Austria's largest resort is a wonderland for families, intermediates, and foodies.

SkiWelt Wilder Kaiser-Brixental (for the sake of simplicity, henceforth (SkiWelt) is Austria’s largest ski area, encompassing a whopping 280km of ski pistes, the vast majority of which are wide open groomers perfectly suited to skiers and riders of the intermediate ilk. The vast area, served by 90 lifts, is accessed from a number of villages on all sides of the ski area, all of which provide an ideal access point to one of the many ‘wonders’ of the (Ski)Welt.

1. Brixen im Thale / Kandler descent from the Choralpe

Sunny Brixen im Thale is ideally situated for serious skiers and riders. Long valley runs and off-piste on the Choralpe, while on the other side of the valley the gondola to Hochbrixen accesses easy intermediate terrain, and sun-drenched slopes, not to mention a unique igloo village. But above all else, Brixen is the departure point for one of the best pistes in Austria. The Kandler descent is a rollercoaster red piste that drops more than 1000m vertical from the Choralpe down to Brixen im Thale. Fast, fall-line sections alternate with flatter segments, creating an epically long valley run. Ski it all in one go, and you’ll know if your pre-season fitness program has worked or not!

2. Westendorf / Gateway to Ki-West

With 280km of slopes, SkiWelt is Austria’s largest interconnected area, but if you’ve got the urge to explore even further afield, it’s possible via the Ki-West connection. Westendorf is the access point for the best off-piste and expert skiing in the entire SkiWelt region, and also the Ki-West connection, which takes skiers and riders across the Gampenkogel (highest lift-accessed point at 1957m) and down into the valley where a short shuttle ride brings the adventurous to Kitzbühel. And just like that, another 170km of pistes await. You’ll want to get started early though to make the trip there and back again! For those that want to stick closer to home, Westendorf is also excellent for cross-country skiing and serene winter hiking trails.

3. Ellmau / Hartkaiserbahn Gondola

The old funicular railway in Ellmau was a must for any visitor to the SkiWelt area. Problem was, as the only connection point between the small Astberg ski area, and the rest of the domain, the queue for the iconic cog railway could also get tediously long. For those staying in the Ellmau and Going, a potentially time-consuming bottleneck. After more than 40 years of service, the railway was been retired and replaced by the 10-seater Hartkaiserbahn gondola. Not only has this doubled the lift capacity, the new gondola has all the mod-cons, like heated seats and WiFi. If you aren’t seduced by the trimmings, then you can at least appreciate the shorter lift lines, which makes a trip across to the quiet pistes around the Astberg much more appealing. Childrens ski school facilities at the top of the lift have also been expanded and modernized, while a new après bar awaits back in the valley.

4. Söll / Apres, après, après…

Tiroleans are known for their hospitality, and it is in ever-popular Söll that this really shines through. Beyond the rowdy après bars, there are also trendy restaurants and cool bars. There are more than 30 restaurants in the area, many serving hearty, traditional Tirolean. For this, Auf da Muhle and the Dorf Stubn are hard to beat. To work up an appetite, the Hexenalm and the Salvenstadl are the places to head. Of course, staying out on the slopes until late is possible too, with 11km of illuminated night skiing from Wednesday to Saturday each week.

5. Itter / Medieval Tirol

Quick access to the heart of the SkiWelt area, centred around the Hohe Salve, but at the same time Itter offers a more relaxed pace than its neighbouring villages. This, combined with the beginner drag lifts right in the village, makes Itter a popular choice with families. The medieval Itter Castle, with its curious history, provides a glimpse into the historical side of Tirol, while snowshoeing tours offer a close-up experience of nature. Itter might be too quiet for some party-loving Brits, but therewithin lies the appeal for many who are seeking a old-fashioned, laidback ski holiday, but with an easy connection to a world-class resort.

6. Hopfgarten / Viewpoint from the Hohe Salve

The Hohe Salve – highest point in the main SkiWelt area – is not itself the most spectacular peak in Austria, but the view from the top is one of the most stunning vistas in Tirol. Looking east, the recognizable triangular peak of the Kitzbüheler Horn rises above the far end of the sprawling SkiWelt domain, far away to the south the jagged high alpine peaks of the Zillertaler Alps can be seen, but most spectacular of all is view to the north. The limestone Wilder Kaiser mountains are reminiscent of the Italian Dolomites, and the snow struggles to stick to the near vertical cliff faces of the string of 2000m peaks. Hopfgarten is the most convenient village from which to access to unique viewpoint on the Hohe Salve, bringing skiers to the 1829m summit in a two-stage gondola. After taking in the 360-degree views (even the toilets are built to maximize the landscape) the sunniest slopes in the SkiWelt back to Hopfgarten, itself a typically idyllic Tirolean village.

7. Scheffau / Have your kuchen and eat it too

Söll might be the place to party, Westendorf to get off-piste, and Itter to get off the grid, but centrally-located Scheffau is the best bet for those who simply can’t decide. Challenging slopes around the Brandstadl, easy access to the sunny (Brixental) side, and the ideal jumping off point to head east towards the Astberg, or west towards the Hohe Salve. The Moderer Skiroute (snow permitting) is a more than 800m vertical off-piste descent to the valley, while the main red piste down to Scheffau offers up numerous options for après skiers; from rustic huts like the Stallbar to more straight-up rowdy affairs like the Sternbar. The village of Scheffau itself is actually set away from the lifts, maintaining more of a traditional Tirolean village atmosphere from its perch under the imposing Wilder Kaiser mountains.