Obergurgl is one of Austria’s highest ski areas, with a loyal British clientele of families and intermediates. Obergurgl (1,930m) and its smaller, higher satellite of Hochgurgl (2,150m), are situated at the end of the Otz valley, about a 90 minute drive south-west of Innsbruck, and have one of the most snow-sure ski areas in Austria, with slopes rising to 3,080m. The winter season here typically runs from late November until the end of April, making it far longer than that of most Austrian resorts.
At the heart of Obergurgl lies a traditional village with a church, although it is all but overwhelmed by the luxurious hotels that surround it. There is a further group of hotels outside the village by the ice rink and yet another cluster around the bottom station of the gondola. Hochgurgl is a separate slopeside compound of hotels connected by lift. Many of the hotels in this resort are ski-in ski-out, giving visitors fantastic access the snow-sure pistes.
Resort Altitude: 1,930m
Resort Skiing: 3,080m
Total Ski Area: 110km
Blue Runs: 35km
Red Runs: 55km
Black Runs: 20km
Cross Country: 12km
Due to its fantastic altitude, Obergurgl and Hochgurgl are often the first resorts in Austria to open; around mid-November. The more advanced terrain sits surrounding Hochgurgl, and carvers are treated to wide open pistes throughout the resort. All the slopes are well maintained and groomed, and every level skier should find they are able to ski all the way back into the resort.
The combined areas of Obergurgl and Hochgurgl now offer a total of over 110km of slopes with most best suited to intermediates, although there is plenty for beginners and experts as well. For beginners the nursery slopes are located away from the main village close to the cross-country track. From here novices tend to graduate to the easy blue runs that are found above Hochgurgl. The greater concentration of red runs for intermediates is found in the Obergurgl area.
Obergurgl is a traditional resort and therefore does not attract a wealth of snowboarders. However, do not let this deter you; the wide pistes create some amazing carving opportunities, and there is some great off-piste potential. Obergurgl also makes a fantastic option for more novice snowboarders looking to build their confidence on the slopes.
The ski school in Obergurgl has been open since 1922, giving nearly 100 years of experience to the area. There are over 100 instructors in the school and the comprehensive programme caters for all winter sports at all levels. There are also cross-country, ski touring and off-piste lessons available for those looking for something a little different.
The two outstanding restaurants within the resort are the Pic Nic and Krumpn’s Stadl, which is a huge rustic Tirolean barn. The Pizzeria Belmonte in Haus Gurgl is the place to go for pizzas. Head to the candlelit stübli of the Edelweiss & Gurgl for an elegant dinner with fine wines. Up the mountain, the Nederhüutte does good fondue party evenings, usually on Thursday.
On the slopes, the Nederhütte is a key end-of-afternoon party venue, but as the lifts close and the crowds leave the slopes, the village of Obergurgl bursts into life, with the umbrella bar of the Edelweiss & Gurgl being the liveliest rendezvous spot of all. Later at night, the most happening place is Krumpn’s Stadl, which has live music every other night. The Bajazzo is a more sophisticated drinking destination. Most of the hotels have their own very comfortable cocktail bars and many residents do not feel the need to venture out.
The slightly gentler gradient of Obergurgl in comparison to some other resorts means that there are numerous trails that can be walked during the season, offering beautiful scenery. Non-skiers are able to access the mountain restaurants and are therefore able to meet up with skiers at lunchtime.