5 Lesser-Known Ski Destinations

As the weather turns colder, skiers start thinking about their plans for ski season. Those serious about the sport might even think of booking a trip to a country with some major slopes—perhaps France, Italy, or Switzerland.  But there are other areas of the world that should be viewed a little more closely when you plan your next ski getaway—areas that may not come immediately to mind when you think of major skiing meccas, but offer some great mountain ranges, beautiful scenery, and challenging runs:

Bulgaria: Likely not one of the top countries that come to mind when thinking of skiing destinations, Bulgaria has enjoyed a slow but steadily growing ski industry for the past few years. Some of the country’s top resorts are Bansko, Borovets, and Pamporovo, while smaller resorts like Chepalare and Vitosha are also growing in popularity with skiers. The country’s mountainous terrain and cold climate make it an ideal destination for skiers looking for an under-the-radar winter excursion.

Japan: With a dichotomous culture that treasures its ancient traditions and thrives on the ultra-modern, Japan has long been a fascinating tourist destination. Ski and snowboard enthusiasts are also drawn to this nation because of its impressive mountain regions in the northern part of the country. Some of the most popular destinations are the Niseko and Hokkaido regions, both of which are home to a number of resorts for skiers and snowboarders of all levels.

Croatia: Budget-conscious skiers may want to consider Croatia as a foreign skiing destination, where a six-day ski pass can cost less than $100.  While it may not have the prestige of the Alps, there are a number of resorts that offer respectable slopes for skiers of all levels. Mount Sljeme, outside of the city of Zagreb, is probably the most accessible resort, as it’s situated on Medvednica mountain, one of Croatia’s nature parks. Skiers of all levels will enjoy Mount Sljeme. Other popular options are Bjelolasica, the country’s largest resort near the city of Karlovac; Platak, near the city of Rijeka, and Petehovac Mountain Lodge, near Delnice.

Sweden: Most of Sweden’s skiing industry is in the northern and central regions of the country. One of the most popular destinations is Are, which is also Northern Europe’s largest and most diverse alpine sport resort. Other popular resorts are Salen, Vemdalen, Klappen, and Branas.

New Mexico, United States: Vermont, Colorado, Utah, and Northern California are world-famous for their ski resorts, but true ski enthusiasts are finding gems in the Southwestern state of New Mexico, a state that’s usually better known for its Native American-influenced food, art, and culture, not to mention its beautiful desert scenery and temperatures. One of the most popular resor