St Anton in the Arlberg region of Austria is one of the world's most famous ski resorts, renowned for its very lively après ski scene and superb terrain, it offers some of the most challenging intermediate and advanced ski slopes in the Alps.
It's also full of history, as one of the world's longest-established and most historically important ski resorts in Austria, and indeed in the world. One of the very first cable cars in the Alps was installed here, on the Galzig mountain; and pioneering ski instructor and Kandahar Trophy ski races patron Hannes Schneider founded the Skischule Arlberg (the Arlberg Ski School) here in 1921, introducing the concept of group ski lessons that was later adopted by ski schools across the globe. St Anton therefore can rightly be regarded as one the cradle of modern Alpine skiing.
The village of St Anton actually consists of several suburbs and amalgamated hamlets which together now form one large linear-shaped resort. The centre of the main town is pedestrianised, has plenty of traditional Alpine character, and is bustling with activity throughout the day and late into the night.
Austrian ski resorts are not, as a rule, known for being quiet when the slopes shut, and St Anton is no exception. In fact, it arguably created the stereotype - it's a rare day that there aren't people dancing on tables to oompah trance by lunchtime here, with the regulars at the legendary Moosewirt bar leading the charge. As great as the après scene is, the principal attraction is the superb ski terrain surrounding the town.
St Anton - Ski Map & Pistes:
St Anton has two separate local ski areas, plus three further areas nearby, all covered on its standard Ski Arlberg lift pass. This is not an ideal resort for beginners. That being said, the lower village slopes by Nasserein are gentle, and offer a decent area for first timers.
The major local area covers the slopes of the Gampen and Kapall mountains directly above the village, together with the famous peaks of the Galzig and the Valluga, and is linked with the slopes of the villages of St Christoph and Stuben.
This extensive area offers high-end blue and testing red runs, plus a couple of fair black pistes, and in general its intermediate pistes are at the upper end of their category.
St Anton's other local ski hill is the Rendl area on the opposite side of the valley from the main sectors, but directly accessible via a gondola based close to the village centre. This smaller area is often less busy and houses St Anton's most intermediate-friendly slopes, as well as a compact but well-constructed snowpark, and has a long home-run red through a forest back to the gondola base terminal.
The other ski areas covered on the Ski Arlberg area lift pass are: the Lech-Zurs and Warth-Schrocken ski domains on the far side of the Flexen Pass; the Sonnenkopf ski area at Klosterle beyond Stuben; plus the compact Pettneu ski hill just down the valley from St Anton. Until December 2016, you had to catch a bus to get from St Anton to Lech - a sweaty 40-minute ride that was a lot of faff. But the new Flexenbahn gondola in Arlberg means you can ski Lech to St Anton and vice versa - all on piste - and it has upped the piste possibilities to 305km of lift-linked skiing.
St Anton - Off-Piste, Backcountry & Ski Touring:
St Anton is famous not just for the extent of the off-piste but also for its diversity. The 200km of marked ski routes are avalanche controlled, so head for these when they open on a powder day.
The main attractions for St Anton's many advanced-level visitors are the ungroomed 'ski route' descents and off-piste terrain in the powder-filled high bowls and upper valleys beneath the Valluga and off the summit of the Schindler Spitze above St Christoph.
The Valluga's minor summit, the Vallugagrat at 2,650m, is the highest point accessible to skiers and snowboarders without a qualified local guide; guide-accompanied experts and pedestrian sightseers can board the final tiny gondola lift to arrive just below the 2,811m summit of the Valluga, from where there are off-piste routes down to the resort of Zurs in the neighbouring valley.
St Anton - Restaurants, Bars & The Town:
St Anton is very much a winter sports resort, yet has many off-slope attractions too. The pedestrianised central quarters of the village are attractive and atmospheric, with a good number of shops, restaurants, cafés and bars, in which to while away a few hours.
The resort's Ski Museum is also well worth a visit, housed in the elegant Arlberg-Kandahar House which featured in the 2011 film Chalet Girl, and which now also houses a romantic (evenings-only) restaurant. Another romantic idea is to take a horse-drawn sleigh ride in the evening to the old hunters' inn deep in the Verwall Valley forest.
Several of the mountain restaurants are also accessible to pedestrians, via the gondolas and cable cars, and there are a number of way-marked walks and bus routes which enable non-skiers to get out and about into the surrounding scenery. Day trips away to Innsbruck or Zurich by train from St Anton's railway station are a possibility too.
The resort has two very impressive sports & leisure centres: the 'arl.rock' centre has a massive array of climbing and bouldering walls, including an ice climb, plus indoor tennis courts, a squash court, and tenpin bowling alleys; whilst the stylish 'Arlberg WellCom' aqua-leisure centre is a fabulous facility with indoor and outdoor pools, steam room and saunas suite, it also runs the resort's outdoor ice skating and curling rink.
Après ski and nightlife are St Anton's other big attractions, and the resort's hugely popular big slope-side venues - the Krazy Kanguruh and the Mooserwirt being the most notorious - heave with activity from early afternoon until well after the lifts close, with DJs and live acts animating the action. The bars down in the village also get very lively by teatime and continue to rock until the early hours, with lots of live music, sing-a-longs, and late-night dancing.
St Anton - Ski Hire:
There are multiple outlets ski hire in St Anton. Reliable names include Alber Sport, Intersport Arlberg and Sport Jennewein all of which have branches in both valley and on the mountain.
St Anton - Ski School:
There are dozens of ski schools in St Anton, from the big down to the one-man band, with mountain guides a speciality. The big schools include Skischule Arlberg, Skischule St Anton am Arlberg and Skischule Alpine Faszination St Anton am Arlberg.