Fancy having a go at skiing or snowboarding in Scotland? It’s really easy to get started! If it’s your first time, get some lessons at either indoor or dry ski slopes before you hit the mountain pistes, or get help from instructors at one of the five ski centres.
Read our top tips and advice to help you get on your way to snowsport fun!
- First, check the ski conditions and choose which snowsport centre you plan to visit. All the areas have great beginners' slopes so why not head to your nearest centre?
- Contact the centre and book a beginners package. These include your lift pass, skis or snowboard and lessons. At Glenshee you will need to book these separately.
- Book accommodation (if you need it) nearby.
- If you’re taking a lesson, remember to arrive at the centre at least 30 minutes before it’s due to start.
Snowsports for kids
- Wee ones will love it - most will find it easier than adults! The resorts all offer a range of ski and snowboard lessons, as well as child ski passes.
- It is usually required for children who join a group lesson to be at least seven years old. This may vary so please check with the resort you're planning to visit.
- Some areas have special classes for very young kids, and even offer family tuition.
- Most resorts also offer other snow activities, such as sledging, as a fun alternative for both the young and the young at heart!
What to wear
- Take several layers and avoid cotton as it can be cold when wet and dries slowly.
- Bring a water and wind-proof outer layer.
- Wear warm, waterproof gloves or mittens.
- Sports sun glasses or ski goggles, sun cream and lip balm are useful to take with you.
- Adults and children should wear helmets.
- At some resorts it’s possible to hire out a ski suit, and all offer helmet, boot, ski and snowboard hire.
When to come
The season usually runs from December through to early April, but this varies depending on snowfall. Snow conditions are very changeable, but are generally best from January to April, so make sure that you are ready to visit at short notice.
- The eastern resorts of The Lecht and Glenshee often get good early snow in October and November.
- Further west, at Nevis Range and Glencoe, there is a higher chance of good late snow, and it has been known to snow into May.
- CairnGorm Mountain Resort is central and often has both early and late snow.
- Register for alerts to keep up with fresh snow fall!
Be aware that school holidays, such as February half term, can be busy while midweek skiing during term time is generally much quieter. The weather can be better late in the season - ideal if you have very young children.
Although snow is never guaranteed, all the Scottish ski areas now have snowmaking facilities, and some also have dry slopes. There’s also a vast range of other activities to choose from locally, if the hill is stormbound or snow conditions are poor.
Snow and road reports
The ski reports are updated by each ski centre during the season. They are updated early morning, late afternoon, and more often as required. The live webcams show real time conditions. Please be aware that early in the season it’s still dark in the early morning and therefore the snow conditions cannot be properly assessed until sunrise.
Thanks to modern and effective equipment the roads to the resorts are cleared quickly, even after heavy snowfall. However, roads do often close overnight for safety and open early next morning. Make sure that you check the road conditions before you go.
Safety on the slopes
- The Skiers Code of Practice is displayed at each ski area. If you are getting lessons, your instructor will also cover this. The rules should be followed to ensure the safety of yourself and others.
- Ski patrollers can withdraw lift passes of those who break the rules or are behaving badly or dangerously.
- If there’s an accident, minor injuries are dealt with by ski patrol at first aid posts on the mountain - marked on the piste maps (maps which show the skiing and boarding runs and uplift routes of each ski resort).
- The cost of first aid and/or mountain rescue is included in your lift pass.
Why ski in Scotland?
- Within the UK it is easy to reach the Scottish snowsports resorts for a day or short break, even at the last minute.
- Skiing and snowboarding in Scotland is value for money - you don't need a passport, costly travel insurance or foreign currency (unless you're visiting Scotland from overseas).
- Instruction is available at all resorts.
- There is a wide choice of friendly local accommodation near each resort if you’re planning a short break or extended winter holiday.