The Crystal Ski Holidays Blog

5 reasons to fall in love with Zell am See this winter

Zell am See is one of Austria’s top ski resorts – and with its diverse ski area, scenic lakeside setting and bustling old town, it’s easy to see what makes it so popular. So whether you’re a first-timer or seasoned skier, here’s why our customers head back year after year.

Discover world-class skiing

From gentle tree-lined trails to black runs and moguls, the Zell am See-Kaprun 408km ski area packs in plenty of variety, whatever your level.

For families

There are lots of areas designed for younger skiers on Zell’s local mountain, the Schmittenhöhe. The Drachenpark is a kids-only zone filled with slaloms, tunnels and mini moguls to help little ones find their ski legs – and the friendly dragon mascot, Schmidolin, often pops by to join in the fun too. When you’re ready to venture further afield as a family, check out the blue slopes in the Sonnkogel area. Or swing by Funslope XXL near the Hochmaisbahn gondola, which has 1,300m of banked turns, bumps and bridges, plus a speed trap at the end to see how fast you can go.

For beginners

Zell am See’s an ideal ski resort for beginners, with great nursery areas near the Schüttdorf and Schmittental parts of town. And you’ll find beginner-friendly pistes at the top of the Areitalm 1 cable car too, so you can enjoy mountaintop views when you’re starting out. The local ski school is one of the oldest in the world, with lots of experienced instructors to help you learn the basics. Then when it’s time to put your new skills to the test, there are heaps of wooded slopes and wide-open blues to explore.

For intermediates and advanced

There are steep runs down the Schmittental valley to challenge confident skiers. And you can hop on the bus to the neighbouring resort of Kaprun for high-altitude skiing on the Kitzsteinhorn glacier too. Carve down rolling reds on the glacier itself, then tackle the steep and bumpy Black Mamba to really test your ski muscles. Or if freestyle is your thing, check out the Gletscher Terrain park with its jumps, boxes and 150m-long super pipe.

© Zell am See-Kaprun Tourismus GmbH

Eat in authentic mountain restaurants

From hearty dumpling soups to sweet treats like strudel, Austria serves up a whole host of must-try mountain dishes. And with over 30 mountain huts scattered throughout the ski area, you’re never far from a tasty lunch stop here. For a true taste of the Pinzgau region, call in at the Eder Hütte and try local favourites like flammkuchen, a pizza-style flatbread, or käsespätzle – Austria’s take on macaroni cheese. Or fill up on the famous spare ribs and pork over at the Ebenbergalm. With its beautiful sun terrace overlooking Lake Zell, this rustic inn is one of the most popular picks around, so make sure you book in advance.

Eder Hütte restaurant

Get some après action

Zell’s known for its après scene, with piste-side bars pumping out the tunes from mid-afternoon. Down in town, there are plenty of nightspots that stay lively until the early hours. And there’s even a casino if you’re feeling lucky.

Start your après on the slopes with DJs and dancing at the mountaintop Schnaps Hans Alm bar. Or head off the beaten track and check out the Pinzgauer Hütte – tucked away down a tree-lined trail, it’s the perfect spot to sit back and soak up the views with a drink in hand. When it’s time to leave, you’ll get whisked back to the piste by a snowmobile.

Off the mountain, a visit to Villa Crazy Daisy is a must for any après fan. Join the locals and dance along in your ski boots to the live band or have a go at the traditional bar game, nails. And gin fans will want to check out GinHouse, which has 450 different types of the juniper spirit and a delicious list of cocktails to try. There’s also an outdoor lounge where you can listen to chilled tunes, so it’s ideal if you fancy a more laid-back evening.

Get stuck into off-slope activities

Whether you’re eager for more action or just want to unwind when you’re not skiing, you’ll be spoiled for choice in Zell. For family-friendly thrills, it’s hard to beat zooming down the alpine coaster – get ready for speeds of up to 40km/h as you ride your sled down the twists and turns of the 1.3km track. Or slow things down a notch and snuggle up under a blanket for a horse-drawn sleigh ride through the nearby nature reserve. Over at the local rink, you can lace up some skates and take to the ice, then cheer on the pros at the Zeller Eisbären ice hockey team’s weekly match. And if you’ve got any energy to spare, head down to the Jugendclub to scale the climbing wall.

For a leisurely afternoon, take tea at the lakeside Grand Hotel, then wander around the boutiques in the pedestrianised centre. Or if you fancy something even more relaxing, visit the huge Tauern Spa in nearby Kaprun for some luxuriant leisure time. There are whirlpools, saunas and steam rooms galore, and even a separate area just for the little ones with play pools, fountains and waterslides.

Soak up picture-postcard views

If the world-class skiing, top-notch restaurants and bars, and activities by the bucket-load weren’t enough, Zell also has some of the best ski resort views around. Set between a lake and snow-capped peaks, with a medieval old town at its heart, it’s the kind of place that’ll have you constantly reaching for your camera. Take a scenic stroll past frescoed buildings and elegant hotels down to the lakeside promenade, where you can look across the water to the mountains of the Hohe Tauern National Park.

Get your mountain fix in Zell am See this winter or take a look at our round-up of Austria’s top resorts for some other great places to ski.

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