Traditional culture, authentic hotels and linked ski areas have made Austria one of the world’s best-loved countries for winter holidays. And while each of these ever-expanding areas has a star town, they’ve also got lesser-known villages that share the same slopes and have a whole different feel to their flashier neighbours.
Take a look at these alternatives to stay somewhere quieter, better value or more picturesque – and still get easy access to the same great skiing and headline resorts.
BEST TRADITIONAL RESORT
Westendorf for the SkiWelt area
Those who want to stay in a classic Austrian village will love Westendorf, with its pretty chalet-style buildings and onion-domed church. And the laid-back atmosphere makes it a popular pick for families too. The nursery slopes are close to the centre of town, so first-timers will have a quick walk to ski school each morning. If you’ve got a bit more experience, you can warm up your ski legs on the challenging local blues and reds.
Then it’s off to explore the rest of the SkiWelt, the second largest linked area in Austria with 280km of piste. The snow is usually in tip-top condition on the mix of north-facing and high-altitude intermediate runs. Even if Mother Nature isn’t doing her bit, 90% of the slopes are covered with snow cannons.
Eager for more? Upgrade to an AllStar lift pass to get access to the neighbouring Kitzbühel ski area too.
Stay: Hotel Jakobwirt – a traditional, family-run pick with friendly service and cosy rooms.
BEST RESORT FOR PEACE & QUIET
Stuben for the Ski Arlberg area
Retreat to peaceful Stuben after a full day on the 305km of slopes in Austria’s biggest linked ski area. Calmer than nearby St Anton – the Arlberg’s party central – it has arguably the best access to the mountain. The village sits right in the middle of the ski area and its super-sleek network of lifts. Modern cable cars and chairlifts connect the whole of the Arlberg, replacing old bus links and carrying you through the same beautiful scenery in a fraction of the time.
Confident skiers will be in their element, weaving between steep runs in the Galzig area and tree-lined pistes in Gampen. And there’s no need to worry about the conditions – these are some of the snowiest peaks in Austria, topping out at over 2,800m.
Stay: Après Post Hotel – style meets relaxation here, with the blend of contemporary décor and spa facilities.
BEST RESORT FOR VALUE
Aurach for the Kitzbühel area
Aurach is the quiet neighbour to one of the best après resorts in Austria, Kitzbühel. The little village only has a few hotels and restaurants, but it’s a great-value alternative to staying in Glitzy Kitz itself. And you can easily catch a bus or taxi up the road in the evenings, to get your fill of buzzing nightlife and cosmopolitan vibes.
As for the 230km ski area, it’s known for variety. Beginners can practise their turns on wide blues, while intermediates head up to the high-altitude reds on the Kitzbüheler Horn. Experts come to test their mettle on the Hahnenkamm Streif. Full of tight corners and sharp gradients, it’s one of the most demanding runs in the world. If you’re there in January, you can watch pro skiers take the challenge in the annual World Cup race.
Stay: Hotel Aurach – a welcoming, no-fuss base for your skiing and après adventures.
BEST LUXURY RESORT
Hinterglemm for the Skicircus area
A little more low-key than neighbouring Saalbach, Hinterglemm is full of modern Alpine hotels and classy bars that’ll bring a touch of luxury to your trip. The village is purpose-built convenience at its finest – you can ski right from the centre on blue runs, and you’re never more than a couple of minutes’ walk from a lift.
Once you’re up on the mountain, you can let loose on the Skicircus’ long, linked reds and tricky blacks. The 270km of slopes stretch across both sides of the valley, so soak up some rays on the sunny south-facing pistes or stick to the often quieter north face. Duck into the trees to play in off-piste powder or drop over the peak into the next valley to try freestyle in Fieberbrunn.
Stay: Hotel Alpen-Karawanserai – oozing indulgence, this hotel mixes Asian and African design with Austrian hospitality.
Head to Austria next winter to stay small and ski big.