Pore over the Kaprun piste map and check out the best ski schools, ski hire shops and après ski bars, in your essential review of one of Austria's best-placed ski resorts.
Kaprun ski resort is the closest village to Austria's fabulous Kitzsteinhorn glacier ski area, offering guaranteed snow and year-round snow sports. This likeable laid-back village also has its own local family-friendly ski hill, the Maiskogel, plus easy access to the slopes of the nearby lively lakeside resort of Zell am See.
Access from Kaprun village to the glacier slopes above was transformed in 2019/20 with the opening of the new K-onnection gondola, linking the local Maiskogel pistes to the snowsure glacier runs above. So no more driving up the valley to the base of the glacier access lift. You can even ski back to your Kaprun accommodation.
Kaprun is a sizeable and pleasant riverside valley village, watched over by a picturesque spired church and a sturdy 13th century castle, with plenty of traditional-style buildings and a relaxed and friendly air about it. Yet it somehow feels more like a small suburban town than a ski resort.
Much of the amiable atmosphere is to be found within the village's many self-contained sport-hotels, most of which have their own leisure facilities and in-house restaurants and bars, meaning that little in the way of resort ambiance develops out and around the streets of Kaprun village itself.
The full area lift pass, the Ski Alpin Card, now covers three premium ski regions: the glacier ski area Kitzsteinhorn Kaprun, the Schmittenhöhe in Zell am See as well as the Skicircus Saalbach Hinterglemm Leogang Fieberbrunn. Add them all together and this means you get access to 408 km of pistes on just one ski pass.
Kaprun - Ski Map & Pistes:
Part of the Zell am See-Kaprun ski area, Kaprun's local ski hill is the adjacent compact Maiskogel area, accessible via a chairlift from the north-western corner of the village or by a gondola lift based in the southernmost suburb. Maiskogel is operated as a 'Family Mountain' and is perfect for families with young children: with wide and gentle slopes dotted with animal statues, a kiddie-sized snowpark, canopied chairlifts, family-friendly mountain restaurants, plus the popular Maisiflitzer rollercoaster. The area is also the site of the local ski club training slopes, which is exciting for spectators of all ages.
Intermediate and advanced skiers should head up the Kitzsteinhorn Glacier for more challenging runs – including the 63 percent gradient Black Mamba. The lifts go up to 3,029m and it’s known as a great freeride area thanks to its high snowfall and varied off-piste terrain. The new cable car connection Kaprun-Maiskogel-Kitzsteinhorn takes you directly from the centre of Kaprun with two new cable cars across the Maiskogel to the Kitzsteinhorn glacier ski area
The main ski area stretches out across the extensively groomed Schmiedingerkees and Maurerkees glaciers above the bustling Alpincenter services area at 2,452m, served by a network of chairlifts and drag lifts that provide uplift to a fair selection of mild fall-line reds and longer cruisey blue pistes.
Whereas the Kitzsteinhorn's main pistes may be a bit tame for anyone with good intermediate or higher skill levels, there are challenges here too: on the pair of black runs on the Maurerkees glacier, on the mogul fields, in the inter-piste powder, and in the off-piste gullies. Do remember, however, that this is a glacial zone with dangerous crevasses, only to be explored away from the secured pistes when accompanied by a qualified local guide. The area also houses three good snowparks, plus a halfpipe.
Kaprun - Off-Piste, Backcountry & Ski Touring:
The backcountry and off-piste skiing in Kaprun is excellent. In fact, the Kitzsteinhorn is one of the most popular freeride areas in the Alps. With 100 percent snow reliability in 3,000m terrain, you enjoy sensational conditions for freeriding and off-piste skiing. From powder lines, cliff jumps and natural pipes – freeriders might think all their Christmasses have come at once. Moreover, an informative Freeride XXL signposting system makes the Kitzsteinhorn Glacier one of the most easily understandable and accessible places to ride off-piste too.
Ski tourers can't complain either. In Thumersbach, opposite the lift-linked Zell am See, there is an entire mountain just for ski tourers - the Ronachkopf. Where the chairlift used to take skiers to the Thumersbach ski resort, there is now a groomed uphill track and a beautiful downhill piste for budding ski-mountaineers.
There are also two marked ski-touring circuits on the Kitzsteinhorn glacier - the Schneekönigin and the Eisbrecher tour - and the ski-tour to the Tristkogel. Mountain guides are essential and many top-qualified mountain guides operate in the Zell am See-Kaprun region.
Kaprun - Restaurants, Bars & The Town:
The most attractive quarter of Kaprun is its central area around the pedestrian Salzburger Platz and the nearby riverside and picturesque crag-perched church. The Salzburger Platz is the liveliest part of the village, but there are only a few shops and café-bars here. Indeed Kaprun village as a whole is pretty quiet a lot of the time. The much livelier nearby lakeside town of Zell am See, a short bus/taxi ride away, is the place to head to for proper retail therapy, and a true ski resort ambiance.
One great attraction that draws visitors in the opposite direction though is Kaprun's fabulous Tauern Spa complex, which features a huge aqua-leisure zone of indoor and outdoor pools, a spacious sauna and steam-room zone, plus a great range of wellness and beauty spa services.
Other visitor attractions in Kaprun village include an interesting small local history museum and a motor museum that specialises in classic vehicles from the 1950s to 1970s.
While it's mostly fairly mellow, Kaprun's bar scene is at its most lively during après ski hours and in the evenings: the centrally located Pavillon offers the brightest lights and liveliest action in town. Most of the nightlife is to be found in the bars of the resort's hotels, some of which, such as the Sport Kristall, offer popular pub games and occasional live music.
Kaprun - Ski Hire: