Austria is the key Alpine ski nation
Austria is the key Alpine ski nation, with many hidden treasures waiting to be explored. The Arlberg ski region, including St. Anton, St. Christoph, Lech and Zürs is the jewel in its crown and not only the birthplace of modern Alpine skiing, but also a most popular playground for Europe's Royal families. Kitzbühel and Kirchberg located in the Tirol are justifiably world famous for the annual Hahnenkamm ski race, cosmopolitan atmosphere and a distinctive medieval town flair in addition to the 170km of linked skiing on its doorstep. Two annual Alpine celebrations worth mentioning live in Mayrhofen, the first is the renowned Altitude comedy Festival, which sees ‘the big guns of comedy’ provide a week of unforgettable laughs, and the second is Snowbombing! which mixes fresh current talent with crucial pioneers of the music scene. On the subject of music vibrating off of the snowy slopes of the Austrian Alps, we cannot forget Ischgl and Galtür, with 238 kilometres of pistes and stylish hotels; it’s one of the most popular winter hot spots in the world and attracts international superstars to its open air concerts.
The key to ski holidays in Austria is the country’s celebrated ‘Gemütlichkeit’ culture, which attempts to make guests feel welcome, entertained and well fed, both on the slopes and after the lifts have closed.
Skiing in Austria has always attracted British skiers and snowboarders, and many of them learned to ski in resorts such as Alpbach, Niederau, Söll, Mayrhofen, Obergurgl and Filzmoos. Family skiing in Austria is a major attraction, and in many cases parents have returned later with their own children, confident that the experience they had when they were learning is as rewarding as ever.
The Austrian concept of Gemütlichkeit is a vital part of Austria’s success story: you’ll find the typical Austrian welcome both on the slopes with genuinely friendly instructors and the traditionally friendly (and lively) après-ski in almost every Austrian bar when the lifts have closed. Or even before they have - the partying starts early, and it’s a familiar sight at many of the resort’s mountain huts to see skiers dancing while still in their ski boots. Later on the nightlife continues to be energetic, with live bands and traditional Austrian folk music and dancing, including schuhplattler (in which male dancers rhythmically strike their thighs, knees and soles (platteln), clap their hands and stamp their feet.
Snow in Austria
On the slopes, Austrian resorts enjoy a good snow record even though their ski areas are not, in general, quite as high as those of Austria’s big rival, France. Even Kitzbühel, which is lower than many Austrian resorts – regularly “punches above its weight”. But there is plenty of genuinely high skiing: the highest ski resorts in Austria such as Kühtai, Obergurgl, Obertauern, Galtür and Kaprun are as snowsure as you’ll find anywhere. Skiers who enjoy some culture and tradition thrown in with their skiing will appreciate the proximity of Axams and Götzens to the picturesque old Tyrolean capital of Innsbruck or the closeness of Kitzbühel’s slopes to the town’s medieval walled centre.
The high quality of the hotels and pensions in Austria is another strong selling point. More than any other Alpine country, ski accommodation in Austria and the communal living areas are almost always several cuts above average. So Austria really does tick all the relevant boxes: extensive skiing (many of the resorts, such as Saalbach and Hinterglemm, Lech and Zürs are linked to provide even bigger ski domains), good snow, pulsating nightlife and accommodation that’s usually not far from luxurious. And for those who really want challenging skiing, St Anton, Saalbach Hinterglemm, and Kitzbühel have slopes that most skiers and snowboarders will find more than steep enough.
Most if not all the instructors speak good English, and that applies to many villagers and townsfolk too. If there’s a slightly negative aspect to Austria perhaps it’s the relatively narrow choice of cuisine. Austrians do like their pork and veal, especially in the form of Wiener Schnitzel, one of the country’s most popular dishes. Fish dishes are available, of course but Austria’s culinary culture is definitely biased towards meat.
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Famed in Austria as 'the birthplace of skiing', the magnificent Arlberg is one of those select few ski areas which fully justifies its 'world-class' reputation. Renowned for its challenging slopes, both on and off-piste, the area also includes many wonderful miles of picturesque intermediate skiing.More information
Considered to be one of the best high-alpine ski resorts in the world, St. Anton is renowned for its challenging skiing, spectacular scenery and lively après-ski. The long, exhilarating descents from the Valluga, scenic valley runs and world class off-piste skiing attract keen skiers year after year.More information
Set in a spectacular open snow-bowl 500m above neighbouring St. Anton, and just a short ski-bus ride from Lech & Zürs, St. Christoph shares Austria’s No. 1 world-class ski area with these other famous-name resorts.
Enjoy one of Austria's most exclusive resorts, dominated by a lovely 14th century church and river, high up in the Arlberg valley next to the tiny hamlet of Zürs, surrounded by stunning peaks.More information
Situated on a scenic plateau close to Innsbruck, Götzens and Axams are two picturesque villages with traditional Tyrolean charm in the Olympia SkiWorld Innsbruck ski area.More information
Situated in the Austrian Alps close to the Italian and Slovenian border, lies the picturesque ski & spa resort Bad Kleinkirchheim, where 25 ski lifts, 23 ski huts, 103km of perfectly groomed pistes plus extensive snow-making facilities guarantee unlimited skiing pleasure.More information
Nestling in between the Bischofsmütze and Dachstein mountains, Filzmoos is a pretty and quintessential Austrian village, where little has changed over the years. With its excellent snow record and magnificent scenery, it has much to offer both the skier and the non-skier.
The sleepy little community of Galtür (1585m) - dubbed an “Alpine idyll“ by the writer Ernest Hemingway in 1926 – is the highest ski village in the Austrian Silvretta region. It could hardly be more different from the party town of Ischgl six miles down the Paznaun Valley (reachable by a free bus link).More information
The attractive villages of Saalbach and Hinterglemm situated 4km apart form a vast ski circus in the picturesque Glemm valley. With 200km of pistes and 55 lifts this valley is an intermediates' dream.More information
Obergurgl (1,930m) and its smaller, higher Neighbour of Hochgurgl (2,150m), are situated in the upper Ötztal Valley on the main Alpine ridge where snow is always guarnteed. About 90 minutes drive south-west of Innsbruck with slopes rising up to 3,080m.More information
Ischgl is a pretty village just 90 minutes from Innsbruck with a fantastic snow-sure ski area. The village is compact and easy to explore via a series of underground tunnels and escalators.More information
Situated close to pretty Zell am See and covered on the same shared lift pass, Kaprun appeals to all grades of skiers and offers guaranteed snow-sure skiing up to 3000m on the iconic Kitzsteinhorn glacier.More information
Nestled among the peaks of the Kitzbüheler Alps is the world renowned Kirchberg/Kitzbühel ski area. Perfectly prepared pistes, great deep-snow descents, marked ski routes for all levels of ability...More information
Kitzbühel is well ‘Connected’ in the sense that it boasts an eye watering 170km of linked skiing on its doorstep and a further (astonishing) 1088km in the wider Kitzbüheler Alps Area.More information
High up in between the Ötztal and the Stubai mountain range and only 35km from Innsbruck, Kühtai is the highest resort in Austria, boasting doorstep skiing, a snow-sure record and breathtaking scenery.More information
One of Austria's best known resorts, Mayrhofen lies at the end of the Ziller Valley where keen skiers and those seeking lively après-ski and nightlife are well catered for. The Zillertal Superskipass covers the whole of the Ziller Valley.More information
Surrounded by glorious mountain peaks and glaciers, Obergurgl nestle at the end of the Ötz Valley and is assured good snow conditions from November to May. Well known for its top quality hotels and modern, queue-free lift system,More information
With high altitude queue-free skiing, traditional Austrian après-ski and ski-in/ski-out hotels, Obertauern is a little known treasure of the Salzburg ski region, deservedly gaining in popularity with British guests.
A favourite Inghams resort for many years, with many repeat visitors, Seefeld enjoys a scenic position above the Inn Valley, close to Innsbruck.More information
The vast SkiWelt area is an intermediate skier's dream, connecting 8 villages in total, and enjoys an enviable snow record, backed by an extensive, high-tech system of snow cannons for added security and confidence.More information
Deservedly popular with English speaking guests, Soll is a lively, good value, pretty village with an attractive pedestrianised centre. Its greatly improved lift system, ideal for intermediates, gives access to nearly 280km of interconnected pistes in the ‘Ski Welt’ area.More information
Located in the heart of Tyrol, the attractive village of Ellmau is situated between the rugged Wild Emperor mountains and the more gentle Kitzbüheler Alps.More information
Situated on an open plateau in the wide Brixen valley this small, pretty Tyrolean village is a very family friendly resort, with the nursery slopes directly beside the village centre and an excellent children’s programme provided by the ski school.More information
The beautiful Alpbach and Wildschönau/Ski Juwel ski areas combined give an impressive total of 145km of pistes, putting the Ski Juwel area into the Tyrol's top 10. In 2013, it won the award for Best Newcomer of the Year.More information
Oberau is one of four samll villages that nestle in the valley of Wildschönau ('Wald Valley', it is the smaller sistr to Niederau and just 3km down the valley. With magnificant Baroque church and fine old buildings, Oberau has retained an atmosphere of old-fashioned rural charm and Oberau's hotels offer a warm Tyrolean Welcome.More information
Alpbach is one of the most attractive villages in the Austrian Tyrol with its traditional wooden farmhouses set against the backdrop of the Gratlspitz peaks.More information
The wild and beautiful Wildschönau is one of the Tyrol’s loveliest valleys and we are proud to feature Niederau. one of its traditional and charming villages, ideal for beginner and intermediate skiers and interlinked with Oberau by free ski bus.More information