The long-anticipated 2017/2018 ski season has arrived and avid skiers and snowboarders alike – as well as enthusiastic beginners – will be gearing up to hit the slopes all over the Alps. One alpine region that deserves strong consideration, when seeking a divine ski destination, is Austria. When you take a closer look at what many consider to be the top 10 ski resorts in Austria, you’ll soon see that there’s something to suit everyone – from the most advanced, black-flag skier to the most committed après ski aficionado. And, best of all, the majority of these ski meccas sit in close proximity to CLC World’s Alpine Centre.
Closely connected in most people’s minds with its neighbouring resort town of Hinterglemm, Saalbach is undoubtedly one of the best places to ski in Austria, especially for intermediate skiers, because it gives access to the country’s largest linked skiing area, known as Skicircus which encompasses Saalbach-Hinterglemm-Leogang-Fieberbrunn. Saalbach and Hinterglemm sit nestled in the centre of a breathtaking circle of 2,000-metre peaks and let you tackle 270 kilometres of slopes, most of them perfect for adventuresome intermediates. Plus, after you’ve filled your days schussing down pistes, you’ll be able to enjoy a robust après ski atmosphere.
This famed spot takes the title for best ski resort in Austria for those with advanced capabilities. Renowned throughout the world as one of the most stunning and challenging places to ski in the Alps, if not the planet, St Anton boasts a varied range of runs that fluctuate from the merely difficult to the heart-pumpingly quasi-insane. For skiers who are incredibly confident in their mad skills and looking to push themselves to the limit, St Anton’s 305 kilometres of pistes will fit the bill nicely, and then some. To cap things off, an excursion to Zürs will more than satisfy those in search of off-piste action with fresh powder galore. Be aware though, that the ascent on the final cable car up to the 2,810-metre summit of the Valluga, cannot be undertaken without the services of an official guide.
On the other end of the spectrum, as far as skiing level goes, Alpbach represents one of the very best places to ski in Austria if you’re a beginner, or maybe just needing to brush up a bit on your technique.It doesn’t stint on runs for intermediate skiers either, with its three dedicated ski schools and a nice collection of gentler slopes, amongst 109 kilometres of pistes, marking it out as a firm favourite for those wanting to begin to learn the finer points of skiing and snowboarding. On top of which, enchanting Alpbach regularly wins the title of Austria’s prettiest village.
Proving that families can also get in on the snowy fun in this Alpine nation, Obergurgl surely takes the prize as the best ski resort in Austria for those with children. Located in the Ötz Valley on the eastern fringes of the Alps, what Obergurgl lacks in size and variety, with only 110 kilometres of slopes and 24 lifts, it more than makes up for in consistency of snow cover and safety. Considering that snow reliability and the easy availability of medical facilities are two of the most important factors when taking small kids skiing, it’s no wonder that this village is so highly regarded as a family-friendly resort.
Perched in the soaring Wilder Kaiser mountains, the glorious town of Kitzbühel, with its medieval architecture, chic boutiques and sophisticated ambience, has earned a reputation for being the romance capital of the Austrian Alps. Yet, it’s also quite famous for its skiing, especially as it plays host each January to the most fearsome downhill race on the World Cup circuit – the Hahnenkamm, whose course drops precipitously at a dizzying 85-degree angle. Despite the difficulty of the Hahnenkamm, however, less expert skiers will find plenty to love if they explore the milder runs amongst Kitzbühel’s 179 kilometres of slopes.
Once a lower-profile skiing destination, Sölden, which sprawls for two kilometres at a site in the Ötz valley, has recently gained greater fame and a faithful following due to its featured role in the 2015 James Bond film, Spectre. And, best of all, if you head to high-altitude Sölden, which benefits from its closeness to the Rettenbach and Tiefenbach glaciers, you’ll be virtually guaranteed to find a healthy snow covering. For this reason, this is one of the best ski resorts in Austria, when it comes to snow reliability.
Ideally situated in the centre of Tyrol, in the picturesque Zillertal, the large village of Mayrhofen exudes authentic Austrian charm, whilst also offering a wealth of skiing options for intermediate and black-flag skiers alike. Its varied and interesting topography also holds great appeal for snowboarders. Showcasing one of the most highly rated terrain parks in the Austrian Alps, Mayrhofen also offers up a spirited brand of enjoyment away from the slopes, highlighted by the yearly springtime Snowbombing music festival and its fist-pumping entertainment from live bands and DJs.
If a vigorous, even legendary, après ski scene is what interests you the most, then you simply can’t miss a visit to Ischgl. While the skiing in this former Alpine farming village certainly leaves nothing to be desired, – with its 238 kilometres of pistes, linked to Samnaun in Switzerland – it’s the dance-on-tables, electrifying partying that truly marks Ischgl as one of the top 10 ski resorts in Austria.
While Söll, has carved out a name for itself as an ideal skiing spot for families, along the lines of Alpbach, what really sets this village apart in the massive SkiWelt apart is its excellent value for money. Once known for its rather unsophisticated and even raucous nightlife, recently Söll has rejuvenated its image and now aims to attract a wider and tamer, though still fun-loving, group of skiers and snowboarders. Helping its cause along are Söll’s reasonable prices, combined with its uncompromisingly good skiing.
Zell am See
The lakefront town of Zell am See, with its traffic-free medieval centre, delivers panoramic lake views and gorgeous snowy landscapes. If your soul longs to speed down an impressive array of snowy pistes – made even more enticing by the awesome presence of the nearby Kaprun glacier – while feasting your eyes on gorgeous lakefront scenery, then surely Zell am See has to make your list of the best places to ski in Austria.