The picturesque villages of Austria offer wide, quiet slopes, fantastic après ski and all with a contagiously friendly atmosphere. Austria's alpine villages were around long before the first ski lifts cropped up, which is why even the largest of 'villages' such as St Anton still have traditional centres. Austrian's are justifiably proud of their skiing heritage; St Anton not only held the first downhill races but also formed the first ski school in the early 1900’s!
Continuous investment over the last few decades has ensured this wonderful sense of history is now delivered via an incredibly modern infrastructure and hi-tech snowmaking systems. And with wellness practically a national pastime expect plenty of saunas, steam rooms and spas, a welcome indulgence after a day on the slopes - in the more traditional hotels they may expect you to shed your clothes, don't say we didn't warn you.
The quality of the ski areas, diverse range of accommodation options and a friendly welcome, deliver a fantastic experience together with the Austrian's inimitable sense of fun and frivolity.
Why we love Austria
- Traditional centres in every resort, they were villages well before the ski lifts arrived.
- The wellness culture means you'll most likely find a steam room or sauna lurking around the place.
- The locals; far friendlier than France and they love a good time.
- Great value for eating and drinking in resort.
- Short transfer times for all resorts.
- The saunas and steam rooms are often nude, you can still take a towel.
- The lower slopes can be susceptible to thawing during very early and late season.
- Some of the liveliest après is straight off the slopes.
Our favourite resorts
Best for lively après ski - St Anton is the perennial après hot spot, with bars such at the Mooserwirt it really isn't surprising. However, Mayrhofen and Kitzbuhel aren't short of dancing either.
Best for short transfers - If you fly to the right airport, every resort in Austria can be reached in under 1 hour 30 minutes.
Best for beginners - Both Kaprun and Zell am See offer a wonderful array of easy slopes and more still to progress onto. St Johann is a good bet too.
Best for intermediates - Obergurgl's high altitude slopes offer the perfect conditions for ambling around but Kitzbuhel's are almost exclusively for the intermediate skier.
Best for the adventurous - St Anton's back-to-resort runs can be challenging but Mayrhofen has the Harikiri run which will really test your nerve.
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