The Cheaper Alternative to a Swiss Skiing Holiday

Personally, I never really wanted to do a ski holiday. And I expect it to cost thousands of rands to take your family, or just your partner on this type of holiday, considering the price of the Euro. I suspect many South Africans cannot afford this holiday they want.

But fear not, because I am here to tell you about a European ski holiday, that is much more affordable than the Swiss Alps and just as amazing and beautiful, if not more. If it's only a skiing holiday you're after of course.

I am talking about the mountainous region of Zlatibor, in Western Serbia (don't you just like saying that name? Zlatibor...). I know, you probably never heard of it and have no clue where Serbia is or whether it is safe to go there.

Serbia is in Eastern Europe, bordering 8 countries, including Hungary, Croatia and Romania.

Serbia actually boasts 26 Ski Resorts(!), 3 of which are most popular and frequented by locals and international travellers alike. Tornik Ski Resort in Western Serbia is by far the most popular. And the nearby town of Zlatibor is just perfect for your white winter holiday. The other two resorts, Stara Planina and Kopaonik, are also great for Skiiing.

We intended to stay in Zlatibor for one night only on our way to the South, but we loved it so much, we stayed another night.

Zlatibor has a lot of accommodation options, from hotels to apartments in differing price ranges. If you plan and book in advance, as skiing season is peak season, you can get away with a really cheap skiing holiday.

Driving into town from the main road, there were even people on the side of the road holding up boards and advertising their apartments. Note that we were there in April - Spring, and things are quieter, however, it was Easter Weekend, a holiday and it is busy, but I'd say the town was 60% full.

We didn't book accommodation beforehand, so we called one of the many numbers on the advertising boards (there are literally hundreds of apartments). Apartment 3 Sobe was also available on Booking.com, and we booked for a second night.

TIP: if you call the owner of the apartment as advertised on the boards directly, you can often negotiate a slightly better rate.

But we use Booking.com for all our accommodation because they usually give special discounted prices.

Even though we were there in Spring, a mostly rainy season in Serbia, we woke up on the second morning to so much snow! And it was still snowing! Coming from sunny Durban, and judging by the really hot or rainy days before, we woke up the next day to very unexpected snow, it was so amazing to see. I'd say about 20cm of snow fell overnight. It was still snowing so we got dress quickly to go outside.

The car got a bit stuck too...

Driving out of town towards the South of Serbia, the whole place looked like a fairy tale.

But back to the skiing. Stara Planina and Kopaonik are also big popular resorts in the country.

Tornik (Zlatibor):

The shortest slopes at only 7 km's, with elevations between 1100 and 1495m and three ski lifts. The intermediate slopes are the longest of the three (beginner, intermediate and expert). This is, however, the most popular resort.

A day pass will cost an adult or youth 2050 Dinar (R240) and 1600 Dinar per child (R188).

Stara Planina:

Stara Planina in Southern and Eastern Serbia has 13 km's of slopes available with 5 lifts but provide the highest elevations of between 1,475 and 2,169 m.

A day pass for adults will cost you 2050 Dinar or R240 and 1600 Dinar or R188 per child.

Kopaonik Ski Resort:

On the border of Kosovo in Southern Serbia, at the town of Kopaonik.

This resort has the longest slopes at 55 km's available for skiing and snowboarding at elevations between 1 057 and 2 017m, with 24 lifts. They also have artificial snow for an extended season from early December until the end of April.

The price for a Day Pass per adult or youth is 3550 Dinar (approximately R420) and 2700 Dinar (R317) per child.

Info about ski resorts in Serbia and all other countries can be found on http://www.skiresort.info/ski-resorts/Serbia/

Prices at ski resorts in Switzerland, for instance, start at Euro 50 (R720) per adult for a day pass, so a Serbian ski day will cost you about half the price. And believe me, the rest of the country is amazingly beautiful for a nice holiday - but you can read about it here.

If it is a ski holiday you want on a decent budget, you should really consider Serbia as you destination of choice.

Note: Prices in Rand would depend on the exchange rate.

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