The attractive lakeside town of Zell am See has a different feel to it than most Austrian ski destinations. Perhaps because of its size or its water front location, this is not the normal mountain village made up of a few dozen giant wooden chalets. On the other hand the mountains are still there, towering high above to altitudes capable of maintaining glacier skiing at neighbouring Kaprun, so the comparatively low altitude of Zell am See doesn’t prevent guaranteed skiing throughout the season. The two have been joined, on the same pass at least if not by lifts, in the Europa Sport Ski Region since 1968. Today there are more than 130km of trails (78 miles), 80km (50 miles) of which are local to Zell.
Even though it doesn’t meet the standard Austrian resort model, it’s still a very scenic spot, with the lake in front and the mountains behind. Another factor making Zell seem that bit different is the feeling of history that oozes from the medieval centre (now pedestrianised) and the culture of the place which stems from it. The water sports, beach parties, classical concerts, festivals and theatre performances at the castle all combine to prove that Zell am See was around long before winter sports were thought of, and still has a life beyond them.