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Patrick Thorne

20 Jan 22

Winter Love in Zell am See-Kaprun

Patrick Thorne

20 Jan 22

Austria’s SalzburgerLand is one of the world’s leading ski regions, with many great ski areas including the spectacular Zell am See-Kaprun region.

The ski slopes here range from high-altitude glacier slopes where snow is guaranteed from early autumn through to late spring on the Kitzsteinhorn glacier, to wonderful long cruising pistes that begin high on the mountain and descend to the treeline and onto the valley base.  

As an added bonus, it is all quick and easy to reach from the UK. It’s a very short flight to Salzburg airport and then an equally speedy transfer on to your resort. Unlike some airports, Salzburg is compact, stress-free and efficient making this part of the journey pleasant too.

If your priorities include a large amount of skiing on your doorstep with the snow-certainty of a glacier above, then Zell am See-Kaprun is a very good place to start.



Zell am See-Kaprun

Zell am See-Kaprun is SalzburgerLand’s only glacier ski resort and part of one of Austria’s and indeed the whole world’s biggest lift pass systems with 408 km (255 miles) of pistes included in the area’s Ski ALPIN CARD.

That glacier, at the Kitzsteinhorn above Kaprun guarantees perfect skiing conditions from as early as October right through to late spring.  But it is in the winter months that this vast ski region fully opens up with an incredible array of ski terrain, all with beautiful views out across the highest mountains of Austria in the surrounding Hohe Tauern National Park. Kaprun also offers the option of ski-in, ski-out thanks to the breathtaking connection of Maiskogel and Kitzsteinhorn by a new top-notch cable car.

For the most experienced skier, there are plenty of freeride routes close to the lifts here and numerous ski touring options too. Routes such as the “Snow Queen” and “Icebreaker” are open from October. Further highlights for experienced tourers are the ski tour on the Tristkogel or at Ronachkopf, a local mountain in Thumersbach which was closed for 15 years but re-opened a few seasons ago exclusively for ski tourers and snowshoe hikers .

There are exceptional views too though from many slopes of the Schmittenhöhe area above Zell am See, another large sector within the full ALPIN CARD region, where you can also look down on stunning Lake Zell as well as lush green forest and the snow-covered mountains beyond.  Skiers are spoilt for choice in this huge area which also includes the steepest piste in the area with a gradient of 70% and 1,100 m altitude difference – the black “Trass”- as well as endless family-friendly pistes. 

Schmittenhöhe also has plenty of its own pleasures to offer including that view down to the lake, and many long piste runs down to the valley.  If you like terrain park features then one of the world’s longest fun slopes is on the Schmittenhöhe (it’s 1.3 km long!). There’s also the dragon Schmidolin which offers a lot of activities and parks for children.  

© Zell am See-Kaprun Tourismus

You can find ski-in, ski-out accommodation in Zell am See as well and there’s the opportunity to try night skiing or to enjoy early morning skiing with brunch if the regular ski day is not enough for you.

Of course, there’s much more than just downhill skiing and snowboarding here for outdoor lovers in winter.  If you’re looking for a change, or a member of a family or group that prefers a different type of relaxation, there are 40km (25 miles) of winter hiking routes, the chance to enjoy some snowshoeing, 107km of cross-country skiing trails for all ability levels through the wintry Pinzgau region and the fun of toboggan runs suitable for the whole family.  Zell am See-Kaprun offers a great weekly winter programme with winter yoga, torch hikes and much more.

One opportunity that should not be missed is a visit to the ICE CAMP presented by Audi high on the Kitzsteinhorn glacier. After a brief introduction to snowshoeing, your tour continues along the ICE CAMP trail to the ICE CAMP itself. Suitable for complete beginners, the equipment can, of course, be hired on site.

Ice skating is popular too with an ice stadium in Zell am See where you can have a recreational skate or go to watch the local Zell Polar Bears play a hockey match. The same building houses a public indoor swimming pool with spa facilities so you can flip between the cold of the ice and the heat of the sauna! In addition, when Lake Zell is frozen over, ice skaters can perform their twirls in the open air on natural ice.

© Zell am See-Kaprun Tourismus

As its name suggests, the Zell am See-Kaprun ski region lies above the small lakeside town of Zell am See and the neighbouring village of Kaprun. These offer a choice of a stay in a cosmopolitan resort, with wide-ranging shopping, dining and accommodation options in Zell, or a more intimate, traditional Alpine village feel of Kaprun. But as the two centres are only a short way apart and connected by a free ski bus service it makes little difference which you choose, you can even opt to stay in a hamlet between the two but still next to a ski lift!  

This all-year-round destination brings together the best aspects of the whole diversity of the Alps. Located with a unique natural paradise at the edge of the Hohe Tauern National Park winter sports fans, active holidaymakers looking for something different, families seeking pure simple fun and those just wanting to relax will discover a wide range of experiences to meet those needs.


There’s a vast amount of skiing in SalzburgerLand , with an incredible 2,750km (1,720 miles) of trails included on one remarkable lift pass, the Salzburger Super Ski Card (that’s 1,140km of blue runs, 1,305km of red and an exceptional 305km of black runs), so whatever your ability level you could ski or board here all season and never get bored.

Of course, there’s great freeriding terrain too for powder addicts as well as quiet, gentle slopes for families to have fun together on. There’s always a cosy ski hut nearby in which to take a break and enjoy some sumptuous local cuisine.

What all of SalzburgerLand’s ski villages and towns have in common is an unspoilt natural beauty and an authentic atmosphere with warm, friendly accommodations, welcoming cafes and restaurants and enticing shops. 

There is lots to do besides skiing too from adventurous activities like ice-climbing to traditional activities like snowshoeing and horse-drawn sleigh rides which are so much better in a beautiful location like this.

Of course, all ski areas in the region take meticulous efforts to keep everyone safe on the slopes and in resorts, following Austrian government guidelines and keeping all public areas spotlessly sanitised.

#winterlove in SalzburgerLand