Why ski holidays in Austria are the best…
Have you ever wondered what makes Austria such a popular ski holiday destination? Most of you will have heard of some of the most famous resorts: Ischgl, St. Anton, Kitzbühel, and Mayrhofen to name but a few. Yet Austria is not all about après ski, least of all right now. At Single Parents on Holiday, we are a bit partial to Austria, and we love our ski holidays in Austria! So, just in case you need convincing, here is what Austria is famous for, and why you should spend your next ski holiday in Austria:
1. Guaranteed snow
Good snow can be the making of any ski holiday, but in Austria you can have your pick of snow sure ski resorts. A great deal has been invested in the most modern snow-making facilities to ensure that even the sunniest slope and valley run is covered lavishly in snow for up to 6 months a year. Altitude helps of course, so you need to make sure you choose a ski resort that is high up if you go early or late in the season.
2. Long ski season
Austria is blessed with a long ski season, due to the altitude of many of its mountains and a total of 9 ski resorts with glaciers. Tyrol alone has five glaciers, including the famous Hintertux glacier, where you can ski all year round. So, we decided to make the most of it and start the ski season with a solo ski holiday in Hintertux every December and finish no earlier than April at 1,800 m in snow sure Obertauern.
3. Modern facilities
We love that Austria’s ski resorts have the best infrastructure found anywhere in Europe – and we are not just talking ski cannons. Many ski regions are often seamlessly connected giving you a vast choice of slopes, with new cable cars, lifts, and fun snow parks added continuously. Pistes are groomed perfectly, and lifts and cable cars are state of the art and continuously modernised. Just try the heated leather seats in Kitzbühel’s newly renovated, energy efficient Fleckalmbahn. Heated chair lifts with domes were practically invented here. It’s unlikely you will end up being bashed about in a snowstorm in a rickety 2-person chair lift in Austria.
4. Value for money
If you thought, all of the above warrant eye-watering prices, think again. Ski holidays in Austria don’t come with the same price tag as Switzerland and France. They are surprisingly good value for money. Granted, convenience comes at a price, so if you choose a superior 4- or 5-star hotel with childcare directly on the slopes, you might pay big bucks. But there are plenty of smaller ski resorts and family hotels that are but a few minutes’ walk or shuttle away from the nearest ski lifts. You can also save by going later in the ski season – we love that many ski resorts in Austria entice families with free kids lift passes and other goodies at Easter. If you are able to go skiing without kids, your choice is even better – simply book your solo ski holidays outside the main school holidays to get the best value for money. January and March are generally good times.
If you thought, all of the above warrant eye-watering prices, think again. Ski holidays in Austria don’t come with the same price tag as Switzerland and France. They are surprisingly good value for money. Granted, convenience comes at a price, so if you choose a superior 4- or 5-star hotel with childcare directly on the slopes, you might pay big bucks. But there are plenty of smaller ski resorts and family hotels that are but a few minutes’ walk or shuttle away from the nearest ski lifts. You can also save by going later in the ski season – we love that many ski resorts in Austria entice families with free kids lift passes and other goodies at Easter. If you are able to go skiing without kids, your choice is even better – simply book your singles ski holidays outside the main school holidays to get the best value for money. Early December, January, and March are generally good times.
5. Austrian food
If you have ever been on a ski holiday in Austria, you will know what we are talking about. The food is to die for, whether it’s the selection of rustic artisan breads and homemade jams for breakfast, or the hearty savoury and sweet dishes on the ski huts, the afternoon Strudels, or the 5-course dinners back at the hotel. The ski hut food is reason alone, I would always choose Austria over any other European ski resort. If you have ever endured a week of chips and hot dogs on French ski huts or reindeer burgers and doughnuts in Finland’s mountain snack bars, you will more than appreciate the variety offered in the countless authentic ski huts dotted across every mountain in Austria: From Tiroler G’röstl to goulash soup, from Kaiserschmarrn to Germknödel – every mouthwatering Australian delicatessen is served up here. We love Austrian food, as you can tell.
6. Charming ski resorts
Austria’s mountains turn into winter wonderland come the month of December. Unlike the purpose-built ski resorts in other European countries, which consist of little else but hotels and a few winter sports shops, ski towns in Austria have really kept their charm. In fact, nothing beats the scenery of an Austrian holiday town with its picturesque and colourful Austrian architecture and atmospheric cafés and après ski bars, set against a gorgeous mountain backdrop. Austrian ski resorts have everything your heart desires, from the ski shops with trained and helpful staff, to the souvenir shop where you can stock up on Austrian trinkets and delicatessen, not to mention the countless cafés and patisseries. There is nothing garish here, neither in the quaint village of Zürs, nor in the cobble-stoned streets of larger Kitzbühel.
7. Ski safety
Not only has Austria one of the lowest crime rates in Europe, its state-of-the-art infrastructure and meticulously groomed pistes make it one of the safest places to ski on the continent, too. Ski schools ensure that skiers and snowboarder are taught piste safety rules from a young age. After all, to stay safe and keep others safe, you need to know the rules of conduct on the piste – who has right of way, rules of overtaking, speed, meaning of piste signs, etc.
If you have been on a ski holiday in Austria, you might have noticed that almost all skiers choose to wear a helmet. In fact, children up to the age of 15 are legally required to wear a helmet in most counties to prevent serious head injuries. While the injury rate from snow sports in Austria is low, should you be involved in an accident on the mountain, the incredibly efficient Austria Mountain Rescue Services will take you to the nearest hospital. Clinics are of excellent standard and often deal primarily with ski accidents, so you are in the best hands here.
8. Austrian hospitality
Austria is famous for its hospitality and all Austrians are proud of their laid-back attitude and charm. They call it “österreichische Gemütlichkeit”, which encompasses a lifestyle of contentment and comfort / cosiness. It shows in the way the tourism industry tries to make their guests to feel at home, in the delicious hot winter drinks and the heart-warming dishes, and the way friendly locals are never in a hurry. Don’t be surprised if they happily welcome you in their midst, keen to teach you some traditional drinking games involving nails, a hammer, and a tree trunk, or happily show you how to ski down to the valley after a few schnapps in the ski hut (and that’s before the après ski).
9. Austrian Après ski
The Austrians practically invented it and are without a doubt the masters of après ski. It all kicks off in the afternoon, when Austrians of all ages gather outside and inside the many bars, huts, and pubs at the bottom of the slope. From there they continue into the village and on to more bars. Shots are often the name of the game: Jägermeister, grog, Obstler, mulled wine, heiße Witwe (hot widow), heiße Oma (hot granny) Lumbumba, etc. Many of them are enjoyed heated, so you are quickly inebriated. Wine, beer, and champagne are equally popular. Anything goes, really. Crowds are friendly and the atmosphere is quite something. If you are not on a solo ski holiday and dancing on the tables is not the way you want the night to end, you can also enjoy a quieter après-ski in a cosy ski hut or the bar of your hotel.
10. Austria’s ski schools
If you are serious about skiing, you should probably not start the week with après ski but a few lessons in one of Austria’s excellent ski schools. Ski instructors here will have completed several training courses and exams and often speak several languages. Ski schools like many hotels and other businesses are often a family affair going back several generations. That means dedicated and committed instructors who take pride in what they do and who are keen to share their knowledge. So, whether you are a beginner or want to learn to master all snow conditions in style, you are in the best hands.
What’s not to love about Austria? I could go on, but let’s leave that for another day!