8 best ski resorts in Austria for that wintry break

Austria's snow-capped mountains and picturesque glaciers are calling your name.

Updated

Ischgl Austria Landscape Snow white mountains winter natur schnee himmel sonne fotografie gebirge ostererich skigebiet (Ischgl Austria Landscape Snow white mountains winter natur schnee himmel sonne fotografie gebirge ostererich skigebiet, ASCII, 12

Austria’s ski resorts are the epitome of the perfect winter holiday. Charming alpine villages nestled in snowy valleys with nothing but tree-lined slopes as far as the eye can see, coupled with plenty of apres-ski fun.

Quickly compare Scotland’s best ski resorts:

ResortSki-in/ski-outDistanceLift pass price (3-day adult pass)Is there a resort village?
SöllNo50-minute drive from Innsbruck£115Yes
St Anton am ArlbergYes70-minute drive from Innsbruck£140Yes
KitzbuhelYes70-minute drive from Innsbruck£139Yes
KühtaiYes40-minute drive from Innsbruck£102Yes
IschglYes80-minute drive from Innsbruck£145Yes
EllmauYes60-minute drive from Innsbruck£107Yes
MayrhofenNo50-minute drive from Innsbruck£130Yes
SöldenYes70-minute drive from Innsbruck£139Yes

Which is the best ski resort in Austria?

Decide which of these winter wonderlands you’ll be taking your skis to this season.

m22, w28 skiing, Altenmarkt-Zauchensee, Salzburg Country, Austria

1. Söll, Tyrol:
Best for apres-ski

Forming part of the SkiWelt, Austria’s largest interconnected ski area, Söll attracts a varied crowd of young groups, couples and families.

They’re drawn to the resort’s wide range of ski runs, fantastic ski and snowboard lessons and, most of all, world-class apres-ski. From the classic Oompa bands and sophisticated three-course dinners to floodlit toboggan rides and steins overflowing with beer, this place has something for everyone to enjoy after a day on the slopes.

  • Location: Kitzbuhel Alps, Tyrol (50-minute drive from Innsbruck)
  • Runs and terrain: 224 runs (47% beginner, 49% intermediate, 4% advanced)
  • Length of runs: 279km
  • Vertical drop: 1,209 metres

Pros:

  • Snowboarder friendly
  • Huge ski lift capacity
  • Separate children-only ski area

Cons:

  • Requires walk/ski-bus journey to the main slopes
  • Beginner slopes prone to poor snow
  • Few blue pistes


Arlberg, Vorarlberg, Austria

2. St Anton am Arlberg, Tyrol:
Best for challenging, off-piste runs

Established in 1921, St Anton is one of the oldest ski resorts in the world and a must-visit for any skiing enthusiasts travelling to Austria. Its ski runs are challenging, its scenery unbeatable and its apres-ski unforgettable… or perhaps too easily forgettable for some.

While novices to the slopes can book lessons here, the slopes are better suited to intermediates and experts looking for a challenge. Just be prepared to ski around the crowds.

  • Location: Tyrolean Alps, Tyrol (70-minute drive from Innsbruck)
  • Runs and terrain: 141 runs (40% beginner, 48% intermediate, 12% advanced)
  • Length of runs: 306km (1,102 acres of skiable terrain)
  • Vertical drop: 1,519 metres

Pros:

  • Pedestrianised village with lots of shops and restaurants
  • Lively apres-ski
  • Extensive off-piste terrain

Cons:

  • Expensive compared to other Austrian resorts
  • Pistes can get crowded
  • Not great for beginners


Osterreich, Salzburgerland, Altenmarkt-Zauchensee, Tourenski vor winterlicher Hutte

3. Kitzbuhel, Tyrol:
Best for boutique accommodation

Put on the map for its historic downhill ski races but kept popular by its stylish resorts and varied ski runs, Kitzbuhel is one of Austria’s most chic resorts. Circling around its picturesque medieval quarter are over 50 boutique and high-class hotels, ready to welcome you after a busy day on the slopes. Expect nothing but top-class service and spectacular views from your balcony.

  • Location: Kitzbuhel Alps, Tyrol (70-minute drive from Innsbruck)
  • Runs and terrain: 68 runs (36% beginner, 43% intermediate, 21% advanced)
  • Length of runs: 188km (1,401 acres of skiable terrain)
  • Vertical drop: 1,200 metres

Pros:

  • Vibrant apres-ski
  • Ski-in/ski-out accommodation options
  • Large ski area

Cons:

  • Artificial snow can be used to bulk out lower slopes
  • Can be pricey
  • Lots of traffic running through the village centre


ski

4. Kühtai, Tyrol:
Best for guaranteed snow

Sitting at an elevation of just over 2,000 metres, Kühtai is almost guaranteed to be blanketed in a thick powder from December through to April. Despite these fantastic conditions, its slopes remain quieter than its neighbours and the village emanates a more intimate feel. If friendly and laid-back is the vibe you’re after, you’ll find it here.

  • Location: Stubai Alps, Tyrol (40-minute drive from Innsbruck)
  • Runs and terrain: 32 runs (19% beginner, 60% intermediate, 21% advanced)
  • Length of runs: 46km
  • Vertical drop: 500 metres

Pros:

  • Very close to Innsbruck Airport
  • No queues for lifts
  • Interlinked with Hochoetz ski area

Cons:

  • Exposed to blizzards
  • Attracts rowdy crowds from Innsbruck at the weekend
  • Low vertical drop


Brothers skiing at Zauchensee ski-region, Austria.

5. Ischgl, Tyrol:
Best for the longest season and intermediate skiing

Ischgl may have gained a reputation for its raucous apres-ski and end-of-season parties, but there’s so much more to this ski resort than partying. Boasting a high altitude terrain, Ischgl is usually the first to open at the start of the season and the last to close in spring. While there are plenty of runs for beginners and experts, this place really comes into its own with its intermediate pistes, which are wide, long and just the right level of challenging.

  • Location: Tyrolean Alps, Tyrol (80-minute drive from Innsbruck)
  • Runs and terrain: 85 runs (20% beginner, 64% intermediate, 16% advanced)
  • Length of runs: 238km (1,272 acres of skiable terrain)
  • Vertical drop: 1,470 metres

Pros:

  • Modern lift system
  • High elevation and snow-sure
  • Cross-border skiing into Switzerland

Cons:

  • Expensive lift pass
  • Nightlife can get too rowdy for some
  • Limited short-stay accommodation


ski

6. Ellmau, Kufstein:
Best for families and beginners

Linked to Austria’s vast SkiWelt area, you’ll find a little something for everyone near Ellmau. Once you’ve found your ski legs, hop on the newest addition to the resort’s chair lifts, a 10-seat gondola that’ll fit the whole family, and have a go at one of Ellmau’s many blue runs.

If you find that skiing simply isn’t for you, there’s plenty to keep you otherwise occupied, including beautiful winter hiking trails, tobogganing slopes and plenty of cosy cafes stocked with gluhwein.

  • Location: Place, Kufstein (60-minute drive from Innsbruck)
  • Runs and terrain: 186 runs (47% beginner, 49% intermediate, 4% advanced)
  • Length of runs: 280km
  • Vertical drop: 1,209 metres

Pros:

  • On-site childcare and children’s club
  • Accommodation to suit all budgets
  • Good progression routes for novices

Cons:

  • Low-key apres-ski
  • Small ski area
  • Unreliable snowfall on lower slopes


Senior skiing near Damulser Mittagsspitze, Damuls, Austria

7. Mayrhofen, Tyrol: Best for weekend breaks

One of the most popular resorts among the Brits, Mayrhofen has managed to retain its traditional alpine village feel while still putting on stellar apres-ski celebrations. So you’ll be able to work hard and play hard.

Even better, it’s less than an hour’s drive from Innsbruck Airport, which sees plenty of direct flights from the UK’s major transport hubs. So, if you’ve found yourself with a few days to spare, why not jump on a plane to see what Mayrhofen can offer you?

  • Location: Ziller Valley, Tyrol (50-minute drive from Innsbruck)
  • Runs and terrain: 55 runs (28% beginner, 59% intermediate, 13% advanced)
  • Length of runs: 142km
  • Vertical drop: 1,960 metres

Pros:

  • Lift pass allows access to three other ski areas
  • Ski lift starts in the centre of town
  • Lively apres-ski

Cons:

  • Can get crowded during peak season
  • Poor snow quality at times
  • Sits too low for ski-in/ski-out


happy smiling female skier sitting in cable car up to austrian mountains on sunny winter day

8. Sölden, Tyrol: Best for snowboarders

Spanning across two glaciers and three well-connected mountains, Sölden caters for all abilities. Experienced boarders will love tackling the longer runs along the glaciers, even during summer, while newbies can snag a few lessons from the experts before jumping on the slopes.

In the evening, the village’s main strip comes alive with classic Austrian entertainment including table dancing and singing. While this jovial atmosphere tends to attract a young crowd, you will see a handful of families and older holidaymakers joining in with the fun too.

  • Location: Ötztal Valley, Tyrol (60-minute drive from Innsbruck)
  • Runs and terrain: 40 runs (52% beginner, 31% intermediate, 17% advanced)
  • Length of runs: 147km
  • Vertical drop: 1,900 metres

Pros:

  • Home to some very long runs
  • Efficient lift system
  • Fun apres-ski atmosphere

Cons:

  • Busy traffic through the village
  • Nightlife can get out of hand
  • Ski village isn’t the most picturesque


Best ski resorts in Austria by the numbers

Where can you go skiing in Austria?

The majority of Austria’s ski resorts can be found in the west of the country, clustered around Innsbruck and nestled in the heart of the Alps.

When is the best time to ski in Austria?

Austria’s ski season runs from December through to April, though some of the lower sitting resorts may open later and close earlier. Christmas remains the most crowded time, so it’s best to avoid visiting in late December/early January if you’re hoping to beat the crowds.

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