Forget about the popular ski resorts in Europe or the US. If you want to experience something different, and arguably better, you should try skiing in Russia. This place offers things that you cannot experience anywhere else.
Most of the Russian ski resorts don’t have a good infrastructure and can’t offer you service like some ski places in the Alps, but you’ll get a chance to experience the beauty of the Russian nature. Also, ski resorts in Russia give you more freedom than most of the ones in Europe.
Another great reason to go skiing in Russia is the money aspect: because of the fall of the Russian currency (Ruble) compared to the others, skiing in Russia will cost you almost twice as less than it would a few years ago.
For example, this year adult’s one-day ski pass to the most expensive Russian ski resort “Rosa Khutor” in Sochi cost 1850 Rubles during the high season. Converting at today’s (08/02/2016) rate it is only 28 US Dollars or 24 Euros.
The same ski pass cost 59 Euros at the Chamonix resort in France, 49 Euros at the Cortina D’Ampezzo in Italy and 45 Euros at the Austrian resort Ischgl. That is the price difference on a one-day ski pass, can you imagine how much money you may save (on a hotel, food, and apres-ski) if this year you’ll pick to go to Russia for your winter vacation?!
Let’s take a look at the 10 most popular ski resorts in Russia (in no specific order). These are the places you wanna go skiing in Russia!
1. Rosa Khutor, Sochi
You know that it’s one of the best, if not the best ski resort in Russia if it’s the favorite place to ski of the Russian president Vladimir Putin. Rosa Khutor was constructed from 2003 to 2011. It’s very popular thanks in part to the fact that it hosted alpine skiing events during the recently concluded Winter Olympic Games in Sochi.
Just to be more specific, it’s set on a plateau that’s almost 4,500 acres in size. The lowest piste is at 819 meters which is also the resort’s altitude. The highest lift is at 2,286 meters. Rosa Khutor offers ski runs that total to 38 kilometers. One of the best things about this resort is it can work with skiers of all skill levels. Beginners will enjoy the green runs while experts will be challenged by the black runs.
Is it off-season in other resorts? Check out Rosa Khutor resort because its snow season can last for up to half a year on some of its slopes. This is because of its impressive artificial snow system that dusts almost 250 acres of ski runs with powdery white artificial snow. The best time to ski in Rosa Khutor is during February and March – it’s the time with the most snow. The resort usually opens in the middle or at the end of December and winter season last’s until
The best time to ski in Rosa Khutor is during February and March – it’s the time with the most snow. The resort usually opens in the middle or at the end of December and winter season last’s until the end of April – beginning of May.
Rosa Khutor ski resort is really easy to get to using public transportation from Sochi. You may have a few options:
- from the Sochi International airport – take bus №105;
- from the Sochi train station or Sochi Olympic Park (Adler) – take “Lastochka” train, they run 4 times a day.
Pros and cons of skiing in Rosa Khutor ski resort:
- “+” – location, good infrastructure, great for both beginners and experts, long season;
- “-” – most expensive ski resort in Russia.
2. Sheregesh, Siberia
Doesn’t it sound cool to ski in Russian Siberia? Sheregesh is one of the best and most popular ski resorts in Russia.
Sheregesh is located on the south of Kemerovo Oblast, over 3000 km away to the east of Moscow. The best way to get to Sheregesh is to fly to the town Novokuznetsk and from there you’ll have to do another 200 km by car or public transportation. It will take quite a long time to get here, but your trip will be well worth it.
Skiing season normally starts in November and last until the beginning of May. Not many ski resorts in the world have snow as crisp and light like Sheregesh does – thanks to the unique Siberian climate. For the moment the ski resort has 10 pistes (total of 42 km) and 17 lifts. The tallest peak at Sheregesh is the 1270 meter Green mountain.
Sheregesh is growing from year to year and becoming more popular. Management of the resort has the plan to turn Sheregesh into the most visited in Russia. In the next few years, Sheregesh will build tons of new tracks, lifts, hotels, and restaurants.
After its debut in 2013, festival GRELKA Sun & Light became traditional in Sheregesh – everyone skiing downhill in a bikini. GRELKA Sun & Light fest is held in the middle of April. Don’t miss a chance to be a part of this unique event and come to ski in Sheregesh naked this coming April! ^_^
Pros and cons of skiing in Sheregesh ski resort:
- “+” – season lasts for over 6 months, unique snow conditions, cheap compared to Rosa Khutor;
- “-” – takes a long time to get here, far from civilization.
3. Volen, Moscow
Sports complex Volen is the most popular ski resort near Moscow. It’s located only 60 km (35 miles) from Moscow and you can get here by car or take a public transportation from the city.
Volen is a pretty big complex where you can not only ski and snowboard, but also try to ice skate, have a race on the luge track, drive a snowmobile, buggy, or a go-cart. Volen Park offers a lot of activities for people of all ages and interests.
The Ski Park has 17 tracks with the average length of each 300-350 meters. For sure, if you come here, you can’t expect quality like in the Alps, but Volen might be a perfect option if you have a free day or two in Moscow.
4. Dombay, Caucasus
Dombay might be another option if you are looking for an extreme place to ski. This resort is located near the town Mineralnye Vody and the best way to get here is to fly from Moscow or St. Petersburg.
Skiing in Dombay is friendly for skiers of all levels; most of the pistes here have a mild slope. The resort has 12 tracks to ski and their total length is approx. 20 km.
For professional skiers and snowboarders, Dombay offers heli-skiing, where you ride downhill on untouched slopes. It’s dangerous and risky because of the chance of an avalanche. That’s why the heli-skiing tours are only allowed with the presence of an experienced instructor and professional guide. This kind of tour costs around 400 Euros per person for 4 downhill’s, transportation by helicopter, instructor cost and the avalanche equipment.
5. Mount Elbrus Azau, Caucasus
Elbrus Azau ski resort is located in the Kabardino-Balkariya region (Caucasus) 150 km from the town of Nalchik. It’s not that easy to get here, but your trip to the Caucasus will be well worth it. Ski routes are laid on the southern slopes of Mount Elbrus – the highest mountaintop of Russia and Europe.
It would be a pretty cool experience skiing here, right?! Especially if you know that it is one of the most beautiful nature places in Russia.
Expert skiers would love to ride Elbrus Mount. Skiers here are challenged by 23 kilometers of downhill skiing offered by this ski resort. There are 3 ski lifts all in all and 6 tracks at the height of more than 2,500 meters.
But on the other hand, Elbrus Azau doesn’t have as good infrastructure as the other resorts – a variety and quality of the provided services leave much to be desired. Also, you are not going to find many accommodation options in the area or places for apres-ski. Yes, it’s such a shame, because Elbrus area has a lot of potentials to become one of the most popular places to ski in Europe.
Season on most of the ski slopes starts in October and ends in May. At the heights of more than 3800 meters season lasts all year round, but the only possible way to get to these heights is by using ratrack.
Pros and cons of skiing in Elbrus Azau
- “+” – unique location, great for experienced skiers, long season;
- “-” – hard to get to, problems with infrastructure and accommodation options.
6. Bigwood (Bolshoy Vudyavr), Murmansk Oblast
Bigwood skiing complex is the biggest one in the north of the European part of Russia. It’s located in Murmansk oblast 9 km from Kirovsk city not far away from the Finnish border. Here you can see a location on the Google maps.
Bigwood ski complex offers to its guests 9 trails for skiers of all levels: 6 of them are made for beginners and the other 3 for intermediate and experts. The maximum length of the longest slope is 2.5 kilometers; total length of all of the ski pistes is approx. 30 kilometers.
Season at the ski complex starts in November and sometimes goes up until June – which is pretty awesome. Another unique thing about skiing at Bigwood resort is that you can actually experience the northern lights while you having fun on the slopes.
7. Abzakovo, South Ural Mountains
People call Abzakovo “Russian Switzerland”. It is another popular place to ski in Russia, in the South Ural Mountains near Magnitogorsk city. It’s pretty easy to get here by just taking a straight flight from Moscow or St. Petersburg.
A climate in Abzakovo is soft during the winter with a prevalence of clear and sunny days. The resort has 13 pistes for skiing with the maximum length of 2780 meters and the max height difference of 311 meters.
Around the resort, you can also find trails for cross-country skiing and try shooting yourself from the biathlon rifle.
8. Zavjalikha, Chelyabinsk Oblast
Zavjalikha ski resort was opened in 2000 and since then it became into one of the most popular places for skiers and snowboarders in the region. It is one of the most modern Russian ski resorts with well-developed infrastructure.
You can tell that this is a good snowboard park because Zavjalikha holds many snowboard competitions and also the Russian National team trains here.
9. Sobolinaya Mountain, Irkutsk Oblast
Sobolinaya Mountain ski resort is not the best one in Russia, but it might be okay to come here for a day or two while you visit Lake Baikal in the winter.
Here you’ll get enough of snow, fresh Siberian air, and you’ll be able to see some magnificent landscapes. The best time to come to the resort is during the spring in April or May – it’s called “velvet season”.
You’ll get your first adventure in your travel from Irkutsk to Baikalsk. The 148-kilometer road is usually covered in snow and it’s in a windy location. You can expect the 2-hour drive to be treacherous and that’s welcomed by many thrill seekers.
On its own, skiing at the Sobolinaya Mountain isn’t that exciting due to the lack of infrastructure and good service. For example, most of the visitors complain about old and slow ski lift systems and low quality of cleaning the runs.
10. Ohta Park, St. Petersburg
There are not many options to go skiing around St. Petersburg. Ohta Park is the most popular place to ski near St. Petersburg. It’s located only a 20-minute drive from the city.
Ohta Park has 6 trails of different levels with the length of each approx. 300 meters and the maximum height difference of 60 meters (yeah, it’s a really small ski park).
How to Enjoy Skiing in Russia?
It all starts with choosing the right ski resort and the list above is a good place to start. Do your further research on these resorts and as soon as you find the best one for your schedule, go ahead and settle everything including the reservation for the accommodation.
Make sure that you also have the right tools and equipment. You don’t have to buy these tools and equipment since you can just rent them at the resort. However, it’s a good idea to invest in them if you’re really serious in the sport.
Also, make sure that you stick to the right slope according to your skill level. Don’t hesitate to ask an instructor for help. Skiing in Russia, just like in all ski resorts in the world, can be dangerous without proper guidance.
Check out these 10 resorts listed above and soon enough, you’ll be enjoying your winter vacation in Russia! I hope my information was little bit helpful to you and I wish you to have an amazing time in Russia!