Zell am See-Kaprun
For a truly all-round destination, look no further than Zell am See-Kaprun, a region that’s made up of two quaint towns on the edge of the beautiful Upper Tauern National Park, just 85km southwest of Salzburg.
With perfect conditions for winter-sports and miles of well-groomed pistes, it’s a place that’s bursting with opportunities for active adventures and family fun.
On piste, there are 66 slopes spanning 138km of downhill action, from low-gradient family areas and easy blue-runs to ultra-black runs like Trass Slope, which will test even the most experienced skiiers with gradients of up to 70%. And if you fancy taking things off piste, you can learn how at one of the resorts’ cross-country ski schools, before you hit miles of backcountry that are packed with some of Austria’s best deep powder.
If you prefer tricking out on ramps and riding moguls to bombing down the pistes, meanwhile, there are five incredible snow parks, which offer adrenaline junkies the chance to get a high-octane piece of the action – and experienced riders can even test their skills on Austria’s biggest superpipe.
But a visit to Zell am See-Kaprun is about way more than fun in the snow: authentic Austrian culture is reflected in the region’s many events, which range from markets and traditional music concerts to WOW Glacier Love festival, which sees a whole raft of DJs and athletes take to the side of the Kitzsteinhorn glacier for freestyle competitions, pumping tunes and huge after-parties.
While the region’s snow-life centres around an astonishing blend of glaciers and mountains, the crowning feature of Zell am See is the crystal-clear alpine lake Lake Zell – a serene expression of Austria’s immense natural beauty and the perfect backdrop for any adventure. It’s best viewed from the Top of Salzburg, an observation deck more than 3,000m above sea level that hangs off the edge of the Kitzsteinhorn glacier. With more than 200 of the most spectacular and highest peaks of Austria to stand and stare at, you won’t find better ski inspiration in the whole of Austria.
There aren’t many places in the world that feel as full of life as the southern Austrian region of Carinthia during winter. And you certainly don’t need to throw yourself down a mountainside at breakneck speed to get a taste of that rush.
As soon as you arrive, you can expect amazing views, idyllic lakes and a milder-than-normal climate, which makes this southernmost region the perfect place for a relaxing week in the snow.
But that doesn’t mean there’s a lack of the white stuff to get out and explore. Here, there’s plenty of skiing – both alpine and off-piste – to be enjoyed by everyone from absolute beginners to seasoned pros. When it comes to a holiday-defining moment, nothing beats a sunrise ski session. Heading out as early as 6.30am, you’ll be able to make some of the first tracks on the snow with a few likeminded early-birds on the Goldeck and Turrach mountains.
Alternatively, a day-trip skiing cross-country through crisp, untouched deep snow is one of the best ways to explore extraordinary scenery like the Weissensee, the largest frozen area of natural ice in the whole of Europe.
Then, after a long day out in the country, you’ll want to kick off your boots and relax. You’re in luck, because Carinthia is famous for its natural spas. And if you fancy combining a swim with epic views of the great outdoors, plenty of waterside hotels by Millstatätter See, Wörthersee and Turracher See give you the chance to take a dip in heated lake-pools, experiencing the staggering natural beauty of Carinthia without exposing yourself to the
brisk winter elements.
In a region so beautiful and varied, it can be hard to pick a single place to call home for your whole getaway, but here it’s easy: the picturesque spa town of Bad Kleinkirchheim is a World Cup resort with an incredible snow scene, a natural toboggan run and all the off-piste relaxation you could ever want. And Hotel Trattlerhof – a bolthole which oozes quintessential rustic charm – is its crowning jewel. And with new flights from London Gatwick to Klagenfurt, seeing that stunning snow just got a whole lot easier. So what are you waiting for?