People say the reason for this is simply better developed resorts. But in the last few years, winter tourism in Ukraine has been increasing and resorts in the country have been rushing to meet the demand. Adding more modern equipment as well as access to a full range of winter sports activities, some of these ski options are first rate. And so even though you can find mulled wine in the Alps or a nice microbrew somewhere on the North American continent, nowhere other than here in Ukraine will you be able to find down-home Hutsul cuisine while sipping horilka, all the while relaxing in a cosy wooden Kolyba.
Once a military base, Tysovets is now one of the more popular ski resorts here in Ukraine as it’s about 1,000m above sea level and only 142km from Lviv. It has three main runs – 800, 650 and 600m each – and served by a single lift, you take it up to the top, then pick the run you’d like and zoom down. Beware, however, that if it’s a holiday and the place is busy, you could end up waiting half an hour just get up there. Many also complain that the ride is quite slow but as your lift ticket will have cost you between just 60-80hrv, most just accept the inconvenience. Once you’ve decided that you’ve finished for the day, catch the 500m run off to the side, leading to the hotel and cottages.
Located in the Yaremcha region, not far from the village of Polyanytsia, it is right in the heart of the Carpathians and boasting a 2,000m long run, this has to be the largest and most state-of-the-art ski-resort in Ukraine. At a height of 900m, this resort offers some stunning scenery and working on a bid to host the 2018 Winter Olympics, this spot also boasts equipment of the highest quality. Here, a European atmosphere reigns, as there are tonnes of runs with varying degrees of difficulty, snowmobiles for rent, luxury hotels, night clubs, restaurants, saunas and even a place to play paintball. While a daily lift pass will set you back 200hrv (more during the Christmas season), keep in mind that only half the hills have lifts. And with regard to beddin’ down, a decent hotel room or cottage can be had anywhere from 600hrv to 2000hrv/night.
Only 120km from Lviv, these slopes are not at all far from Tysovets which means they are going to be crowded all winter long. You can see why too as lift costs are only about 5hrv per ride. Trostyan Mountain is the most popular peak at Slavske and has five trails all ranging from 1,000 to 1,500m. Behind Trostyan, there are a few other hills you may want to try, like Pohar, Menchul, Warsaw and Zakhar Berkut; the last of which has two runs of about 700-800m. But Politech Mountain is the best option for newcomers, especially since there are cosy little pubs situated at the base where one can sit and enjoy a beer or two while resting sore tired muscles. And as the number of hotels and pubs just keeps growing from year to year, this is quickly becoming a great little spot to getaway for the weekend, getting in a bit of skiing in the process.
This resort has got the highest-altitude in all of the Carpathians with peaks at Stih and Wizhnytsia reaching heights of 1,704m and 1,883m respectively. It’s the altitude that keeps this place open longer than the others as you can ski here beginning with the first snowfall right through til the end of April, and sometimes even into May. Eight runs, ranging from 1,200m to 3,000m, and consisting of various degrees of difficulty, tend to draw out those with a mind for serious down-hilling, but even if you’re just starting out, there’s also a small hill of just 300m which is equipped with instructors, ready and willing to help. At the bottom of the mountain, the resort’s facilities include a sauna, a number of pubs, cafes and restaurants, a billiard room, table football and hockey, a ski school, rental centres and if you still feel like you haven’t had enough outdoor activity, a tubing hill can be found as well. A hotel or cottage will set you back around 150hrv per day (250hrv during Christmas) and boding well in skiers’ favour: Drahobrat is rarely ever crowded.
Although you may only associate sunshine and seashore with this part of the country, Ukraine’s ski resorts aren’t limited to the Carpathians, as there are also a few slopes that can be found in Crimea. Catering to almost any taste with different lifts and runs, the set-up at Ai-Petri is pretty basic. Should you need instructors or rental equipment, they are at your service, as are the Soviet or Sovok style apartments which can house anywhere from three to 12 people. The one small snag with regard to Ai-Petri is its location as it is situated on a national reserve where winter sports aren’t even technically legal.
Slopes in Kyiv
If your wallet is crying havoc these days, get yourself in the car and head to Protasiv Yar 23, a resort of two runs – 300m and 500m – as well as lifts. Each lift will set you back 3-5hrv, inlcuding 100hrv for rental services, but as the hills are just around the city, the bonus here is that you can drive out, ski, and drive home all in the same day. Or, try your hand at some night skiing: the runs are well-lit and the sensation is very different! Vyshgorod and Kyiv’s Holosiivsky Park also have runs of about 300m.
And considering the current financial situation, here are a few reasonably-priced options outside of the country:
Georgia (Gudauri and Bakuriani)
You may have to fly to get to this locale, but tickets bought with UIA will only set you back $300 – $500. The ultimate run length here is 3100m but newcomers to the sport may want to try the gentler 2200m slopes first. With regard to accommodation, you can either do a hotel or a private cottage ($50 – $200 per day) and even though you can snag a beer or two at the bottom of the slopes, you may find it difficult to find any decent eateries located here as most of them are located within the hotels. It’s worth heading inside to check them out, however, as Georgians are well-known for their delicious cuisine.
Located on the northern slope of the Chopok Mountain, Jasna has proved to be the best ski resort in all of Eastern Europe. The typical length of most of the runs is 21500m but for those just starting out, there are a couple hills running no longer than 877m. While Strbske Pleso, at a peak of 1850m, is quite well-known as the coldest spot in the Tatra Mountains, they also have some of the best snow conditions here, are open well into mid-April and operate 17 different lifts from 8:30 to 15:30. Accommodation can be easily found and depending on the location, prices for a private cottage start at 20euros a day.
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