Even though I’m going skiing in Italy this January, my favourite place to ski is still Austria. The villages and towns are unbelievably pretty and the Apres Ski is unbeatable. The downside is that some of the resorts are not very high up so the snow record can be a bit hit and miss – thank God for snow cannon. Here are some resorts in Austria that I’ve been to over the years:
Westendorf – this was my very first ski holiday and is where I learned to ski. I have a soft spot for this place. It is a pretty little village but despite it’s small size, the apes ski is a hoot. I have fond (hazy) memories of the Wonder Bar (say no more). It is also a good place for beginners as it has lots of gentle slopes.
Mayrhofen – I liked it so much I went here twice – unfortunately, on my first trip, I broke my leg on the first day and spent the rest of the week in an Austrian hospital! But it didn’t put me off! It is one of my favourite resorts as it seems to have it all. Fantastic nightlife (the Ice Bar by the main gondola is a lot of fun) good skiing a pretty town with lots of shops. They have an annual comedy festival called Altitude which attracts big UK comedians such as John Bishop and Sean Lock.
They also hold a big music festival each year, Snowbombing. This year Fat Boy Slim and The Prodigy are playing.
Kitzbühel – this has to be one of the most beautiful Austrian resort. It has a wonderful medieval centre and is steeped in history. It used to be an old silver mining town and so it’s quite wealthy. Again, the nightlife is good and the skiing is great. Each year in January, the world’s most famous (and terrifying) downhill ski race is held here – The Hahnenkamm is considered to be the toughest race on the FIS Alpine Ski World Cup circuit and it is thrilling to watch.
St Johann in Tyrol – this is quite close to Kitzbuhel but is smaller and quieter. It is a pretty little town and is a cheaper option to Kitzbuhel – you can still ski in the same area and go to Kitzbuhel on day trips.
Zell Am See – this place is stunning. Again, I liked to so much I went twice! It sits on a big lake which gets frozen over in the winter so you can ice skate (but I haven’t been brave enough for that – I always worry that the ice will crack!)
The best bar on town is the Crazy Daisy where you can buy t-shirts with the famous slogan, ‘Don’t eat the yellow snow!”.
Saalbach – This town is famous for it apres ski and it is certainly one long party here. If you are looking for somewhere quiet, so to St Johann!
St Anton – this is one of Austria’s most famous resorts and it is a fabulous place. The skiing is great and the apres ski is incredible! There are two world famous bars in town, The Krazy Kangaroo and the Mooserwirt. If you enjoy dancing on tables in your ski boots, singing along to cheesy Europop, this is the place for you!! It is definitely a ‘things to do before you die’ kind of place.
Obergurgl – What a great name! This place is much quieter than Saalbach and St Anton. It is great for families and the best thing about it is its altitude. This is the highest parish in Austria so the snow is pretty much guaranteed.
Schladming – This is a really interesting place. It is bigger than your average ski resort and although you can travel here with Crystal Ski, there are very few Irish or British skiers here. It is very much a resort for Austrians and Germans and is huge on the FIS Alpine Ski World Cup Circuit as it hosts the annual Slalom Night Race. We had a great week here and survived a schnapps tasting night at a lovely little place in the town centre that makes it own schnapps (I forget the name now, but then I can’t remember much from that night!).