The Crystal Ski Holidays Blog

An essential guide to Zell am See

Sitting on the frosty shores of Lake Zell in Austria, this high-altitude ski area has an excellent snow record and sensational views. And there’s plenty to do and see off the slopes too – narrow cobbled streets lined with 19th-century buildings lead to bustling squares filled with shops and cafés.

Mountain stats

Ski area: Zell am See–Kaprun, 138km
Snow range: 762-3,029m
Resort height: 762m
Pronunciation: Zell – am – zay
Easy slopes: 60km
Intermediate slopes: 55km
Difficult slopes: 29km

What’s the skiing like in Zell am See?

Zell am See is a favourite with families and intermediates. The horseshoe-shaped ski area is made up of wide, scenic pistes, which start out open at the top and are lined with trees lower down into the valley. And there’s plenty to ski across both the Zell and Kaprun areas – all linked by bus and covered by one lift pass.

Night skiing: Several nights a week, you can ski under the stars on the magical floodlit piste 6 above the town. Spot the lights twinkling along the edge of Lake Zell.

Sun Mountain: Known as ‘Sun Mountain’ for its south-facing reds, Sonnenalm is an intermediate’s paradise. And in poorer weather, there’s always great visibility on the long, wide, tree-lined runs.

Things to do in Zell am See

Ice hockey: Watch the local Zeller Eisbären team on an action-packed night at the rinkside. Or lace up your skates and get on the ice yourself.

Afternoon tea: For a touch of class, take afternoon tea at the lakeside Grand Hotel. Taste exquisite cakes and fresh strudel with impressive views of Lake Zell.

Things to see in Zell am See

The Elisabeth Chapel: Dating back to 1904, this small but perfectly formed chapel sits at the top of the Schmittenhöhe summit and houses a memento of the empress herself.

Kitzsteinhorn Glacier summit station: Catch the new lift from Kaprun straight up to the Kitzsteinhorn Glacier at 3,029m and step out onto the suspended panoramic platform above the Hohe Tauern National Park.

Kitzsteinhorn Glacier

Where to eat in Zell am See

There are several scenic lunch stops sprinkled across the mountains, all easy to spot on the piste map. Pop in to one of these mountain huts for a quick hot drink or catch up over an unhurried lunch of Austrian dishes, made with the freshest local produce.

Eder Hütte on Red 8: For a true Pinzgau lunch on the slopes, this characteristic restaurant sits at 1,800m on the Schmittenhöhe mountain. The regional specials change daily, while favourites like the flammkuchen flatbread and spinaltknödel – spinach dumplings – are often on the menu. Or grab a drink and watch the skiers go by from the outdoor terrace.

Eder Hütte mountain restaurant

Ebenbergalm on Blue 5a: Walking inside this homely wooden hut, you’re greeted with mouth-watering aromas of freshly cooked foods. Book in advance for their famous spare ribs and pork. Or try the satisfying classics like Tiroler gröstl and kaiserschmarrn – the traditional chopped-up pancake served warm with fruit compote. A scrumptious lunch ahead of an afternoon on the slopes.

Nightlife in Zell am See

Cosmopolitan Zell am See is home to some excellent nightlife. Start your après early, dancing in your ski boots in one of the slopeside bars – then head to a club in town to party the night away. Or go for something more relaxed and catch up with friends in a cosy café instead.

Price of a drink in Zell Am See
Small beer €3.50
Bottle of house wine €23
Schnapps €3
Glass of coke €3

Best bars in Zell am See

Ginhouse: Pick your favourite from over 450 different gins and every kind of tonic you can imagine. Not sure what to go for? Join gin tasting or go on a ‘round the world’ cocktail-making session in this quirky, cavernous bar.

The Heitzmann: Wrap up on the rooftop terrace of the Hotel Heitzmann. Sip a glühwein and take in the view of Lake Zell and the Kitzbühel Alps. And it’s the best spot for watching Wednesday’s ski show of freestyling, music and pyrotechnics.

Where to party in Zell am See

Villa Crazy Daisy: With a chilled après vibe on the terrace from 3pm, live bands, DJs and ski bar games keep the party going inside until the early hours.

Dorfschenke: Want to experience proper après? At the bottom of the Red 4, Dorfschenke’s known for its Austrian pop music, dancing on tables and steins of beer.

Where to stay in Zell am See

Hotel Tirolerhof: Right in the centre of Zell am See, the Hotel Tirolerhof combines stylish elegance with friendly hospitality from the Posch family. Step in from the slopes, choose from the complimentary afternoon snacks and then cosy up in front of the open fire in one of three lounges. The hotel’s luxurious spa is perfect for a little me-time – there’s an indoor pool and rooftop relaxation room with roaring fireplace. To round off your day, tuck in to an indulgent evening meal in the smart and sociable dining room.

Hotel Tirolerhof, Zell am See

If you’re keen for a fun-packed adventure, start planning your trip to Zell am See.

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