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Grossarl ski resort, close to Austria's popular Gastein Valley winter-sports area, isn't that well known to skiers and snowboarders from the UK, but is in many ways perhaps this region's best resort choice for families and for intermediate-level skiers.

grossarl lift


A small, quiet village tucked away in the lesser-known Grossarltal, which runs parallel to the better-known bigger Gasteinertal (Gastein Valley), to the south of St Johann im Pongau.

Popular with Austrian day-trippers, the resort has a friendly and relaxed ambiance and is particularly welcoming to families: an ongoing special offer on lift passes means that family groups only pay for a maximum of two child lift passes along with the adult lift passes; the eldest two children's passes are billed, any other children in the same family receive free passes. Special low-cost kids lunch deals are offered by many of the mountain restaurants, further helping to keep family visitors' expenses as affordable as possible.

Lady Week in spring is another popular promotion: where all female visitors receive free lift passes and entrance to a special programme of entertainment and events, when they book a minimum of seven-nights' stay in participating Grossarl hotels (NB male partners are welcome too, at a supplemental cost).

Grossarl's ski area is quite compact, but is lift- and piste-linked with the slopes of Dorfgastein over the ridge in the Gastein Valley, together providing a combined total of 80km of pistes, manageable in a few days by intermediates and competent novices.

Ski area

The Grossarl-Dorfgastein ski area is draped over the ridge between two local summits, the Kruezkogel (2,027m) and the Fulseck (2,033m). A flat bidirectional ridge-run link piste connects the two areas, shared by the blue- and red-graded routes heading either side of the watershed.

The Grossarl area is the larger of the two, with a nice selection of long winding blue and red pistes providing a variety of 'home-runs' down through the attractive wooded slopes to the two access gondola terminals in the valley. These base areas are situated a couple of hundred metres away from Grossarl village, but are easily accessible by free ski bus or just a short walk from some hotels.

The upper half of the mountain is served by a gondola and four chairlifts; there are a couple of T-bar ski-tows too, but these serve beginners' slopes only and aren't required for any vital links. There are plenty of mountain bars and restaurants dotted around the slopes, and almost the entire pisted area is covered by snowmaking equipment.

Better intermediates can make the most of the steep short reds into the bowl beneath the Kruezkogel peak, and there are a couple of ungroomed longer red routes off the Fulseck-Kieserl ridge on the non-lift-served side of this bowl; this unpisted but patrolled flank of the ski area also offers more advanced visitors some limited possibilities for some off-piste action, otherwise there are only two short black pistes in the entire linked area.

Budding freestyle skiers and snowboarders are very well catered for at Grossarl's small but well-maintained snowpark on the Sonnenbahn slopes just below the Kruezkogel summit; with various kickers plus a nice set of novice-friendly butter-box modules, in flat, rainbow, and wave forms.

Off the slopes and apres ski

Whereas a new leisure centre with an outdoor swimming pool has been a welcome recent addition to Grossarl's list of resort amenities, the pool is currently only open in summer; ice skating and curling take the place of the pool during the winter months.

Indoor heated pools are available at a number of the resort's hotels however, most of them accessible to non-residents; quite a few of these 'sport-hotels' also have saunas and offer a range of wellness/beauty spa treatments and massage therapies too.

Toboggan runs, with torch-lit evening sessions, are available locally, and offer a rare opportunity to ride on one of the region's traditional super-sized transport-sleds, capable of taking up to eight passengers per sled. Torch-lit walks, snowshoeing treks, horse-drawn sleigh rides, and, for the more adventurous, tandem paragliding flights are also available.

Apres ski in Grossarl is, by Austrian standards, quite tame: a couple of 'umbrella' bars, such as the one at the Hotel Auhof, do stoke up a bit of afternoon jolliness, but the choice later on in the evening is limited to a couple of laid-back cafe-bars; try the Café Wurznstub'n, or the Piccolo in the market square.

Apres Ski
Lift System
Off the slopes
Resort Charm
Ski Area
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Ski area
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Train station
St Johann im Pongau
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