A global mecca for skiers and snowboarders, Austria is a stunning and mountainous nation positioned at the centre of Europe and in the heart of the Alps. In fact, the east of the country is one big winter playground, with some of the best ski resorts in Europe, and the world.
Flying into Innsbruck you can’t help but feel that huge grin spread across your face as you fly down the valley past visible snow packed pistes.
Whether you’ve been to Austria before, or you’re trying to plan a trip to the best Austrian ski resorts for you, and your budget, we reckon you’ve made a great choice.
Let’s explore this awesome ski region, help you find the best ski deals and get you out on the mountains before you can say ‘après ski’.
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Why Choose an Austrian Ski Holiday?
There is literally something for everyone in Austria. From vast ski areas and challenging runs, with some of the most energetic après ski you’ll see anywhere in the world… To sedate and hidden Alpine villages offering some of the most gorgeous and snow sure skiing or snowboarding.
Alongside enjoyable mountain terrain and unforgettable après ski culture, you also have outstanding snow conditions year round (yes, there is summer skiing too) and some of the prettiest villages in Europe. Austria also hosts lots of eco-initiatives too that will help us all protect our environment while enjoying winter sports across different the coutnry and the Alps.
Another benefit of Austrian ski holidays is the good public transport connections, making Austria great for cheap transfers and long weekend ski breaks.
And for those who really want to let their hair down, you’ll find some particularly epic après ski at some of the most famous snow sports music festivals too…
Why is Austria popular for ski holidays?
Austrian ski resorts are best known for their lively atmosphere as well as great hospitality. This is encapsulated by the term “gemutlichkeit” which reflects the experience you can anticipate here.
And because of the wide range of ski areas in Austria, you’ll find plenty in your budget or to match your experience level.
In fact, no matter what size group or requirements you have, Austrian ski resort holiday accommodations offers diverse choices. From family run chalets, to boutique hotels and luxury hotel resort chains.
Kick off the early season from October (actually there is also summer skiing here) well into the spring.
Ski Stubai glacier or Hintertux when the flowers are coming out and the sun is shining. Or pick your hidden Austrian ski gem for those early winter powder days…
Is an Austrian ski holiday cheaper than France?
For an Austrian ski holiday, travelers can expect to get competitively priced packages compared to other European destinations. In fact, costs are found to be about 15-20% lower than in France which is especially tempting for those on a budget.
Ski passes and ski schools also offer good value. In fact, if you’re looking for ski or snowboard lessons, Austria offers top quality tuition for around 10-20% less than France.
When it comes to eating and drinking, Austria also offers top value.
Enjoy a beer or wine in the resort from under €4 (expect to pay slightly more in premium bars or nightclubs). And of course apres ski is a big part of the culture here.
For dining, food tends to be relatively affordable. Enjoy a snack on the mountain, or apres ski in the resort from under €10. A meal for two should clock in around €40 or more with drinks.
If you need to buy a ski pass, the average cost of a 6 day ski pass in Austria is €294, which is more than France at €234, but less than Switzerland at €326.
Which are the best Austrian ski resorts?
The huge variety of ski resorts in Austria provide an amazing range of options for both beginners and experienced skiers. With mostly snow sure pistes and fun activities off the mountain, you’ll easily find something suitable for everyone’s level.
You’ll also find that many resorts offer ski in/ski out hotels, and that your lift pass covers other ski areas in the same region. Ski Zillertal for example covers the whole Zillertal valley under one pass, and also allows access to the ski bus and train.
In fact, the problem can be picking a place to go for your Austria ski holidays! So here are our picks (in no particular order):
- St Anton am Arlberg: Probably the most famous ski resort in Austria, and for good reason. With over 380 kms of terrain, amazing apres and something for everyone, this is top tier Austrian skiing.
- Zell am See-Kaprun: This beautiful lake side village is perfect if you’re just starting out or heading to the mountain with family. Featuring kid friendly facilities plus easy accessible paths down snowcapped mountainsides. We think this is one of the best ski resorts in Austria for family..
- SkiWelt Wilder Kaiser–Brixental Area: This ski pass unites nine villages, giving you one of the most incredible areas to explore.
- Zillertal Arena/Mayrhofen: Famous for après ski, Mayrhofen is the centrepiece of the exceptional Zillertal Arena ski region. Your lift pass also covers Hintertux glacier skiing and you can also explore a number of gorgeous traditional villages (and their ski areas) as part of your trip here.
- Ischgl: Combining excellent skiing and snowboarding with legenday après ski, Ischgl is an epic ski resort, no question.
- Saalbach Hinterglemm: Fantastic ski domain in the Salzberg region with a good mix of beginner and advanced terrain.
- Kitzbühel: Containing breathtaking terrain along its iconic Streif slope, this iconic ski resort is a must visit for snow sports fans.
- Ski Amade: This network of ski villages serves up a potential 760 kms of pistes to explore, meaning you’ll easily find some ski terrain to suit you. Gastein makes a good base, but search the Ski Amade area for the right village for you…
Which are the best family-friendly ski resorts in Austria?
Skiing in Austria is a great holiday option for families due to the family-friendly resorts, transfer times that are relatively short and first-rate ski schools. Popular family friendly ski resorts in Austria include:
- Serfaus – Fiss – Ladis: Perhaps one of the best family friendly resorts in Austria with lots of beginner terrain and kid friendly activities.
- Zillertal Arena/Mayrhofen: Lots of pistes for kids to choose from, including the excellent Ahorn mountain. Also the many smaller resorts up and down the valley offer variety, and there are lots of things to do in town too.
- Niederau-Oberau: Known for it’s picturesque and family friendly town, this ski area is a hidden gem.
- Obergurgl: This resort is well-known for its family-friendly atmosphere and beginner friendly terrain.
Most big ski areas in Austria will also offer a number of activities for children, from soft play areas, swimming pools and adventure playgrounds, to dog sledding and tobogganing.
Generally speaking, if you’re looking for family friendly, Austrians know how to keep kids busy off the slopes. Almost any resort you choose will have a good selection of ski schools and activities for kids.
The best intermediate and advanced ski resorts in Austria
Intermediate skiers can explore a wide selection of ski resorts in Austria, each offering various terrains with plenty of snow. The SkiWelt Wilder Kaiser-Brixental Area is an ideal spot for intermediate skiing, it connects nine villages and offers dependable coverage every season. Mayrhofen also serves as a great destination for these level athletes – they will have access to both blue and red runs that provide lots of diversity within the resort itself.
For those looking to advance their skills on the slopes, Saalbach, St Anton or Zell am See are excellent options where daring steep gulleys mixed amongst tree runs gives everyone something new to try! All around this Alpine nation offer novice and experienced adventurers alike reliable sites when needing thrilling obstacles but not having any boundaries set by difficult courses..
For advanced skiers or snowboarders, ski resorts such as Saalbach-Hinterglemm, Ischgl and Mayrhofen offer challenging terrain even experienced skiers will enjoy.
High altitude spots like Obergurgl, Hintertux (Mayrhofen), Ischgl, Lech and Sölden provide snow sure experiences with plenty of slopes and off piste runs giving advanced riders the ideal setting for their winter thrills.
Is Austria good for snowboarders?
In a word: Yes.
Austria is a snowboarders dream destination, with plenty of opportunity for everything from amazing freeriding, powder days and obviously top quality snow parks. Pretty much every ski resort in Austria will have at least one, often more than one, snow park with all the jumps, kickers and rails you can shake a stick at.
And while Austrian’s themselves are quite a ski focused nation (it is the national sport), they are very accepting of snowboarders, and you’ll see plenty of locals putting you to shame with their skills.
While it’s hard to pick a ‘best Austrian ski resort for snowboarders’, you can’t go wrong with any of these:
- Mayrhofen/Hintertux/Zillertal Arena
- St Anton and Lech
Essential tips for planning your Austrian ski holiday
When organizing a ski holiday in Austria, you’ll find plenty of accommodation options, discounted or included lift passes and short transfer times.
There are lots of all included packages too, such as with:
Austria is also relatively affordable for ski and snowboarding lessons, with plenty of options for English tuition at most major resorts. You might struggle to find a fluent speaker at a smaller resort, but in general you should find some decent ski schools with English instructors, or English speakers.
Accommodation is abundant with selections ranging from self contained apartments to luxury chalets or hotels suiting any requirement necessary regardless of budget level.
Moat transfers in Austria are short. Most transfers are between an hour to two hours from one of the main airports in Innsbruck or Salzberg.
When it comes to ski holidays in Austria, there is a range of accommodation available for all group sizes and budgets. Ski chalets provide an inviting atmosphere along with great opportunities to mingle with fellow skiers after the day on slopes.
Meanwhile hotels come both budget friendly as well as high-end resorts options that offer luxurious facilities. Great for romantic ski breaks. Apartments are also ideal offering more space than hotel rooms plus you can cook your own meals if desired
Skiworld offers packages including flights, transfers and seven nights’ stay at their chalets accompanied by food services such ‘chalet board’. With so many possibilities when it comes to Austrian skiing accommodations any desires or need could be easily accommodated during your visit!
Lift passes and ski schools
If you plan ahead and look for discounts, it’s possible to get the most out of your skiing experience while keeping expenses low. The Salzburger Sportwelt ski pass is great for groups as it grants access to the whole Amadé ski region. By securing such a deal in advance, lift passes and skiiing lessons can be acquired at an affordable price, something that definitely makes sense when planning any kind of skiing trip!
Transfer times and accessibility
For ski holidays in Austria, the transfer times from major airports to many of its renowned resorts are surprisingly low. A trip to well-known spots such as St Anton am Arlberg, Sölden and Mayrhofen usually takes less than two hours when departing from either Innsbruck or Salzburg airport.
This short duration means that you can benefit more by maximizing your time on the slopes rather than wasting it away traveling long distances.
Whats more, many of the main ski resorts are connected via public transport including train and bus services. This means you can avoid the costly transfers common in the French Alps.
Savouring Austrian cuisine and après ski culture
Skiers from around the world flock to Austrian ski resorts for their dynamic après-ski scene with an array of restaurants, bars and mountain huts providing traditional Austrian cuisine.
St Anton’s renowned party atmosphere is particularly unforgettable – many enjoy drinking beer whilst dancing on tables!
Other popular ski spots full of life after a day on the slopes include Mayrhofen, Ischgl and Soll. All offering plenty of opportunities to relax in cozy cabins or vibrant pubs. To be honest, almost any major Austrian ski resort will feature some vibrant apres ski, so don’t worry too much if this is a major factor.
If you want to see the season out with a bang, consider the Snowbombing music festival in Mayrhofen, usually in April.
Snow conditions and glacier skiing
Visiting Austria promises to be an ideal skiing experience thanks to its reliable snow conditions. With a variety of high-altitude resorts such as St Anton and Lech, plus glacier skiing options like the Kitzsteinhorn Glacier in Zell am See offering year round access for ski aficionados, you’ll enjoy pretty snow sure conditions.
Not only are the resorts renowned for excellent quality snow, but due to the location deep in the Alps, many Austrian resorts even boast some of longest ski seasons around.
Customizing your Austrian ski holiday experience
Organizing an Austrian ski holiday of your own design is a great way to get the exact experience that you desire. You have control over where and when by picking out the right resort, selecting accommodation, buying lift passes for skiing activities and booking lessons at schools dedicated to this winter sport in Austria. Additional recreational pursuits are also possible depending on preferences.
A range of packages from luxurious all-inclusive offers through affordable family choices up to large or small group trips can be put together with assistance available so as best fit everyone’s needs while still being within their budget limits too. This creates a unique chance not only for memories but likewise ensures perfect personalized skiing experiences like no other place apart from here, Austria!
Festivals and events in Austrian ski resorts
When you plan your ski holiday, Austrian ski resorts have an abundance of additional festivals and events to enjoy. Music shows, comedy performances and open-air concerts all offer a memorable atmosphere that transforms the experience for skiers from novice to expert.
Three prominent gatherings stand out as ones with universal appeal: The Mayrhofen Ski and Food Festival is one such event which provides skiing along with live music, Snowbombing promises entertainment alongside great winter fun on the slopes, lastly, Altitude Comedy Festivals lures people in who are looking for laughter while they turn down runs.
With these distinct events coupled together during a visit to any Austrain resort it’s certain that unique memories will be made sure by those there, taking what would normally just be ordinary days spent at famous Austrian snow covered peaks into something extraordinary!
Heading to Austria for a ski holiday is an excellent idea, as it provides great affordability along with breathtaking sights and hospitable vibes. There are many resorts available that cater to different levels of expertise in skiing, giving everyone the opportunity to take part.
Families will find plenty to enjoy a happy winter holiday, with Austrian family ski culture strong and accessible.
Don’t forget that this is the home of après ski too! You honestly haven’t lived until you’ve danced on a table on top of a mountain to the thumping tunes of German pop or some 80s David Hasslehof tune. Trust me.
For all these reasons and so much more, Austrian ski holidays should be seriously considered when planning your next memorable vacation experience.
No matter what kind of skier or snowboarder you may be – rookie or veteran –Austrian has something special for everybody out there who loves hitting the slopes!