in summer: image credit

A value-for-money town that offers snow from late October to early May, so look out for great late season deals while the hordes are stripping off the salopettes and thinking about pulling on bikinis and heading for the beach. The resort’s marked runs are predominantly suited to beginners and intermediates, but it is also linked by lift to Ponte di Legno, which will help pacify any advanced skiers in the party. Beginners will find it hard to beat the quiet and safe nursery area.


Find the best ski school for kids

Ski school info here

Ski school info here

We’ve compared facilities at Europe’s best ski schools for your kids – so you don’t have to.

Find out all the details here

Try before you buy

Skiing is a big investment, so make sure it’s right for you by trying one of the UK’s excellent artificial ski centres. Just use the interactive map below to find the closest facility to you.

Getting to the airport without the stress

Meet and greet parking with APH takes the hassle out of skiing

Meet and greet parking with APH takes the hassle out of skiing

Skiing can involve carrying bulky luggage and equipment – if you’re taking your own skis and boots – so booking meet and greet parking can make getting to the airport much less stressful. No busy transfer buses to negotiate, simply drive straight to the terminal, unload your luggage and head to the check-in desk – while a chauffeur parks your car for you. He’ll then meet you on your return.
Get a meet and greet parking quote here

Gadgets-to-go on the snow…

New to the slopes? Here are a few gadgets you might like to take with you…

Make sure you’re insured

Research says 40% of skiers don’t bother with insurance. This could be a costly mistake, so make sure you’re fully covered. Here are some of the best deals around from the UK’s top suppliers.

Ski insurance information

Ski insurance information

Moneywise: Best value resorts

Skiing for the first time, then choose from these best value resorts.

Best value resorts in Europe

Best value resorts in Europe

While skiing might prove to be one of the best holidays you take, it certainly won’t be the cheapest. That doesn’t mean you can’t cut costs, though, here’s our guide to slashing the outlay of green stuff as you head to the white stuff.

Prices have plunged at 24 of the 27 ski resorts surveyed by the Post Office Travel Money Ski Resort Report over the past 12 months. Bansko in Bulgaria remains the cheapest, but more traditional Eurozone faves are closing the gap.

The report compiled from 27 resorts across Europe and North America is a comparison of six days’ ski and living costs for one person, including a ski-day ski pass, ski/boot hire, ski school, lunch on the slopes and soft drinks.

Bansko, Bulgaria remains the best value overall with a total cost of £261, but others are also slashing costs. Soldeu, Andorra (£331) has seen prices plunge 23%; Kranjska Gora, Slovenia (£300) is down 8% year-on-year; Ellmau, Austria (£311) is down 15%; and Les Deux Alpes, France (£420) has fallen by 10%.

Take a break

Leave the skis behind and have a go at white-knuckle snow tubing...

Leave the skis behind and have a go at white-knuckle snow tubing: image credit

Just because you’re on a ski holiday, it doesn’t mean you can’t take a break from the slopes. Here are a few alternatives that many ski resorts offer – and how much they might cost.

Curling: from £25 for a group of four in St Anton
Husky sledge rides: from £100 in Soldeu or £113 in Kitzbuhel
Ice climbing: from £53 in Kranjska Gora and £85 in Saas Fee
Ice skating: from £13.50 for a family of four in Kaprun
Paragliding: prices vary between £90-£110 in Austrian ski resorts
Snowmobiling: from £68 for one hour in Bansko
Snow tubing: from £4 for five runs in Ellmau or £25 an hour in Vail
Tobogganing: from £30 for a family of four in Mayrhofen

The International Ski Federation’s rules of conduct

For all mountain users, the International Ski Federation (FIS) has ten rules for skiers and snowboarders to help everyone stay safe on the slopes. They must be followed at all times:

1. Respect: Do not endanger others.
2. Control: Adapt the manner and speed of your skiing to your ability and to the general conditions on the mountain.
3. Choice of route: The skier/snowboarder in front has priority – leave enough space.
4. Overtaking: Leave plenty of space when overtaking a slower skier/snowboarder.
5. Entering and starting: Look up and down the mountain each time before starting or entering a marked run.
6. Stopping: Only stop at the edge of the piste or where you can easily be seen.
7. Climbing: When climbing up or down, always keep to the side of the piste.
8. Signs: Obey all signs and markings – they are there for your safety.
9. Assistance: In case of accidents provide help and alert the rescue service.
10. Identification: All those involved in an accident, including witnesses, should exchange names and addresses.

Emergency services telephone numbers:

If you need emergency help, here are the number to save in your smartphone…

Europe: 112

US and Canada: 911

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