Whether you are new to winter travel or a seasoned skier, whether you plan to go solo, with your friends, or with family, the Tirol has you covered.
Alpine skiing has its origin in Austria; this goes some way to explain the variety and quality of its ski resorts – it’s in their blood. And with flights directly to Innsbruck from all major UK cities, most resorts are a doddle to travel to also. Looking to save pennies? In terms of value for money, Austria is still among the best in the Alps.
So, where to go?
Arlberg… for unlimited skiing
Welcome to the largest interconnected ski area in Austria. Here in the vast mountain region between the provinces of Tirol and Vorarlberg lies the cradle of alpine skiing and the five Arlberg villages of St Anton, St Christoph, Stuben, Zürs and Lech. Together they make up the famed Arlberg ski area: 88 lifts serving more than 300km of ski runs. From flattering blues to heart-in-your-throat blacks, it has them all. Meanwhile, freeriders have more than 200km of exciting off-piste terrain to explore.
Fancy a challenge? Embark on the iconic Run of Fame, an 85km route from St Anton/Rendl via Stuben, Zürs, Lech and Schröcken to Warth and back – with 18,000m of difference in altitude – dedicated to the ski pioneers, sports and movie stars who once skied the very same slopes of the Arlberg.
Hungry? Time for a gourmet lunch (it’s okay, you can keep your ski boots on). The Arlberg has the highest density of toque-awarded restaurants in Europe, with over 30 Gault Millau award-winning establishments. Refuel on truffle pasta and bouillabaisse at Verwallstube – the finest gourmet restaurant at 2,085m.
Innsbruck… for city & ski
Looking for a holiday that is as cultural as it is adrenaline-fuelled? Head to the heart of Austria’s Tirol and you can have both. Surrounded by more than a dozen world-class ski resorts, Tirol’s capital city Innsbruck is the ultimate best-of-everything destination – you can split your holiday between getting active on the slopes and getting cultural in the city.
First up, the skiing. Just 45 minutes’ drive from Innsbruck is Austria’s highest ski resort, Kühtai. Topping out at 2,520m, it has guaranteed snow right through to mid-April. It boasts some cracking steep pistes – reds and blacks – and the off-piste is excellent: a juicy mix of trees, short chutes and wide-open slopes.
Talking of steeps, you can tackle Europe’s steepest ski slope at Nordkette, accessible from the city centre via the Hungerburg funicular and Nordkettenbahnen cable car. The infamous Hafelekar Run has a gradient of 70% – one for experts to earn their bragging rights.
Meanwhile, only half-an-hour from Innsbruck is Axamer Lizum, aka Innsbruck’s ‘White Roof’. It is a ski-in, ski-out resort with rugged off-piste terrain and brilliant pistes – its Olympic downhill and giant slalom runs are legendary. The newly designed Golden Roof Fun Park is a big hit with kids.
Back in the city, and there is plenty to explore. The ‘Innsbruck Ski plus City Pass’ (available from two to 21 days) covers 13 ski areas and 22 city attractions and sights, such as the Imperial Palace, the Bergisel Olympic Ski Jump and the Swarovski Crystal World, all accessible on free ski and sight-seeing buses. It’s great value – a six-day pass will set you back just €284. Or, you can just stroll Innsbruck’s maze of medieval streets, pausing for a slice of Sachertorte in one of its traditional coffee shops…
St Johann in Tirol… for the whole family
This unassuming, authentic Tirolean town is straight out of a postcard with its ornately frescoed buildings and old coaching inns. But it’s not all about looks – this place has the terrain to match the charm. Linked with Oberndorf, it has 42km of slopes, the majority of which are wide and mellow – perfect for beginners, lower intermediates and families. The grandiose views of the Wilder Kaiser mountain range towards Söll are jaw-dropping.
St Johann in Tirol is a hotspot for cross-country skiers. It has over 250km of (free-to-use) trails for all levels, even complete novices, all groomed daily to ensure they stay in tip-top condition. There are also two floodlights night trails where you can ski under the stars – a magical experience. Don’t have your own equipment? No stress – you can hire it all locally. For keen walkers, there is also a good network of winter hiking trails that take you through pretty forests and fields, and past farms, hamlets and streams.
If that all sounds a little low-key, head for the Flying Fox course at the Hornpark. Adults and kids alike love soaring through the skies on the zip-lines among the tree tops.
For more information on these resorts, visit austria.info