The season's opening and closing parties have put Ischgl firmly at the forefront of Austrian après. The Top of the Mountain festivals brought music to the slopes over 20 years ago, since then many resorts have replicated the idea. Acts have ranged from Elton John to Bob Dylan to Muse bringing 20,000+ people to the Tyrolean village each time.
The Ischgl ski slopes are high, snow sure and wonderful for intermediates with a super modern, super high-speed lift system that whips you around the mountain in no time at all. Three gondolas access the mountain from resort level and an airport-style moving walkway runs through the village (more of a town really) giving easy access to the pistes, shops, bars and restaurants wherever you choose to stay while on your ski holiday.
This beautiful ski resort is an old farming village at heart and retains much a Tyrolean feel with traditional chalet style buildings. Not to mention the ski huts blasting out oompah music whilst revellers dance on the table in their ski boots or form huge conga lines around the venues. It's fair to say the après scene is more raucous than hip and in general about 10 to 20 years older than you get in St Anton. Yet the party kicks off at 3.30pm and doesn't stop until the early AM.
Skiing in the resort
Beginners can take the gondolas from town up to the mid-station where the ski schools meet. From here you have a variety of green runs and mellow blues to progress onto. There's also a moving carpet if you haven't got to grips with the T-bar or chairlifts yet. However, we'd advise you get the gondola back down the mountain as the resort runs are steep and often crowded at peak times.
Intermediates will have a whale of a time exploring this extensive and snow-sure ski resort. The Pardatschgrabahn (quite a mouthful) ascends the largest height difference in the world between base and summit without a mid-station. You can also head over to Switzerland and pick up some duty-free shopping in Samnaun.
Expert skiers have a number of steep black slopes to test out, however, the big draw is the off-piste. With a lot of beginners and intermediates drawn to Ischgl by the après, much of the easily accessible off-piste remains untouched for much longer than neighbouring St Anton. Hire a guide to find the best routes and you won't be disappointed.
The slightly older crowd sure know how to party and it all kicks off on the mountains at around 3.30pm with fantastic energy until dinner time and then carries on until the early hours. The techno-oompah makes way to nightclubs and go-go dancers at times. It's an eclectic and lively mix that's almost overwhelming at first.
But you can always find a quiet spot if it all gets a little too much. Fantastic restaurants such as the Michelin-starred Paznaunerstube are available if you want to treat yourself at the end of a busy day of skiing.