Winter wonderland Alpbachtal in Austria + VIDEO
“Are we excited to check out some slopes?” Our guide Ian is as enthusiastic as we are. I’m staying for one week in Alpbachtal in Austria and the first day is all about exploring the winter sports area Skijuwel Alpbachtal-Wildschönau. It’s been a while since I did some snowboarding, so I start quite clumsy. A couple of skiers – every one of them has a GoPro on top of their helmet – passes me while I feel like Bambi on ice for the first time. But that doesn’t matter: I’m standing with a big smile on top of the mountain, although I feel I’m on top of the world. The beautiful surroundings are so impressive I feel embarrassed by staring while my mouth falls open. A blue sky, the sun, some nice snow to play in, the mighty mountain tops and the valley covered in fog: what more can a person wish for?
I’m “lucky” that I am used to do everything with both my left as my right foot. But which foot should I put in the front? I get confused and even a bit annoyed while I am changing several times. But after a while I get the feeling back. Still it bothers me that I am clearly the worst winter sporter in the group. “The best skiers and boarders are the ones who have the most fun here. They have a smile on their face, even when they are falling dozens of times”, Ian ensures me. Thank god.
Exploring the slopes of Alpbachtal for hours
While the rest of the group is exploring the black slopes for the next hours I am getting more comfortable with the blue and red slopes. And the more I am exploring these slopes the better I become. Around lunch time we’re moving from the mountain Gmahkopf to the slopes on the Schatzberg. I’m amazed how easy it is to move from one mountain top to another with the brand new ski lift. It’s amazing how relaxed snowboarding is here. There are not that many people on the slopes, so I don’t have to worry about bumping into other sporters. Because I’m still either a snail with skills on a board or a crazy maniac going downhill, hoping for the best.
During the lunch I’m enjoying kaiserschmarrn (só delicious!) and I decide to order some hot chocolate with rum as well. It’s not okay to be drunk on the slopes, but maybe a shot of rum will give me some more confidence on the board.
Well, it doesn’t. I am not getting better, but I am cursing more after falling at least 50 times. Another bruise. Well, I can give up that dream of becoming a leg model now. “You have to feel one with the board, like it’s a part of you”, another snowboarder tells me. It sounds weird, but it actually makes sense.
At the end of the day the sun disappears behind the mountain tops and the shadows of the trees become taller. Fresh snow is falling down, there’s ice in my hair and I don’t feel my fingers anymore. My muscles are sour and I’m covered by bruises, but still I’m one of the happiest persons in the world right now. And this is only day 1 in winter wonderland Alpbachtal.
Enjoying winter sports in Skijuwel Alpbachtal-Wildschönau
Skijuwel Alpbachtal-Wildschönau is geographically not far away from the famous Zillertal, but the atmosphere is totally different. This ski area has more than 100 kilometers of slopes, divided over 4 mountains. De areas Alpbachtal and Wildschönau were two separate ski areas for a long time, but in 2012 they became 1 area. But you almost don’t notice this: from Inneralpbach it’s super easy to go with the ski lifts to the tops of the Gmahkopf and the Schatzberg.
Some reasons why Alpbachtal-Wildschönau is the perfect ski area for you:
1. Compared to some other ski areas in Tirol it’s relaxed and quiet. You barely have to wait for the lifts and sometimes you have the slopes all for yourself. Even in high season it’s enjoyable to ski and snowboard here. For me this was amazing, especially compared to snowboarding in Winterberg in Germany – one of the most popular winter sports places for Dutch people.
2. Skijuwel Alpbachtal-Wildschönau is not the most well-known ski area in Austria, but it’s definitely one of the biggest ones. There are more than 100 kilometers of slopes to explore.
3. Most of the slopes are red, but if you’re a beginner these ones are still okay for you. I’m not a pro, but I enjoyed both the blue as the red slopes.
4. Alpbach in Alpbachtal is one of the most picturesque winter sports towns you can imagine. From the moment I arrived here I feel like it’s a home away from home. The atmosphere is relaxed and there are several nice restaurants and cafes. Most of them with an amazing view on the mountains. All the houses in Alpbach are build in the same style and decorated with wooden details. It’s even forbidden by law to build a house in a different style. That homogenous aspect makes it such a beautiful and cute village. Alpbach is definitely one of the most beautiful villages in Tirol.
5. Personally I don’t need to jump around in a bar after being on the slopes the whole day. So it was really nice there was not a party vibe in Alpbach. Of course there are some opportunities for après skiing, but you will barely find big groups getting drunk and annoying here.
6. Alpbach is located 1000 meters above sea level and lays most of the day in the sun, while the slopes are on the mountain tops, 1900 meters above sea level. So you have a lot of snow and cold temperatures on the slopes, but it’s a nice temperature in the village.
7. Honestly I expected the prices to be higher in this winter sports area in Austria. For example: a ski pass for 5 days is €200 euros for adults, a dinner in Alpbach is about €10-15 euros per person and for basic but nice accommodation you pay about €25-30 euros.
When is Alpbachtal-Wildschönau less suitable for you?
1. There are mainly skiers in Alpbachtal-Wildschönau. There are some snowboarders, but I think it’s divided in 80-20%. For snowboarders that can be a pity.
2. Do you wanna dance all night long in big clubs? Then most villages in Alpbachtal are not your place to be.
3. Is it your absolute first time on the slopes? For the first time some of the slopes can be too difficult for beginners and there are not thát many slopes for beginners. If you have some experience but not a pro – like me – it’s okay to explore the blue and red slopes. Some blue slopes are by the way suitable for skiers, but not for snowboarders because of the flat parts (like the blue slope 62A).
What more can you do in Alpbachtal and the surroundings?
If you’re staying at least 1 night in Alpbachtal you get the Alpbachtal Seenland Card (your accommodation will probably give this one to you at arrival). With this card you can join many free activities and furthermore you get some discount for things like museums and rental places. With this card you can also use the bus in this area for free, to explore some of the other villages.
I will share some of my favorite activities and sightseeing places in Alpbachtal and surroundings with you.
1. Snow shoe walking with a guide
Besides snowboarding I think my favorite activity was the snow shoe walk around Alpbach. The walk with the snow shoes are a bit more heavy than a usual walk, but it’s definitely worth the effort. With those funny snow shoes you can go to places where you normally wouldn’t go. The sounds of walking on fresh snow, the glistening of the white landscapes, the sun on your face after the tough walk through the snow: it’s simply amazing.
I did the snow shoe walking that starts in Alpbach, but there are also walks that start in Reith im Alpbachtal and Brandenberg.
2. Guided torch walk at night
At daytime there’s a lot to do in Alpbach and surroundings, but also in the evening you can do something special – you can even call it romantic. A torch walk at night is absolutely a different experience than a walk at daytime. With some luck you can spot some owls or other night animals.
I joined the guided torch walk that started in Alpbach, but there are also walks that start in Reith im Alpbachtal, Kramsach and Münster.
3. Swimming and relaxing in Wörgler Wasserwelt
After all those hours on the slopes your muscles deserve some rest. In Wörgler Wasserwelt you can swim (including some slides and a pool with artificial waves) but also relax in the sauna area. With the Alpbachtal Seenland Card you get 2,5 hours of free entrance if you’re visiting through the week.
4. Tobogganing: there are other ways to go downhill…
As a kid I absolutely loved it to slide down some hills when it was snowing. But then I’m talking about our Dutch “mountains”. Absolutely nothing compared to the Austrian mountains. Sliding down in winter sports areas is called tobogganing or rodeln. In the surroundings of Alpbach you have different tobogganing with special routes where you can go with a sledge. With the Alpbachtal Seenland Card there are even some places – like Münster – where you can rent sledges for free!
5. Tasting the local beer Mein Bier in Inneralpbach
Are you a beer lover? Than it’s a must to try the local beer of Alpbachtal: Mein Bier. The brewery named Kristallbrauerei is located in Inneralpbach, not too far away from the ski lifts. This is a one-man brewery. It’s best to speak German with owner/brewer Jos, because his English is not that good. But he definitely makes up for that with his enthusiastic way of showing the brewery and the tastings of the beer. Mein Bier is quite exclusive, because it’s sold only in a few luxury hotels and fancy restaurants. And in his own brewery!
6. Archery in Kramsach
With some arrows and a bow in your hands you definitely feel like Robin Hood, right? If you’re going to Kramsach you should stop at Sport Ossi, just outside of this town. Both in summer and in winter you can enjoy archery. In the cold winter months they use an indoor range. I’ve done archery at other places as well, but this is the first time the feedback and the guidance was excellent. No way you will miss the bullseye with their help.
7. Visit the smallest city of Austria: Rattenberg
Rattenberg is located 20 minutes from Alpbach. This is the smallest city in Austria: there are about 400 people living here. De colourful streets and the glass artists make a visit to Rattenberg absolutely worth it. Because it’s so small you don’t need more than 1 hour, 2 max. In January it’s really quiet and some shops are closed, but with some luck you will find a shop where you can see the craftsmen working.
8. Twinkle, twinkle in Swarovski Kristallwelten
I’m not the biggest fan of jewelry, but the art exhibition in Swarovski Kristallwelten is not really focused on jewelry. Artists from all over the world made cool pieces with Swarovski crystals, but my favorite place in this museum is the Crystal Dome. You get some discount with the Alpbachtal Seenland Card, but honestly I think the price is still too high for a museum like this (€17 euros reduced price).
9. Little citytrip: visiting Innsbruck
Innsbruck is the capital of Tirol, so during your winter sports holiday it’s recommended to visit this city as well. The city is not too big and everything is in walking distance from each other. Don’t forget to see the colored houses at the river side and the Goldenes Dachl, the main highlight in Innsbruck. This balcony with a golden roof is located in the old city. Emperor Maximilian had the best view over the old city from this balcony, back in the days. Unfortunately as a visitor you can’t check out the same view, but from the Stadtturm you have a nice view over the old city ánd the golden roof. Entrance fee for visiting this tower is €3 euros for adults.
Extra tip for Innsbruck
If you’re getting hungry in Innsbruck I would recommend you to go to Strudel Café Kröll. I am not a foodie and I barely write about places to eat (especially in touristic areas), but this one I want to share anyway. They have strudels with all kinds of flavours. My favorites are the strudel with cherries and the one with spinach and feta cheese. A local travel blogger who was not that enthusiastic about eating strudels was also excited about this place, so make sure you visit it when you’re in Innsbruck and want to grab a bite!
Renting gear for winter sports in Alpbach
If you’re not bringing your own winter sports gear you can rent it in Alpbach. There are different rental places. I got my stuff at Conny’s Sport in Alpbach. The place is right next to the bus stop Alpbach Raika that brings you to the slopes. Furthermore the staff is really friendly and they give a lot of tips to make the most out of your day on the slopes.
Eating in Alpbach
If you want to have a good breakfast you should go to the picturesque Café Genuss. Flagländer is a great place for warming up with a nice cup of hot chocolate (and an amazing view on the mountains) in the afternoon. In the evening I would recommend to eat a traditional Austrian meal at Gasthof Jacober. Delicious food, authentic vibe and affordable: what more do you want? Still energy for some après skiing? There are not that many bars in Alpbach, but the most popular place for a beer late in the evening is Postalm.
Sleeping in Alpbach
I stayed with 5 other people in Chalet Enthofer. Chalet Enthofer has different apartments for 2-5 persons with a good view on the mountains and the village. It’s also located perfectly: only 1 minute walk to the bus stop Alpbach Raika. The prices vary from €60-80 euros per night (different apartment sizes). Keep in mind that the apartments are more expensive in summer times (more like €100-120 euros per night).
How do I go to Alpbach?
Alpbach is a village in Tirol, Austria. It’s possible to travel by car to Tirol. For Dutch people this is about 900 kilometers. Don’t forget to bring the obligated stuff like snow chains. You will need them when it’s snowing!
It’s also possible to travel by plane. The nearest airport is in Innbruck. From Innsbruck you take a train to Brixlegg Bahnhof. From here you can take bus 4074 to Alpbach Raika (the city center). If you’re travelling by train from Vienna to Alpbach it’s better to travel to Wörgl Bahnhof and take bus 4074 from there.
Travel movie: Alpbachtal in Austria
Alpbachtal is definitely one of my favorite places for winter sports! Have you ever been here? Or do you have another favorite place you wanna recommend? Please let me know in the comments!