If you’re new to skiing and fancy trying it out, an indoor ski slope could be a fun and affordable way to learn. Or even if you’re a regular skier but want to stay a little closer to home this winter, the UK has a surprisingly good selection of resorts for all levels.

We’re going to take a look at some of the best skiing destinations the UK has to offer. Indoor and outdoor, dry slopes and real snow, we’ve got it covered!

What are the different types of ski slopes?

If you’re new to skiing, it’s good to have an understanding of the different types of ski venues and resorts before you hit the slopes. Confidence is a huge factor for first time skiers, so it’s a good idea to try and master the basics before heading to the mountains. There are artificial and real snow slopes all over the UK, so before planning your first ski trip, book yourself a few lessons at your local dry slope or snowdome so you can learn how to stop and turn before your holiday in the snow.

Indoor ski centres

Indoor ski slopes, also known as snowdomes, are very popular in the UK, and some even produce real snow. Skiing indoors means you can go whenever you want as you don’t need to rely on the weather, and they all have rental facilities for skis (and boards), boots, poles and helmets. But make sure you take your own warm clothing such as ski pants or waterproof trousers, gloves, thermals and a warm jacket. Even though you may only be on the slopes for a couple of hours, it can still get pretty chilly.

Indoor ski slopes are popular with advanced skiers too, as they allow visitors to enjoy skiing or snowboarding in an indoor environment that guarantees ideal skiing conditions. But you don’t have to be skiing or snowboarding to have fun at indoor ski centres. There are usually lots of family-fun activities too, which are a great way for the little ones to have a blast in the snow.

Dry slopes

The most common surfaces for dry slopes in the UK are Dendix, Proslope and Snowflex. Dendix has been around for the longest, and it’s made of plastic bristles with diamond-shaped spaces between the bristles. This type of surface isn’t very forgiving (especially if you fall over) as it has holes in it, but it’s great for working on the basics. Snowflex has a more carpet-like feel to it (with no holes), and Proslope matting uses bristle technology with two different heights to give a better experience and a more snow-like feel. A main benefit of learning to ski on a dry slope is that they are reasonably priced. Plus you’ll be out in the open air rather than indoors. And once you’ve learnt the basics on a dry matt surface, you’ll find skiing on real snow a breeze.

Many dry slopes have rental facilities for equipment such as skis, boots, poles and helmets, but you’ll need to wear a long-sleeve t-shirt or jacket to protect your arms from the bristles if you fall. And bring somes gloves and your own ski socks too.

Natural snow resorts

Scotland is the place if you’re looking for a true ski experience, with the only natural ski resorts in Britain. There are five areas in which to ski, and all have heavily invested in their resorts over the last few years to rival European ski resorts. There are 159km of slopes in total, with 177 ski lifts. The largest ski resort in the UK is Glenshee, which offers up to 40km of slopes. Glenshee, Cairngorm and The Lecht resorts can be found in the Grampian mountain range, while the Nevis Range and Glencoe resorts are in the west of Scotland near Ben Nevis. The highest altitude resort in the UK is Cairngorm Mountain with its base at 640 metres and the highest lifted point at 1,230 metres.

The ski season in the UK tends to run from December to April, and even if you live in London, there are plenty of low cost airlines that fly to all the major airports (Edinburgh, Glasgow and Inverness), providing an affordable option for a ski break. When the conditions are right, you can also ski in the Lake District in Cumbria.

Where are the best places to ski in the UK?
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Skiing is a popular activity the whole family can enjoy. Although the world’s best-known ski resorts are in Europe and North America, we have some great resorts right here in the UK too. Here’s our pick of the best resorts for skiing in the UK, with plenty of dry slopes, indoor ski centres and natural snow resorts for skiers of all levels, wherever you are in the country.

Interested in skiing abroad? View our guide to the best ski resorts for late season skiing to find the perfect destination.

Best indoor ski centres in the UK

  • Chill Factore, Manchester:

One of the best indoor skiing venues in the UK, Chill Factore has the longest real snow slope at 180 metres. It offers ski and snowboarding lessons for all levels, age group and ability, and it’s also home to charity group Disability Snowsport UK, who provide adaptive skiing to people with disabilities. They also have an ice slide, tubing, a climbing wall and snow play for little ones. Plus a variety of different bars, cafes and shops within the centre. If you live locally to the indoor ski centre, consider getting yourself a membership as this will give you a 30% discount on any booking you make.

  • The Snow Centre, Hemel Hempstead:

The closest indoor snow centre to London, The Snow Centre offers everything you need for a great indoor winter sports experience, whether you’re a beginner or advanced skier. It has a snow cannon, giving you an authentic alpine experience, and a huge slope which is 160 metres long and over 30 metres wide. If you’re new to skiing, there’s a 100-metre long lesson slope (the largest in the UK), giving you plenty of space to practice the basics. The on-site snow school is accredited by the British Association of Snowsport Instructors, so you’ll be in good hands! There are direct trains from London, Birmingham, Northampton and Milton Keynes, making it easy to get to for a fun day out.

  • SnowDome, Tamworth:

A great place for beginners to learn how to ski or snowboard, Tamworth’s SnowDome has two Snow Academy slopes, providing lessons or fast-track courses. If you already know how to ski, head to the 170m long main slope, giving you plenty of space to carve up the snow. The venue regularly hosts a number of freestyle events, and it's also home to an ice-skating rink, tobogganing and tubing, plus a snow play area for children to have some fun in the snow. If you want a break from the white stuff, you can take a dip in the 25 metre swimming pool or have a bite to eat in the bar.

Best dry slopes in the UK

  • Norfolk Snowsports, Norfolk:

The club is open all year round and it provides an extensive range of lessons for all abilities. It has two Dendix dry ski slopes and two tow lifts, with the main slope stretching 170 metres. They have a range of ski equipment to hire for all ages, and open practice sessions are also available for members to develop their skills. Children (aged six and over) and adults can experience the thrill of snow tubing, and you’ll also find a club house and a fully incensed bar on-site.

  • Snowtrax, Dorset:

The main slope is 110 metres long, and there is also a 30m intermediate slope, and two nursery slopes for beginners. All slopes are surfaced in Proslope matting, which is considered the best type of dry slope surface. They provide both private and group lessons for all levels, and they offer lots of fun activities for younger kids, including Ringos and Ski Bobs. There’s a well-equipped tuning and repair workshop, and a bar and restaurant so you can wind down at the end of the day.

  • Cardiff Ski And Snowboard Centre, Cardiff

This Cardiff venue was one of the first dry ski slopes in the UK. Opened in 1969, the original slope was 90 metres long, but it has since been extended to 100 metres. It’s situated close to the city centre, and it provides ski lessons for all ages and abilities, as well as school events and competitions. They offer an excellent value all-day pass, making it an affordable choice for a fun day out.

Best natural snow resorts in the UK

  • Glenshee Ski Centre, Aberdeenshire:

When it comes to snowsports in the UK, Scotland’s where it’s at! Providing some of the best skiing in the UK, Glenshee is the largest ski area in Scotland, with 25 miles of downhill runs over four mountains. There are 22 ski lifts and 36 runs, with a great area for beginners too, and on-site equipment hire. It offers an amazing diversity of natural terrain for all standards of skiers, and if snowboarding’s your thing, it also has a terrain park and a natural quarter pipe on top of the pistes, and lots of backcountry access to explore too. Glenshee is a popular resort on good snow days, so book online to skip the queues at the ticket office.

  • Glencoe Mountain Resort, Argyll:

One of the most picturesque places in Scotland, you’ll find Glencoe on the west coast, just below Ben Nevis. It has 20 runs of varying grades and eight different lifts for skiers of all levels. There are plenty of gentle sloping runs for beginners, while advanced skiers and boarders can experience the thrill of some of the best natural terrain in Scotland, with long and steep runs. The resort offers private and group lessons, on-site equipment hire, and plenty of accommodation, including self-catering cottages, chalets and lodges if you fancy a weekend away amidst some of the most stunning scenery in the Scottish Highlands.

  • Lecht 2090, Aberdeenshire:

The Lecht ski resort has around 18km of slopes, and you’re guaranteed snow thanks to the on-site snowmaking facilities. One of the smaller resorts in Scotland with shorter runs, it’s popular with families and not as busy as some other resorts. As the same suggests, it stands 2090 feet (645m) above sea level amid the Eastern Cairngorms, and it has plenty of green and blue runs, making it perfect for beginners. It also has several black runs (demanding slopes for advanced skiers), with an excellent black running from the peak to the bottom of the mountain, with amazing scenery along the way. There’s a terrain park for practising tricks, and a hire centre for equipment, plus a bar/restaurant for a nice warming hot chocolate at the end of the day.

  • Raise, Cumbria

On those lucky days when the snow falls perfectly, Raise in the Lake District is a great place to ski. The most alpine resort in England, with the tow at 800m, its runs are left as nature intended, so it’s not for the faint-hearted. It’s a tough hour-long hike up to the ski area (though a button lift runs most weekends), but when you’re up there, downhill runs of up to 500 metres offer spectacular views. There is a members' hut at the top of the station with heating, electricity, a kettle and a toilet, but facilities are limited so don’t forget warm clothes, food and drink. This resort isn’t suitable for beginner skiers due to the difficulty of the runs, and there isn’t any ski hire or lessons available.

Natural ski resorts are a fantastic way to ski while taking in beautiful surroundings, but even if you can’t get out to one of the stunning ‘natural’ resorts you can still experience great skiing in the UK. Indoor ski centres and dry slopes are a brilliant way of hitting the slopes, whether you’re a novice or an advanced skier. And you’re always guaranteed perfect conditions for skiing, rather than having to rely on Mother Nature.