If you’re itching to get out skiing as soon as possible, then there are some great ski resorts in Austria to book for the best conditions. We have factored in average opening times, altitude, and glaciers in the location. Our ski experts have created a guide to early season skiing in Austria.
Why ski early in the season?
The opening weeks of ski resorts are a celebration for the area. There are usually great events and deals to be had for the start of the winter season. It’s usually locals that are heading to the slopes at this time of year too, so expect relatively quiet slopes. Some resorts have skiing as early as October, but November is usually the standard. Here is our selection of early season skiing in Austria.
Despite not having a glacier, Ischgl regularly opens in November before many main resorts in Austria. This is largely down to its great snow record and high altitude of 1,380m-2,900m. The early low temperatures that tend to drop, make the snow conditions compact on the perfectly groomed pistes.
Ischgl itself has an impressive 240km of pistes to enjoy, which usually all open quickly at the start of the season. There’s something for different levels of skier with the diverse terrain. Whether you’re a complete beginner or an advanced skier, you’ll find slopes for you. In addition, the ski resort has a state-of-the-art snowmaking system to guarantee a good base of snow throughout the winter.
Off the slopes, Ischgl has a big reputation as a lively après-ski resort. The atmosphere, even at the beginning of the season, can be great fun. There are plenty of bars and clubs to enjoy a drink or boogie at. Expect a lot of table dancing and DJ sets throughout the ski resort.
In addition, there are some brilliant restaurants to book a table at. Most of the top restaurants are within the hotels in the area. We recommend the Paznauner-Stube, which has a good variety of dishes and vegetarian options (vegetarian options can often be tricky in Austria!).
Considered a hidden gem of Austrian skiing, Kühtai is a great early season destination. It has a great reputation for being snow-sure due to its north-facing slopes and high altitude of 2,020m-2,666m. The skiing isn’t vast with only 46km of pistes but the views are stunning. Its whole ski area is on your doorstep too with the village right next to the slopes. All of this makes it great for early season skiing in Austria.
You’ll get as many runs as you want with the fantastic modern lift system. There’s a fast main gondola and chairlift to get to key points of the piste map. It might get very cold, even at the start of the season, but the slopes will be in perfect conditions because of this. The slopes are perfectly groomed and you’ll get plenty of grip for your turns.
For a small village, there is a good selection of bars and restaurants for different tastes. If you’re looking for the best pizza in town, head to Pizzeria Da Bruno. Kühtaier Alm and Zum Kaiser serve some of the best traditional Austrian cuisines too. A lot of the bars can be found in the hotels. The most popular choices are the Siglu, Dorfstadl, Eisbar and Alte Stube. The atmosphere is a good mixture of lively or relaxed depending on what you’re looking for.
Located at the end of the Ötztal Valley, Obergurgl is one of the highest ski resorts in Austria. The ski resort has an altitude of 1,930m-3,080m and an excellent snow record. Obergurgl’s typical season is late November until the end of April, which is longer than most Austrian ski resorts. There is 110km of slopes that are suitable for different levels of skiers. You can access Hochgurgl’s slopes with the amazing lift system in the area.
Only a 90-minute transfer from Innsbruck airport, you’ll be on the slopes in no time. There are great ski schools and nursery slope facilities for beginners. Advanced skiers will enjoy incredible off-piste terrain in the area with a local mountain guide. The pistes are perfectly maintained and the scenery is breathtaking on and off the slopes.
There are fantastic top-class hotels to enjoy during your stay. The Edelweiss & Gurgl in particular has brilliant facilities and a delicious fine dining restaurant. For a unique experience book a table up the mountain at the Nederhüutte for a fantastic fondue evening meal. Krumpn’s Stadl is the liveliest bar in town with live music and a great selection of drinks. A great destination for early season skiing in Austria.
Obertauern is another hidden gem on our list but it’s also great for early season skiing in Austria. Its top-class snowmaking facilities and high altitude, 1,740m-2,313m, is a recipe for great snow at the beginning of the season. The ski resort has 100km of slopes to explore and also has some excellent off-piste spots too.
If you’re looking for something unique there are two night-ski nights each week throughout the season. Ski under the floodlights and enjoy hitting the slopes differently. Beginners have good access to nursery slopes and the chairlifts can easily get to blue slopes around the mountain. The skiing is mainly suited to intermediate skiers but there are some challenging black slopes for advanced skiers too.
In the village, there’s fantastic ski-in ski-out accommodation that is perfect to maximise your time on the slopes. There are some great bars and restaurants to enjoy for different price points. We recommend heading to the Königsalm in the Latschenhof for the best traditional Austrian cuisine. If you’re looking to hit the bars the Latsch’n Alm, Lürzer Alm and Gruberstadl are the most popular spots in town.
Another resort on our list from the Ötztal Valley is Sölden. It’s fantastic for early season skiing in Austria because it has two glaciers and an excellent snow record. In addition, its high altitude of 1,380m-3,250m means snow conditions are great at the beginning of the season. There are 155km of pistes to explore with a full lift pass and you can also head to Obergurgl by bus if you fancy a change of scene.
The FIS Alpine World Cup tour regularly has its opening race of the season in Sölden. The race is held in October because of the excellent snow reliability the ski resort has. During this time of year, the public can ski the pistes on the Rettenbach and Tiefenbach Glaciers. Fantastic for those who want some of the earliest skiing you can do in Europe.
Off the slopes, there are great bars, restaurants and fun activities to enjoy. A must-visit is the 007 Elements installation that has great features from the James Bond franchise. Part of the film Spectre was filmed in Sölden. The s’Pfandl restaurant is a great place to enjoy local Austrian cuisine in a beautiful mountain setting. If you’re looking for a late-night out, Fire and Ice is the main nightclub in town.
To find out more about early season skiing in Austria, please call our ski experts on 0207 471 7700.