Austria and skiing are synonymous. So if you’re planning a winter skiing vacation, Austria probably has what you’re looking for and more. A quick glance at a map of Austria brings up the thought that it’s possible that geography is truly destiny. With all the high Alpine regions, especially in Tirol, it’s no wonder skiing is the nation’s national sport.
Fighting the instinct to shush and slalom in Austria is . . . well, an uphill battle. Consider this factoid: agriculture accounts for 3% of General Net Product (GNP); skiing clocks in at an amazing 4.5%. So, just give in and go there for a skiing vacation.
What you will find or discover this upcoming or any other skiing season, is that Austria offers a broad range of skiing experiences to fit any skill level, budget, or time frame. A quick scan of the most famous ski region, Tirol, has thirty resorts. The country as a whole has over 200. You’re exhausted just considering the choices.
To get a better idea of what you might find for downhill skiing, here are some recommendations on where to go based on your skill level.
- Lech in Vorarlberg, which is the state just west of Tirol
- Tirol east of Innsbruck (Ötztal Alps, Alpbach, Niederau, Obergürgl)
- Most areas of Salzburg (Neukirchen, Skiwelt Amade)
- The states of Styria and Carinthia (Bad Kleinkirchheim and Serfaus)
- Tirol (Ischgl, Kizbuhel and Söll)
- Salzburg area (Saalbach-Hinterglemm and St Johann)
- Tirol (St. Anton)
- South of Salzburg (Badgastein)
- Arlberg (Vorarlberg and Western Tyrol)
- St Christoph, Zürs and Lech
If vertical drops are what binds you to skiing, allow me to air out these numbers:
Elevation of Resort: 1,897 ft./575 m
Highest Liftserved Point: 7,444 ft/2255 m Vertical Drop: 5,547 ft./1680 m
- St. Anton:
Elevation of Resort: 4,303 ft./1304 m
Highest Liftserved Point: 9,273 ft./2811 m Vertical Drop: 4,970 ft/1507 m
Elevation of Resort: 4,544 ft./1,376 m
Highest Liftserved Point: 10,725 ft./3,250 m
Vertical Drop: 6,181 ft./1,874 m
One of my personal favorites is one that’s away from the maddening crowd
is Ehrwald, up near the German border. There you will find great skiing and snowboarding in the Berwang and Lamoos ski resorts. Ehrwald offers a truly wonderful Tirolean experience at a reasonable price.
Just to make sure I’m covering all the skiing bases, besides downhill, there’s plenty of room for snowboarders, Nordic/cross-country, sledding/tobogganing, snowshoeing and just plain slip sliding away throughout Austria.
Getting There: If you’re flying there, please note that there are no direct flights from the US to Innsbruck or Salzburg (the two closest jumping off places for skiing) but, you’ll find numerous connecting flights from Vienna, and other major International hubs such as Frankfurt in Germany, or Zurich in Switzerland. Among the airlines servicing Innsbruck and Salzburg are; Lufthansa, Austrian Airlines, Air Berlin and Condor. These airlines run specials and you’re advised to check the fares and make your reservations on-line.
Getting there by car is fairly simple, especially if you’re coming from Vienna. Hop on A1 (Autobahn 1) out of Vienna to Salzburg. On to A10 north and then A12 to Innsbruck and west. Beware that Austria has speed limits on its Autobahns (130kph, or approx. 88mph) versus Germany, which you’ll travel through as you travel on parts of A10 and A12. Observe the signs as in some parts you’ll have to slow down.
My homeland also has you covered for après-ski fun. One of the more popular things to do is to stop off at a lounge in a resort lodge on your last run.
I hope this has generated interest in winter fun, specifically skiing in Austria. Combine the spectacular powdery slopes with the quaint villages and architecture, the delicious cuisine (wiener schnitzel!) and laid back charm that Austria is famous for, well . . . PROST!
Saalbach: More Than a Few Good Reasons to Discover It
Easy To Reach…
Although no continental ski resort is physically close to the UK, good transport can bring some European slopes almost on your doorstep. Just a shot away from Salzburg airport and its 14 UK connections, Saalbach (Austria) is definitely one of the easiest resorts to reach.
But even more than just ski holidays, this traditional town of the Pinzgau region offers one of the most varied ranges of activities in the Alps. From biking, to high rope courses, to treetop paths and some of the highest peaks in in Austria, pretty much everyone will find an adventurous way to pass the time in Saalbach.
Activities For All
Including Kids With a name that screams out for tough hiking challenge, the Seven Summits of Saalbach Hinterglemm present some impressive views and sceneries, which are the richest reward at the end of your exhausting walk.
Perhaps the most exciting part of the Seven Summits are the Kitzbueheler Alps, with tops which are just as hard to reach as they are breath-taking.
This is overall, a very demanding hike for anyone, and physical fitness is paramount before even starting to consider such a mission. The numbers speak for themselves, as the tour is a 24-kilometer one which goes across 1,400 metre-tall summits.
Cabin Lifts, World Games of Mountain Bike…
With more varied levels of difficulty, a great number of MTB trails will lead you through gentler slopes: whether you’re into cross-country, free ride or downhill, the Saalbach area has got everything a rider needs, and cabin lifts are part of the deal.
The total length of marked mountain-bike trails reaches 400 km, as part of a 720 km regional network: these are impressive features for MTB lovers, who will also get to be part of the World Games of Mountain Biking from August 30th to September 2nd.
But Saalbach is not only a place for challenge: the Mountain Kodok Park with its games and adventures is always a hit with kids, whereas more forest magic awaits in the Fairytale Forest and the Schnitza’s Wood Park.
Still a Hidden Treasure
With an offer as wide as this Saalbach is up there with all of the great names of Alpine resorts. Its international recognition is also about to follow.