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Thredbo: The ultimate travel guide 2023

Hotels, things to do, best time to go, lesson review, deals and more.

Home to Australia's longest ski runs, Thredbo is a picturesque alpine valley that's shrouded in powder during the winter months and covered with hiking and mountain bike trails to explore the rest of the year.

The village and snow resort can be found in the heart of Kosciuszko National Park at between 1,365m and 1,930m above sea level, where the white stuff falls between June and October.

Its cosy village is full of hillside chalets, homely restaurants and more than a pub or two to keep you busy while you're not on the slopes.

Over the last few years I've travelled to Thredbo once in summer, and 3 times in winter. In 2022 and 2023, this included taking my 3 young kids onto the slopes for the very first time as a family holiday.

In this article, I will take you through my experiences, and everything you need to know if you are considering Thredbo as a destination, or are heading down there for the first time.

Thredbo Guide 2

Getting there and getting around

Where is Thredbo?

Thredbo resort is in the Snowy Mountains, about 2.5 hours' drive southwest of Canberra (about 215km) and 5.5 hours' drive (just under 500km) southwest of Sydney. There is a village with hotels, restaurants, bars and basic shops at the base of the mountain.

Sitting 36.5km from the village, Jindabyne is the nearest town to the ski resort. Here you'll find large supermarkets and more affordable accommodation than at the resort.

How do I get to Thredbo?

Driving is the easiest way to get to Thredbo, with overnight parking available in designated areas or on-site at your accommodation. Traffic around the area is usually slow as it is situated on a steep hill and roads can be icy. Remember to bring (or hire) snow chains if travelling during the winter months in a 2WD vehicle.

If you're not keen on driving, Murray's Coaches tends to offer a Snow Express service on Fridays and Saturdays from July to September from both Sydney and Canberra. We often see deals from Groupon offering discounted bus tickets combined with the national park fee.

If you're flying in, Rex Airlines offers flights between Sydney and Cooma, which is about 100km from the resort. You can also fly into Canberra and connect to Thredbo by bus or hire car.

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How do I get around once I'm there?

If you're staying within Thredbo Village, getting around on foot is the easiest as the village is relatively small.

The Friday Flats region, where lessons begin and end, is a fair way out of the village centre. And the Thredbo Leisure Centre is next to it, too. There is a free shuttle bus that operates from 7:30am to 9pm daily to take you between the 2 destinations. During July and August, a special service runs until midnight on Fridays and Saturdays.

Alternatively, you can catch the Gondola from the village to the mid-station, and jump-off there to access Friday Flats.

All the main destinations - primarily the ski lifts, restaurants, bars and accommodation - are accessible on foot or using the shuttle service.

Types of transport: The free Thredbo Village shuttle operates along 3 routes. There's the free shuttle between Friday Flats and the village. Then Snowy Mountains Shuttles and Snowlink Shuttle provide transfers between Thredbo and Jindabyne, which is the closest service town to Thredbo.

Paying for transport: While the Thredbo Village shuttle is provided free of charge, shuttles between Thredbo and Jindabyne start at $60 per adult for a same-day return trip with Snowy Mountains Shuttles. This includes your national park entry fee.

Getting to and from the airport: There is no public transport to or from Cooma or Canberra airports, but there are shuttle services. You can book these in Thredbo Village, at the airport or online prior to arrival.

Thredbo ski resort

Get on the front foot of your snow trip by sussing out the runs, lift pass options, prices, equipment hire and schools in Thredbo Village.

What you need to know about the resort

  • Chair lifts: 5
  • T-bars: 5
  • Number of magic carpets: 4
  • Gondola: 1
  • Runs: 55
  • Terrain parks: 4

Everything you need to know to hit the slopes at Thredbo

  • Ski season dates: 10 June 2023 to 2 October 2023
  • Snow report: Check the daily snow report for recent snowfalls and conditions
  • Thredbo cams: You can look at live cameras from the slows on the official site.
  • Trail breakdown: 16% of the trails are for beginners, 67% are for intermediates and 17% are for advanced skiers
  • Longest run: 5km
  • Skiable terrain: 480 hectares

Thredbo mountain map:

Thredbo Map 2023

Thredbo's best runs

Best beginners

For beginner snowboarders and beginner skiers, Friday Flats is a highly likely starting place. A mild slope with easy and slow lifts, and many likeminded individuals, makes it a welcoming place. It's also very close to the parking lot, and places to eat and drink, when you need a break.

Once you're comfortable with that, the Cruiser area – more often referred to as Merritts – is the best next step. The Walkabout and Squatters Run descents offer the next level of challenge, are often protected from the winds and don't have too many maniacs going at breakneck speeds. Plus, it connects easily back down to Friday Flats via the Gondola.

Best intermediate

For a bit more of a challenge, I recommend starting off with High Noon. This top-to-bottom run offers a variety of slopes and challenges, as well as connecting Friday Flats to the more challenging parts of the mountain. It's also near the Central Spur region, where Alberts Amble, Lenny's Leap, Exhibition and Ego Alley – as well as the spaces between – offer plenty to do.

Those who are more confident can get over to The Basin. The Basin Run is short and sweet, and gets good sun in the afternoon which improves visibility. From up there you can also start the epic Super Trail or Village Trail runs, which give you just about every experience Thredbo has to offer in one leg-burning, but exhilarating experience.

The Boost Mobile Terrain Park is a great place to work on your air and grind game, too, without much risk.

Best advanced

For many, it's the spaces in-between the runs that can hold the most thrills, with powder bowls to be found as you weave between rocks and trees on your own path. But there's some gem runs as well. The Bushranger is a thriller, sure to get the heartrate pumping. As is the Bluff on the main slope. Funnel Web is worth a look, too, if you want a bit of isolation and a long decent to test your physicality.

There can often be some powder to be found on Michael's Mistake or The Tunnel, which are something of hidden gems many miss. Also check out The Bowl at Merritts, especially if you are looking to test yourself while also keeping an eye on the kids. It can get a little icy, but if it has a bit of powder, it's a lot of fun, especially as you thread the needle through the dipper.

The Monster Energy Terrain Park is where you can head for some sizeable ramps to hit.

Lift pass prices

If you're planning ahead for the snow season, you can buy your passes online now. Thredbo has an interesting strategy with its lift pass prices. Prices differ across 8 age brackets, and then again by day. Weekends and school holidays are more expensive than weekdays.

Further discounts can be had by purchasing multiple days in a row.

Thredbo's 2023 lift pass prices are detailed below. Some key notes on pricing:

  • The prices in the table are "from" prices.
  • You can expect a $10/day daily premium for weekends and school holidays.
  • Prices are fluid, and can change depending on demand, so keep an eye out for specials.
  • The later you leave buying a pass, the more expensive it becomes. There's early bird prices, and then a more expensive price if you buy after that but still more than 2 weeks in advance. And then there are last minute prices at full price.
  • You can also opt to pay a $10/day premium for a Flexible Lift Pass (this allows you to change dates for free, but this is barely worth it given it's a $25 charge to change otherwise.
  • Some pack prices do become lower at the edge of the season.

You can purchase passes for up to 7 days with discounts increasing the more days you buy. A full breakdown can be found here.

Pass 0 to 4 5 to 12 13 to 17 and 65 to 69 18 to 21 22 to 64 70+
Full Day $16 $99 $109 $179 $189 $35
Weekend $32 $195 $219 $355 $375 $65
3-day $48 $257 $293 $471 $498 $95
5-day $80 $417 $478 $765 $808 $155
7-day $112 $569 $654 $1,045 $1,096 $215
Gondola (Free 0 to 2) $16 (3 to 12) 16 (13 to 17) $65 $65 $55 (65+)
Season Pass Sold Out Sold Out Sold Out Sold Out Sold Out Sold Out
Ikon Base Pass Sold Out Sold Out Sold Out Sold Out Sold Out Sold Out

Ski schools available in Thredbo

Thredbo offers a wide range of ski schools for all skill levels run by professional and qualified instructors. Most visitors will opt in for mixed lessons with whoever else happens to be on the mountain that day. However, you can look into private lessons for kids, adults or groups of friends, too. On top of that there are specialty programs, including a 5-day adventure camp for kids.

ProgramWho can participate?What is involved?
ThredbolandKids aged 3–6Teaching children the basics of how to ski in a fun and safe environment in a small group.
Burton RigletsKids aged 5–6Children will learn the basics of snowboarding in a safe and fun environment while building their skills in small groups.
FreeridersKids aged 7–14Improving skiing and snowboarding skills, confidence and technique. Kids will be encouraged to progress as skiers/boarders and navigate their way around the mountain.
First Timer LessonsNew skiers and snowboardersLearning the basics of skiing/boarding. Qualified instructors will encourage participants to improve their skills at a relaxed pace in the designated beginners area. There are kids and adults group lessons.
Group LessonsAll skill levelsSmall group lessons where skiers/boarders will build their confidence and technique while practising and advancing their skills.
Private LessonsAll skill levelsIdeal for skiers/boarders who want to work on their style, skills and confidence with a professional instructor without distractions. You can also form groups of up to 3 people who are of a similar skill level for private lessons.

Thredbo lesson 2023 prices

In 2023, kids lessons at Thredbo come in at a few levels:

  • Thredboland (2-4 years) = $225
  • Thredboland (5-6 years) $149
  • Burton Riglets = $149
  • Freeriders = $149
  • Half-day lesson = $109
  • Private lessons = from $579 for 4

Adult group lessons last 2-hours and cost from $89. Adult private lessons start at 3-hours and from $579 for 4 people.

Thredbo ski and snowboard lessons for kids review

In late July 2022, I took my 3 kids to Thredbo for their first ever ski and snowboarding trip. None of them had done it before. The $149/day cost of doing kids lessons at Thredbo is a substantial investment, so I decided to run an experiment. If I enrolled my kids in 3 days of lessons, would their upskill and improvement justify that investment?

My 11-year-old son enrolled in Freeriders - Snowboarding, my 9-year-old daughter opted for Freeriders – Skiing, and my 6-year-old did Burton Riglets, which is for a snowboard.

The lessons are easy to access in Friday Flats, a slightly-sloping learning area at "ground level" in the Thredbo Village. It's only a few minutes' walk from the parking. Freeriders goes from 9.15am to 3.45pm, while Burton Riglets goes from 8.30am to 3.30pm. Both lessons include lunch, but we also sent our kids with a rat pack of snacks.

Lessons pros

  • The lessons double as a daycare or camp solution for parents. For all 3 days I was able to maximise my own time on the mountain, having a ball.
  • The instructors were excellent and the kids quickly bonded with them. I also appreciated the feedback they gave at the end of each day to parents on their kid's progress.
  • The kids made friends they were able to continue to ski and snowboard with outside of the lessons.
  • The kids embraced the level system, which allowed the instructors to move them up and down classes based on skill level. This also ensured kids weren't being held back by having to stay at the level of a kid who was struggling.
  • Instructors were empowered to push the kids, taking them quickly from Friday Flats to the main lifts and mountain runs as soon as they showed they were able.
  • Groups were small, ensuring plenty of one-on-one time with the instructor.
  • My children said the food was really yummy.
  • Learning from a non-parent and in a group gave them a lot of confidence. They would not have learned nearly as much from me, despite my decades of experience.

Lessons cons

  • It's certainly an investment at $140/day and may be out of reach for some.
  • It doesn't include a lift pass for the day. I think for lessons that occur solely on Friday Flats, a lift pass should be included at that cost.
  • It can sell out.
  • Drop-off for Burton Riglets can take a bit of time as they check in each child individually.
  • The cost per day does come down slightly if you get multiple days at once. If you book 3 days, it's $125/day. If you buy 5 days it's $110/day. However, there are no package deals with hire gear rentals or lift passes.

Verdict - Year 1

At the end of the 3 days, the results spoke for themselves. My eldest was catching the biggest chairlifts with me and confidently going on black diamond runs and through the trees in the backcountry. Astounding! He was also happily doing medium level green runs on his own.

My daughter was confidently getting the biggest lifts and going down the green runs with me. My youngest was also confident on the big chairlifts, but did need help getting off. He could get himself down the basic blue runs and lower-end green runs, but not with too many turns. On Friday Flats, however, he was going up and down like a yo-yo, turning correctly.

All 3 kids referred to the lessons as "amazing". They were tired, but the usual tantrums I was fearing trying to get them back into it for second and third days didn't materialise. Especially given the blizzardy conditions of day 2. And personally, not only did I get 3 full days of snowboarding in as they did lessons, come the fourth and fifth days, I was actually able to go down from the top of the mountain with my kids.

As a father, that was pretty much a dream come true. And as a result, I can't talk highly enough of how quickly the kids progressed in the lessons, and believe that while it's an expensive investment, it's certainly worth it!

Verdict – Year 2

One year later, I ventured back down to Thredbo with the tribe. This time all 3 were in Freeriders, and we went for the same approach. First 3 days were lessons. This time around, the experience wasn't a slam dunk, although it was still ultimately worth it.

For my daughter, she had 3 really fun days and improved her confidence and turning. She didn't get to parallel turns, but she mastered T-bars, was a lot quicker on the slopes and was able to get all the way up to the bell and to ring it. For her as 10-year-old, it was a success story.

For my youngest, the transition from Burton Riglets to Freeriders had some teething issues. After the first day, they got him used to being on the mountain again and then pushed him up from level 2 to level 3. But the following morning, the teacher dropped him back down back to level 2 after one run. He subsequently spent the whole second day unable to improve as he was stuck in a class he had already mastered and wasn't taught the next "move," which was S-turns.

That afternoon, I taught him how to do S turns myself and as a result on the final day he was kept in level 3. It was frustrating that he wasn't taught by the coach and instead it was left to me to do it. I feel like he lost a day there, and as a result he was only marginally better at the end of Year 2 as he was at the end of Year 1. Maybe this is reflective of his age, however, and he still had a lot of fun.

My oldest at 12 and with experience doing black runs had a shocking first day. He was incorrectly placed in a group with an 8-year-old who couldn't turn, instead of a group with other 12-year-olds of his own level. I got the impression it was about splitting numbers. As a result, I saw him spend most of the day sitting in the snow waiting for a kid far below his skill level to catch up.

I was really disappointed by this failure in the process to identify the difference immediately and adapt. But when it became clear they were well out of sync, one of them should have been moved straight away. Thankfully, his last 2 days were winners and he quickly progressed to tricking at the terrain park and popping 180s.

In the end, they had 9 lessons between them and 7 were great, so that's still worthwhile in my opinion. Unlike the first year, however, I had to advocate for my children more and be a bit more eyes-on in making sure they weren't being let down by the process. It's something to keep in mind.

Equipment hire experience

You have the option to hire equipment and clothing online before you arrive. Otherwise, there are 2 rental locations in Thredbo, conveniently located at the bottom of the mountain.

When I travelled to Thredbo, I arrived the day before we began hitting the slopes having driven down from Sydney. You can pick up your hire gear from Thredbo after 4pm the day before you start. This is ideal, because there's no stuffing around on that first morning of the week when it is crowded, and you may have lessons starting.

The process takes time, but is well organised. You're channeled through the store, from clothes to boots to skis or boards to helmets. Some patience is required, but overall the staff are friendly and it feels like you're on a well-oiled conveyor belt.

The hire gear quality is ok, but has obviously been used a lot. There are other options to consider - for example, I've hired gear in Jindabyne previously, or even as far away as Cooma to get good prices and no queues. But the big advantage of hiring in Thredbo itself is that if something goes wrong, you can just get it dealt with in the minimal amount of time possible.

It's also worth doing a few YouTube lessons on how to do maintenance before getting on the slopes. There are stations with tools in key locations that can help you for minor issues like tightening a loose binding.

Importance of travel insurance

It is a great idea to take out ski travel insurance as a precaution on your ski/snowboarding trip. If you have an accident while skiing or snowboarding, your belongings are stolen or you become ill on the trip, ski insurance may cover you.

What's there to do in Thredbo?

What can I do if I'm not skiing?

While the slopes may be the main draw of the resort, there are plenty of other snow-based activities and things to do at Thredbo for those not keen to ski or snowboard.

Tobogganing, snowshoeing and horseback riding are popular activities. You can also purchase a lift ticket as a non-skier to go up to the chalets where there's more snow. It's the perfect spot to sip a hot chocolate and take in the surrounds.

What's there to do in Thredbo during the summer?

The resort is open year-round! Hiking and mountain bike tracks have become as popular - if not more so - than the snow. That said, you can still find a bit of snow in the middle of summer on the highest trails, which includes the must-do trek to Mt Kosciuszko.

There's a leisure centre with a pool and waterworks. A thrilling alpine bobsled (the metal type). A golf course. Skate park. Tennis courts. Music festivals and events. And more.

But it's mountain bike riders who will really make the most of it. Without snow, the mountain becomes a maze of bike tracks for riders of all levels. And with a lift pass, you can get yourself and your bike back to the top with ease.

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Is Thredbo's Merritts Gondola worth it?

The latest big addition to the Thredbo experience is the Merritts Gondola. It launched just in time for the COVID-hit 2020 season, but I was still able to give it a go. Here are his thoughts:

One of my goals when travelling to Thredbo in 2020 was for my 3 young children, not yet snowboarding or skiing, to experience snow. Not to just see it, but to roll around in it. To throw it at each other. To watch the steam rise from a hot chocolate as flakes of snow fall onto its surface. We arrived at Thredbo with no lift passes, so we turned to the new gondola.

You can book in a day and buy a scenic pass, granting you access to the gondola, but none of the other lifts.

Shiny and new, comfortable and walled on all sides by glass, the 8-seat Merritts Gondola is an oasis from the cold wind outside. It's not necessarily for day trippers: indeed, you can ride it with your standard lift pass. As a result, skiers and snowboarders – and mountain bikers in summer – use it as a handy route from the village centre across the face to the far right of the fields.

Merritts Gondola

As a connecting route between the left and right edges of Thredbo's fields it's fantastic. And for families, a mid-station that grants you access to the Friday Flat region – where lessons are held – is very handy indeed.

For my family, it got us above the tree line and into the deep snow. The view below traverses several runs, lifts and forested areas, with a Where's Wally-like criss-crossing of humans split by natural wonders and wildlife. The lift ultimately takes you from 1,370m to 1,665m.

It's not a very long ride at around 6 minutes and at the top there isn't a heck of a lot to do in winter. There is a restaurant, some tables and chairs and some little gullies, trees and flats where the kids can play. But it is above the tree line, with thick banks of snow to build snowmen. We scored a magic, windless moment with big flakes falling from the sky.

While the experience itself was a lot of fun, I did feel like it was overpriced in its inaugural year – at least when you need to buy for a whole family. It's such a short trip and there's not much in the way of activities at the top to help justify the cost. Hopefully we'll see better family-focused pricing and a more fleshed-out experience in the Cruiser area as the Merritts Gondola finds its feet in coming years.

Best Canberra stopover accommodation

Let's be fair dinkum; accommodation at (or even near) the snow is expensive. Over the years, we've taken the approach of staying on the snow for that last day, then dropping off our rental gear and hitting the road. For me, that's a good 6- to 7-hour jaunt up to Sydney.

It can be done, but it rarely feels safe. You get tired. And when you have kids, they're even worse. So we now stay a few hours up the road where it's cheaper.

A couple of times we've picked out farm stays, or quaint Airbnbs. But most recently, we decided to stop at Canberra for a couple of nights. Extending the holiday with a trip to Questacon, the mint and parliament house, amongst other things.

Novotel Canberra review

One stay I can vouch for is the Novotel Canberra, our stopover in the nation's capital in 2023. The video below gives you a full tour and rundown, but the biggest highlight is the fantastic indoor pool, spa and sauna. After a week on the snow, being able to rest aching muscles and bruises in a warm environment was a true pleasure.

Despite the somewhat vintage decor, the rooms were also very comfortable, quiet and warm. I enjoyed the buffet breakfast, too, and the central CBD location ensured there was plenty to do within walking distance.

Check out the video for more.

Images: Thredbo

Disclaimer: Chris was invited to try the lessons and gondola as a guest of Thredbo. Opinions and photographs are his own. All editorial content is created independently by Finder.

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