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 artificial ski slopes before you hit the mountain pistes, or get help from instructors at one of the five ski centres. If you live in the UK, it is easy to reach the Scottish snowsports resorts for a day or short break, even at the last minute.
Read our top tips and advice to help you get on your way to snowsport fun!
Skiers at the Lecht 2090, Aberdeenshire
Why ski or board in Scotland?
- 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.
How do I get started?
- Do your research. Register for snow alerts, follow the Ski-Scotland Facebook page and keep up with the latest snow conditions. Always check the travel and weather reports before travelling.
- Find out more about the various ski passes available, from day to multiple day passes and the Ski-Scotland All Areas Season Ticket (available for a limited time only).
- Book accommodation (if you need it) nearby.
How can I learn to ski or board in Scotland?
- If it's your first time on skis or a board, then it might be worth taking a lesson at a local artificial ski slope or at the real snow indoor centre Snow Factor near Glasgow.
- When you're ready for the mountain, choose your snowsport centre. All centres have beginners' slopes with easy uplift.
- Contact the centre and book a beginners package. These include your lift pass, equipment and lessons. At Glenshee, you'll need to book these separately.
- If you're taking a lesson, remember to arrive at the centre at least 1 hour before it's due to start.
- Check out our Learn to Ski video, which will give you some hints and tips.
What should I 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.
- Thermals are a great option, as they are cheap and readily available.
- Wear warm, waterproof gloves or mittens.
- Sports sun glasses or ski goggles, sun cream and lip balm are useful to take with you.
- All 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.
- Most ski resorts advise hiring equipment before arrival and some have information about hire alternatives on their websites. The Lecht offers online equipment booking, which allows those who pre-book equipment to get sliding faster.
Two snowboarders enjoying the Lecht pistes
When is the best time to ski in Scotland?
- 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.
- Register for alerts to keep up with the latest conditions direct from the slopes!
- 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 young children.
Can I bring the family?
- Absolutely! Wee ones will love it - most will find it easier than adults! The resorts all offer gentle nursery areas, easy uplift, a range of lessons and child uplift 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 (5 years and under), 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!
- If you are hiring equipment for the wee ones, make sure you know your own and your kids' height, weight and shoe size - you'll get the gear quicker, and not hold up others.
How can I keep up to date with snow and road reports?
The snow reports are updated by each ski centre during the season 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. For more information, please visit our snow conditions pages for live updates.
What do I need to know about safety on the slopes?
- If you're not sure about conduct on the slopes, all centre's display the Skiers Code of Practice which should be observed. Ski patrollers are always happy to advise on safety matters.
- Accidents and minor injuries are dealt with by ski patrol at first aid posts on the mountain and the cost of first aid and/or mountain rescue is included in your lift pass.
Snowboarders at the CairnGorm Mountain Ski Resort
Any more tips?
- It's quicker to use cash when paying for lift pass, hire, refreshments and more. Credit card machines rely on phone connections and the connection can sometimes be slow, especially in mountain restaurants. Some centres have dedicated cash-only ticket desks.
- Aim to arrive at the resort as early as possible to ensure you can get parked, and car-share if possible. There are also public bus services from Aviemore to CairnGorm Mountain and Fort William to Nevis Range.
- To avoid café and restaurant queues, consider eating early or after the main rush is over.
- If you're a competent, experienced skier, where and when it's safe to do so, taking to the higher slopes may improve your experience and help to alleviate congestion further down the slopes.