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AustriaAustria

It's the birthplace of the Arlberg skiing technique and countless international skiing superstars, the villages are heartbreakingly perfect, it has attractive wooded slopes as well as stark glaciers and its legendary après-ski is as cheesy – and as fun – as it gets. Add to this the fact that locals are genuinely friendly (and invariably lederhosen-clad), accommodation is comfortable and scrupulously clean whether in hotels or family-run B&Bs, food is tasty (assuming you like cheese and eat meat) and affordable and you'll understand why several of our favourite resorts are found here. We're not saying that Austria's ski scene is perfect. The Ski Amadé region might be Europe's largest linked ski area, but generally speaking Austria's resorts are relatively small. Even the larger resorts often incorporate several small villages in one valley, like Bad Gastein and Stubaital. However, it can work to the advantage of families and those on a budget when a small resort is linked by lifts (or bus) to large, interconnected ski areas such as SkiWelt and the Kitzbüheler Alpen, as accommodation is often cheaper and family-friendly. Examples include Westendorf for Kitzbühel and Leogang for Saalbach-Hinterglemm. Another disadvantage is the low altitude of many Austrian resorts. Kitzbühel is lower than virtually any other European resort and the fact that the country boasts four glaciers (Hintertux, Kitzsteinhorn, Stubai and Sölden) and some of Europe's most reliable snow in the Arlberg region doesn't help visitors who book in advance and arrive to find grassy slopes. If the convenience of ski in/ski out accommodation outweighs the importance of a pretty Alpine setting and if you love the mileage of large ski areas like Espace Killy, Austria might not be the place for you. However, if you love freeriding, want chocolate-box pretty surroundings and loud, unpretentious après-ski it might just be your spiritual ski home.

Pros

Cons

 

A great choice of party central resorts (St Anton, Ischgl, Mayrhofen), quiet, picture-perfect family resorts (Zürs, Alpbach) and even a city-based resort (Innsbruck).

Famously difficult to get hold of good vegetarian food that’s not cheese.

 

Cheap by European standards.

Mountain access is normally via cable car from town, often resulting in big down and upload queues.

 

Has four of Europe’s best spots for glacier skiing – Hintertux, Kitzsteinhorn, Sölden and Stubai.

Resorts are, generally speaking, lower and smaller than their French and Swiss equivalents.

 

The spiritual home of après-ski – think table-top dancing in ski boots, loud singing, umbrella bars, igloo bars. And very large beers.

Several key resorts are made up of small villages and mountains connected by time-consuming bus journeys.

 

Faultlessly clean, welcoming and comfortable accommodation.

 

Country Overview

Find out what it's like to ski or snowboard in 24 countries. The pros and cons, costs, the mountains, the resorts and a whole lot more

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