The 10 Best Ski Resorts in Austria

The 10 Best Ski Resorts in Austria
Jack Taylor
Written by Jack Taylor / Photos by Jack Lee
Last updated August 31, 2020
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World-class skiing and legendary après-ski go hand-in-hand in Austria, a country bursting at the seams with pretty alpine villages. This ski nation embraces the winter each and every year, and while you might be able to find taller mountains in Switzerland and larger ski areas in France, nowhere has such rich skiing culture as Austria!

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Known for

Powder and partying in the snowiest corner of the Alps in Ski Arlberg

Highlights

  • World-class off-piste
  • Masses of steep trails for advanced skiers
  • Very impressive snow record
  • Crowds and not much beginner terrain

Closest airports

Zurich Airport - 123 mi (2.5 hour drive)
St. Gallen-Altenrhein Airport - 64 mi (1.5 hour drive)
The skiing doesn't get much better than at St Anton!

If you only ever ski at one resort in Austria, make it St Anton. Being part of the Ski Arlberg area, St Anton has access to over 125 mi of interconnected routes! Take on the Run of Fame circuit's staggering combined vertical drop of 59,055 ft or explore some fantastic off-piste trails off the 9,222 ft summit of Mount Valluga. Once the lifts close for the day the après-ski really blows up - MooserWirt is rumored to sell the most beer in all of Austria! Ticking St Anton off your skiing bucket list is a rite of passage, but don’t come here until you’re ready because it’s no place for beginners!

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Known for

Serving up tons of lift-accessible freeride terrain and supreme après-ski parties!

Highlights

  • High-altitude resort with snow sure slopes
  • Vast amount of empty freeride terrain to explore
  • Lively ski town with plenty of nightlife
  • Be prepared to spend some money, it’s expensive here!

Closest airports

Innsbruck Airport - 62 mi (1 hour drive)
The high altitude means there's plenty of snow!

Tucked away in the far western corner of Austria is Ischgl, where 90% of the ski terrain is above 6,500 ft so the snow stays good for longer than at other nearby resorts like St Anton. Groomer cruisers will love the 148 mi of corduroy trails, and powder hounds can explore the freeride playground from the 9,225 ft summit of Piz Val Gronda! You can easily ski in two different countries on the same day, with half of the ski terrain spilling over the border into Switzerland. Après-ski is an institution here so expect the bars to fill up early, with Trofana Alm a top spot for traditional Austrian oompah folk music!

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Known for

Attractive village with Europe’s flashiest lift system

Highlights

  • Austria’s second largest ski area (set to increase with a new lift link)
  • Slick lift system includes 20 gondolas and 20 high-speed chairlifts
  • Plenty of long slopes perfectly suited for intermediates
  • Not many black runs and some of the blue trails are more like reds

Closest airports

Salzburg Airport - 55 mi (1.5 hour drive)
Plenty of intermediate terrain

Gondolas and hooded chair lifts rule here, to a degree that few other European ski resorts can match. The enormous 168 mi ski area is one ski resort with four villages, thanks to ski lifts connecting Saalbach, Hinterglemm, Leogang, and Fieberbrunn. The trails are interconnected to make skiing a circuit around the entire ski area possible! Intermediate skiers and snowboarders will get the most out of the expertly groomed pistes winding down each side of the Glemm Valley. Hinterglemm is also home to night-skiing and a feature-packed flood-lit snow park. When it comes to where you should stay, Saalbach is a prettier town than Hinterglemm, with plenty of bars and restaurants to keep you entertained after dark.

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Known for

Providing easy access to one of the best and most extensive glacier ski areas in Europe, if not the world!

Highlights

  • Stacks of off-piste to explore
  • Huge vertical drop
  • Impressive mountain scenery
  • Expensive and can get crowded

Closest airports

Innsbruck Airport - 52 mi (1 hour drive)
Impressive mountain ranges behind the ski village (Photo credit: Sölden)

A world-class ski resort, Sölden manages to score high marks for almost every aspect of a ski vacation. It’s high altitude at 11,000 ft means it has an awesome snow record and a 6,500 ft vertical drop! There’s roughly 90 mi of groomed piste on offer for all abilities as well as two huge glaciers, the Rettenbach and Tiefenbach. If you're looking for a charming chocolate-box mountain village this isn’t it but you can expect stunning mountain scenery- it’s that good they even filmed parts of the James Bond movie ‘Spectre’ here! Stay in Sölden for top notch après-ski, otherwise, stay up in Hochsölden at 6,856 ft, where you’ll find a quieter atmosphere.

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Known for

Its 7 mi Hohe Scharte North trail, one of the longest piste in the Central Eastern Alps!

Highlights

  • Great variety of terrain, with skiing both above and below the tree line
  • Plenty of powder that rarely gets tracked out
  • Quieter slopes and lower prices compared to other big-name ski resorts in Tyrol
  • No ski-in/ski-out accommodation

Closest airports

Salzburg Airport - 59 mi (1 hour drive)
One of the more quiet resorts in Austria

Gastein is a true all-rounder ski area incorporating four stand-alone ski resorts, one being Bad Gastein. Bad Gastein has fantastic terrain for intermediate skiers, and is famous for its thermal spas! The larger Gastein ski area serves up a little something for everyone, from cruising groomers, great off-piste terrain and some epic powder riding. It’s also one of five regions that make up Ski Amadé and your Gastein lift ticket gives you access to all the Ski Amadé resorts! Ski-in/ski-out accommodation is lacking at Bad Gastein, but if you book early and snag a room at Chalet Wetzlgut you’ll have direct access to the Felsentherme, a huge thermal spring complex perfect for soothing weary muscles after a hard day’s skiing.

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Known for

Skiing late into Spring and family-friendly activities

Highlights

  • Long snow season- up to 200 days a year!
  • Beginner friendly ski area
  • Plenty to do on and off the slopes
  • Can get crowded and expensive

Closest airports

Salzburg Airport - 44 mi (1 hour drive)
Enjoy skiing late into Spring

As much as Kitzbuhel lives up to the Austrian après-ski culture, it’s also a great family friendly option. The “Bärenland” obstacle course is the perfect area for beginners to hone their skills. Not to mention, there are 47 blue runs and free access to all beginner lifts in the valley! There are less red and black runs here but Kitzbuhel still offers trails for everyone including freeride terrain. And when you’re worn out from exploring the 120 mi of groomed slopes, you can take a break on one of the 60 mountain huts in the ski area. Highlight events held at the resort include the annual Snow Polo World Cup and Hahnenkamm ski races.

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Known for

Popular winter holiday resort loved for its accessible pistes and late-night parties

Highlights

  • Diverse ski terrain offers something for everyone to enjoy
  • Home to Austria’s steepest ski trail, the Harakiri Run
  • Welcoming and lively atmosphere for a fun ski trip
  • Snow quality suffers on some low elevation slopes

Closest airports

Innsbruck Airport - 49 mi (1 hour drive)
There's terrain for everyone at Mayrhofen

If you’re a daredevil looking for a serious challenge, look no further than the Harakiri Run at Mayrhofen. With a gradient of up to 78% and often icy conditions, it's for expert skiers only. Not to worry if you’re more into the cruisey groomers, as the marvelous Penkenbahn gondola connects to the Zillertal Arena ski area with over 310 mi of piste skiing. The enormous 24-seat cabins provide access to kid-friendly fun slopes, terrain parks for all abilities, and epic freeride routes. The bars on the mountain and the clubs in the town will more than satisfy the most ardent après-ski partygoers. And when it comes to getting your head down for the night, accommodation options are plentiful.

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Known for

Ancient alpine town combining gentle tree-lined trails with stunning winter scenery

Highlights

  • Tasty Pinzgau and Tirol specialities served at the mountain hut restaurants
  • 100% snowmaking coverage keeps pistes in great shape
  • Excellent shopping, spas, and cafes to please non-skiers
  • Not a lot of advanced terrain

Closest airports

Salzburg Airport - 46 mi (1 hour drive)
Ski at a unique location on the shoreline of Lake Zell

Nestled between the shoreline of Lake Zell and the summit of Maurerkogel, Zell am See is a unique ski destination bursting with character. The town dates back to the 8th century and strolling around its car-free cobbled street centre is a delight. But what about the skiing? The majority of pistes here are rated beginner to intermediate which make for wonderfully relaxed groomer cruising. A short bus ride to nearby Kaprun also provides the opportunity to ski the Kitzsteinhorn glacier at over 9,840 ft! Book a room at one of the elegant lakeside hotels if you don’t mind driving to the lifts, or there’s ski-in/ski-out lodging too if you want to ski first tracks!

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Known for

Classic Austrian city ski experience where the off-slope activities and lodging options are endless

Highlights

  • Amazing variety of skiing across many different mountains
  • Fascinating cultural sights from the Golden Roof to Bergisel Ski Jump
  • Very easy to reach; it has its own international airport
  • Travelling between resorts means less time actually on the slopes

Closest airports

Innsbruck Airport - 4 mi (15 minute drive)
Snow-capped peaks

Innsbruck is a city hemmed in by the Austrian Alps, with snow-capped peaks soaring over the urban centre. Many skiers pass through the Tyrolean capital on their way to other resorts without paying it much thought, but this two-time Winter Olympics host city should not be overlooked! The Nordkette ski area offers challenging trails just 20 minutes from the centre via the Hungerburgbahn funicular railway, while the Ski + City Pass opens up access to 13 ski resorts and more than 191 mi of piste skiing across the Stubai Valley. Also included is public transport within the region and entry to popular attractions like the Alpine Zoo and Swarovski Crystal Worlds.

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Known for

Peaceful surroundings, gourmet dining, and soothing spas in an exclusive mountain retreat

Highlights

  • Top-notch learner slopes and linked to hundreds of trails across multiple mountains
  • Non-ski activities include ice skating, tobogganing, and snowshoeing
  • A more peaceful area compared to neighbouring resorts such as St. Anton
  • Little to do outside of the hotels during the evening

Closest airports

Innsbruck Airport - 64 mi (1 hour drive)
Skiers have access to the expansive Ski Arlberg area

Perched on a high mountain pass between St Anton and Zürs, the little hamlet of St Christoph is often blanketed in snow thanks to the resort’s 5,905 ft base elevation. From here you have doorstep access to the truly expansive Ski Arlberg, the biggest interconnected ski area in Austria. With 88 modern lifts connecting 7 stand-alone resorts, the sheer amount and variety of skiing on offer is staggering. Refined hotels and luxurious chalets cluster around the beginner-friendly runs that end in St Christoph, so if you’re still learning this is a great place to hone your skills. And at Arlberg Hospiz you’ll find a concert hall, art gallery, and 600-year-old wine cellar for a truly sophisticated après-ski experience!

The 10 Best Ski Resorts in Austria
St Anton
Ischgl
Saalbach Hinterglemm
Sölden
Bad Gastein
Kitzbühel
Mayrhofen
Zell am See - Schmittenhöhe
Innsbruck
St Christoph
St Anton