From Munich and Vienna and into a snow paradise
Article was published in Nordica´s in-flight magazine Time Flies (autumn-winter 2017).
The ski centres near the German–Austrian border are considered to be some of Europe's best. The scenic views, good snow conditions, a well-functioning network of ski-lifts and the well-known, vibrant après-ski, best characterise the resorts here. Knees in the snow and face in the sun – this is how to enjoy the winter.
Circus for everyone: Saalbach–Hinterglemm
Saalbach certainly is the ideal alpine ski resort, and together with Hinterglemm, Leogang and Fieberbrunn, makes up one of the largest ski areas in Austria. This region, called "Ski Circus", offers active winter holidays for both adrenaline lovers and experienced snowboarders, as well as for families with children.
The most valuable asset for Saalbach (1 003 m) is Austria's most modern ski-lift system, which is shared with the neighbouring centres. The ski slopes, totalling 270 km in length, are divided into 3 categories: blue runs for beginners, red runs for intermediate skiers, and black runs for advanced skiers and snowboarders. In addition to these, there is the possibility of back country skiing, slalom slopes, freestyle and free-ride areas, and the Hinterglemm ski park – in short, everything snowboarders and skiers dream of.
After four o'clock, when most of the slopes are closed, you can find a vide variety of restaurants, enjoy après-ski and the lively nightlife. At the top of Saalbach there is Berger Alm with its happy hour, the rugged Hinterhag Alm or Eva, and ALM with its delicious ribs and burgers; these are just a few examples of dining and drinking places.
There are also a number of options for people interested in mountain villages. The distance between the two largest alpine villages – Saalbach and Hinterglemm – is only 4 km. Saalbach has its own enchanting centre with traditional Austrian cafés, bars, designer boutiques and cozy four-star hotels. Hinterglemm is less busy, and therefore perfect for families.
Saalbach–Hinterglemm is just 220 km from Munich Airport, and the Holiday Shuttle connection is the easiest and most convenient way to travel.
For experienced skiers – the snow paradise of St. Anton
The first ski resort in Austria, St. Anton (1 304 m), is located in the Arlberg region, which is known for its heavy snow. If you are more experienced, then paying a visit to this paradise is worth while. The highest peak, Valluga Grat (2 810 m), is the best that Austria has to offer: great panoramic views, an abundance of snow, and unlimited off-piste opportunities.
St. Anton is more popular among experienced skiers - its downhill ski slopes are somewhat more difficult than those in the same category in other parts of the world. In addition to 305 km of marked tracks, there are 200 km of back country tracks in the region. If all that is still not enough, it's worth knowing that with the Arlberg ski pass and the resort bus you can also access some ski sections of the nearby resorts.
It is said that on Rendl mountain, opposite St. Anton, you can even sunbathe when it is cloudy elsewhere. Skilled snowboarders perform incredible jumps and tricks in the local Stanton Park. On the Proline Trail you can do tricks just like the Estonian freestyle skier Kelly Sildaru. After all those jumps you can relax and rest the Rendl Beach mountain restaurant.
The notorious bars Mooserwirt and Krazy Kanguruh have made St. Anton the cradle of après-ski. At eight o'clock, however, the music on the slopes is muted, and people move to the villages, where restaurants and bars await. The Cuba Bar is suitable for cocktail lovers and you can find live music at the Piccadilly Pub. The most popular among club goers are Postkeller and the somewhat more upscale Kandahar.
St. Anton is located about 250 km southwest of Munich Airport. You can get to St. Anton by rental car, pre-ordered shuttle bus, or train.
Good snow with the most genuine experience at the top of Zugspitze
Seven months of perfect snow, untouched snow-covered slopes, skiing on the glacier and stunning views guarantee the most genuine experience are offered on the highest mountain ridge in Germany – Zugspitze (2 962 m). The slopes of Zugspitze and Garmisch areas make the area suitable for beginners and families with children, but more experienced riders will also be busy there for quite a few days.
At the foot of Zugspitze, you can find the united town of Garmisch-Partenkirchen, which stands out with its affordable hotels, restaurants and bars. Gasthof Fraundorfer and Alpenhof serve hot Bavarian food. The Zirbel Stube has cozy après-ski with live music, and there are many more bars like this in the city and on the slopes. The historic Ludwigstrasse in the heart of Partenkirchen has chic shops that offer something even for the most demanding customers.
The distance between Munich Airport and Zugspitze Ski Centre is 146 km. It is about 75 minutes of travel time, and it's most convenient to travel by train.
And there is more... for beginners, the Semmering Ski Centre near Vienna
If you want to combine a fine city holiday with snowy slopes, then the best known ski centre near Vienna is certainly Semmering. This resort does not have the most extreme slopes, which is exactly why it is great for those who are just starting.
Semmering offers 39 km of slopes: day runs, night runs with the some of the best lighting in Europe, and racing slopes. In addition, there is a park for snowboarders and other winter attractions.
Semmering is only 100 km south of Vienna, and is only a one-hour drive away. You can also take the train or the bus.