User:DenisYurkin/Winter sports in Austria
Austria offers a high density of ski resorts, second perhaps only to Switzerland in Europe. Most of them are medium-sized. Austria's ski resorts are not as spectacular and glamorous as the mega-resorts found in Switzerland and France, but they are more cosy, less prone to mass tourism and a little cheaper (particularly for beer).
Most tourists come from southern Germany.
Most Austrian ski resorts are former farming towns that have grown into resorts many times their original size, but often they retain some of their original charm particularly in the old town core.
When to go
The best conditions for skiing are in mid-January, the coldest time of the year. Late February is a good time for sun-seekers.
The most crowded time is the period from December the 25th until January the 2nd. Advanced skiers may want to avoid this time. All of February is also rather crowded because of school and university vacations.
The least crowded times are early December, mid-January and late March.
How to go
Package holidays are normally more convenient and often cheaper if you plan on skiing for a week only. Airport transfers, flights and accommodation are usually included.
However, they mostly run from Saturday to Saturday, they feature only few resorts outside the mainstream, and there is a distinct lack of self-catering accommodation or rooms in private houses in most brochures. These types, however, make up the most popular forms of accommodation in the country.
The increase in low-cost carrier flights to Salzburg, Munich and Friedrichshafen has meant that an increasing number of visitors arrange their own transport and accommodation.
Choosing a ski resort
Price, Size and Location
The larger the ski resort and the higher the elevation above sea level, the higher the price. Ski passes will consume a large proportion of your budget. Beginners will nomally find that they are unable to use most pistes covered by a ski pass in a large resort such as Arlberg.
Large ski resorts have a tendency for mass tourism while smaller ones make more of an effort and offer a more personal service.
Fast lifts (chairlifts and gondolas) mean more skiing than slow lifts or the dreaded (T bar lifts). You get what you pay for. Some resorts have a high proportion of black slopes and are less suitable for beginners.
If you're more after relaxation than skiing and partying staying away from purely athletic ski resorts will offer you better value for money.
The majority of Austrian ski resorts are no more than a 1-2 hour drive away from a large airport. Some hotels will offer shuttle buses for their guests for a good price. Vienna airport is best avoided; it's a 4 hour drive away from the nearest medium-sized resort, and longer by public transport.
Most large ski resorts that don't have a rail station can be accessed by train followed by a 30-45 min bus transfer.
Most resorts are served by public transport. The skibus networks are normally very well organised and punctual and almost always included in the lift pass.
Austrian ski resorts are compact and pedestrian-geared so you're unlikely to need a car during your stay in a resort. Some areas (such as Ski Amade in Salzburgerland) offer many different towns spread about a large area all on one ski pass so if you wish to try different places to ski each day then a car is advisable.
Instead of renting a car for a week, it is often cheaper to connect by taxi on departure/arrival.
Food on the ski slopes normally consists of Austrian specialities of the stodgy (тяжёлых) variety, but is often overpriced.
In the towns themselves, choice and quality of food is better than on the slopes. Hotel food is normally excellent, since hotels compete for guests with their cuisine, while slope restaurants compete with their location. It might be a good idea to book half-board instead of eating on the slopes. Guest houses can provide you with traditional cuisine but it is always easy to find a Kebab or Pizza/Italian restaurant.
Book accommodation as far in advance as you can. The number of beds in most resorts is limited, and the later you book the less likely you are to find good value. Accommodation in some cheap packages is not located in the main ski resort, rather in a nearby town from which you must connect by bus.
Many hotels in Austria are family run and offer personal service and surprisingly good facilities at reasonable prices, especially in smaller resorts. Going to the sauna after the pistes to warm up and relax tired muscles, as well as fine dining is considered as important as the skiing itself by many Austrians. You'll miss out on a great part of the Austrian ski experience if you book accommodation without sauna facilities.
There are numerous ski and snowboard rental shops in every larger resort. The choice is normally best made by convenience to the slopes or to accommodation.
When hiring equipment it's a good idea to turn up early, and since Austrians get out of bed early in general, that can mean before 8:30 am. Queuing for an hour to have your ski boots fitted can be very frustrating when you're eager to get to the pistes.
List of Ski Resorts
Austria's Best and Largest
Other popular resorts
Off the beaten track