The best thing about après-ski in Austria is that it’s exactly how you’d imagine. Oompah bands, mountain huts and blaring Europop. Yes, they’re a cliché, but the dance routines and barfuls of revellers dancing on tables in their ski boots are what make it so fun. It’s cheerful, it’s cheesy and it’s cheaper than France and Switzerland.
Austrian après also tends to start early and finish early, with a lot of bars closing by 7pm, so you can party hard and still get back in time for dinner – and enough sleep to be fresh-faced for first lifts the next day. Or if you want to keep the fun times going, there’s always a next bar just off the lifts or along the road.
So where’s best to après in Austria? So many resorts almost made the cut, with honorary mentions going to Kitzbühel and Sölden, but these are our favourites…
Top 5 après-ski resorts in Austria
St Anton is Austria’s après capital, with legendary bars lining the home runs. For all-out fun, head straight for Mooserwirt, one of Europe’s most famous bars and Austria’s ultimate après spot, where Europop blares out from 3pm. Dancing on the tables is expected. Another renowned après bar is Krazy Kanguruh, on the piste down from Gampen. It’s one of St Anton’s oldest and serves up a mix of delicious food during the day and loud music from 4pm.
Ischgl’s reputation precedes it. Often described as the Ibiza of the Austrian Alps, it easily rivals St Anton for its dedication to après. There are lots of après spots and, by early evening, the partygoers tend to have poured out into the town’s pretty streets for communal merrymaking. At the end of the main run, Schatzi Bar is a cosy chalet setting known for its dirndl-wearing barmaids who serve cocktails and dance on the bar. If you want to carry on the party, head to Fire and Ice. It’s big, it’s loud and it has an ice bar, disco and even a chillout lounge.
Traditional Mayrhofen is an all-rounder with brilliant après. Its also home to Snowbombing, a kaleidoscopic festival of après and wintry antics that takes over the town at the start of April. You could easily finish every ski day by unclipping and stepping straight onto the terrace at the Pilzbar at the top of the Penkenbahn gondola. The food’s good, the music starts from mid-afternoon and air is filled with the sound of singing and the stomp-stomp of ski-boot dancing. Hop on the Penkenbahn when you’re ready and you can walk straight into Ice Bar at the bottom. It’s loud, it’s got a man dressed as a polar bear and it’s got a nightclub, so be warned – you may not stumble out until the early hours.
No list of Austrian party resorts would be complete without mentioning Söll. Après is a big part of village life here. It’s as cheap and cheerful as Austria gets, and your fellow merrymakers are likely to be more seasoned skiers in their thirties and forties than students and kids. Ski into The Moonlight Bar for cheesy tunes and Euro hits, then ski down to dinner – simple. Or for live Austrian music, conga lines and friendly vibes beside a crackling fire, try Hexenalm, just below the main gondola in resort.
Saalbach prides itself on its après, and with more than 30 bars and nine clubs both on the piste and in resort, it’s certainly one of Austria’s liveliest resorts. Start your party on the slopes at the Berger Alm, home to the best happy hour on the mountain, hands down. Its just under the Magic chairlift and you can ski straight from there to the Hinterhag Alm, which has a bit of a cult following. There’s a sunny terrace and live music inside, performed from the carved-wood balcony. It’s jammed, it’s sweaty and it’s pure Austrian après.
These ski resorts have a charm that you won’t always find in the rest of the Alps. And Austrian après is equally, well, Austrian. It’s cheaper than its neighbours, it’s cheesy and loud, and the pounding Europop is irresistible. But it’s the attitude that sets it apart. Austrian après will never take itself too seriously. And for that, we salute it.
Words by Clarice Hine.