A picture-perfect Alpine village, voted 'Austria's Most Beautiful' on a number of occasions, matching up to most people's imagined image of what an idyllic Austrian ski resort village should look like. Nestled in an attractive mid-valley setting, this historic settlement positively radiates Tyrolean charm and is dotted with fabulously romantic old buildings, yet it also offers all the modern amenities and facilities that should be expected of such a top-class Alpine resort.
The scenic local ski area was recently extended to link into the neighbouring valley, more than doubling the extent of the slopes. A good resort choice for snowsports beginners, and perfect for intermediates, Alpbach certainly ticks a lot of boxes for the majority of its winter visitors.
Alpbach's ski area is now linked with that of Auffach in the neighbouring Wildschonau region to form an extensive new ski domain, inaugurated in 2012 and christened the 'Ski Jewel' region, covering 145 km of pistes on one lift pass, further boosting Alpbach's standing amongst regular devotees and first-time visitors alike.
It should be noted however that the only village-level slopes at Alpbach itself are nursery slopes, exclusively for use by absolute beginners; perfect for those new to snowsports, but perhaps the resort's only slight imperfection in the opinion of intermediate and advanced-level skiers and snowboarders, for whom a final home-run at the end of the day is a desirable and satisfying feature. The short [free] ski bus journey to/from the slopes is all part of the experience though, and there are certainly sufficient slope-side bars and restaurants at the foot of the pistes around the main base area in nearby Inneralpbach to provide for that beer-o'clock ski-to-bar feeling.
The local Alpbach ski area is focused on the Wiedersbergerhorn above Inneralpbach, the uppermost reaches of which give splendid vistas over the surrounding peaks of the Alpbachtal, the Rofan Range and the Ziller Valley. Facing this, on the opposite side of Inneralpbach, are the slopes of the Schatzberg, linking into the Auffach-Wildschonau ski area.
Both sectors offer a good selection of intermediate-graded pistes, plenty of which are on attractive tree-clad slopes; whereas some advanced skiers/riders may consider the runs a little tame and lacking in scale, intermediates and confident novices will find the area more than adequate. Experts also have the option of hiring a guide to explore the considerable off-piste potential on the other non-lift-served flanks of the Wiedersbergerhorn.
The Ski Jewel pass also covers the non-linked resorts of Oberau and Niederau (Wildschonau region) plus Reith im Alpbachtal, the latter of which offers regular floodlit night skiing.
Off the slopes and apres ski
An ice rink and an indoor swimming pool are the principal off-slope activities, and there are some lovely, cleared and way-marked, walking routes surrounded by simply stunning scenery; horse-drawn sleigh rides are also available.
Apres ski is typically Tyrolean, with plenty of mid-afternoon to early-evening jolly-natured beer guzzling, shot slamming, and dancing with ski boots on; the slope-side Joe's Salett'l 'umbrella bar' at Inneralpbach base area is a prime ski-to location. The atmosphere is more laid-back after dinner in Alpbach village itself, although a couple of venues do often offer live music; the Gondelalm is a popular lively haunt, which features an old cable-car cabin in the middle of the bar-room.