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 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, Kühtai 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.
Why choose Austria?
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 glamourous, 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.
Home to some of the most famous (or should that be infamous) bars on the mountain: the Kuhstall in Ischgl, the Mooserwirt in St Anton, the après ski scene in Austria is quite possibly the best in the world. The party often starts early in Austria, 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 December and ends the season with lively Snowbombing.
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-Fieberbrunn 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 as well as delightful cafés, shops and hotels, it's an ideal destination for unwinding after a day on the slopes.