Travel

Austrian Alpine resort replaces après-ski revelry with fine dining and even more skiing

Après-ski hijinks may have been put on ice, but SalzburgerLand’s Skicircus Saalbach Hinterglemm Leogang Fieberbrunn is inviting visitors to take full advantage and make the most of Austria’s largest ski network. 

Easy access to 408km of varied pistes using the Ski Alpincard lift pass more than makes up for lost time in bars and clubs, while 110 mountain huts offer socially distanced hospitality. 

The FIS decision to bring the Alpine Ski World Championships to Saalbach Hinterglemm in 2025 is certainly an endorsement of the Skicircus pistes and ski infrastructure.

And this season visitors can expect a number of resort improvements, which will appeal to experienced skiers and cautions newbies alike.

Visitors can expect a number of resort improvements, which will appeal to experienced skiers and cautions newbies alike…

Skicircus guided walks are free for all

There’s a new 300m ski route between Bernkogel and the Schattberg X-press in Saalbach Hinterglemm, likely to prove a welcome replacement for the inconvenient walk, while the spectacular Rosswald Reservoir at Hinterglemm, scheduled for completion December 2021, not only promises to double the valley’s snowmaking capacity, but create a summer attraction with copious watersports and sunbathing.

The Ski Alpincard lift pass covers the Skicircus (270km of piste), Zell am See’s Schmittenhöhe area and the Kitzsteinhorn Glacier at Kaprun, with skiing guaranteed from November to May. There’s also a new Alpin Card Navigator App to offer SatNav-style ski guidance, route planning and up-to-the-minute lift information with closure prompts.

The Saalbach resort has plenty to offer non-skiers. New this winter are twice-daily free guided walks with qualified guides, which allow you to explore 140km of winter hiking trails, well away from skiers. 

For the kids, there’s also a new 5-task Kid’s Winter Challenge, comprising Reiterkogel toboggan run, Golden Gate Bridge of the Alps and Treetop Trail walk, Kogel summit cross climb, Hinterglemm ice skating circuit and lantern-lit walk. 

Horsedrawn sleigh rides offer a relaxing diversion

Additional non-ski activities include Europe’s fastest and longest zip-wire, the Flying Fox XXL, Alpine roller coaster rides (which are included in the lift pass), snowshoeing and even horsedrawn sleigh rides.

When the sun sets, the après-ski scene is more about fine dining and casual relaxation. Groups are limited to a maximum of 10 people (seated only) with one metre distancing in every venue. 

The Skicircus is an hour from Salzburg airport, and straddles SalzburgerLand and Tirol provinces via the high-speed TirolS gondola, connecting Saalbach’s Reitkogel to Fieberbrunn in Tirol.  Skiers can supplement the Skicircus’s 270km of piste by taking the blue piste from Saalbach’s Polten chair-lift to Viehhofen and heading up to Zell am See’s Schmittenhöhe via the zellamseeXpress, with onward links to the Kitzsteinhorn Glacier at Kaprun. 

Taking a snowshoe safari

Coming December 21 is a new lift to replace the 5km bus ride from Viehhofen to Saalbach, which will create Austria’s largest linked ski region. 

Meanwhile, experienced skiers should set aside a full day aside for the Skicircus The Challenge (65km, 32 lifts, 12,400m altitude change), a 7-hour marathon said to rival the most demanding ski circuits in the Alps. 

On other days make the most of the cruisy pistes, gastro huts, powder runs and wellness facilities.

All reservations are via saalbach.com and direct bookings with participating accommodations, indicated by a flexibooking icon offer flexible booking advantages, including free cancellation, or the ability rebook at no extra charge up to 14 days before arrival.

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