Austria is a beautiful country, rich in mountainous terrain, and has a long tradition of skiing. Finding the best Austrian ski resorts for beginners can be confusing though, especially since most beginners don’t have a lot of experience with ski resorts!
So we’re here to help.
You don’t want to be stuck in a resort with only a run or two for you to enjoy, nor do you want to find yourself in a place with nothing to do when you need a break from your new hobby – you want the whole alpine skiing experience!
Don’t worry, that full experience isn’t so difficult to arrange; you just need to know what you’re looking for.
What to look for in a beginner ski resort
Here are a few things to keep in mind when choosing your destination.
Skiable area for beginners
Topping the list of things to look for in a great ski resort for beginners is a large number of green and blue runs. Green runs are the easiest, and blue are the next level up. Depending how comfortable you are on skis by the end of your holiday, you may be taking in some of the easier blue runs, so it’s important to include them.
Compare the % of green and blue runs to the total km or runs, and you’ll have some idea of how much area is really there for you to ski. Perhaps 60% of a tiny resort isn’t as good as 30% of a great big one.
Variety of landscape
Some resorts pack all of their beginner runs into a small area, at the bottom of the mountain, away from the best of the panoramic views, the high-altitude restaurants, and the real adventure of skiing down a majestic mountain.
Other ski resort designs really have beginners in mind and there are runs from the top of the mountain to the root, with reasonable declinations, enough width, and few enough obstacles to make them enjoyable to beginners.
Especially if you are new to skiing, you’ll want something to do while giving your muscles (and nerves) a break. This can mean active things like dogsledding, ice skating, or enjoying a waterpark, but it can also mean taking in a museum, café, restaurant or bar. And of course shopping is another great way to spend a break from the slopes.
Excellent Austrian ski resorts for beginners
Try any of these excellent Austrian ski resorts for beginners, and you’ll not be disappointed.
Schlick 2000 – Near Innsbruck
Schlick 2000 doesn’t list any green runs, but they do have about half of their 18.8km of runs rated as blue. Since difficult runs tend to be steeper, and easier runs less so, the easier runs are generally longer. This means that a confident beginner will have more than half of the total mountain to enjoy.
And it’s not just the lower half.
An excellent feature of this resort is that there are blue runs down from every lift. This is great for free exploring, and you never have to worry about finding yourself on a lofty, windswept peak with no way down but a sheer, obstacle-speckled run that freezes your blood faster than the weather.
The area also has an ice bar, umbrella bar, all-day nursery for the littlest ones, and a lot of other activities for your non-skiing time.
Steinplatte – Near Salzburg
In addition to Steinplatte’s dedicated beginners’ area, 18 of their 42 km of skiing area is rated blue. So once you’re confident enough to leave the beginners’ zone, you’ll have a great deal of mountain to enjoy.
The resort in known for its flat and wide slopes, and there are great views from runs of all difficulty levels, so your eyes will enjoy the place as much as the rest of you.
The resort also has a snowpark, ski huts, cross-country trails and other activities.
Obergurgl – Near Innsbruck
When it comes to choice and amount of beginner runs, few can rival Obergurgl. With 54% green and another 30% blue-rated runs, of their 112km total, beginners can expect to ski for days or weeks and not run out of new places to explore.
The area boasts some excellent scenery, a motorcycle museum, and enjoyable sightseeing and cultural activities. There are not a lot of shops, so don’t plan on that as a significant pastime, but a contingent of wealthy clientele means that there are a few excellent restaurants and luxury accommodations on offer.
Kitzbühel – Near Innsbruck
With 215km of slopes, and 39% of these ranked as ‘beginner’ blue, Kitzbühel is one of the best Austrian ski resorts for beginners who have both the endurance, and the desire, to put a lot of miles under their skis. If you’re a beginner who wants a bit of challenge, this resort is perfect for you.
The town itself is lovely, with painted frescoes, medieval buttressed walls, all set against the rugged Wilder Kaiser Mountains. There is a terrain park, a healthy party scene, excellent restaurants and cafés, and shopping is a popular and well-supported activity.
The resort’s low altitude can mean less snow-reliability when compared with glacial resorts, but its north-west orientation and large area help to ensure some adequate runs are open during even low-snow periods in the season.
Kaltenbach – Near Innsbruck
With 33km of its total 102km of pistes rated as green and blue, Kaltenbach is of competitive size among Austrian ski resorts for beginners. They even have a large area dedicated solely to beginners.
The resort is family-friendly, with a funpark, children’s area, children’s restaurant and all-day childcare facilities. Add to that tobogganing, ice skating, cross-country skiing, and other fun activities to keep the whole family active and engaged.
For the grownups especially, the area is known for good food, from the many mountainside establishments to the award-winning fine dining restaurant Alexander.
Wildkogel – Near Innsbruck
45% of Wildkogel’s 75km of pistes is rated blue, which means beginners who graduate from the learner runs will have a reasonably-wide range of runs to choose from.
Like some other Austrian ski resorts for beginners, lack of snow can sometimes be a problem – it tends to last best on the higher-altitude runs, which tend to be more difficult. Choose a date in the middle of the season though, and you should be alright.
When the slopes have your thighs burning and your cheeks aching from constant grinning, take a break and experience some of the other activities the area has to offer. There are guided winter walks, snowshoeing and wildlife watching – even horse-drawn sleigh rides! The area has the longest flood-lit toboggan run in the world too, and who could resist that?
There is an array of high-quality Austrian ski resorts for beginners, and the one that best suits you depends on what you like to do when not on skis, as well as your preferences on the slopes.
Any of these resorts will offer runs that suit a beginner, and all of them offer a lot more besides. Conjure up what your alpine ski holiday looks like in your dreams, jot a few notes on paper, then compare with these excellent choices.
In no time, you’ll be listening to that grin-inspiring sound of snow beneath your skis, wind in your hair, and laughing friends and family around you. Your Austrian ski holiday awaits!