We all know that size doesn’t matter, but when it comes to the length of the pistes in Austrian ski areas, every metre counts. We’re presenting the 10 ski areas with the most interconnected kilometres of piste.
Who has the largest interconnected ski area in the country? The fight for the title goes on relentlessly and gondola development is ever-expanding. As of the 2016/2017 winter season, Ski Arlberg, with its 305 kilometres of piste, is by far the largest ski carousel in Austria. Right behind it come both the Skiwelt Wilder Kaiser as well as the Skicircus Saalbach Hinterglemm Leogang Fieberbrunn, the latter of which, thanks to new measuring methods, reaches 270 kilometres of piste. What are numbers, though, right? In the end, all of them are large, modern ski areas that offer exceptionally diverse fun on the piste. Here’s an overview:
1. Ski Arlberg
Piste length: 305 km
The cradle of alpine skiing, the snow ditch of Vorarlberg, one of the most asked-about areas of the country – as of the 2016/2017 winter season, Arlberg is the largest interconnected ski area in Austria. The centrepiece of the connection is the new Flexen lift (“Flexenbahn”), of which connects Lech-Zürs and Stuben/Alpe Rauz together. A total of four new lifts (“Flexenbahn”, “Trittkopfbahn I + II” and the “Albonabahn II”) connect the until now separated ski areas of St. Anton/St. Christoph/Stuben and Lech-Zürs/Warth-Schröcken. The extensive lift system cost around EUR 45,000,000, but makes for a gigantic ski area with a total of 305 kilometres of piste.
2. SkiWelt Wilder Kaiser – Brixental
Piste length: 284 km
The SkiWelt is not only the largest ski area in Tyrol, but also the second-largest interconnected ski area in Austria. 284 kilometres of piste, 90 lifts, several children’s areas for the little ones, snow parks for freestylers, ski routes for deep snow fans and a modern artificial snow system are the key ingredients to this popular ski area’s recipe for success. There are several access points throughout both valleys, like in Brixen im Thale and Westendorf. On the northern side of the mountains, you’ll find the valley stations in Going, Ellmau, Scheffau, Söll and Itter.
3. Skicircus Saalbach Hinterglemm Leogang Fieberbrunn
Piste length: 270 km
Since winter 2015/2016, the Skicircus Saalbach Hinterglemm has been connected with Fieberbunn. Through the marriage of Glemmtal and Pillerseetal, the ski area has grown up to 270 kilometres of piste and therefore offers the largest lift system in Salzburger Land. Several attractive ski circuits make their way through the area, such as the 40 kilometres long Skicircus circuit, of which runs along all of the important (viewing) stations. The access points to the Skicircus can be found in Saalbach and Hinterglemm, in Leogang and in Fieberbrunn as well. Furthermore, all of the valley runs lead back to the main resorts.
4. Silvretta Arena Ischgl-Samnaun
Piste length: 238 km
Ischgl not only offers après ski, but also quite a fine ski area when it comes to size. The resort itself lies at an altitude of 1,400 m, with the highest lift reaching up to just under 2,900 m. The almost 238 kilometres of piste area spreads out along the Tyrolean Paznaun and over the border into the Swiss Samnaun. With the Flimjoch lift (“Flimjochbahn”), head out from the famous Idalp upwards, over the border, and continue on into Samnaun. At the mountain pass, the highest-lying customs office in Europe can be found at an altitude of 2,756 m. As you can shop in about 50 duty-free establishments in Samnaun, it could very well be that you’ll have to stop for a customs inspection on your way back to Ischgl – with skis and all.
Piste length: 196 km
In the Upper Inn Valley, guests of all ages are welcome. The ski area around the resorts of Serfaus, Fiss and Ladis offer countless amenities for parents and their children, from a children’s ski area to E-Buggy-Verleih. That being said, “grown-up” winter sports fans will certainly get their money’s worth: various types of equipment for fun on the piste, snow parks for the young and wild, and plenty of panorama runs await skiers and snowboarders of all kinds. A total of 196 kilometres of piste can be found here, most of which are marked blue and red.
Piste length: 173 km
In the heart of the Kitzbühel Alps lies the famous resort of Kitzbühel, a popular celebrity hotspot and venue for the legendary Hahnenkamm Race. 173 kilometres of piste extend over the Kitzbüheler Horn, Resterhöhe, Pengelstein and Hahnenkamm, the latter of which being home to the world-famous Streif. By the way: the train in the valley connecting Kitzbühel to Westendorf is also fittingly called the “Streif train” (“Streifzug”).
Piste length: 144 km
Sölden may not be the largest ski area of all time, but certainly makes up for its size by offering two glaciers and having a completely snow sure altitude of up to 3,340 m. There are plenty of diverse sporting opportunities available in the ski area such as circuits or fun parks, and you’ll also be able to find panoramic restaurants, photo points and free Wi-Fi. In order to thoroughly explore and appreciate the views from the peaks and pistes on the glacier, the “Big3-Rallye” is really worth checking out. The extensive round to the Gaislachkogl (3,058 m), the Tiefenbachkogl (3,250 m) and the Schwarze Schneid (3,340 m) is particularly recommended for winter sports fans in top physical and rewards you with great mountain experiences.
8. Zillertal Arena
Piste length: 143 km
Another family-friendly ski area has made its way into the Top 10 largest ski areas: the Zillertal Arena in Zillertal is kilometre for kilometre almost on a par with Sölden, although the Ötztal-based ski area is especially designed for families and leisure skiers. Each family member will feel right at home in Zillertal: mom and dad can send their little ones off to the guest kindergarten, the older kids to the local ski school, and then it’s off to enjoy the ski area and all it has to offer, like the longest valley run in Austria. Meanwhile, adolescents can let loose at the snow park or can test themselves at the “Arena Champion” and all the while stay in contact thanks to the free Wi-Fi in the ski area.
Piste length: 136 km
The 136 kilometres of piste in Mayrhofen are spread out over two fun zones: action on the Penken and leisure on the Ahorn. What’s more is that the new lift, the “3S-Penkenbahn”, has also brought a new element of modernisation into Mayrhofen. As of this past winter, transport onto the Penken could hardly be more comfortable. Once at the top, ambitious winter sports fans can find several black pistes, among which include the Harakiri (Nr. 34) and Devil’s Run (Nr. 12), and they’ll also find the Vans Penken Park. Across the way lies the Ahorn, the leisure mountain with wide family-friendly pistes and a new fun slope, where a day’s skiing can be rounded off with a relaxing drink at the White Lounge.
10. Schladming 4-Mountain Ski Area Schladming-Planai
Piste length: 123 km
In the Schladming-Dachstein ski region lie 8 ski areas, of which are combined for a total of 232 kilometres of prepared pistes. One of which is the 4-Mountain Ski Area between Hauser Kaibling and Reiteralm, where 123 kilometres of piste are seamlessly connected with each other. That’s still a considerable amount when taking the location and facilities on the piste into account. The four largest Styrian ski mountains each offer their own unique views and diverse sporting opportunities. The selection of children’s areas, fun parks, pleasure island with panoramic loungers, the Klang piste, Sky Toilet, Photo Point, timed circuit and several valley runs is quite diverse and entertaining.