I did a ski season in Whistler-Blackcomb in 06/07. I was a “Blackcomb Boy” living in Upper Village to the west of Blackcomb base station which meant that I spent 80% of my time on Blackcomb mountain rather than Whistler (this was before the Peak-to-Peak lift connecting them). This didn’t matter as each hill had everything you could ever need: fast, modern lifts, long glade slopes and huge open bowls.
In order to achieve all of this in Europe I had assumed you needed to go to mega-resorts such as the Three Valleys in France.
That was until I found what I think is the best gem in Europe, still relatively unknown: Jasná in the Nizke Tatry of Slovakia.
And it’s 2/3 the price of the big name resorts.
Jasna Ski Resort
Jasna is the biggest Slovakian ski resort yet still only has 50km of slopes. What that figure doesn’t explain is the huge amount of go anywhere terrain, the incredible bowls that fall off in every direction from the top of the mountain Chopok in the Nizke Tatry. The largest ridge of these can be seen in the photo below, on the right hand side taken at mid gondola station.
The top of the mountain is only 2000m high but has one of the best 360 degree views I’ve ever seen – you can literally ski off in any direction, like you can do in the Lake Louise back-bowls in Canada. It’s incredible.
The mountain facilities at the top are excellent too, with a great self-serve restaurant serving classic Slovakian dishes, as well as table option too. And being Slovakia, the prices are great with meals typically costing under €5.
Below is the view from the back-side of the mountain with one of the biggest bowls I’ve ever skied in, and I did a season in Whistler
This is why I’m calling Jasna Slovakia the Mini-Whistler of Europe. There is honestly no European resort so compact yet so epic.
Jasna Lift Pass
The lifts are all modern gondolas and chairs and as Jasná is part of the GoPass network, you can buy your hands-free lift pass online (for a 2 euro discount), share credit with your friends, and even see a map of which slopes you skied that day.
So where to stay for Jasná in the Nizke Tatry? You basically have 3 options:
- At the base of the ski resort
- In the town of Liptovsky Mikulas just 10 minute drive away
- On the road in between such as Demanova
Ski Chalets in Jasná
There are a bunch of British, Irish and Australian run ski chalet outfits in between Jasna and the main base of Liptovsky Mikulas. First on the scene was Chalet Jasna by Propaganda Snowboards in the village of Demanova on the main road to Jasná as well as Ski Jasna Chalet at the base of the ski resort.
New for the 2018/19 season is Liptov Lodge just round the corner from the Propaganda chalets in Bodice. This chalet was rebuilt in traditional stonework by a great Irish & Slovak couple and offers a fantastic welcome plus an honesty bar within the property. It’s run on a self-catered basis and I bet they would be interested in having pre-made meals delivered to their ski chalet when skiing delivery companies expand out of France.
And further up the road is the Dragon’s Lair chalet run by an Australian and Slovak couple who built their stunning architect designed chalet and offers food and drink at the great named Bar Fakt!
We stayed in the modern and really great value Hotel Villa Bianca in the great nearby place of Liptovsky Mikulas, just a 20 minute trip to the slopes which also has great activities for non-skiers. Liptov has a great cafe/bar scene with both Aurelica Coffee and Karma Coffee serving up mouth-watering shots in Instagram every day, plus a fantastic burger restaurant Restart Burger, where the locals go. It’s also a good base if you are on a family trip where you can also visit tourist spots around the lake.
Activities for Non-Skiers
Jasna in the low tatras of Slovakia is close to the town of Liptovsky Mikulas which has a wonderful coffee shop scene, a multiplex cinema and a modern shopping centre. But the biggest attraction is the largest water park in the country Tatralandia , which is a tropical paradise for children and adults alike, and has a hot thermal outdoor pool, a pool with a swim-up cocktail bar and an indoor surfing simulator.
Also on the road between the skiing resort of Jasná and the town is a world famous Ice Cave of Liberty at Demanovska and a 45 minute tour leads you through wide river corridors filled with stalactites, stalagmites or ice columns
How to get to Jasna
There are low-cost flights to Bratislava from the UK, and skiers coming from across the pond should likely fly to Britain and then get a flight to Slovakia, unless you are able to fly directly into the bigger neighboring airport in Vienna, Austria. The most ideal route is from Luton Airport in the UK directly into Poprad-Tatry airport only 40 minutes transfer away from Jasna.