Snow-covered mountains, blue skies, and brilliant sunshine entice us to the Alps every winter. Visitors young and old can hardly wait to make their first tracks through the snow and enjoy the thrilling sport in the fresh air. Here are the best resorts for beginners and families, amateur racers, freeriders, music lovers, and après-ski fans.
OBERTAUERN: WHERE A DAY OF SKIING CONTINUES INTO THE NIGHT
Munich–Salzburg–Obertauern–party. Obertauern in the Salzburger Land region is one of the most famous ski areas in the Alps, not least because the Beatles also appreciated the town’s many assets. ‘Austria’s snow bowl’ offers high altitudes of between 1600 and 2300 metres and 100 kilometres of varied pistes.
The ski area is a popular destination for freeriders, because of the dry ice crystals typical of the region, which make for extremely fine, deep snow. What’s more, most of the 25 ski huts, bars, and pubs are located directly on the town’s so-called ‘après-ski mile’, close to the slopes and right next to the hotels.
Good to know
The Obertauern resort is best known for the Tauernrunde and Super Seven. In addition to the challenging Super Seven tour, there is Gamsleiten II that is among the ten steepest slopes in the Alps, attracting the most adept skier with a gradient of around 45 degrees.
ISCHGL BRINGS THE STARS TO THE MOUNTAINS
Ischgl in Tyrol is a pioneer in opening the season with a concert and has been attracting international music stars of the likes of Elton John, Robbie Williams, and Katy Perry since 1995. The Top of the Mountain concerts attract thousands of visitors year after year. Leading stars get the crowd going on the Idalp at the very heart of the ski area and at an altitude of more than 2300 metres.
Ischgl offers everything skiers today do not want to do without. The Silvretta Arena impresses with a multitude of runs for all ability levels, huge fun parks, and the finest powder. Most of the ski area actually lies above 2000 metres, meaning that snow is guaranteed until early May. But Ischgl is also the gourmet hotspot of the Alps par excellence, with several starred restaurants that count among the best in all of Austria.
Good to know: climate-neutral and duty-free
HOCHFÜGEN FOR POWDER PIONEERS
Good to know: ski-in/ski-out
This ski area offers plenty of opportunities for action-packed fun on perfectly groomed runs as well. There are a total of 12 lifts in Hochfügen itself. The link to the Hochzillertal valley established a few years ago expands these offers to 38 lifts and 88 kilometres of pistes, meaning that there are more than enough runs for all ability levels and ages. What’s more, all of the hotels and most of Hochfügen’s mountain huts and guest houses are located directly on the slopes, allowing for unique ski-in/ski-out experiences.
THE WORLD’S LONGEST SKI RACE IN NASSFELD
When spring arrives, it’s once again time for Schlag das Ass in Nassfeld. Almost 800 amateur skiers have the opportunity to participate in the world’s longest ski race. Covering 25.6 kilometres, the course boasts an altitude difference of an astounding 6400 metres. The fastest time is still held by none other than Armin Assinger. In 2010, the 55-year-old needed just 50 minutes and 38 seconds to make it down all nine descents.
The race itself is extremely challenging from the very start, when competitors must first master a short ascent on skis. While you can certainly rest and catch your breath on the chair lift, it doesn’t get any easier towards the end of the race. The final descent down into the valley is more than seven kilometres long and thus presents the ultimate final challenge.
Good to know: The best of both worlds
Even if you think you already know the ski area like the back of your hand from competing in this challenging race, it’s well worth returning here to explore the slopes and region again when you have a little more time to spare. Because further highlights await in Nassfeld: ‘The location close to the Italian border means enormous culinary variety. You’ll find the best of both worlds here,’ remarks Armin Assinger.
SMALL IS BEAUTIFUL: THE ALPBACHTAL WILDSCHÖNAU FAMILY PARADISE
With a kids’ world, family parks, and the opportunity to co-pilot a snow plough, Alpbachtal Wildschönau is an absolute gem for the whole family. With its abundance of pistes, the ski area situated just over one hour’s drive from Munich. Spread over four mountains and two valleys with 109 kilometres of runs, a network of 45 lifts, two cool snow parks, and 24 cosy ski huts, the ski area has something for everyone.
Snow-hungry kids can let off steam at Juppi-Do kids’ world, where they can try skiing for the first time or become ninja warriors on the like-named parcours course. Indeed, Alpbachtal Wildschönau attracts many a visitor with its family-friendly offers. At Easter, for example, children under the age of 15 can ski for free when accompanied by a parent (valid with the purchase of a three-day ski pass). And children under the age of six can use the ski lifts for free all winter long – to help them decide whether a career as a junior racer is on the cards.
Good to know: action off the slopes
For those who’ve had enough of skiing, Alpbachtal offers further exciting leisure opportunities. From the end of December until mid-March, visitors can also sign up to co-pilot a snow plough in the Reither Kogel ski area. The two snow ploughs weigh ten tonnes apiece and boast more than 500 hp to make a dream come true.