More than a dozen top ski destinations you can reach directly from Manchester this winter
If you’re a winter sports fan, you’ll be spoilt for choice when you book your next skiing or snowboarding trip from Manchester Airport. The Northern hub has a bigger route network than any airport outside London but the number of destinations it serves actually goes up over the winter months to more than 200, in part due to the breadth of ski destinations it offers. That means whether you’re a novice or an expert, looking for a classic Alpine retreat or broadening your horizons and seeking out an up-and-coming region, Manchester has you covered.
Here we round up no fewer than 13 outstanding ski destinations you can choose from this winter, along with some top tips on how to prepare.
This Swiss city on the French border is ideally located for accessing some of Europe’s most prestigious ski resorts. More than a dozen are within an hour’s reach, including the world-renowned Chamonix-Mont Blanc and Morzine, as well as Avoriaz, one of the continent’s most popular spots for snowboarding.
For passengers looking to get their trip underway in style, Ethiopian Airlines offers a direct service to Geneva from Manchester complete with award-winning hospitality and a complimentary baggage allowance for ski trips of 23kg in economy and 32kg in business class. Other airlines serving Geneva include easyJet, Jet2.com and TUI.
Much like Geneva, the city of Chambery in south-eastern France is also a gateway to the resorts of the French Alps, but ski enthusiasts heading here might be looking a little further to the south, at hotspots including Val d’Isère and Le Revard, one of the best cross-country skiing areas in southern Europe. Jet2.com and TUI both serve Chambery from Manchester.
Innsbruck offers perhaps some of the most accessible skiing in all of Europe – a cable car takes you from the city centre itself to the top of Seegrube mountain in under 20 minutes. The nearby resorts of Seefeld and Mayrhofen are very popular with beginners – many of their slopes are open, gentle and uncrowded. easyJet, Jet2.com and TUI fly to Innsbruck from Manchester.
Skiing of all kinds can trace its origins to Scandinavia, but many would argue that nowhere does cross-country skiing better than Norway. Jet2.com, Norwegian and Scandinavian Airlines will all take you from Manchester to Bergen, and from there you can access some of the nation’s best ski spots, including Voss, Myrkdalen and Geilo.
Situated in south-eastern France near the Italian border, Grenoble is the gateway to L'Alpe d'Huez, one of Europe’s largest and most iconic resorts. Its steep slopes draw winter sports enthusiasts from the world over, but it does offer beginner and intermediate options too. You can fly to Grenoble from Manchester with easyJet, Jet2.com and Ryanair.
The biggest city in Bavaria offers direct bus transfers to all of Germany’s top ski resorts. Most famous are Garmisch-Partenkirchen, which has hosted the Winter Olympics, and the Zugspitze, Germany’s highest mountain. easyJet and Lufthansa offer direct links from Manchester to Munich.
Perhaps one of the more surprising entries in this list, Barcelona is the starting point for many ski trips and the explanation lies in its position at the foot of the eastern Pyrenees. Resorts in the French and Spanish Pyrenees, as well as in the tiny nation of Andorra, have a similar charm to their Alpine cousins and are popular with those looking for a quieter ski experience. You can fly from Manchester to Barcelona with easyJet, Jet2.com, Ryanair and Vueling.
If you’re a frequent visitor to the Alps looking for a change of scene, try Romania’s Carpathian mountains. The city of Brasov around 100 miles to the north of Bucharest is home to the Poiana Brasov resort; the country’s biggest. It boasts a good mix of beginner, intermediate and expert slopes. Romania is also one of the cheapest places in Europe to learn how to ski. Ryanair flies from Manchester to Bucharest.
Salzburg is the closest major airport to Zell-am-See, a picture-perfect ski retreat in the Austrian Alps. Its slopes boast breathtaking views over Lake Zell and the villages that dot its shoreline, while the town itself, a playground for the aristocracy in the Victorian era, offers plenty to keep you busy when you want a break from skiing. Jet2.com, TUI and Ryanair will take you from Manchester to Salzburg.
Milan’s proximity to Lake Como and the Bergamasque Alps make it the ideal starting point for a winter holiday. The lake is beautiful at any time of year but in winter the surrounding mountains are blanketed in snow, and the resort of Piani di Bobbio comes alive with snow sports fans. With plenty of ‘blue’ slopes, it’s a popular spot with beginners. Ryanair flies from Manchester to Milan Bergamo airport.
Bulgaria is an emerging destination for winter holidays and is quickly gaining a reputation for offering excellent value for money. The resort of Bansko is great for beginners and intermediates with a good range of runs available, and its Old Town is an enjoyable spot to explore when you’re not on the slopes. If you want to warm up, the village of Banya, just a few miles away, is famed for its hot springs. BH Air, easyJet and TUI run flights to Sofia from Manchester.
If you’re aiming for Andermatt, one of Switzerland’s most iconic ski destinations, you’ll likely fly in via Zurich. Andermatt offers around 100 miles of slopes to suit all skill levels and has one of the most reliable snow records in the Alps. The country’s flag carrier airline, SWISS, serves Zurich from Manchester.
The capital of Italy’s Piedmont region played host to the 2006 Winter Olympics and boasts an enviable selection of top Italian and French ski resorts on its doorstep. The Italian side of Mont Blanc is home to Courmayeur, a favourite with expert skiers looking to go off-piste, and a popular destination for après-ski with various trendy bars and restaurants dotted along the slopes. easyJet, Jet2.com, TUI and Ryanair all fly to Turin from Manchester.
Preparing for your ski trip – top tips
A winter sports holiday requires more thought and planning than a bucket-and-spade break. In the weeks leading up to your trip, there are a number of steps you can take to make sure you’re well-prepared;
- book your checked luggage in advance to avoid any hiccups on the day. Airlines may have different policies on checking in sports equipment, particularly if the bag you’re carrying it in is larger than the standard dimensions for a checked bag
- remember to pack plenty of layers, including neck warmers and goggles to protect your face
- snow is highly reflective and UV exposure from the sun is higher at altitude so even in the middle of winter you should pack sunglasses for any days when you’re not on the slopes and suncream to protect any exposed skin
- if you’ve never been skiing before, look for a resort with a good reputation for teaching and book lessons in advance to ensure availability and secure the best prices
- skiing is fun, but can be hard work, so remember that the fitter you are before you go, the more you'll get to make the most of the slopes