Austrian shred: 16 best Austria snowboarding holiday destinations

Sep 07, 2017 BY Luke Rees

There are over 400 ski areas in Austria so deciding where to head for an Austrian shred is a tough decision. To help we’ve picked out 16 of the best Austria snowboarding holiday destinations ranging from Innsbruck to Ischgl, St Johann to St Anton and Kitzbuhel to Kaprun.

Austrian shred in Innsbruck one of the 16 best Austria snowboarding holiday destinationsk by Tommy Bause © 2010 TVB Innsbruck

What makes one resort better than others is very subjective. So we’ve included resorts based on many factors, from the size of the ski area to nightlife, freestyle facilities to freeride opportunities, and being family friendly to ease of access.

Why an Austrian shred?

You should head to Austria because this landlocked mountainous nation has snow running through its veins. Winter sports are a beloved national pastime, with Austrian athletes regularly topping the podium in skiing and snowboarding competitions.

This means they do the whole ski experience better than most other countries. Prices on the whole are cheaper than France and Switzerland, the lifts are some of the best in Europe, and accommodation first class. Austria is organised, clean and welcoming – boring I know but these are key ingredients to a good holiday.

On the more fun side of things…. Austria has unrivalled après ski – it may sound like a French thing, but après is an Austrian invention. The snowparks in Austria are not just artfully sculpted, but maintained daily to keep conditions at an optimum.

Austrian shred in Innsbruck one of the 16 best Austria snowboarding holiday destinations by Tommy Bause © 2010 TVB Innsbruck

The mountains in Austria although not as high as those in France are still beautiful, rugged and full of off-piste opportunity. Austria somehow manages to retain its individuality and European charm as they’ve avoided concrete monstrosities and most accommodation is family run.

Best Austria snowboarding holiday destinations

Overall you’d be crazy not to plan an Austrian shred this coming season. Go to any of the best Austria snowboarding holiday destinations below and you’ll be in for a great trip.

Ischgl

With the longest season of any European resort without a glacier, Ischgl is known for opening in November and closing in May. But it doesn’t just open early, the first and last weekends come with a concert headlined by big names such as Muse, Elton John, Kylie, The Killers, Rihanna and Robbie Williams.

This ensures every bed in town is booked and the nightlife is heaving – as it is every night of the season. But with 238 km of state-of-the-art lift linked piste the slopes are the main draw. There is plenty of variety including good off-piste (particularly if you go to the nearby Kappl which is on the FWT) and two excellent snowparks.

Austrian shred in Ischgl one of the 16 best Austria snowboarding holiday destinations Flickr image by ristok

  • Highlights: Après, Après, Après. Plus a large snow sure ski area with state-of-the-art lifts.
  • Freeride: Plenty of easy between piste stuff plus some good backcountry options.
  • Park: Two well maintained and well stocked parks suitable for beginners to pros.
  • Nightlife: Mental. Be warned you could end up partying too hard.

St Anton

Famous for both it’s off-piste and its partying, St Anton is undoubtedly one of the best Austria snowboarding holiday destinations. As part of the massive Arlberg ski area, there are 305 km of pistes and 200 km of marked freeride spanning St Anton, Lech, Zurs, Stuben and Warth, creating the largest lift linked ski area in Austria.

On the slopes there is plenty of challenging pistes, plus wide motorway cruisers, but it is off-piste where it gets steep, challenging and world-class. With famous après bars such as the Mooserwirt and Krazy Kanguruh (Kangaroo) you are sure to have a good time when you finish snowboarding.

Austrian shred in St Anton one of the 16 best Austria snowboarding holiday destinations copyright St Anton Tourism big_1stan_wi_29

  • Highlights: Mental Après, huge ski area, epic off-piste.
  • Freeride: Some of the best in Europe, but can get tracked out quickly.
  • Park: Four parks in the Arlberg, the two in St Anton (one is huge) are groomed daily.
  • Nightlife: Crazy – expect to ride hungover. Our tip is to go hard early then go home, if you stay out you might not make it on the slopes the next day.

Lech

Also part of the Arlberg ski area and lift linked with St Anton via the Flexenbahn. Lech in Vorarlberg shares all the benefits of the 305 km of piste and 200km of marked freeride, but the town is completely different to St Anton. Lech is about luxury and sophistication attracting a more mature and well-to-do crowd.

Lech is twinned with Zurs and between them they strictly control the number of people skiing their slopes at any time. So the slopes don’t get too busy, which on a powder day means it is easier to get to Arlbergs excellent off-piste before it gets tracked out.

Austrian shred in Lech one of the 16 best Austria snowboarding holiday destinations

  • Highlights: Beautiful town, huge ski area, epic off-piste, less crowds that St Anton.
  • Freeride: The Arlberg is known as one of the best in Europe.
  • Park: Four parks in the Arlberg, the one in Lech is not huge but has features for all levels.
  • Nightlife: Trendy bars and top quality restaurants make for a sophisticated night out.

Kaprun

Riding 10 months of the year on one of Austria’s best glaciers is possible here at Kaprun. From the Kitzsteinhorn glacier, at an altitude of 2,900m, views in this part of the world are unparalleled.

As one of the best Austria snowboarding holiday destinations for families, Kaprun deserves to be visited at anytime of year, not just winter. There is good off-piste and parks and combines with Zell am See (by bus) to provide 140 km of runs.

Austrian shred in Kaprun one of the 16 best Austria snowboarding holiday destinations Flickr CC image by Superrabbit

  • Highlights: Glacier skiing in late spring and summer riding
  • Freeride: Yes, best to hire a guide if wandering far off-piste.
  • Park: Yes, also open in summer.
  • Nightlife: More laid back than other resorts.

Zell Am See

Scenic views to rival nearby Kaprun are abundant here, and families will enjoy the many pistes dissecting the mountain as much as freeriders will enjoy ducking between these trees. With roughly 9,000 inhabitants, Zell Am See is a picturesque little town that has been considered a ‘climate spa’ since 1961.

Health conscious boarders will note that the water in the Zellar Lake is so clean and pure it has been classified as drinking water. A stay here will improve your health as well as your snowboarding.

Austrian shred in Zell am See one of the 16 best Austria snowboarding holiday destinations Flickr CC image by bortescristian

  • Highlights: Picturesque Austrian town with good off-piste.
  • Freeride: Many natural jumps and hits around the area.
  • Park: Yes, but park in Kaprun is better.
  • Nightlife: Plenty of options.

Saalbach Hinterglemm

Saalbach, Hinterglemm, Leogang and Fieberbrunn combine to create the large ski area known as the Ski Circus. Throughout the 270 km of piste, there are some very good easy and intermediate slopes making it one of the best Austria snowboarding holiday destinations for beginners.

Getting around the area is a breeze and most accommodation is within easy reach of a lift, unlike many Austrian resorts. Freestylers will be more than happy with the exceptional park at Hinterglemm where rows of massive kickers will keep aerial spinsters happy for days on end. And then there’s the après!

Austrian shred in Saalback Hinterglemm one of the 16 best Austria snowboarding holiday destinations Flickr CC image by aLindquist

  • Highlights: Après. Most accommodation close to slopes.
  • Freeride: Good for beginners.
  • Park: Yes, very good particularly for advanced/experts.
  • Nightlife: Can get very rowdy.

Fieberbrunn

The little known resort of Fieberbrunn regularly welcomes the world’s best freeriders on the Freeride World Tour. They descend the imposing Wildseeloder face, but there is also plenty of less daunting off-piste available.

Aside from the big mountain freeride possibilities, it is part of the massive Ski Circus area with 270 km of piste and has a great snow record. Until recently this was a secret gem of a resort, these days it is better known and rightly a great place for an Austrian shred.

Freeride World Tour in FIEBERBRUNN_2017 Image by DDaher-6434

  • Highlights: What’s good enough for the FWT is good enough for us. Large ski area lots of variety and good snow record.
  • Freeride: One of the best Austria snowboarding holiday destinations for freeriding. Fresh snow lasts longer than in better known areas.
  • Park: Easy Funpark in Fieberbrunn plus the Nitro Park, Nightpark and world cup black park in the wider area make this a great area for freestyle.
  • Nightlife: Tame for Austria, but still decent.

Kitzbuhel

Although a low-lying resort (780m), Kitzbuhel attracts a lot of attention. As home to the infamous Hahnenkamm World Cup Downhill Ski course – the most famous ski race in the world – it attracts visitors from all over the world.

There are also plenty of off-piste opportunities and a decent terrain park, so snowboarding in Kitzbuhel has plenty to offer all types and level of rider. A great selection of restaurants, cafes and mountain inns serve up some classic Tyrolean dishes to feast on when your legs begin to fail you.

Austrian shred in Kitzbuhel one of the 16 best Austria snowboarding holiday destinations Flickr CC image by rawmeyn

  • Highlights: Variety and choice. Hahnenkamm.
  • Freeride: Good, easy access.
  • Park: Yes, built with “Future-focused thinking”.
  • Nightlife: Plenty.

Kirchberg

Kirchberg is Kitzbuhel’s smaller, less flashy, and somewhat more affordable little brother. Only around 20 minutes away, it makes a good choice for the younger crowds who are not so much interested in Kiitzbuhel’s numerous boutiques and cafes, but will appreciate the livelier nightlife and cheaper accommodation.

All of the area’s 168 kilometres of perfectly prepared pistes come under the same pass as Kitzbuhel, and are serviced by 54 modern lifts. This is one of the best Austria snowboarding holiday destinations if you are on a budget.

Austrian shred in Kirchberg one of the 16 best Austria snowboarding holiday destinations Flickr CC image by lewismd13

  • Highlights: Affordability, and proximity to Kitzbuhel.
  • Freeride: Yes, see above.
  • Park: Yes, see above.
  • Nightlife: Good, lively.

Kaunertal

Kaunertal is home to one of the newest glaciers in Europe and can be skied year round. This alone is good, but add one of the longest jib lines in the Alps, ample off-piste and quiet slopes and it make Kaunertal one of the best Austria snowboarding holiday destinations.

On the downside there are only 32 km of runs and there is a 40 minute drive up the mountain from the accommodation each day. But pro freestylers practice in the park, backcountry enthusiasts explore the off-piste and the Snowboarding Spring Break test event visits every May, all because Kaunertal punches way above its weight.

Austrian shred: Kaunertal one of the best austria snowboarding holiday destinations image by Kaunertal

  • Highlights: Very good park, lots of off-piste and quiet slopes
  • Freeride: Gets lots of snow and doesn’t quickly get tracked out making it a backcountry riders dream – can be a bit avalanchey so get a guide and all the gear.
  • Park: Epic
  • Nightlife: A few small bars that can get surprisingly lively dependent on how busy the town is.

Westendorf

On the outskirts of the huge 284 km Ski Welt area lies Westendorf, a haven for boarders trying to escape the more crowded runs that make up resorts such as Soll, Scheffau and Ellmau. Until recently you had to get a bus to Westendorf but Ski Welt is now fully lift linked.

More catered for intermediate to advanced riders, Westendorf has a healthy stash of tree runs, enough steeps for the more extreme of us, and a notable park. You can also connect to the Kirchberg-Kitzbühel ski area via a bus making this Austrian shred even better.

Austrian shred in Westendorf one of the 16 best Austria snowboarding holiday destinations Flickr CC image by solarthermienator

  • Highlights: Quieter slopes, challenging runs and good off-piste make this one of the best Austria snowboarding holiday destinations.
  • Freeride: Plenty, some of the best in the Ski Welt area.
  • Park: Decent, good progression.
  • Nightlife: Not on par with Ischgl or St Anton, but one of the best of the rest.

Soll

The second of our featured resorts from the Ski Welt area, Soll doesn’t have the level of intermediate or advanced riding that nearby Westendorf can boast of. However, for beginners and cruisers on their first snowboard holidays this resort is perfect.

A popular and well-known resort, Soll is traditional and quaint. But add the right mix of locals, British, and Dutch holiday makers and the village becomes one great après hangout. The sounds of ski boots banging on the tables in true Austrian après fashion can be heard from around just about ever corner.

Austrian shred in Soll one of the 16 best Austria snowboarding holiday destinations Flickr CC image by Superrabbit

  • Highlights: Great for beginners and intermediates. Dancing on the tables in ski boots to Austrian Oompah music.
  • Freeride: Not as much as neighbouring Westendorf.
  • Park: WinterGarten Snowpark, Ski Welts’ first night fun park.
  • Nightlife: Very lively après makes it one of the best Austria snowboarding holiday destinations.

St Johann In Tirol

If you’re looking for the small, traditional Austrian village, then you’ll find it with St Johann. Quaint doesn’t come close to describing the homely feel of this place, made even more inviting by the affordable accommodation and relatively modern lift system.

Terrain is varied, but suits beginners more than freeride diehards. Close proximity of Saalbach and Kitzbuhel offers a good chance for day trips.

Austrian shred in Saint Johan one of the 16 best Austria snowboarding holiday destinations image courtesy of Kitzbuheler Alpen

  • Highlights: Classically traditional Austrian ski village. Quiet and good for beginners.
  • Freeride: Limited.
  • Park: None.
  • Nightlife: Basic.

Galtur

This small resort at the end of the Paznaun Valley is only 10 minutes from Ischgl but is so different it feels like a world away. It’s included as one of the best Austria snowboarding holiday destinations purely because Galtur is perfect for family ski holidays.

There are only 40 km of piste, but the slopes are uncrowded and offer great variety in a small area that is easy to get around. There is a small park, themed areas for kids and dedicated freeride zones. And if you do get bored Ischgl is just down the road for expansive skiing and mental nightlife.

Austrian shred in Galtur Image courtesy of Galtuer

  • Highlights: Small and family friendly with a bit of everything.
  • Freeride: Very good with three dedicated freeride zones and lots of between piste powder that doesn’t quickly get tracked out.
  • Park: Small park great for newbie park rats.
  • Nightlife: Nothing to write home about but Ischgl is a 10 min bus or taxi ride away.

Schladming / Dachstein Glacier

Schladming is a great hub from which to access the four surrounding mountains, Planai, Hauser Kaibling, Hochwurzen and Reiteralm. Access to another of Austria’s glacial riding resorts, the Dachstein Glacier, is also easy from Schladming.

This glacier is home to the Burton Superpark, which comes alive in early summer and autumn, boasting a halfpipe, kickers, corners and rails of all dimensions. It’s regarded as one of the the most pioneering snowboard areas with the best park in the Eastern Alps.

Austrian shred in Schladming of the 16 best Austria snowboarding holiday destinations Flickr CC image by specialolympics2017

  • Highlights: Burton glacial superpark makes the perfect Austrian shred if you like park life.
  • Freeride: Some good tree runs.
  • Park: One of the best Austria snowboarding holidays destinations for freestylers.
  • Nightlife: Underrated.

Innsbruck

Perfect for a snowboarding city break, Innsbruck is easy to reach and has all the amenities you’d expect from a town with 120,000 people, whilst having easy access to excellent slopes. The Nordkettenbahnen whisks you up the mountain from the centre of town, providing access to one of Europe’s steepest ski areas.

There are 130 km of piste reaching an altitude of 3200m with a vertical of 1800m. It’s not a great area for beginners, but has lots of off-piste and a great park including a superpipe so is great for advanced riders. Plus you can fly direct to Innsbruck meaning transfers are just 10 minutes.

Austrian shred in Innsbruck one of the 16 best Austria snowboarding holiday destinations by Michael Berger © 2010 TVB Innsbruck

In addition to Nordkette there are nine ski areas, including Seegrube (lift linked with Nordkette), Stubai Glacier, Kühtai, Axamer Lizum, Muttereralm, Rangger Köpfl, Glungezer, Schlick 2000 and Patscherkofel. Together they are Olympia Ski World Innsbruck with 300km of piste connected by a free bus service.

  • Highlights: Large steep ski area, accessed from a city, plus 8 other nearby areas via free bus. Very short transfer. One of the best Austria snowboarding holiday destinations for a city break.
  • Freeride: Epic in good snow. Some steep and very challenging slopes at Nordkette plus great freeride at Stubai, Kuhtai and Axamer Lizum.
  • Park: Good park with super pipe at Nordkette plus snowparks in Kühtai, Axamer Lizum and Stubai glacier
  • Nightlife: It’s a proper city so there is a hugely varied and vibrant nightlife perfect for an Austrian shred.

We highly recommend booking an Austrian shred to any of the 16 best Austria snowboarding holiday destinations above. Also be sure to check out our snowboarding discounts as you could save a packet.

 
 
     

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