Whether you’re a skier perfecting your glides or a snowboarder looking to twist some turns in freshly fallen snow, you’ll find everything you need in Austria. Pristine pistes, top-of-the-notch resorts, world-class ski schools, optimal snow conditions, challenging slopes plus family and beginner-friendly areas amongst some of the most beautiful mountain scenery in Europe.
After a day making tracks in the snow, head to a mountain hut for some rocking après-ski or indulge at a local restaurant. Time your trip right to revel in the magic of the season and sip Glühwein under the twinkling lights of a Christmas Market.
Wherever and whenever you go you are certain to experience that unrivalled Austrian hospitality and be pleasantly surprised at the outstanding value for money that a winter holiday in Austria offers. Here are some of the best places to ski this season.
Kitzbühel in Tirol
Head to Kitzbühel for hot winter action in a Tirolean fairy-tale village setting. The Bergbahn AG Kitzbühel invested no less than €26.5m last season – the largest amount in its history. The Brunn Project was the main point of investment, opening up a whole new world of quality and standards of comfort. For even better skiing in Winter 2016/17 there will be major improvements to the artificial snowmaking facilities.
Skicircus Saalbach Hinterglemm Leogang Fieberbrunn
Otherwise known as “Home of Lässig”, this area is composed of four ski areas stretching from Tirol to SalzburgerLand. Its individual areas are as diverse, varied and prestigious as each other. Fieberbrunn, for example, transforms into a free rider’s paradise every winter when the “Swatch Freeride Tour” graces its slopes. Saalbach is home to “Rave on Snow”, the world’s biggest winter festival of electronic music. And Saalfelden-Leogang’s annual ski marathon attracts professionals and amateurs alike.
In the far west of Austria, this region has one of the best snow records – not only in the country, but much of the Alps. Take your pick from Brandnertal, Lech Zürs am Arlberg or Bregenzerwald. A favourite amongst celebrities, royalty and gourmets alike, Lech Zürs am Arlberg sits on the eastern edge of the region. A new cable car links Zürs and Stuben/Rauz, making the Arlberg area the largest contiguous skiing area in Austria. Brandnertal is prized for its family-friendly vibe. After spending the morning on easy cruising blue and red runs you could take the kids on an animal trail through Brand village where they can get up close to goats, sheep, pigs and birds. The Damüls-Mellau resort in the Bregenzerwald is smaller than Lech but bigger than Brand. Its Gipfelbahn gondola links Mellau with Damüls, making it easy to move between the shadier north-facing slopes and sunny south-facing ones. This area is also world-renowned for its innovative architecture, design and craftsmanship.
Zell am See-Kaprun
The medieval lakeside town of Zell am See is easily reached from Salzburg Airport. It shares the same lift pass as the equally picturesque village of Kaprun, about 8km down the road. Beginners and advanced skiers alike are well catered for here. You can take a combination of gondola and chair lifts from Zell am See town centre and from the satellite of Schuttdorf for intermediate skiing on the Schmittenhöhe mountain, and snow-sure skiing is guaranteed on Kaprun’s Kitzsteinhorn Glacier. Beginners or those returning to the sport can hit the wide range of nursery slopes or polish up their skills at one of the area’s 16 ski schools. Away from the slopes, chic shops line Zell am See’s cobblestoned high street, and you can treat yourself to some relaxation at the impressive 20,000m² SPA Water and Sauna World just outside Kaprun.
Ski Juwel Alpbachtal Wildschönau
Austria’s “Ski Jewel” is formed of two Tirolean ski resorts – Alpbach and Wildschönau. Just 45km from Innsbruck, the travel route leads to Alpbach, a town voted the prettiest in the region, and the Wildschönau region with its picturesque little villages. With some 109km of pistes, 50km of cross country skiing paths and 40km of cleared winter walking paths there’s much to experience, and the abundance of ski lifts ensures you enjoy your time to the max. With romantic horse-drawn sleigh rides, farmers’ museums and the Wildschönau slow train which takes you to the most gorgeous spots in the Alpine valley, any time exploring the area off the slopes will be delightfully spent. Why not top off a day’s skiing with a celebratory Krautinger, a unique schnapps made of local turnips?
Kitzbühel Alps in Tirol is steeped in Austrian tradition and famed for its outstanding hospitality. Numerous cultural activities, museums and traditional events await, and the awe-inspiring mountainous arena offers the perfect stage for ski, snowboarding and tobogganing. The Kitzbüheler Alpen AllStarCard ski pass covers the Hohe Salve Holiday Region, Brixtental Valley, St. Johann and Pillersee Tal, giving access to 916 cable cars and lifts, 2,750km of runs and 800 ski lodges, making Kitzbühel Alps one of Austria’s largest and most varied ski areas.
Innsbruck in Tirol
Recently awarded the title of “Best European Winter Destination” by a leading luxury magazine, Innsbruck has hosted the Winter Olympics three times and is famous for Channel 4’s “The Jump”. Nine ski areas form Olympia SkiWorld. A single ski pass gives you access to the combined 300km of pistes and the free ski bus whisks you to your chosen spot in no time. Peppered with small boutiques, beautiful museums, fabulous culinary establishments and a wealth of glistening Christmas Markets, come here to combine culture, shopping and sports. With only 2 hours from the UK to the slope, it’s a perfect destination for adventurous thrill seekers and culture-loving metropolitan travellers alike.
Tiroler Zugspitz Arena
At 2,962m, the Zugspitze mountain is the tallest in the area, forming the border between Germany and Austria. Tucked beneath this fantastic backdrop are the seven ski resorts that make up the Tiroler Zugspitz Arena, all to be reached quickly via free ski buses and covered by the same pass. There’s no end of variety in this top ski resort with its range of packages to suit all different budgets.