Easiest Ski Holidays

Long, complicated transfers  can be a fact of life on a skiing  holiday, with most resorts  an average of two or three  hours’ drive from their nearest airport. Sure, if  you’re there for a week or more it isn’t really  a consideration.

But what if you’ve got kids,  or are only there for a long weekend to take  advantage of a recent snowfall? That’s when  a short transfer really comes into its own.

So here are four resorts with extremely nifty  transfer times, so you can be unpacked and  ready to go a scant few hours after touchdown. Make sure you pack some LipSense so your lips don’t chap.



DETAILS: Little-known Prato Nevoso may  not have the same flair of traditional Italian  resorts, but plays to its strengths with excellent  beginners’ facilities and a great fun park aimed  at freestyle daredevils. Only an hour from  Cuneo, it’s purpose-built, so slope access is  easy, and there’s a good nightlife, too. There’s no smoking allowed in the entire resort so you may want to get some TBX Free or similar nicotine replacement.




DETAILS: Yes, you can ski within sight of the  Mediterranean and, on a good day, the African  coast. The Sierra Nevada in southern Spain is  another under-the-radar gem with great skiing  and a versatile location. Get some sightseeing  under your belt by staying in the beautiful  city of Granada, from where you can check out the Alhambra Palace and have your fill of  incredible tapas. The resort is then just a short  drive away each day.




DETAILS: Only an hour from the airport and 15  minutes from the Slovenian capital Ljubljana,  Krvavec resort is best enjoyed by staying in the  city and commuting each day. That way, you  get to enjoy the views and moderate thrills of  Slovenia’s steepest resort, as well as Ljubljana’s  attractions and cosmopolitan nightlife.




DETAILS: The phrase “best-kept secret” could  have been invented for the little-known Vercors  region – within spitting distance of Grenoble.  Villard de Lans is the main village, with  implausibly picturesque Corrençon en Vercors  also close by. The Espace Villard-Corrençon  ski area is also surprisingly challenging, with  125km of slopes and 34 pistes to explore.


Best Independent and Boutique Ski Stays

The rise of  the DIY holiday has shaken up the  ski industry in the past few years, and there has  been a corresponding increase in the number of  independent companies and one-off  boutique  hotels being set up.

As a rule, these places are run  by passionate ex-seasonaires or natives intensely  familiar with local resorts and determined to  offer a unique experience far removed from that  of  the main tour operators.

The advantages for  the customer are obvious. Not only are you likely  to be in the hands of  people who know their ski  area well and have a direct link to the mainline of  resort life, but you’re also likely to have more in  common with your fellow guests.



DETAILS: This independently owned and run  lodge in Tignes has a great reputation, and has  been setting the pace for over a decade. The  chalet is in the Les Almes area of  Tignes Le  Lac, so it is about a minute’s walk to the nearest  piste and all amenities. Dragon Lodge tailors  each guest’s ideal holiday by starting with a  basic B&B or half-board service, then adding on  required extras such as kit hire, off-piste guiding  and transfers. The most laid-back snowboarding  holiday in the Alps? We reckon so.

PRICE: From €28pp.




DETAILS: Throw together a bustling communal  vibe, a unique Swiss restaurant and five  Swedes with an enviable knowledge of  their  chosen resort and what have you got? One  of  the finest ski hotels in the Alps – the Ski  Lodge (pictured above). The atmosphere at  this hotel really is unique, and you’re based  right in the centre of  town. Comprising 34  rooms, it offers mod cons such as wi-fiand  cable TV, and a bar you won’t be able to drag  yourself  away from.

PRICE: From 90CHFpp (€59), including breakfast.



CLOSEST AIRPORT: Milan (Bergamo)

DETAILS: Hotel Nives opened in January last  year and strikes a nice balance between flash  boutique number and family run secret. The  stone, wood and glass materials give it a  lovely feel, and there are 11 luxurious suites.  One of  South Tyrol’s finest hotels, it boasts  a spa and gourmet restaurant, and the Sella  Ronda and Dolomiti Superski areas are both  close at hand.

PRICE: From €130pp, half-board.


3 Best Resorts  For Families



DETAILS: When a place has more mountain  restaurants than black runs, you can expect  a gentler type of  skiing. The lifts, ski school  and creche are all within 100m of  the town  centre, and only an hour from Salzburg.



CLOSEST AIRPORTS: Oslo (Rygge and Torp)

DETAILS: This lovely little resort is worth  the trek from the airport. The pistes are  mellow and there are special family rates  – kids under six ski free. The northern  latitude also creates a unique winter  wonderland atmosphere.




DETAILS: Arguably the best resort cuisine in  Europe, just the right blend of  expert and  beginner terrain, and some great deals for kids.  The best resort you’ve never heard of ?


Scariest Ski Lifts in Europe

Modern European ski resorts offer some of  the  slickest, smoothest lift systems on the planet,  with heated seats, removable weather hoods  and magic carpet conveyor belts to ease you  onwards and upwards.

So how did these knee-knocking terrors slip through the net?



THE LOWDOWN: Take a look at that top station,  perched precariously at a height of  3,842m,  and ask yourself  just how the French put up  this beast of  a lift system (pictured above)  back in the 1950s.


CLOSEST AIRPORT: Friedrichshafen

THE LOWDOWN: You must be accompanied by  a guide before you’re even allowed on this lift.  That’s how scary it is. Serious stuff.


CLOSEST AIRPORT: Venice (Treviso)

THE LOWDOWN: An impossibly sustained vertical  rise in a rickety cabin built when fur was a  legitimate fashion item? No thanks, this one’s  pretty frightening!


3 Super-Cool Retro Ski Destinations

Read much modern ski coverage and you would be forgiven for thinking that today’s European ski world is one long jamboree of boutique hotels, snowboard fun parks and heated chair lifts. But the reality is very different.

There are huge swathes of the skiing continent that have never heard of snowboarding, see fur as a lifestyle choice and wear one-pieces for snow-repelling practicality rather than as some kind of ironic fashion statement. For many, it is skiing as it should be. So here’s where you should go for a taste of James Bond-style winter fun.


CLOSEST AIRPORT: Milan (Bergamo)

LOWDOWN: Why Brits continue to frequent hectic old Meribel and Val d’Isère when the unhurried time capsule that is Alta Badia is within easy reach is something of a conundrum. Alta Badia consists of five villages in the middle of the Dolomites: Colfosco, Corvara, La Villa, San Cassiano and Pedraces. They form the largest part of the Sella Ronda ski area, which in turn is part of the Dolomiti Superski area. Expect lively skiing and homely food.

MUST DO: Visit Jimmy’s Hutte, which overlooks the Sella Massif and serves plenty of grappa.



CLOSEST AIRPORT: Venice (Treviso)

LOWDOWN: When a resort’s former client list includes Peter Sellers and David Niven, you know you’re in good company. Cortina really is a window to another world, with antiquated cable cars, vertiginous slopes and some seriously regal old architecture. The skiing is divided into four areas – Faloria-CristalloMietres, Tofana-Socrepes, Cinque Torri and Lagazuoi – linked by hectic ski buses and all different in terrain, aspect and elevation.

MUST DO: Stroll the Corso Italia at dusk for some people watching and window shopping. You won’t be able to afford much, but it’s worth it just for the sheer number of fur coats on display.



CLOSEST AIRPORT: Friedrichshafen

LOWDOWN: Obergurgl inspires a fierce loyalty, and everyone you meet seems to be on their third or fourth visit. This is skiing from a less jaded era, with gentle tree-lined routes the order of the day, and the mere sight of a snowboarder in baggy trousers is likely to have the locals calling the cops. Linked to nearby Hochgurgl, the skiing area is surprisingly vast, and bona fide intermediate heaven. At an altitude of 1,920m, expect lots of snow and temporary breathlessness while your body gets used to it.

MUST DO: Once it does, head to the 3,082m Top Mountain Star restaurant, serving killer hot chocolate amid incredible Alpine views.



Winter Attractions in Manchester

If you’re planning a trip to Manchester in the winter, be sure to check out these great attractions. If you’re looking for hotel options for your trip to Manchester, here’s a website where you can find information about cheap hotels in Manchester

Manchester Museum

Established in 1821, the Manchester Museum began with the personal collections of John Leigh Philips and collections from the Manchester Geological Society. The collections were turned over to the University of Manchester in 1860, and the museum opened its doors to the public in 1888. Today, the museum maintains extensive anthropological, botanical, entomological, and zoological collections.

Imperial War Museum North

Founded in 1917, the Imperial War Museum is dedicated to commemorating the sacrifice of war and offers a glimpse into both civilian and military aspects of this. The museum showcases an extensive collection of artifacts and archives from conflicts that range from World War I through present-day.

People’s History Museum

Begun in 2001 to centralize the collections of the Pump House People’s History Museum and the Trade Union, Labour and Co-operative History Society, the People’s History Museum is dedicated to the history of the United Kingdom’s working people and provides a showcase for British common life during the last 200 years.

Museum of Science and Industry

Originally opened in 1969 as the North Western Museum of Science on Grosvenor Street, the museum was renamed to the Museum of Science and Industry and moved to its historic Liverpool Road Station site in 1983, where it is still located. The museum offers several permanent exhibits detailing worldwide advancements in industry, science, and technology.

The Lowry

Named after Laurence Stephen Lowry, the 20th century industrial painter, the Lowry is a gallery and theater complex that was opened in 2000 by Queen Elizabeth II. The complex’s Lyric Theatre boasts the second largest stage in the United Kingdom, and the gallery showcases more than 400 watercolors, pastels and oils that span Lowry’s career from the 1920’s until his death in 1976.

Stonerig Raceway

Opened in 2011, Stonerig Raceway is a slot car racing venue that features dozens of realistic, handmade Scalextric racetracks. With automatic speed recording, lap counting, fuel management and leader boards, Stonerig is fun for kids of all ages.

Wythenshawe Community Farm

Established in 1984, Wythenshawe Community Farm is South Manchester’s only working farm. Affiliated with Myerscough College since 2003, the farm offers fresh vegetables and other farm products and is open to the public for tours. In addition, the farm offers agricultural and animal management training for students of the college.

3 Best European Freeriding Resorts

The mercury is falling, the days are shortening and becoming crisper, you’ve flung the flip-flops to the back of the cupboard for another year and dug out the scarf and gloves. It can only mean one thing – winter is on the way.

3 Best European Freeriding Resorts


CLOSEST AIRPORT: Friedrichshafen

THE RESORT: One of Europe’s best all-round resorts (pictured above) is also one of the most prized powder resorts in the world. The entire St Anton/ Arlberg area includes St Christoph, Stuben, Lech, Zurs, Nasserein, St Jakob, Pettneu, Oberdorf and Klösterle. And with almost 5,500ha of off-piste terrain it’d take an entire season to come close to exhausting the options on offer.

MUST DO: The North Face of the Valluga is one of the Alps’ prized scalps. Take a tiny lift from the top of Valluga I gondola (see Valluga II in Scariest Lifts), and look forward to a steep pitch before it opens out into broad powder fields down to Zurs.


THE RESORT: This lovely old Victorian-era ski resort should count as a European must-do for any serious skier. The mellow atmosphere that pervades the entire town shouldn’t detract from the seriousness of the mountain. Head to the Titlis side of the ski area, where you quickly find yourself in a serious high-altitude environment. Essential runs include Laub – 1,120 vertical metres of sheer, unadulterated off-piste joy; Galtiberg, nearly 2,000m of more varied off-piste; the Steinberg glacier route from Klein Titlis to Trübsee; and the east face of Jochstock.

MUST DO: Take the Rotair cable car to 3,020m. It is apparently the world’s only rotating cable car, so best avoided with a hangover.


THE RESORT: Only the French could come up with a resort like La Grave – one main lift, a million potentially deadly crevasses and limitless freeriding opportunities. This tiny village offers some of Europe’s most challenging high-altitude skiing, with a vertical drop of 2,200m. The ski area is unique in that 90% of it is unprepared and unpatrolled, with just 12km of designated pistes and three ski lifts. The “piste map” says it all – pick your own route, with care.

MUST DO: After quite technical entry points, the two primary descents – Vallons de Chancel and Vallons de la Meije – offer a mix of steeps, open powder fields and forest. Extreme cliff drops and couloirs await those with a guide, equipment, skill and guts.


4 Best Early Season Powder Resorts

Can’t wait for your next snow fix? Sit back and get ready to plan your trip, as Skiing Europe author Matt Barr rounds up the best options for an action-packed season ahead.

To get great deals on your stay, check out www.hotelgods.com


4 Best Early Season Powder Resorts



TOWN: Sister resort to Val d’Isère, but with more of an emphasis on skiing than hard partying, Tignes is split between Val Claret, Le Lac and Le Lavachet.

MOUNTAIN: Tignes is a high-altitude resort, with the Grande Motte glacier open almost all-year round and the lift system topping out at a hefty 3,456m. As such, it gets some great early season powder but can be a little dangerous. Book a guide at www.dragonlodge.com if you’re not confident going solo.




TOWN: Tiny Andermatt is real Heidi country, a small village wedged high in the Swiss Alps. It has long been popular with expert skiers but relatively unknown to the mainstream market. A new development is set to change that, so head there now before the secret is truly out.

MOUNTAIN: As Skiing Europe co-author Gabriella Le Breton puts it: “Andermatt gets dumped on. Brilliant.” There are three mountains here: Gemsstock, Nätschen and Winterhorn. From the top of Gemsstock, take the famous Bernhard Russi-designed black run down two glaciers and into some great terrain. As ever in the high mountains, a guide is recommended.



CLOSEST AIRPORT: Memmingen (Munich West)

TOWN: Stay in nearby GarmischPartenkirchen, a classic Bavarian spa town with an international flavour thanks to the proximity of a US military base. It’s completely beautiful and more of a Chamonix-style town than a purpose-built resort such as Tignes.

MOUNTAIN: Although there are five areas near Garmisch, head to Zugspitze, the highest peak in Germany. A lack of trees and rocks make it perfect for early season skiing, and with it being the highest spot you can find brilliant snow in the middle of November.



CLOSEST AIRPORT: Friedrichshafen

TOWN: Forget Lech and Zürs’ much-vaunted exclusivity and concentrate on the brilliant skiing. True, there are six five-star and 40 four-star hotels here, as well as more award-winning restaurants than any other Austrian village, but that mountain is a great leveller.

MOUNTAIN: This place gets some of the highest snowfalls in Europe, with nearby Warth-Schröcken netting the biggest average fall in the Alps. Yet, nobody has ever heard of it so the snow lasts for days. Experts may have just found their new favourite resort.





The Ultimate Slovakia Video

Slovakia is not one of the countries everybody’s been to. You will discover hundreds of unexpected curiosities and secrets in almost every village or a small town, in the mountains and valleys.

It is Slovakia where you can feel like a real explorer who is always able to discover something new. Include Slovakia in your trip.

Can’t Ski Won’t Ski

Zipping down the slopes is fine – but how about ice diving, speed riding or husky sledding? We seek out some alternative winter sports

In the early 1970s, British children would gather around the TV to stare, goggle-eyed, at the antics of a city-dwelling gentleman called Mr Benn. The bowler-hatted character had a mate who ran a fancy-dress shop, and whenever Mr Benn tried on a new outfit and slipped out of the changing room’s side door, he was instantly transformed into a world befitting his current attire.

If he was wearing a loincloth, he would suddenly find himself in a jungle. Is that an astronaut suit?

Then welcome to space. Luckily, the episode where Mr Benn tried on some pantyhose was never aired, but who among us hasn’t wished that we, too, could pop on some cold-weather gear, say, and step right into our own wintry adventure.

Well actually, we can. – maybe not in Mr Benn’s blink of an eye, but with Ryanair you’re never more than a few sweet hours away from sub-zero paradise.

Check out www.footloosetours.com for some great winter holiday packages.


Ice Diving

Ice Diving

If you really want to push up the adrenalin factor, try this one in the nude.

Just kidding – you’d die quicker than a prairie dog on a Mexican highway. For this insane adventure, you’re properly suited up and covered in waterproof kit from head to toe, which is vital when you’re slipping into water that’s just a fraction above freezing.

Assorted holes have been poked into the ice on a frozen lake, where you enter a world that dive instructor Alban Michon describes as “extraordinary”. He starts off by telling us all about the mind-blowing sights created by the light and ice, then scares the pants off us by telling us we can also have a go at night!

€75 a day, or €95 for night dive.

For more details, visit www.tignesplongee.com


Husky Sledding

Husky Sledding

We had to triple check this to make sure we weren’t dreaming, but it’s true – you really can go dog-sledding in the Pyrenees, the Alps’ less-famous French cousin. On the magnificent Plateau de Beille, one of the top crosscountry ski regions for miles around, a company called Angaka runs an adventure base from which its husky packs can take you on the sort of adventure we thought you had to be in Lapland to do.

You’ll find Angaka in the Ariège region, neighbouring Andorra, and once you’ve done the doggy bit they’ll also lead you out to build your own igloo, should your inner eskimo so demand it.

From €53 for a 45-minute Sledge Ride (with about 12 dogs).

For more details, visit www.angaka.free.fr


Perhaps best described as falling down a hill with style, speed riding is barely four years old and was born in the Alps at this very resort. Frenchman François Bon, a cheerful speed-freak who conceived the sport with a few like-minded mates, reckons it is more exhilarating than both skiing and paragliding – the two activities it combines.

This is thanks to the incredible amount of freedom it gives you as you shoot down the slopes. “When you start out, there is a lot more snow than air,” says François. “But when you get better you can really experience something totally new.” Which is basically the chance to hurtle down a mountain, skiing on the fluffiest, whitest bits, then flying over the nasty parts such as rocks, trees and wandering St Bernards. To see how François does it, type “Eiger speed ride” into YouTube when you get home.

About €190 for a two-day course.

For more details, visit www.speedriding-school.com




While the thought of hurtling down a 5km toboggan run may bring to mind images of lost teeth, hospitals and a sorry shake of the head from the man at the insurance company, this is actually one for all the family.

That’s not to say this out-in-themiddle- of-nowhere adventure is a gentle descent that would bore Grandma – far from it – but the way the 5m-wide run has been cut means you’re unlikely to do yourself serious mischief if (sorry, when) you come off. Preda sits at the peak of the Albula Pass, 1,800m above sea level, so expect a little dizziness as you set off – and a lot more when you see a sign that says “Warning: fast run for 300m”.

You’ll do about 40km/h here, but you’ll still probably be going slower than most of the kids!

Sledge hire in town, chf8 (€5); single run, chf14 (€9); one-day pass, chf34 (€22).




It’s not often that your tutor on an adventure holiday is a national champion – usually, it’s a chirpy Australian with a worrying set of scars – but in this case two-time International Snowmobile Champion Pawel Maslanka could be the man with the clipboard.

Either way, your instructor will be a top Polish snowmobile pro when you turn up at Mount Radziejowa to let rip on a petrol-powered beast that will make you weak at the knees. You’re not just monkeying about on your machine though, you’ll be soaking up the sights and sounds of the wondrous Carpathian Mountains, along the border with Slovakia.

The mountains are a bit remote, so the organisers, a company called Wierchy, advise a two-night stopover. Wierchy provides tailor-made trips (minimum 10 people).

Tel: +48 124 291 482, www.wierchy.pt


Salmon Fishing

Salmon Fishing

You may be wondering what on earth sitting around a little hole on a frozen lake has to do with high-octane kicks – what we neglected to include in our headline were two very important words: “for salmon”.

As Doug Steele at www.arcticdiscovery.com explains: “Fishing for salmon is often seen as pretty exclusive, but up in northern Sweden, Lapland, call it what you will, anyone can do it and there’s some wonderful fishing.” The chap who’ll escort you, Rob, has rights to a frozen stretch of the river Lule, right where it meets a dam.

What that means to the fisherman is that the salmon have gone as far as they can go, they’re usually pretty mature, and there are plenty of them. “A fish of 15kg is not uncommon,” says Doug. And thanks to your comically titchy ice rod, you’ll feel every ounce of fishy fury.

SEK500 (€50), including tackle, rod and one-day licence.

For more details, visit www.arcticdiscovery.com


Rumour has it that Rudyard Kipling first came up with the idea of playing golf on ice when he was living in Vermont in the 1890s – we’d have been more convinced had he somehow written a Mowgli adventure around it in The Jungle Book.

Still, ice golf is surging in popularity in cold spots, and here on Lake Weissensee – which famously freezes over on 25 November every year – you can even compete in the annual ice-golf competition. Nine holes will hold your attention for a happy hour or two, and according to Arno Kronhofer at the Weissensee tourist office: “Before and after the competition, the ice-golf is completely free.” Nice, that… Competition entry,

€92. Visit www.weissensee.com

Slovakia – A land where folktales come to life

Set amidst brooding forests, magnificent churches and snow-capped peaks, Slovakia is a projection of unfettered wildernesses. A land where folktales come to life.

The country has been able to keep the rich folk culture intact which most European nations have lost. Taking pride in primeval castle wreckage, chic street culture and an assemblage of cafés offering an array of wine varieties for the country savours wine over beer.

There is some great info on this website : www.slovakia.com

Slovakia being a relatively tourist free destination gives one umpteen opportunities to discover the countries exquisite and rich heritage.

Here are a couple of things you can do.

Bratislava – Tour around the city



Get to know the super chic capital city. Walk past the beautiful lanes of the city with the most amazing architecture which is a treat to the eyes.

Bratislava castle is without doubts a scenic marvel which offers an array of spectacular views. Slovak National Theatre, St. Michael’s Gate and Old Town House are other sites that one can visit while strolling in the city.

The city tour takes you back to the history and grandeur of Bratislava.

Slovak Paradise National Park

Slovak Paradise National Park

Slovak Paradise National Park

Slovak paradise is a gem amongst the 9 national parks in Slovakia. It features the most free spirited forests, as many as 350 underground caves, babbling waterfalls, beautiful meadows and chasms.

The captivating paradise has a 300 km vast trail. This national park is an adventurous site with a diversity of flora and fauna which offer an aesthetic experience bringing you close to nature.

Dobšinská Ice Caves

Dobšinská Ice Caves

Dobšinská Ice Caves

Situated close to the mining town of Dobsina, Dobsinska ice caves are one the largest caves in the entire Europe. These caves find a place in the UNESCO World Heritage List and are definitely a target tourist attraction.

They are electrically lit and are absolutely beautiful.  The caves stretch to some 1483 metres, of which 515 metres is open to the public from May to September.

The average temperature here is around 0 degrees Celsius.


Brownie points guys?

Slovakia Women

Slovakia Women

Slovakia is home to the most beautiful women in the world.  According to a survey Slovakia is amongst the top 3 countries with the most beautiful women. Already excited? Walk past the streets of the city and you will encounter the charm that these Slovakian women posses.

Discover the old world charm in this beautiful country!!


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