Tri border skiing

2nd November 2009, by Chris Gill

Tiny Tarvisio in Italy

Tiny Tarvisio in Italy

Author Wendy King

Why not combine the low prices of Eastern Europe with unspoiled, small resorts of the west?

It is possible to ski in Slovenia, Italy and Austria on one trip and still enjoy a cheaper alternative to the big-name resorts. In fact, the three countries are actively promoting cross-border visits under a new initiative called ‘Playing Together’. The scheme highlights possible tours, packages and activities throughout Slovenia, Carinthia in Austria and the Italian border area known as Friuli Venezia Giulia. The tri-border ski region is a good example.

Where exactly?

There are lots of small ski areas at the far eastern end of the Alps – on the edge of the Dolomites, Carinthia and the Julian Alps west of Slovenia’s capital Ljubljana. Most are within a half- to an hours drive of each other, and close to two or three main airports, so ideally suited to short breaks or mini-tours from a base in Slovenia. About half a dozen or so of these villages share an international lift pass too, and with costs around a third cheaper than the average alpine lift tickets it’s good value for money.

Tri border region showing resorts

Pick of the slopes

The resorts are small by alpine standards; intermediates can easily cover each in a day. Most of the skiing is below 2000m too, although the Kanin and Carinthia areas have a good snow record and extensive snowmaking. But they all offer quiet, crowd-free slopes and plenty of treelined runs. And the ski schools are generally high quality and cheap.


Bovec is virtually in Italy; it’s on the south side of Mount Kanin and has Slovenia’s highest slopes (1500m-2290m), as well as a lift link to Sella Nevea over the border. Above the access gondola, four chairlifts and a draglift serve a handful of red and blue runs – but there is some good off-piste available too. The resort also has a terrain park and cross-country trails. (see News )

Kranjska Gora is a well-established resort, similar in size to Bovec/Sella Nevea – with 30km pistes on a low woody mountain. Although snow reliability is less good here and many lifts quite old, it is convenient for skiing the three countries and a quiet place for novices.


Sella Nevea means ‘snowy pass’. Skiing started here in the 1970’s but it has had a turbulent history – a series of avalanches in its steep sided valley, and then bankruptcy in the 1980’s. But the resort has received recent investment, including the welcomed link with Bovec. There are several long red runs, a black and nursery slopes both at valley level and up the mountain; snowmaking covers most of them.

Four small Italian ski areas are also covered by the lift pass: Tarvisio, Zoncolan-Ravascletto, Forni di Sopra and Piancavallo. Tarvisio is north of Sella Nevea and close to the motorway down from Austria. The resort has 30km of north-facing slopes between 815m and 1760m. Most of the nine lifts are chairs.


At the border tri-point and an hour or so from Klagenfurt is Austria’s Arnoldstein (680m-1600m) and its ski area Dreiländereck – which means ‘cross-border, cross-country’. The slopes are ten minutes from the village and offer a tiny (15km) but varied area that includes a couple of black runs.

Getting there

The nearest airport is Klagenfurt in Austria. Drive times: Bovec (1hr 30), Kranjska Gora (1hr 15), Tarvisio and Arnoldstein (approx 1hr). There are plenty of flights to Slovenia’s capital Ljubljana, including EasyJet from Stansted. Bovec is 2hr-2hr 15. Alternatives include Trieste with Ryanair: Bovec – 2hr 15 and Venice: Ryanair and EasyJet have flights, with transfers approx 3hrs.

Trains: From Klagenfurt there are trains via Villach and Jesenice, but then a 25-minute bus transfer to Kranjska Gora from there.

Getting around All the main resorts are within an hour of each other, so very accessible for day trips. Nassfeld in Carinthia is also nearby and offers a sizeable 110km slopes.
Bovec – Sella Nevea (30mins); Bovec – Tarvisio (40 mins); Bovec – Kranjska Gora (50 mins); Bovec – Nassfeld, Austria (1hr 30 mins)

Staying there

Bovec has the hotel Kanin and there are a couple of 3-star hotels in Sella Nevea. Crystal and Balkan have packages to Kranjska Gora.


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