- Ski all day, party all night
Dancing on tables or sipping a hot chocolate - there's an après bar for you in St Anton or Söll.
- Modern lift system
Fast lifts with heated seats make going uphill a real pleasure in Obergurgl and Saalbach.
- Famous slopes
If you're feeling brave, you can try the world renowned Harakiri in Mayrhofen or the Hahnenkamm in Kitzbühel.
- Olympic resorts
Attempt a new world record on slopes steeped in Olympic history in Seefeld.
- Just relax
Austria takes pride in its wellness culture – visit Bad Gastein or Kaprun for indulgent spa experiences.
So what's it like?
Austrian ski holidays are a treat for all the senses. Speedy modern lift systems give easy access to the country’s vast ski areas, mountain ranges and glaciers. Along with some of the best skiing in the world, you'll also be treated to arguably the best après in the Alps, plus friendly locals, tasty cuisine and luxury spas.
Linked ski areas
Some big infrastructure spending means you can stay in a charming Austrian village, but still benefit from being connected to a huge amount of skiing.
Arlberg joins together the resorts of St Anton, St Christoph, Lech, Zürs, Zug, Stuben and Sonnenkopf – with a brand new gondola system linking more than 300km of runs across several mountains.
That means it overtook the still-massive Ski Welt, which brings together Söll, Scheffau, Ellmau, Westendorf, Brixen and Going, offering 279km of piste in total. Not far off that total is the recently-upgraded Ski Circus, linking Saalbach, Hinterglemm, Leogang and now Fieberbrunn to create 240km of snowy valleys and peaks.
While linked by public transport rather than lifts, the Zillertal Superski does give 625km worth of slopes all on one pass, stretching from the high altitude Hintertux Glacier to the network of pistes at Hochzillertal/Hochfügen.
- Best for families – Both Scheffau and Galtür have excellent ski school-run kids clubs, but Niederau has exclusive Crystal Childcare and wide, gentle nursery slopes.
- Best for après – St Anton is famous for the lively Mooserwirt or Krazy Kanguruh, while Ischgl offers more high-end nightlife. Mayrhofen and Sölden also deserve a mention.
- Best for beginners – Rauris’ excellent ski school and intimate area is perfect to learn in, Kaprun’s lifts access plenty of easy terrain and Seefeld has lots to do when legs get tired.
- Best for intermediates – Three quarters of Schladming’s runs are red, Ellmau’s slopes are helpfully tree-lined and Obergurgl can almost always guarantee good snow conditions.
- Best for experts – Ischgl and St Anton are renowned for their steep and deep, but don’t miss Lech and Zurs for an expert challenge or two.
While skiing is definitely the national sporting obsession, Austria’s Alpine villages were around long before it was even thought of – these are real working towns and villages that just happen to have incredible mountains next door. The architecture is therefore very traditional in most resorts and many hotels are family-run establishments that have been handed down the generations – giving a homely and personal feel.
If you want a bit more modern luxury, there’s lots of choice too, as we’ve got some stylish design hotels on offer. Several of these are at the forefront of spa and wellness technology and techniques, so you can pamper yourself away from the piste.
Après ski might have a French name, but the Austrians have made it their own. At the base of the slopes you’re bound to find a bar with an electric atmosphere – dancing on tables to live music and cheesy Euro-pop is always available if you’re so inclined.
Expect to get a taste of the traditional culture too, via music and arts festivals in many resorts throughout the winter. From Krampus at the Christmas markets in early December, through to dancing from dirndl-adorned troupes around Easter, locals will use any excuse to get the lederhosen out.
Food and drink
Unlike neighbouring nations, the prices for food and drink are generally very reasonable, and stay similar whether you’re up the mountain or down in the village. This means you can stay on the slopes all day, lunching at a mountain hut (or alm) without any surprises when the bill turns up.
Don’t forget to try some of the national dishes, from mouth-watering pastries like kaiserschmarren and strudel, to savoury classics like Wiener schnitzel, Tiroler gröstl and käsespätzl. Wash that down with some of Europe’s finest locally-produced beers and don’t forget some fiery schnapps or a warming Glühwein as an aperitif.
For bargain ski holidays and last-minute offers, take a look at our Austria ski deals.
Ski Plus for winter 16/17
Take a look at Crystal Ski Plus in Austria. For one great price you’ll get:
- Lift Pass
- Ski or board hire OR carriage