As a passionate skier, I have my favourite ski resorts all across Tirol, depending on month and snow conditions. However, my favourites not only deliver the adventures that skiers want, but also have a certain small-town appeal, a sense of history, and the laid-back vibe that brought downhillers there in the first place. In short, I definitely value ski town ambience. To me, there needs to be a legit town with locals, restaurants, and jaw-dropping scenery doesn’t hurt. And of course, there’s the skiing. All of the spots on this list have more than just amazing skiing—they are about embracing a lifestyle.
These are my 5 favourite spots in Tirol:
Why? The Alps’ premiere destination for celebrity skiers, Kitzbühel’s combination of world-class skiing, world-class hobnobbing and world-watch-out party spirit makes it an unbeatable winter destination. And did I mention it’s beautiful? Kitzbühel is a medieval town with cobble-stoned streets and a quaint cluster of high-end fashion boutiques, cafés and restaurants – for picture perfect you can’t get much better. I love strolling around the historic old town for top-notch window-shopping—and don’t miss a stop at Café Praxmair.
2. St. Anton
Why? It’s got that old ski town charm: Ambling down the pedestrianized main street of St. Anton just makes you feel good. I love that place for its old world charm and modern-day amenities. There is an awesome local vibe of true diehard skiers here and amazing contemporary architecture. But the thing that separates St. Anton from the rest of Tirol’s grade-A mountains is that it has, rather impossibly, managed to retain all of its soul and heritage as the Birthplace of Alpine Skiing. This is ski town life at its best.
Why? A tidy collection of dark wooden chalets with red and green painted shutters and the Alps as a stunning backdrop, Alpbach is easily the country’s most gorgeous ski town. The epitome of an idyllic chocolate box village, it’s everything you imagine a Tirol ski town to be. Situated on a sunny plateau, the style of architecture here is uniform—and the scene is serene. Ski vacationers in search of beauty and seclusion are never disappointed at Alpbach.
Why? No best-of list would be complete without Seefeld. It has one of the best downtowns in the country, with a cosmopolitan allure and a commanding mountain setting. Ice-skaters and cross country skiers alongside fur-clad Italian ladies and downhill skiers all living large on the bustling and lively, walkable town center. Here the vibe is more sociable and chic, the scenery more sublime, the air crispier and cleaner. Ever-present, the awe-inspiring beauty of the surrounding mountain ranges captivates.
Why? Tirol’s lovely capital is the ski capital of ski country—and a sight to behold. Typically teeming with visitors from many continents, the historic downtown is a warren of sights and attractions, all surrounded by the jagged rock spires of Nordkette Range stabbing thousands of feet into the sky. It’s one of the few places on Earth where you can walk out of a hip upscale store and one block later bump into a skier or snowboarder on his way to Nordkette (seriously, keep an eye out, they’re all over the place on snow days). By the way: I still crane my neck to get a glimpse of the craggy peaks each day—a cosmopolitan place surrounded by dramatic mountain scenery—is there anything else you could possibly ask for?