Söll, in the Austrian Tyrol, has long been the most popular ski resort for British visitors to Austria's extensive SkiWelt Wilder Kaiser-Brixental region. It has traditionally been sold as an ideal destination for young beginners, and mixed-ability groups, as well as families with young children.
The good-value accommodation, valley-level beginners' slopes, lively nightlife, compact pretty village, and separate children-only ski area are certainly ticks in the plus column - but there are several important caveats.
The village is around 700m away from its base-area slopes and sole access gondola lift terminal, requiring a walk or ski-bus journey each morning and afternoon to/from the ski area, and the low altitude at valley level does mean that the children's area and the beginners' slopes can be prone to poor snow conditions. This sector of the SkiWelt also has very few blue pistes, so natural progression routes for novices are somewhat limited.
Söll is therefore actually best suited specifically to intermediates, who are best able to make the most out of the steeper gradients, the longer descents, and the big mileage possible on excursions out into the other linked sectors of the SkiWelt domain.
Söll - Ski Map & Pistes:
Söll's local ski peak is the Hohe Salve (1,829m), the highest point in the core SkiWelt domain, shared with the neighbouring resort villages of Itter and Hopfgarten. From here there is an impressive panorama of the peaks of the Kitzbüheler and Zillertal Alps, the Hohe Tauern and the Wilder Kaiser. No fewer than 70 peaks of 3,000+ metres can be seen from its 360-degree viewpoint. With the highest-altitude slopes, this area can generally be relied on to offer the best snow conditions in the SkiWelt region.
The Hohe Salve sectors also have the greatest concentration of intermediate and advanced-level pistes, with the steepest terrain and the longest non-stop descents. There are a few short black runs in the summit sector, including one which links via a red-graded mid section to a tough descent all the way down to the village of Brixen im Thale at the opposite southern side of the core SkiWelt domain; the majority of pistes in the Söll sector though are easy-to-fair red runs, including a 'home-run' to the base area at Söll's gondola terminal.
From the summit of the Hohe Salve, the 'Black Eagle' run is breathtakingly steep and descends on the north side towards Hochsöll.
Confident novices can also ski down to this valley-level base area, via a long blue run that follows the route of a forest trail down from Söll's mid-altitude services area and lifts hub at Hochsöll; other options for novices in this sector are less straightforward though, with most links only possible via red-grade pistes, albeit none of them too difficult.
Söll - Off-Piste, Backcountry & Ski Touring:
The SkiWelt is a fairly low domain all round - topping out at around 2,000m, so great powder can be scarce. Most of the off-piste is the bits between the pistes. However, the best off-piste in the SkiWelt is to be found around Söll where the 'Black Pipe', a ski route from the Hohe Salve to Hochsöll with more than 80 percent incline, offers some thrills. Alternatively, Kitzbühel is just half an hour's drive away.
Söll - Restaurants, Bars & The Town:
The attractive old village centre of Söll is set back from the main valley through-road, and usually receives only very light traffic, making it a pleasant place for a stroll. Low-rise chalet-style houses and hotels are clustered around Söll's solid baroque onion-domed church, with just a single simple 'high street' offering a smattering of small shops.
For such a small-scale place though Söll does have a disproportionately wide range of pubs and bars, many of them very lively indeed although drinking out on the terraces of bars now has to stop in late evening, and customers head back inside to avoid upsetting the neighbours.
Typical Austrian sing-along and table-dancing après ski happens at the base area of the slopes, the prime venue here being Moonlight. Later on the action moves to the pubs and music-bars in the village centre; the big Whisky-Muhle club just outside the village is also one of this region's most popular nightspots.
It's fair to say Söll has become a touch more restrained over the years and it's easy to find bars when you can quietly chill, especially in some of the more upmarket Söll hotels.
Alternative activities and attractions include night skiing, a floodlit long toboggan run served by Söll's gondola, snowshoeing and paragliding. The icy wonderland of the Alpen Iglu village, located at the Hochbrixen mountain station, and easily accessible to non-skiers, is also a must-visit.
Söll - Ski Hire:
There are multiple outlets ski hire in Söll. Reliable names for ski rental include Sport Edinger - both in town and at the lift station - SkiCenter Stoll, SnowFun and SkiService Hochsoll.
Söll - Ski School:
// HIGHLIGHTS //
Salzburg (1hr 30)
Worgl (15 mins)