You’ve probably seen Livigno in many “top affordable places to ski in Europe” lists. The name of this town in Northern Italy is well-known for ski and snowboard enthusiasts. The Italian Alps are there to feed every adventurer’s fantasy with ideas.
Everyone realizes that winter sports are not exactly the cheapest hobby at some point. So once you really start to get into it, you just want to explore more places, to ski and snowboard and change the scenery while being able to afford it at the same time.
When our very adventurous and off-road-experience-seeking friends proposed Livigno, we were wondering if those Alps slopes would be a bite too big for us. Having only winter sports experience in Serbia and Bulgaria, we were at the edge of diving into real ski world, or should I say skating/sliding into? ⛷️
Eventually we discovered Livigno just has too much to offer, even if one is not into ski or snowboard at all. Here is what you can do in this charming Italian town, as well as some practical info.
Getting to Livigno
We flew in from Bergamo airport. Then we booked a shuttle to drive us to Livigno – journey took about 3 hours. You can also rent a car, or drive in with your own. Just keep in mind the last couple of tens of kilometers are in the Alps. You’ll experience curvy roads, sometimes very narrow, tunnels and passes. In case of too much snow some passes could get closed or allow driving in just one direction for some time. Always check the road conditions before you hit the road.
We also combined Livigno with a day in Bergamo on the way back. It was a nice change of the white surroundings with early spring in Bergamo. This city could be just too romantic!
We’re going to need a lot more practice in packing light for winter adventures. This is probably the journey with most baggage we’ve carried EVER. We still managed to combine the ski and snowboard equipment into one big bag so we paid a single ski equipment bag. So at least we avoided paying the extra airline fee for that.
Well, it’s true that equipment plus winter clothes just takes space. We still can’t make peace with that, having in mind that we pack for two months in Central America with half the luggage or less. Any suggestions how to optimize winter adventure baggage will be highly appreciated!
Booking accommodation in advance is the key to lower prices. Sometimes people cancel last minute but don’t rely on good deals in the last minute. We booked a nice guesthouse several months in advance and it was great – close to one of the lifts, close to a bus stop, close to amazing affordable restaurant, close to supermarket. Other facilities included ski wardrobe, nice porch, fireplace. And it’s so cool they clean up the fresh snow so you don’t slip in the yard or on the streets.
And here is another option to search and book accommodation in Livigno:
One of the older houses in Livigno – walking in town is a fun activity, too.
Transport within town
There are a few bus lines crossing the town which basically can get you anywhere – to all the ski lifts and parks and other important spots in town. Is it said those buses are free for everyone possessing ski pass but nobody ever checks for passes so it’s practically a free transportation within town. You can check their routes and schedules here. But be aware of their working time in case you plan nightly adventures.
Ski passes in Livigno vary by how high is the current season and length of time you want to use them for. Passes apply to all the slopes in the ski area. You can check the price here and buy in ski lift stations or designated offices. I strongly advice you to check the slopes first, before getting a pass for the whole length of your vacation.
I bought a 6-day pass but after the first day on the slopes I didn’t know if I wanted to use it for the rest of the vacation. More on that story below. I got lucky to get refunded for the remaining days but usually they refund only in case of traumas and incidents (verified by doctor).
There is also an option to pay per usage of lifts, by points. Every lift has its points value so when you check the card the corresponding amount of points is taken off of your account. For example, small short lifts in the ski park can take you 2-3 points, whereas the longest highest lifts could go for 20+. This option is quite good for beginners and learners or people who don’t ski or snowboard much and would enjoy a more relaxed pace.
If you take a good look at a map of the slopes of Livigno, you’ll get probably overwhelmed. It’s a complex system of slopes and base stations but it’s actually not so hard to get used to it.
Unfortunately (for me) the blue slopes were not that many. To run down some of them, you still have to use red ones to go down to the town unless you want to use the lift down. Being not so many, I found the blue slopes of Livigno too crowded.
If you upgrade to red slopes, then this is the heaven for skiing and snowboarding. They are many and everywhere, some of them seem very spacious. There is also quite good black slopes for the brave ones.
If there’s enough snow, you can go off-road wherever you please. This is a risky business so mind your own safety. In the skirts of the mountain and near the town, you can also skip the bus and go off-road between lift stations. Even I did this! It could be tricky if there is not enough snow. So better go with a buddy to take you off the mud in case it’s necessary. 😃
The two main mountain hills, standing high and proud and squeezing the town inside, are called Mottolino and Carosello 3000. If you want the perfect recipe to ride on both of them in the same day, then start with Carosello. The higher slopes there get lots of sunshine in the mornings. After lunch you can move to Mottolino and its slopes, to enjoy the afternoon sun.
If you happen to love winter sports and be a foodie at the same time – you’re at the right place in Livigno! Mamma mia, the cuisine is so delicious! But you probably imagine so, as you’ve probably tasted or at least heard of the Italian cuisine and food.
You’d ask if it’s too expensive, as it’s a winter resort after all. We ate home most of the evenings with fresh supplies from a nearby supermarket. And all the things were super tasty and fresh, imagine delicious vegetables in winter and local produce that makes you overeat every day!
One could taste samples of local cheeses and meats. There was some good wine for 5 euro the bottle. We made pigs of ourselves! And cooking is also nice when you have cool ingredients.
We expected to not eat out so much because of the high prices in restaurants. Prices turned out to be not so high if you go to the right place. And the right place was just across our house – by “right” I mean one of the most delicious pastas I’ve ever eaten for just 5 euro. If you go around and check menus, you’ll spot some nice family-run restaurants that will not harm your wallet too much.
Having a bite in the cafeterias on the slopes turned out to be affordable too – so taking a break with a nice beer and hot soup was part of the daily routine.
Ski hard, party harder. A lot of people seem to believe so. There is a good amount of apres-ski bars and diskos where you can shake it off and party the evening away. They close by 8-9 p.m., but this is the winter sports world! Everyone has to be fresh and sober early in the morning the next day.
If you want to look like a pro-party-people, definitely wear a sweater in the apres-ski place. Jump on the tables, drink tons of cocktails and beer, and be cool! Still wearing your snowboard or ski boots gives you extra points.
I was introduced to my new love – the cross-country skiing, in Livigno. The town has about 30 kilometers of tracks for cross-country skiing that are good for anyone from beginners to pros. There are some things that are very important to know if you want to give this winter discipline a try or if you think it’s too lame.
First of all, it’s not lame. It is actually quite a technical sport so you can do it the easy way studying the technique or you can just have fun (and put way more effort). That’s why I highly recommend getting a few lessons and not trying it on your own. When you have someone to show you what exactly to do, it’s so much better and you can enjoy the sport.
What I didn’t expect is that cross-country skiing will be so exhausting. When you ski downhill, it’s easy – gravity is moving you so you have only the passive exercise to keep the direction and speed you’d like (we know that can be hard too). In cross-country skiing, it’s all up to you and your active movements – you can’t just do nothing and ski. This is one of the reasons I love it so much – it’s an active sport and you don’t need thick clothes and equipment to do it, unless you don’t want to feel like in a sauna.
Try different styles
There are two main styles of cross-country skiing – the classic and the skating styles. The classic is recommended to start with as it’s not so demanding physically. It resembles more of walking and sliding or using the cross-trainer at the gym. You can ski and have a chat with a friend, and the special tracks for the classic style really help you not to go in the wrong direction.
The skating style resembles more…well, skating. So you need to keep better balance. I found out it gets me tired more. Of course you feel more free to go around tracks and feel like a cross-country competitor. The equipment for both styles is different but you can study both and choose which one is your favorite later, or just keep doing both (like I did).
The atmosphere of cross-country skiing area is just so magical and different. People are generally very relaxed. It’s easy to be on your own on the track, as well as it’s easy to chat with friends as you ski together. You can always take a break with a hot chocolate or a bite in the restaurant nearby, or just enjoy the surrounding views and ski as long as you have energy for it.
Fun parks, tubing, iceskating
Don’t be scared by the pro-slopes of Livigno. There are enough fun and training parks for everyone. If you’re not experienced or are with your kids, nobody will ever get bored.
Different non-steep slopes of different length will satisfy anyone, some of them feel like race slopes (they even measure your time). If you’re not into skiing or snowboarding, you can try the tubing. Or if you’re not into snow at all, you may try ice-skating.
To all the shopping freaks – Livigno has got your backs! Actually lots of stores are duty free and you can nail a good deal if you’re looking for cheap alcohol or electronics. The other stuff didn’t feel cheap to me, especially the equipment which costs a mountain!
But duty free is duty free so you might snatch a bottle of your favorite liquor or a new action camera as a reward for your efforts on the slopes!
Other activities to complete the adventure
Alternatives for adventurous activities would include winter biking (a.k.a. fat bikes), hiking and trekking. You can even greet the rising sun and ski down one of the peaks. You’ll need a helicopter to get you up there first.
There is plenty to do, every adventurous soul gets inspired by the surroundings and the fresh air!
Spa centers and hotels await you, or you can go the more affordable way and take a dip in the hot waters of a pool created by a broken pipe. That’s sounds like a local legend but the place really exists.
If you feel rich enough, you can pay a visit to the nearby Saint Moritz resort in Switzerland. Send a photo after that please, so we can see what it’s like to be in the Swiss Alps! 😆
Well, that was our little guide to winter Livigno. In other seasons the variety of activities wouldn’t disappoint. In winter, when we visited, it offers just too much to be experienced in a week. If you ski, if you snowboard, or if you don’t – Livigno is still a winter paradise with plenty to offer! And the best thing about it is that you can easily afford it! And it means a lot to be able to afford a high-class winter resort in the Alps!
Thank you, Livigno, for the amazing experiences! Looking forward to skiing you again!
Have you ever been in Livigno? What time of the year did you visit? Do you have favorite winter places you’d like to share?