Ski Resorts in Austria | Ski Chalets Austria | Ski Hotels Austria
Austria’s totally charming villages, fantastic world class skiing, the most friendliest and warm-hearted inhabitants alive and the most spirited après-ski of any ski region in the world, make Austria an all-round contender to be one of the best ski spots on the planet.
With Kitzbühel and St. Anton holding their own against the French super glamorous mega resorts such as Courchevel and Val d'Isère, Austria really does have plenty to shout about and the fact that it is so much more affordable with an unrivalled après-ski, just gives Austria the edge when it comes to being an all-encompassing ski holiday destination.
The wonderful sense of tradition and more personal owner-managed accommodation are extra lovely touches to Austria and even though it doesn’t boast the highest of resorts, it does have its share of snow-sure resorts such as St. Anton, Obergurgl, Obertauern, Ischgl, Lech and Solden. The fact that the resorts are slightly lower than most, mean that Austrian skiing provides a greater proportion of tree lined skiing rather than the lunar landscapes like those of its higher neighbours.
Skiing in Austria
If your preferred après-ski is dining in super fine restaurants sipping good wine or drinking beer and schnapps and dancing on the table, Austria offers both options. The resorts that particularly rock are Ischgl, St Anton, Mayrhofen, Solden, Saalbach, Soll and many many more.
Austria is made up of many ski regions. The most popular being The Arlberg Ski Circus which links St Anton, St Christoph, Lech and Zürs. The Arlberg lift pass will give you access to no less than 248 pistes, so you have plenty to tuck into throughout your stay. Being the birth place of Alpine Skiing and favoured by many of Europe’s Royal families, this area is seriously smart with the more upmarket clientele particularly heading to Lech, an elegant and charming town with varied skiing, which is just perfect for intermediates, along with the benefits of almost perfect snow, being that bit higher up the mountain. There is plenty of ski-in, ski-out accommodation, a plethora of top class restaurants and a very cool nightlife, not forgetting the heated chair lifts which are always very much appreciated.
Along from Lech, is Zürs, equally as fashionable though with steeper slopes and a much more impressive snowfall. Locals describe it as ‘The diamond in the snow’ and from here you have 284km of pistes to enjoy, including the Red 10. The best run in the resort, this is long and challenging with completely breathtaking views.
Also in the Arlberg ski region sits St. Anton. If you are more of a hardcore skier then head here and you will not be disappointed with the serious terrain, which actually puts it up there with the likes of Chamonix. The hard skiing and even harder partying is what brings skiers and snowboarders back to St Anton time and time again. An attractive and authentic mountain village, with cobbled streets and lovely restaurants, St Anton makes for a great family holiday and the fantastic children’s ski school and youth centre in Nasserein will ensure that everyone is happy.
For a quieter, but even more exclusive resort, St Christoph, also in the Arlberg region, is a hidden gem set in an open snow bowl. Nice and quiet with great ski-in, ski-out, this little traditional village is perfect for families and is a great base to enjoy the quietness but also within short drives from St Anton, Zürs and Lech.
If you are a ski or snowboard novice, then head to the ‘prettiest village in Austria’ Alpbach. Just a 40 minute drive from Innsbruck Airport, this little chocolate box beauty is linked to neighbouring Auffach in the Wildschönau Valley which means that should you wish to progress from beginner level, you have the option to try all 145km of slopes.
For intermediates, Saalbach and Hinterglemm are fantastic options. They sit in the centre of 2,000m peaks which form a huge natural circuit of peaks to explore each day.
Apart from skiing and snowboarding, Austria is also well-known for its local culture and its celebration of music, arts and traditional festivals. The utterly welcoming atmosphere, the party spirit lifestyle and the wonderfully quaint mountain villages all contribute to making Austria the most fantastic ski holiday destination.
Hotels offering half board and bed and breakfast are the main options throughout Austria. Self -catering is fairly hard to come by as are catered chalets.
Chalets in Austria only really exist in St Anton with a smattering across a few other resorts such as Lech, Ischgl, and Kitzbuhel. The catered chalet is a British ski holiday concept that is predominant in France and only just making its way into the Austrian market place. One of Snowfinders Biggest sellers since opening its doors is the Chalet Hotel Abendrot in Ischgl . The Chalet Hotel Alexandra in Lech has won a loyal following as it offers the most reasonable accommodation in Lech without breaking the bank . Over in St Anton there are a range of chalets such as the fantastic Chalet Inge or the wonderfully placed Chalet Murr . New to the market is the very successful Chalet Hotel Pinzgauerhof in the Saalbach-Hinterglemm ski domain.
These tend to be family run with the owners taking the highest interest in the well-being of their guests. Austrian hoteliers, in Snowfinders opinion, are the best in Europe and are very proud of their hotels and service. For a luxury 4 star plus option we recommend the Hotel Brigitte in Ischgl. A good 4 star option is the Hotel Schweizerhof in Kitzbuhel. Snowfinders have a very strong repeat clientele who go to the 4 star Hotel Edelweiss & Gurgl in Obergurgl where the spa facilities are thought of highly. Lech’s Hotel Sandhof is a beautiful 4 star option in a great location and has the flexibility to offer short breaks outside of peak season. The Lux Alpinae in St Anton is an ultra-modern minimalistic hotel with superb food.
Although the Austrian resorts are not generally as high as its European counterparts one has to bear in mind that snow falls at lower elevations the further east one travels across the Alps. The Alps are banana shaped and the Austrian resorts are significantly further North than the French resorts. Some of the Austrian glaciated resorts can accumulate well over 500cm of snow by April. Some of these resorts make an ideal ski holiday destination for summer skiing such as Hintertux and Stubai. The season can still be as long if you select the right resort. Many resorts will open in early December and close in May but others will be safer skiing from January to March. Temperatures can vary tremendously depending on time of year, resort height, location, and prevailing winds.
Most Brits tend to fly into Innsbruck or Salzburg airports, the former has one of the most dramatic descents of any airport with a wonderful finale over the snow-capped mountains and then a dip into the valley. Another airport is the Corinthian based Klagenfurt but equally flying into Munich, Zurich or Friedrichshafen are useful for the Western Austrian ski resorts such as those in the Arlberg. Generally though the flexibility and availability of flights does not match those serving the French resorts. Rail travel from the UK is possible but will entail various changes and overnight travel. Many ski resorts have mainline stations such as St Anton but in essence very few choose this method of travel for Austria. Driving is quite easy once you have navigated the congested roads of the UK then the continent is a breeze. There are numerous different routes to take but Snowfinders have found it easy to cross France to the towns of Mulhouse/Basle and then cut across Switzerland in to Western Austria. An Alternative way is to take the German Autobahns from the Alsace region.