News from the snow
Galtür - Silvapark Austria
'It's an Alpine Idyl' said Ernest Hemmingway in 1926 and, sitting up at 1584 metres (5197 feet), Galtür is a skiing Idyl too. One of Austria's highest resorts, it is the highest ski village in the famous Silvetta Region which includes the lifts of Ischgl, Kappl, Samnaun and See im Paznauntal. The picturesque village, with a population of nearly 800, is of traditional Tyrolean style and at least 600 years old , and still centred on the old pilgrimage church. Apart from Ernest Hemmingway famous visitors have included Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands and Albert Einstein. Galtür offers 'the best of both worlds' to its visitors - Austrian traditional and quality, with modern facilities and a go ahead attitude. Among the natural assets is the fact that the village centre is compact, with all amenities, except the ski lifts1.8km (1.1 miles) away. But there is a good bus service, which is free of charge. The stunning scenery of the Paznauntal, the area in which Galtür is located, helps to add to the peaceful magic of the place.
Located in the Paznaun Valley, Galtür is one of Austria's highest resorts. The skiing is best suited to intermediates, but there is plenty for experts too, including a memorable 3.2km black over the regional border in to Vorarlberg. A ski bus links the resort to Ischgl, opening up 310km of trails on the Silvretta Lift Pass.
Of course many advanced skiers will not wish to miss the opportunity to make full use of their Silvretta area pass opening up 310km (nearly 200 miles) of terrain at several separate areas and linked by a ski bus, the cost of which is included in the area lift pass. Back country tours around the Silvretta mountains, accompanied by one of the local ski mountaineering schools' guides, are especially popular. The largest single sector, with 200km (125 miles) of lift-linked terrain, is above Galtür's famous neighbour Ischgl, some 10km (6 miles) down the valley. Here the lifts ascend to some of the highest and most snowsure skiing in Austria, at 2872m (9422 feet), as well of the country's most challenging terrain. Trails are up to 9 km (6 miles) in length and continue over the border to Samnaun in Switzerland (carry your passport.)
Cross country skiers will find 45km (28 miles) of trails up to 2100m (6900 feet) in altitude around the valley. Night skiing is on offer every Wednesday night throughout the season at the Birkhahnbahn from 1930 to 2230.
The ski school also has a good reputation, and a large proportion of English-speaking staff, with a kindergarten taking children from age 3 and ski school proper from age 4. There is no day-care facility. The only possible downside is the need to use the ski bus to get to the slopes which may not be convenient if you have younger children needing help in carrying their kit, as well as themselves, when you already have your own kit to handle.
For all action nightlife take one of the late afternoon or early evening buses over to Ischgl for a bigger choice of bars or restaurants and greater numbers of "party types" from the UK, Sweden, the Netherlands and Germany. Bear in mind however that outside skiing hours the bus service is limited and you are likely to need a taxi back. Back in Galtür, there are seven late night spots: Hubers Stadl, Bierkessel, Postillion, Pyramide, S'Platzli, Almhof Tenne and Tommy's Garage. If you fancy something different before you reach them, try a traditional Tirolean Zither music evening, or a traditional Tirolean bowling evening (more skittles than 10 pin) or the floodlit toboggan run or barrel stove race course - the common factor in all being a lot of good clean fun!
Every Sunday the ski school performs "under the lights", where it's important not to forget the Glühwein. The ski school and Tourist Office also occasionally organise events such as open air parties, often with big-name entertainers, at Eastertime and at the end of the season, as well as special balls and dances.