Five Mountain Villages for Wintersports Enthusiasts
Cross-country skiing on Friday, alpine skiing on Saturday, tobogganing on Sunday – sounds like your kind of thing? Most places in Tirol offer all these winter sports and more, but there are a few villages whose local traditions or spectacular location make them just that little bit better than the rest. Here are our top five spots in the mountains for those who simply love winter sports.
1. St. Anton am Arlberg | Alpine Skiing
"The cradle of alpine skiing" is how St. Anton am Arlberg is known – and with good reason. It has been welcoming guests for more than 100 years, growing to become one of the leading wintersports areas in the Alps. The resort offers not only fabulous skiing and snowboarding but also excellent food and plenty of other attractions away from the slopes. Throughout the season there are snow-based events such as "Der Weiße Rausch", a mass-participation race in spring where hundreds of skiers and snowboarders go head to head in a quest to see who is the fastest from the top of the resort all the way down to the bottom.
2. Neustift im Stubaital | Tobogganing
The Stubai Valley is known for its excellent ski resorts with slopes catering to all abilities. Away from the pistes there is also plenty to enjoy, including tobogganing. The valley is home to no fewer than ten toboggan runs with a total length of 41 kilometres. Several are floodlit at night. And for visitors who do not fancy walking all the way up, there is a special lift pass giving access to all the ski lifts servicing the toboggan runs in the Stubai Valley.
3. Innervillgraten and Außervillgraten in East Tirol | Ski Touring
"Come and visit us – we have nothing" is the eyebrow-raising slogan used for many decades now by the Villgratental Valley in East Tirol. It is true today as it was back then – the valley has no ski lifts and no resorts. This, however, makes it a haven for ski touring. This booming sport involves walking up the mountain off piste using grippy "skins" on the bottom of your skis. At the top of the mountain these skins are then removed, leaving skiers free to cruise back down into the valley – ideally through fields of virgin powder. The Villgratental Valley with its high peaks and peaceful setting is the perfect place for ski touring.
4. Elbigenalp im Lechtal | Winter Walking
This pretty village in the Lechtal Valley is an excellent base camp for those in search of a slightly different winter holiday. In the Lechtal Valley Nature Park Region there are 34 winter walking trails which are well-maintained throughout the season. They range from easy strolls through snowy fields to more challenging hikes into the mountains. Many walks lead past huts serving food and drink, where walkers can warm cold fingers with a bowl of hot soup in front of a roaring open fire.
5. Pertisau am Achensee | Cross-Country Skiing
The area around Lake Achensee is quite simply the perfect place for cross-country skiing. Tirol's largest lake is surrounded by rolling hills offering an ideal topography for this popular winter sport. Cross-country skiing events take place there throughout the season, for example the "3-Täler-Lauf" in February bringing together pro skiers and enthusiastic amateurs. This race leads through some of the most beautiful spots in the Karwendel Nature Park. Those in need of a little training before taking on something quite so ambitious can sign up for a cross-country skiing camp in January run by experienced instructors keen to share top tips and help you work on your technique.