Austria is a great destination for a ski holiday yet for some reason it goes under the radar for many people. Whilst all the resorts have little nuances which make them special, there are some overarching elements which make Austrian resorts such unique places to go skiing.
When skiing in Austria, you’ll quickly discover that the local culture and tradition is still dominant, from the chocolate box chalets and villages to the taste bud bursting array of schnapps and delicious Kaiserschmarrn.
Sticking to Traditions
When skiing really took off in the 60s and 70s, some European resorts leapt at the commercial opportunity and built high-rise hotels and apartments. The Austrian Alps in contrast were well established when the boom came around and had no need to create new ski resorts; all that happened was that the existing alpine towns shifted their focus to skiing. The result; Austrian ski resorts have authenticity and tradition… they are unquestionably beautiful and there is something to be said for spending your time in an attractive ski resort. Skiing in the Alps can never disappoint in terms of views, however a charming and authentic alpine town to descend into after a day’s skiing, or to stop off at for a belly bursting Wiener Schnitzel and Kaiserschmarrn, just raises the skiing experience that extra level.
Food and Drink
Food in the Alps can be extremely varied at the best of times; however Austria consistently maintains high levels when it comes to their cuisine. Some people have said that Austrian food isn’t for them, however to get the full Austrian ski experience you have to embrace the local culture and to be honest there is something for everyone. They are fantastic at creating hearty stews (goulash) which are ideal lunchtime chow. They are also experts when it comes to game and naturally, with their proximity to Germany, they are also pretty au fait with the odd bratwurst and its various permutations. Last, but certainly not least; their national desert, strudel, has got to be in everyone’s top 5, as well as perhaps the aforementioned Kaiserschmarrn!
In terms of drink, for the coffee lovers, Austria has the Mokka which is akin to an espresso but extracted slower and offers a fuller flavour. For non-coffee drinkers looking to keep warm there’s always the famous Viennese hot chocolate, and alcohol wise, the wide array of Schnapps will certainly keep you fired up for your afternoons ski! You can also find a few local beers like Stiegl and Ottakrineger which can be served in your old friend/enemy – the stein.
Top 3 Resorts…
It’s hard to say what St. Anton is most famous for… well known for being a challenging resort for even the most seasoned skier, a party haven for the wildest hedonists, and a great off-piste powder blessed resort – St. Anton wears so many different hats. It is consistently one of Europe’s snowiest resorts and regularly ranked in the top five best ski resorts in the Alps.
Few resorts have been more popular with royalty than Lech, Princess Diana was a famous patron and members of the Monaco, Dutch and Jordanian royal families have visited. However, despite this, Lech has remained relatively rural, although has seen an increase in up-market hotels and some gradual expansion of late.
The terrain in Lech is far more friendly than the neighbouring St. Anton and is probably best suited to intermediates. The big news for this year, is the 4 new cable car lifts which will connect Lech/Zurs with St. Anton, adding to the existing bus links. This will not only drastically increase the ski area and the variety of skiing of both resorts, but also create the largest ski area in Austria.
Thanks to Mayrhofen being the epicentre of a number of villages (including Hippach, Finkenberg and Lanersbach); you can choose from a wide array of accommodation to suit your needs. From somewhere in the thick of the action to somewhere more secluded. This resort has been a long-running favourite with Brits, Mayrhofen has an equally formidable reputation for après as St. Anton; party-goers aren’t going to be disappointed here either.