Big can be beautiful when it comes to skiing. The chance to cover great distances, ski diverse terrain and explore beautiful landscapes. If you're looking to go above and beyond on your ski break or simply prefer the benefits of staying at an extensive resort, here are some of the best ski areas in Austria.
Why ski in one of Austria's ski regions?
Skiing in Austria means miles of perfect, snow-reliable pistes suitable for all ages and skill levels, exciting powder hotspots, great value for money, buzzing après-ski, charming ski resorts and a world of off-slope activities.
Whether you’re a beginner taking your first turns, an intermediate skier eager to get plenty of ski miles under your belt, or an advanced skier looking to go steep and deep, Austria's ski regions can help you take your skills to the next level. Well-developed pistes and a modern infrastructure round off the experience.
Moreover, Austria's winter wonderlands offer up countless off-ski activities, such as snowshoeing, winter hikes, tobogganing, spa time, ice climbing, dog sledding, horse-drawn sleigh rides, ice skating and even igloo-building.
And if you want to stay local, Austria's ski regions are dotted with beautiful small towns and villages where you can really immerse yourself in the Alpine lifestyle.
Five of the best ski areas in Austria:
So, where is the best place to ski in Austria? And what is the biggest ski region in Austria? Here's a compilation of five of the best ski areas in the country - home to some of the most beautiful ski resorts - to help you choose where to take your next ski holiday.
Best for: Absolutely everyone!
Must-do: Ski the legendary – and daunting – Harakiri run.
Draped between the high peaks of Austria's Zillertal Alps and the huge Hintertux Glacier, Zillertal ski area is more than just a ski resort - it's four ski regions in one!
If you’re looking for a diverse range of skiing options, skiing in Zillertal, in Austria’s beautiful Tirol region, is for you. The varied slope experience extends from the idyllic wide valley floor at 630m up to the ice and snow of the Hintertux glacier at 3,250m. This vast ski domain offers every skier and snowboarder from the humblest beginner to the most adventurous expert amazing experiences on 544km of pistes across four large ski resorts – Hochzillertal-Hochfügen-Spieljoch, Zillertal Arena, Mountopolis by Mayrhofner Bergbahnen and Ski&Glacier World Zillertal 3000 – each with their own distinctive appeal.
Add to that 460km of winter hikes and snowshoeing, ski touring, 113km of cross-country skiing, via ferrata, paragliding, ice skating and 48km of toboggan runs, and you've got more than enough snowsports options to satisfy any visitor. Zillertal is also one of the leading family destinations in the Alps, with a huge array of activities aimed at children.
For intermediate skiers, Zillertal is a land where the snow goes on forever - with around two-thirds of the domain's runs graded red. Picturesque cruising pistes, fun family routes and snow parks or long challenging freeride descents for advanced skiers – no matter what you are looking for, you will certainly find your dream slopes here. And when you want a break, there are 80 cosy mountain huts waiting to extend a warm welcome.
What unites the four regions of the Zillertal is the warmth of the welcome and the hospitality you’ll be shown. Quite simply it’s like skiing with friends. And with the Zillertal Superskipass you get access to all 544km plus free rides on ski buses and most public transport.
Innsbruck (50 km), Munich (170 km) and Salzburg (150 km) airports are all very close to Zillertal and directly linked by regular flights from the UK.
Find more info at austria.info
Best for: Intermediates and powder fiends in equal measure.
Must-do: Take the Vallugabahn 2 cable car up to the Valluga viewing platform for panoramic views across five countries.
Combining nature, tradition and a pioneering spirit, the Arlberg ski domain is considered the cradle of Alpine skiing. Here, five resorts have been brought together in the past decade to form the largest interconnected ski region in Austria. Certainly, the Arlberg is home to some world famous Austrian ski resorts – as well as some of the most challenging terrain and one of the best snow records.
The sheer number of groomed pistes mean that there's plenty for intermediate skiers here. But there's also a ton of options for advanced skiers and snowboarders around the Arlberg, including multiple snow parks, and more than 200km of marked, but unpisted, backcountry ski routes. Indeed, between them, St. Anton, Lech, Zurs, St. Christoph and Stuben offer more than 300 km of pistes and an epic 200+ km of high-Alpine deep snow ski routes, making the area one of the five greatest ski domains in the world.
As well as being one of the best ski resorts in Austria, sporty St. Anton is steeped in ski history – one of the very first cable cars in the Alps was installed here, and it was here, in the 1920s, that the concept of group ski lessons was first tried. Sitting in a narrow valley, St. Anton village has a car-free centre, with bags of traditional character, and bustles with activity throughout the day and late into the night. The surrounding slopes offer an incredible amount of diversity, from the steeps of the Valluga to the gentle village slopes around Nasserein. The après ski scene is St. Anton's other big attraction, and the resort's hugely popular big slopeside après ski bars – the Krazy Kanguruh and the Mooserwirt are legends in their own right.
A fashionable, pretty and upmarket resort, Lech – and its traffic-free suburb Oberlech - is an intermediate skier's dream. Lech is also home to the famous White Ring ski circuit, which is the setting for a wonderful ski race every winter, but which can be happily skied anytime by adventurous intermediates. Lech also has much to offer the many non-skiers who come here - from the ubiquitous sleigh rides, to ice-skating, curling, winter walks, and much up-market shopping and luxurious spas. Outdoor bars and cafes line the main street, where there's a friendly, buzzy après ski atmosphere.
The Arlberg domain is completed by the ski hideaway of Zurs, the family-friendly Stuben and history-steeped St. Cristoph. All five mountain villages embody quality over quantity and bridge the gap between Alpine charm and international lifestyle, offeering everything from humble b&bs to luxury hotels.
Nearest gateway for the Arlberg is Innsbruck airport, a 1hr 10 min transfer, and St. Anton has its own train station.
Find more info at austria.info
SkiWelt Wilder Kaiser - Brixental
Best for: Families, beginners, mile-hungry intermediates.
Must-do: The KitzSkiWelt tour – the longest ski circuit in the world.
One of the largest, most modern, and most ecological ski areas in the world, Austria's SkiWelt ski area offers on and off-piste terrain for every level of experience.
To give it its full name, Austria’s SkiWelt Wilder Kaiser - Brixental in the Tirol region is a land of superlatives. With more than 70 peaks rising over 3,000m surrounding you and a snow-covered landscape at your feet, its panoramic vistas have to be seen to be believed. Skiers can choose from hundreds of wide gentle slopes, including rolling blue runs and long valley descents. The longest possible one-way ski route is 84km long - that’s the longest run on the planet!
The nine villages of the SkiWelt – Brixen im Thale, Ellmau, Going, Hopfgarten, Itter, Scheffau, Söll, Westendorf and Kirchberg – are also ideal for families. As well as the many blue ski runs, there are free nursery slopes in the valley for beginners, superb childcare and 22 ski schools to help you learn. Families will also enjoy the three great toboggan runs, three fun parks and the light-hearted local history of The Witch Centre at Soll.
The SkiWelt offers 270km of slopes, served by 82 modern ski lifts. For the sporty skier who likes a challenge, there’s the new KitzSkiWelt Tour. The longest ski circuit in the world, it connects the SkiWelt Wilder Kaiser – Brixental with the KitzSki ski area. You never go on the same lift twice on this 88km ski tour which offers routes and slopes for all ability levels. Even more action is offered by the three fun parks, multiple adventure slopes, and Austria’s largest night ski resort, in Söll, with 10km of floodlit runs.
And what would a ski holiday be without a pit stop or three? As well as a wide choice of après ski bars, the SkiWelt has more than 80 mountain huts and restaurants where you can sample traditional Tirolean delights on the sun terrace. For example, be sure to try the Kaiserschmarrn shredded pancakes!
SkiWelt has also been dubbed ‘the most ecological ski area in the world’, winning multiple awards for its sustainability. All SkiWelt lifts are 100% powered by eco-electricity and the solar ski lift in Brixen is even 100% solar-powered. The area also has 100% eco-friendly snow-making, heat recovery systems supporting the heating system of mountain and valley stations, ski lifts and mountain restaurants, and charging stations for electric cars at all valley stations.
All this is within easy reach: Innsbruck, Munich and Salzburg airport can all be reached within 1 – 1.5 hours.
Find more info at austria.info
Ski Juwel Alpbachtal Wildschönau
Best for: Families with young children.
Must-do: Taking in the spectacular views from the viewing platform - the Top of Alpbachtal - at the ski area's highest point, at 2,030m.
The Ski Juwel Alpbachtal Wildschönau with its 113km of perfectly groomed pistes may not be the biggest ski area in Austria, but it's a hub for all that's good about a family ski holiday.
Spanning four mountains and two valleys, the Ski Juwel Alpbachtal Wildschönau is one of the most beautiful and snow-sure ski areas in the Tirol. Thanks to its diversity of long wide open pistes as well as challenging runs and freeride zones, the ski area is attractive to both beginners and experienced skiers. The highest peak is the 2,128m Wiedersberger Horn in Alpbach, while the Schatzberg, at 1,903m, is the summit of the Wildschönau. These two mountains form the core of the ski area. Racetracks and excellent freeride will keep experienced skiers happy, there’s great cruising for intermediates and for beginners there are 10 ski schools with easily accessed nursery slopes, plus two snow parks.
The Ski Juwel was voted top Tirolean skiing area for families and children, and you can certainly see why. There are numerous attractive family offers on ski passes and great family highlights off the slopes for young and old winter fans, such as the Alpbachtaler Lauser-Sauser roller coaster, thrilling toboggan runs, piste-basher rides, tandem paragliding or building your own igloo ensure that the whole family enjoys their winter holiday. On the slopes, the fantastic children's areas of JUPPI DO and Schatzberg Zwergenland are the perfect places for kids to take some of their first turns, offering magic carpets, play areas and even an obstacle course! And with 25 ski huts, rustic and authentic, with fantastic views and culinary delights, you won't go hungry in the Ski Juwel either!
The Ski Juwel is no monolithic resort either; it contains a string of hidden gems. In the Alpbachtal, nine villages and one picturesque town are brimming with character, including the smallest town in Austria, Rattenberg, with just 400 inhabitants. Over in the Wildschönau, you'll discover four more little villages, such as Thierbach with its church, two inns and only a few houses. However, the main Ski Juwel centres are Niederau, Oberau, Auffach and Alpbach, the latter being repeatedly voted ‘Austria’s prettiest village’.
Alpbach is good resort choice for skiing and snowboarding beginners, and perfect for intermediates, with some attractive tree-lined runs. It also has easy access to some excellent freeride on the non-lift-served flanks of the Wiedersberger Horn, and the town itself has been given the enviable title of "the most beautiful village in Austria". Auffach, which has the highest, sunniest slopes in the Wildschönau region, is a favourite with families looking for a quieter Alpine bolthole. Family-friendly Niederau has both easy beginners slopes and demanding valley runs; it’s also home to a thrilling toboggan run stretching 6 km from the Lanerköpfl to the village. Picturesque Oberau, with its 250-year-old Baroque church, also has great facilities for beginners and children, including the Drachental Family Park with its modern Alpine rollercoaster, the Drachenflitzer.
The hospitality throughout the Ski Juwel is palpable and a ringing endorsement for the Austrian philosophy of Gemütlichkeit, which embodies cosiness, comfort and homeliness. The huts are not huge, but are ‘human-sized’ and pride themselves on serving regional specialities.
And all this is attainable within 90 minutes of airports at airports in Innsbruck, Salzburg and Munich.
Find more info at austria.info
Best for: Freeride fans and skiers looking for snowsure slopes early and late in the season.
Must-do: For early risers: First line, the first tracks experience.
A high-altitude, snow-sure, ski-in ski-out destination, the Gurgl ski area is something of an insider’s tip for ski connoisseurs. At the upper end of Austria's Ötztal Valley, encircled by snow-covered 3,000m peaks, the tranquil lift-linked mountain villages of Obergurgl and Hochgurgl tower over the landscape at around 2,000m, making this one of the Alps’ most snow-sure ski areas – as well as one of the most upmarket.
Obergurgl's own two-sector local ski area is modest, but combined with the similarly compact Hochgurgl, adds up to 112km of pisted slopes, no queues, and more than enough off-piste terrain to keep most visitors happy for a week's holiday. The off-piste terrain is dominated by narrow gullies and steep slopes in the area close to the summits, making this area especially suitable for experienced freeriders. Powder novices will find wide open, large-scale powder slopes at medium altitudes in Obergurgl. Hochgurgl, too, has some very steep freeride slopes in the upper area and in the lower, wooded area. The middle section, however, is less steep and provides great access to some billowing powder runs.
Overall, the skiing in Obergurgl is especially recommended for intermediates, families, off-piste lovers and anyone planning to travel early or late season, and for those seeking an authentically Austrian ski holiday experience. Access is easy, too, with the resort a 90-minute transfer from Innsbruck.
The quality of the snow is matched by the quality of the accommodation and cuisine here – upscale hotels and restaurants, with 90% of the beds less than four minutes from the slopes. Two five-star hotels, more than 20 four-star hotels, comfy guesthouses, holiday apartments and chalets - the two villages of Obergurgl and Hochgurgl offer a certain touch of exclusivity, turning a superb holiday experiences into pure luxury.
Families will naturally gravitate to Obergurgl’s ‘fun mountain’, where the action includes fun slopes, a family park & fun cross. And last but not least, this is also a great resort for a ski stop-off and a bite to eat: fabulous mountain restaurants combine culinary treats and those memorable scenic Alpine wow moments. One particular highlight is The Top Mountain Star panorama bar. Sitting at 3,080m, this striking glass-enclosed building enjoys truly incredible 360-degree view of the Ötztal Alps all the way to the Italian Dolomites.
A natural ice rink, a 3km toboggan run and some scenic way-marked walking paths are the main off-slope attractions in Obergurgl, while many of the hotels have excellent spa and wellness facilities. Some great apres-ski bars ensure a typically Austrian post-piste experience.
This ski paradise is about a 1hr 15 minute drive from Innsbruck Airport.
Find more info at austria.info
For more information about Austria's fantastic winter destinations, go to austria.info
Read our FREE Digital Guide to Skiing Austria!
Love skiing in Austria but can't decide where to go?
Austria is a magical place to be in winter, from the picture-postcard mountain scenery, to the warm welcome, cosy mountain huts and fantastic ski terrain. But how do you choose where to go? Take a look at our new digital guide and get to know 11 fantastic ski areas and resorts, including the likes of Zell am See-Kaprun, Innsbruck, Zillertal and more.