Ski Destinations in Zell am See, Austria

Ski Holidays in Zell am See, Austria

Not being your average ski resort, this picturesque lakeside town might be a bit short on major challenges (and any real sense of coherence) but it makes up for all that with the sheer beauty of its setting. Sure, it's a bit of a hassle to get to the skiing. But when the setting sun is illuminating the lake and you're back in the town relishing a few apres-ski cocktails, those few extra miles won't matter a bit. Kaprun's ski area is a free ten-minute bus ride away, but make sure you check the queues when the snow melts elsewhere. To get to the glacier you'll have to take the gondola or the new cable-car, built to substitute the funicular after the tragic fire in the year 2000.

Ski center Kitzsteinhorn near Zell am See and Kaprun, AustriaCredit: Wikimedia Commons

The joint ski pass, available at Zell am See, Kaprun and Kitzsteinhorn, allows you to ski 130km of runs serviced by 57 lifts. Zell has an exciting variety of slopes, although with only 75km it is somewhat limited. Its patchy snow record is evened out by extensive snowmaking, while Kitzsteinhorn offers a snowsure alternative. From Zell, there are three ways up the main Schmittenhohe mountain: the much enhanced Zeller Bergbahn 'Cityxpress'; the Schmittenhohebahn cable-car from Schnittental (a 2km bus ride); and, in the other direction, another bus ride away in Schiittdorf, the Areitbahn.

Among the local eateries are the 120-year-old Glocknerhaus, halfway up the Areitbahn, and Cafe-Restaurant Areitalm, whose chef has something of a national reputation.

Fro something different, try the Schmiedhofalm, which is a little out of the way but quieter. Try also the Bella Vista, with great views from the top of the Gipfelbahn (3,029m).

There's a nice half-pipe on Schmittenhohe, but advanced boarders should go to the glacier on top of Kaprun, where there's a funpark and a permanent half-pipe.

There's skating on the lake, 200km of cross-country tracks (including a floodlit loop for somnambulists), and of course, tobogganing, snow-rafting and ice climbing. You'll discover water in a different form at Zell's indoor swimming pool at the Sport & Leisure Centre, as well as bowling lanes. There's squash at the Grand Hotel and indoor tennis at the Tenniscenter.

With much water nearby, Zell is a safe bet for fish lovers. Octopussy and Zum Casar  in the Schlossplatz (Castle Square) provide fish from lake and sea. But meat-eaters need not despair: the Kohlergraben, at the foot of the mountain in Schmittental, cooks the juiciest 'cowboy steaks' this side of Texas. The restaurant at the Salzburgerhof features decent fine dining, while the Gruner Baum strikes a similarly accomplished note with local Pinzgauer dishes. The Kupferkessel rotisserie dishes out, among other things, pizzas till 2am, while for something a bit less commonplace, try the 'passion menu' at the 500-year-old Romantik Hotel Zum Metzgerwirt.

While lunch is being served elsewhere, the apres ski is already underway in Zell. Commence at the mountain at the Schnapps Hans Ice Bar outside the Berghotel and finish 1,000m lower down and several schnapps later at Crazy Daisy, which features live music (and some grub to mop up the booze), or the Charly Chaplin bar. If you overindulge at the ice bar, you can stay high all night and dodge the queues in the morning by booking a bed up the mountain at Breiteckalm or Sonnenalm.

The Porschehof, close to the Areit cable-car above Schuttdorf, is the ancestral home of the Porsche/Piech families, where the very first Porsches were warehoused, repaired and hidden from the Allied Forces. The family-friendly Kinderhotel Hagleitner is working hard in its quest to keep the little ones entertained with Pongo's Adventure World, a children's ski area and prams at no extra charge. For those without kids in tow, the charming Limberghof guesthouse is a more inexpensive choice with a great restaurant.

Suggested Accommodations:

Haus AshlingCredit:

Haus Ashling is a small but friendly Irish owned B&B located at the foot of the Schmittenhohe mountain in the beautiful resort of Zell am See.  Some rooms have balconies where guests can enjoy panoramic views of the town of Zell-am-See, the lake and surrounding Mountains and can be booked on arrival if available. Buffet breakfast is included in price.

Garni GruberCredit:

Garni Gruber is a 4-star family-run hotel in Tyrol set in a typical Austrian mountain lodge.  Guests can use the fitness room, sauna and steam bath to work up a sweat, or simply relax in the lounge with a glass of fine Austrian wine. Free entry to the local leisure centre, which offers a wide range of sport and health facilities is offered.


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