The spiritual home of downhill skiing, Austria is a ski superpower ideal for enthusiastic skiers. The parallel turn is said to originate in Seefeld, and the innovative ski instructor Hannes Schneider revolutionised ski tuition in the Arlberg during the 1920s. But there is so much more to this charming country than its ski history…
On and off the slopes:
Austria is home to some of the best-connected and most efficient ski systems in the world, making exploring the mountainside almost effortless. Expert snowmaking ensures decent snow conditions throughout the season; and high altitude ski areas such as Obergurgl, and Obertauern offer virtually queue free skiing.
The quintessential Austrian ski resort is a charming village nestled in the mountain valley. Austrian mountains tend to be lower than those in France, but this means you’ll be treated to many wooded runs through ‘winter wonderland’ landscapes.
The valleys of Austria are also ideal for cross-country skiing. Seefeld has an outstanding reputation for cross-country skiing and provides some of the finest trails in Central Europe. Snowboarding is also incredibly popular, especially in resorts such as Ischgl and Mayrhofen, which both boast impressive terrain parks for freestyling.
Food is such an important part of any holiday, you want to know you have visited somewhere and attempted to try as many local, traditional snacks, dishes, sweets as possible and Austria is no exception to this. Up on the mountains you might for a lunch of classic schnitzel, sauerkraut or currywurst.
Austrians offer deep rooted traditions with their cuisine also, especially around the festive season where you can sip on warming gluhwein at Christmas or receive the gift of a marzipan pig at New Year, spending your festive season in somewhere such as Alpbach will give you the opportunity to try these tempting treats.
Why choose Austria?
Landscape & Location
From the craggy mountain tops, to the snowy forests and quaint valley parishes, the Austrian mountains have a distinctive sense of place. Full of picture perfect villages such as Alpbach, or glamorous, upmarket towns such as Kitzbühel, Austrian resorts are full of traditional charm.
Skiing back to your hotel is an absolute joy. With most traditional Austrian ski resorts located in the valley there is plenty of tree skiing through magical winter forests. Western Austria is also known for its fantastic snow record, with resorts such as Lech and Zürs offering snow sure skiing.
As many of us know, the Austrians like to celebrate their beer and folk music and adopted their own version of Oktoberfest, so Après skiing comes quite naturally to the locals and therefore the holiday makers too.
There are some particular resorts which offer a true Austrian Après adventure, so if you are looking for that perfect mix of slopes, good food and great wine then you need to add St Anton and Ischgl to your list.
Firstly St Anton, for the traditionalists amongst you, head to the Sennhutte, home of DD Dueser and Austrian singer/comic and impressionist. Not only is this place a great lunchtime option but there’s great’ straight from the slopes’ après here, with a traditional ooompah band.
For those who really want to join in, be sure to visit the Krazy Kangaroo and the legendary Mooserwirt and expect shots of jaeger, giant pitchers of lager and fantastic DJs blasting out seriously good tunes on the terrace.
Secondly, Ischgl. The perfect mix of local, cultural and a fancy cocktail or two. Try the Kiwi bar, this is where the locals hang out and it’s a great place to chat over a quiet drink. Designhotel Madlein, which is open to non-residents, offers a lounge with a roaring fire, a chic bar and lovely cocktails. Not to be forgotten though, in the basement of the hotel are the nightclubs Pacha and Coyote Ugly.
The party often starts early in these resorts, with crowds dancing on tabletops in their ski boots to cheesy Europop. Beer and local schnapps are the drinks of choice, and don’t be surprised if the crowd suddenly erupts into song. The crowds love a good festival too. Mayrhofen hosts the Altitude Comedy festival in March and ends the season with lively Snowbombing.
It’s great to know that due to Austria offering so many ski and snowboarding resorts, that there are resorts for everyone's ability level - we have put together a list here to help you quickly decide the best resorts for you and your family and friends:
That way, there won’t be any surprises once your hop off the ski lift and you can plan if your winter holiday is going to be about relaxing and enjoying those gentle runs whilst taking in the views or if you are aiming to improve your skills and hit the slopes with all your energy.
A serious skiers paradise, St Anton is known for its incredible off-piste terrain. The resort is part of the huge and varied Arlberg ski region, which includes St Christoph, Lech and Zürs. Home to iconic bars, Krazy Kanguruh and the Moosewirt, this is also one of the liveliest après ski destinations in the Alps.
This beautiful medieval town is best known for the Hahenkamm race, infamously the hardest race in the Ski World Cup. The resort is ideal for intermediate skiers with a wealth of cruising reds and tree-lined runs. Breath taking mountain scenery awaits around nearly every corner in this attractive winter wonderland.
Snowboarding heaven, Mayrhofen has one of the best snow parks in Europe – the Vans Penken Park, attracting pro-freestylers from around the world. The Hintertux glacier offers amazing riding and skiing with snow sure conditions. The resort has an epic après scene, which culminates in the lively Snowbombing Festival at the end of season.
Saalbach is a great resort for cruising and exploration. Part of the massive Saalbach-Hinterglemm Leogang Ski Circus ski circus, the wealth of runs provides excellent variety making this a great choice for mixed ability groups. The pretty village is also home to a lively après scene, delightful cafés and shops. it's an ideal destination for unwinding after a day on the slopes.
Read about St Anton's best keep secrets and why it will soon top of your destination list for your next skiing or snowboarding holiday: