Just when you think you know everywhere there is to ski, along comes Carinthia – a region that will have you reaching for your atlas as well as your skis…
Sitting on the sunnier southern side of the Alps, in the tri-border area of Austria’s East Tyrol, where the country rubs shoulders with Italy and Slovenia, lies the region of Carinthia, offering more than 800 km of pistes spread across nearly 30 resorts.
This is the region that produced the legendary downhill racer Franz Klammer, and in his home resort of Bad Kleinkirchheim, it is still possible (on selected dates) for visitors to ski with the great man himself - an unforgettable experience.
Carinthia is a treat for connoisseurs of splendid scenery. It offers a diverse mountain landscape with lovely views interspersed with frozen lakes blessed with a mild winter climate. A skiing holiday here, in Austria’s southernmost state, means broad pistes with guaranteed snow, plus snow parks and breathtaking freeride areas.
So here are 12 reasons to discover Carinthia this winter…
It’s got all types of ski terrain
Whatever your level, Carinthia has something for you. There are challenging pistes amidst mighty 3,000m peaks, pristine powder fields, broad, comfortable slopes, mogul slopes, half pipes and the Moelltal glacier.
Big resorts, little resorts
As well as the bigger names such as Nassfeld and Bad Kleinkirchheim, Carinthia contains a string of smaller resorts, including in the Lavanttal Valley and the Nockberge Mountains, all skiable on the same ski pass, the Topskipass Carinthia East Tyrol.
It’s ideal for families
Ski-in, ski out at the Katschberg, Carinthia’s best family ski area. The lifts are modern and the slopes well-groomed and wide, with some reserved for children only. Other family-friendly areas include the Heidi Alm at Falkert.
Sunshine and snow
Being on the southern side of the Alps, the ski areas of Carinthia are blessed with above-average hours of sunshine, registering about 100 hours more sun in the winter months than resorts north of the main Alpine ridge.
A joy for ski-tourers
Try the Nockberge Trail, which connects the five ski areas of Katschberg, Innerkrems, Turrach, Falkert and Bad Kleinkirchheim/St. Oswald. Stay in premium (wellness) hotels that serve first-class Alps-Adriatic cuisine. nockberge-trail.com
A top-ten favourite
The main Carinthian resort is Nassfeld – one of the top international ski areas with 110km of slopes, state-of-the-art cable cars, spectacular freeride and fun areas, plus a snowpark and 25 ski huts & restaurants right on the slopes.
Fantastic for freeride
Off-piste enthusiasts will head for the area around the Grossglockner, where skiers can climb up to nearly 3,000m above sea level, and also Nassfeld, the Ankogel and Goldeck, which are all among the most attractive freeriding areas in Carinthia.
More than just skiing
Go ice-skating on Lake Weissensee – Europe’s largest natural rink. Take winter walks or ride in horse-drawn carriages. Try ice climbing in Heiligenblut, cookery in Bad Kleinkirchheim plus thermal springs, lakeside pools, bathhouses, and hotel wellness facilities.
Cuisine with a difference
Carinthian cuisine is a delicious mix of mountain and Adriatic. Try Käsnudel (cheese dumplings), Reindling cake, laxn (brown trout), the Gailtaler Speck, Zirbenschnaps (schnapps made from pine cones)or specialities made of Glockner lamb and Nockalm beef.
Authentic Christmas traditions
Some 1,700m up on the Petzen in Southern Carinthia, visitors are taken up in gondolas directly to the highest Christmas market. Other special traditions include the sinking of the Christmas trees at selected lakes and carol-singing in Heiligenblut.
Ski with a legend
And of course, there is the opportunity to ski with downhill Olympic champion Franz Klammer in Bad Kleinkirchheim. The ‘Ski before 9’ experience sees small groups of skiers up on the mountain with the master at 6.45am! (selected dates only)
Finally…a quick, safe arrival
Access is easier than ever with the launch of a new Easyjet flight from Gatwick on Wednesdays and Saturdays from 14 December. Or go with Austrian Airlines from London via Vienna to Klagenfurt, or to Ljubljana airport just across the border in Slovenia.
To find out more about this great location, go to visitcarinthia.at