OverviewWith some of Austria’s highest pistes, Solden won’t disappoint on any level, on or off the pistes, and is only 90km from Innsbruck, so makes for a very easily accessible ski resort and great weekend destination.
The Ötztal Arena has seen a lot of investment in recent years in state of the art lifts, and these new lifts now reach all the way up to the two glacial skiing areas of Tiefenbach and Rettenbach, making the resort snow sure all season. They used to open for summer skiing and snowboarding too, but now lift access is just for hikers and climbers.
Not too long ago, Solden’s recognition as a party spot became too much for some residents, and steps were taken to limit excesses of rowdiness, but even the dull crowd couldn’t put a dampener on its still fantastic après ski vibe, and Solden is still party central.
A regular on the Alpine Ski World Cup circuit, Solden hosts world class ski events throughout the season, yet the 144km of pistes, and uplift capacity of 68,000 persons/hour, soon eats up all the crowds. But the numbers do have an effect on conditions, as many of the pistes, particularly down into resort, can be heavily cut up by the end of the day.
Solden opens each year in October and with its high altitude and glacial skiing, doesn’t close till late May.
Ski areaSolden is home to the ‘Big 3’, which are three skiable mountain over 3,000m: Schwarze Schneide, Gaislachkogel and Tiefenbachkogel. All are easily accessible by ski lifts, making for some long and steep descents. At the top of the Gaislachkoglbahn mountain you’ll find a new panorama restaurant, made in a very modern style from glass and steel. It’s roof has a viewing deck, with views towards Italy, and is connected to Gaislachkogl peak by a suspension bridge.
The main Sölden-Hochsölden-Gaislachkogl sector has over 100km of trails, interlinked by a number of high capacity lifts and long runs, the longest of which descends for 10km, over 1,675 metres of vertical.
This sector now joined to the once separate glacial ski area - adding an additional 30 plus lifts -brings the whole areas total up to a very respectable 144km of piste.
A challenge for skiers who like to clock up the miles, is the 'Big 3 Rally' - which can be completed in a tough four hours, taking in more than 10,000m of vertical. The route starts at the base of the Giggijoch Gondola and continues through the 170m long ski tunnel that connects the Rettenbach and Tiefenbach glaciers, and takes you to the Tiefenbachkogl peak via the Tiefenbach gondola.
On the Rettenbach glacier you can ski down a new route through the Rettenbachtal Valley all the way to the base terminal of the Gaislachkogl gondola. Once this lift has been taken and the descent made, you'll have clocked up some 50km.
Freeriders will enjoy the Gaislakogel Mountain, which has some of the resort’s best off piste, but it’s best to hire a guide as the slopes here are prone to sliding.
Freestylers will love Solden, as the Area 47 park is well planned and superbly maintained. Beginners are well catered for with a large selection of boxes and rails to progress with. There are also ten jumps of various sizes, graded beginner, medium and advanced.
Off the slopes and apres skiIf you’ve never skied in Austria, then you won’t have experienced the world’s best apres ski. The party starts here before the lifts close with Jagermeister-Red Bull shots and very bad oom pah pah music. Not to be missed is the Sonnblick bar, before skiing back down to the village where you have the choice of the Schrim Umbrella bar, or the always swinging Bla Bla Bar, to name but a few.
While Solden does kick off at night, it shouldn’t be discounted as a family destination, as it’s well geared up with good ski schools, kindergardens, toboggan run and swimming pool.
With regards to food, Solden and its surrounding villages have around 50 restaurants to choose from. Most of what’s on offer are Tyrolean specialities, but pick up the resort’s restaurant guide (available free from the tourist office), which details the type of cuisine available in every restaurant. Categories quoted include home cooking, local cuisine, wild game, vegetarian, fondue, steak, children's menu…
On the slopes, Solden rightly has a good reputation for its many dining opportunities, with 25 rustic and gourmet mountain huts to choose from.
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