A snowboarder on top of a mountain
Photo by Ostap Senyuk  –  Link

Jasna

Slovakia

Over the past few years, a growing appetite for off-the-beaten-track ski and snowboard destinations has led to many snow sports fans ditching traditional Alpine resorts in favour of lesser known locations. Slovakia, which is sandwiched between Austria, Poland and Ukraine, is rapidly climbing up the list of these up-and-coming hotspots (or cold spots, more accurately), with more people than ever willing to give its slopes a chance. And leading this mini revolution is the resort of Jasna; nestled in the Low Tatras mountain range, it's just a 30 minute drive from Poprad Airport but offers visitors that dreamy combination of decent snow conditions, quiet runs and gloriously affordable food and drink prices.

The skiing

With pistes trailing down each side of Mount Chopok, the majority of runs here are blue or red, making it a good choice for beginners and intermediates, although more advanced skiers and boarders may find the lack of black runs frustrating. Many of the pistes are lined with thick forest and therefore pleasantly protected from the wind. Oddly for a relatively new resort, the lift passes can be more expensive than in some really established towns, although they are cheaper if you buy online in advance.

Sitting at a respectable - if not exceptional - 2000m, snow conditions are normally fairly good, and further supported by the prevalence of snow making machines on the mountains. When Jasna does get powder, its relatively empty slopes (compared to some of the bigger resorts) make it a veritable playground for snowboarders. Off-pisteing isn't all that common here, so if you can find a guide who knows the area well to take you out, then you're in for a real treat.

The village

You have a variety of options for where to stay when skiing or boarding in Jasna. The village at the base of the resort is fairly quiet and populated mostly by hotels, although it's likely this will grow in size as the resort becomes more popular. The town of Liptovsky Mikulas is close by and has a little more going on, including a go-karting track and bowling. Here you will also find more bars and restaurants, many offering decent fare at low prices - expect lots of cheese, potato and meat.

After a busy day of falling over on the slopes, you'll be glad to know that a large number of the hotels in the area come with spas. The area's biggest aquapark, Tatralandia, is close to Liptovsky Mikulas and offers numerous thermal baths, swimming pools and water slides, as well as a Celtic Sauna World, which contains 21 different saunas and steam rooms.