The easiest ways to fly to the slopes
With a cheap flight to a convenient airport, skis stashed in the hold, and a short onward connection, independent ski holidays needn't be hard to organise. Low-cost airlines advertise rock bottom "ski fares" throughout autumn and winter months, but once you've booked a flight, which is the best ski resort to visit? This guide to the main ski airports will have you ready for the piste in no time, with information on the closest resorts, which airlines fly there and how to make the onward connection.
Geneva Chambery Lyon Grenoble Turin Munich Friedrichshafen
- The cream of the crop of the skiing airports, Geneva Airport is well positioned for most resorts in the French and Swiss Alps. The airport is in two halves, with an international side and a French side.
- Closest resorts:Chatel (one hour 30 mins), Courchevel (two hours 30 mins), Flaine (one hour 20 mins), Val d'Isere (three hours), Megeve (one hour), Morzine (two hours), Chamonix (one hour), Avoriaz (one hour 30 mins), Les Arcs (three hours), Val Thorens (three hours), Tignes (three hours), Valmorel (two hours), Verbier (two hours) and Villars (one hour 30 mins).
- Who flies there? British Airways, easyJet, flybe, Aer Lingus.
- Onward transport: Trains run to the Swiss ski stations with CFF and can be booked online www.sbb.ch/en. An Aero-skibus departs from Geneva for the French ski stations. For those around Tarentaise (Meribel, Courchevel, Val d'Isere, Tignes, Val Thorens, Les Arcs, Les Menuires, La Plagne, Saint Martin de Belleville and other resorts in the area) seat reservations are required. Reservations can be made either at the website www.alpski-bus.com (some of this is in French, but the timetable and reservations can be requested in English) or at Geneva airport at the Accueil-France desk or at Geneva coach station. The bus will take you directly to your resort. Times and prices vary by resort. an example, a single to Courchevel costs about £65. A single to Val d'Isere costs £52 or so.For all other resorts (Chamonix, Megeve, Avoriaz, Morzine, Flaine) seats can be reserved in advance from Altibus but can also be bought on the day of travel at the airport from the tourism and information counter on the international side or the Accueil-France desk on the French side.It is also possible to get shared minibuses, hire taxis or even, if you're feeling really flush, limousines for the more popular resorts. Go Routair and Alpha Taxi are two companies with which you can make reservations online. A guide to taxi fares from Geneva is available here.
- Want to fly there? Compare prices of flights to Geneva.
- A much smaller airport than Geneva, Chambery is located in the heart of the French skiing region and transfers to resorts in the French Alps are easy.
- Closest resorts: Alpe d'Huez (one hour 30 mins), Notre Dame de Bellecombe (one hour), Valmorel (one hour), La Toussuire (one hour), La Clusaz (one hour 30 mins), Courchevel (one hour 45 mins) Val d'Isere (two hours), Val Thorens (one hour 30 mins), Chamonix (one hour 30 mins), Brides les Bains (one hour), Flaine (one hour 30 mins).
- Who flies there? flybe, jet2.com.
- Onward transport: Chambery is on the snow train route, which stops at Albertville, Moutiers, Aime le Plagne, Landry and Bourg St Maurice - all close to French resorts.Regular bus services run to the slopes. Seats can be booked online with Altibus. Fares start at around £35 for the closest resorts.Taxi transfers can be relatively cheap, as private taxis and shuttle services are both available. For example, four people sharing a private taxi could travel to Alpe d'Huez for around £50 per person or in a shuttle taxi for around £35 per person. Taxis can be booked online with companies such as Airport Transfer Service.Local trains run from Chambery for Moutiers and can be booked online with SNCF, though note that they cannot be booked more than two months in advance. Trains take about one hour 30 mins and prices start at around £11. Moutiers is close to many of the French resorts (especially the three valleys) and taxis from here should be cheap.
- Want to visit the French Alps? Compare prices of flights to Chambery.
- Though slightly further from the slopes than Grenoble, Chambery or Geneva, most of the main resorts can still be reached within three hours.
- Closest resorts: Courchevel (two hours 30 mins), Val d'Isere (three hours), Meribel (two hours 30 mins), L'Alpe d'Huez (three hours), Tignes (three hours), Megeve (three hours), La Tania (two hours), Morzine (two hours 20 mins), Avoriaz (three hours 30 mins), La Plagne (two hours), Les Menuires (two hours)
- Who flies there? easyJet.
- Onward transport: Buses and taxis are available to all the main resorts with carriers such as Altibus, or Satobus Alpes.You can take a TGV train to Chambery and then connect to a local train to Moutiers.
- Compare prices of flights to Lyon.
- Grenoble is in easy reach of the three main French skiing regions Isère, Savoie, and Haute-Savoie.
- Closest resorts: Courchevel (two hours), Alpe d'Huez (one hour), Brides Les Bains (one hour), Les Deux Alpes (one hour), La Toussuire (one hour 30 mins), Notre Dame de Bellecombe (one hour 30 mins), Meribel (one hour 30 mins), Megeve (one hour 30 mins), Les Menuires (one hour 30 mins), Chamonix (two hours), Flaine (two hours), Morzine (two hours), Montgenevre (two hours).
- Who flies there? easyJet, Ryanair.
- Onward transport: Taxis and buses are available to the resorts, with, for example, Airport Transfer Service.
- Compare prices of flights to Grenoble.
- The best-located airport for the Italian ski resorts, Turin was the destination for the 2006 winter Olympics. To the west is Valle di Susa, which lies on the Turin-Paris trainline and includes the resorts of Sauze d'Oulx. To the North is Valle d'Oasta, which includes resorts such as Courmayeur. To the northeast are the Dolomites and resorts such as Madonna di Campiglio and Cortina.
- Closest resorts: Sestriere, Bardonecchia and Sauze d'Oulx (one hour), Courmayeur and Breuil-Cervinia (one hour 30 mins), Pila.
- Who flies there? easyJet, Ryanair.
- Onward transport: Trains leave from Turin to Oulx station, well positioned for many of the resorts, and take about an hour. Buses and taxis run regularly from Oulx station or from Turin airport.
- Compare prices of flights to Turin.
- Well-located for German and Austrian ski resorts, Munich is so close to the slopes that you can stay in the centre of town and go skiing just for the day.
- Closest resorts: Zugspitze, Kitzbuhel (one hour 25 mins), Zell am See (two hours 15 mins), Soll (one hour 30 mins), Kirchberg in Tirol (one hour 50 mins), Kaprun (two hours 15 mins), Mayrhofen (one hour 50 mins), St Anton am Alberg (two hours 45 mins), St Johan in Tirol (one hour 40 mins), Saalbach-Hinterglemm (two hours 30 mins), Westendorf (one hour 40 mins), Obergurgl (three hours 20 mins).
- Who flies there? easyJet, Air Berlin.
- Onward transport: Trains to Zugspitze, Germany's highest mountain, can cost as little as £30 or so for a day trip from Munich, covering the return train fare and the cost of ski hire.There are many buses that go up to the mountains from Munich airport and from the town and day trips to the slopes are advertised in the local pubs, sports stores and restaurants. The BOB (Bayerische Oberlandbahn) service connects Munich to Oberbayern and the ski resorts in the vicinity.
- Compare prices of flights to Munich.
- If you want to ski with the royals but pay budget prices, Friedrichshafen is the closest airport to Klosters and St Moritz.
- Closest resorts: St Anton am Alberg, Klosters, Lech and Flims Laax (one hour 30 mins), Andelsbuch (one hour), St Moritz (two hours 30 mins).
- Who flies there? No airlines fly direct from the UK. However, Lufthansa and Germanwings serve Bodensee Airport.
- Onward transport: Trains run from Freidrichshafen to many of the main resorts and take around two hours. Book online at BOB. Airport bus shuttles are available to Arlberg, details are on the Friedrichshafen airport website. Taxis are also available.
- Compare prices of flights to Friedrichshafen.
This quick guide to the cost of carrying skis and snowboards on the different low-cost airlines should stop you getting surprised at the airport, but remember that, if you’re lucky enough to own them, it’s still cheaper than hiring skis at the resort.
- easyJet: £18.50 per item per flight if booked online or £26 at the airport on top of the standard baggage charge.
- Ryanair: will carry skis and snowboards on a “limited release” basis, which means that damage or delay is “at your risk” so make sure that you have insurance to cover them. £40/€40 if booked online or £50/€50 via the call centre or at the airport.
- jet2: £30/€40 per item per flight up to 20kg. Save £5 by pre-booking online.
- flybe: Skis may be pre-booked within 24 hours of booking a flight through the Customer Call centre. The charge is £30 per sector.
Interested in skiing? Visit our Ski Travel section to see all Cheapflights ski articles and resort guides.
Updated January 2013