It’s difficult to know where to start with SkiWelt in the Austria’s Tirol.
It’s quite possibly one of the largest ski resorts I’ve ever been to, and I’ve been to my fair share. The SkiWelt story began 40 years ago, when six villages between Brixental and the Wilder Kaiser linked up to form SkiWelt Wilder Kaiser – Brexental (the full name).
SkiWelt is made up of 9 towns and villages, listed below. They’ve since invested millions of euros into the infrastructure and ski lifts, created jobs and built SkiWelt up in to a thriving resort and snow lover’s paradise.
The 9 towns of SkiWelt:
Brixen im Thale
The Skiing & Snowboarding
SkiWelt is one of the largest and most modern ski resorts in the world, and it’s also highly successful, and all with good reason.
Just trying to get my head around the sheer amount of skiing on offer here was a challenge. From reading the piste map, to planning where to have lunch, the options are endless. One thing I’ve noticed immediately are the efforts made to link all the resorts seamlessly and conveniently, so once you have a plan, it’s relatively easy to stick to.
For the video, we decided to set a challenge, and try to complete 25 different runs, without repeating a run, in just 3 hours. This was going to be some serious skiing, and with the help of our guide and local expert Janine, we set off in the morning. To see if we completed the challenge you’ll just have to watch the video above, it was very close!
Ski Area: 284 km of pistes, 122km blue runs, 129km red runs, 10km black runs
Lifts: 90 lifts, 16 gondolas, 35 chairlifts, 19 drag lifts, 20 baby lifts
Huts: 77 huts & mountain restaurants
Snow parks: 4
Highest Lift: metres
Ski Schools: 21 (majority located in Westendorf)
Webcams: click here to seem them!
Snow Parks & Racing
There are 4 snow parks in SkiWelt, and a further 5th mini playgrounds.
Kaiserpark (located at the ski lift Tanzbodenban – 99) has an easy route and an expert one, with boxes, rails, kickers and combos.
The Crazy Kangaroo park (Rinner – 46), also has options for beginners and advanced. It has 3 kickers lines with tables, and more experienced riders can try the jib line, with a flat tub, and a number of boxes.
The Skiparcours (Hams im Gluck gondola – 47), has two lines with lots of variety for beginners, and right next door has a floodlit fun area for night skiing.
Finally, the Big Playground (Gampenkogelbahn – 119) is known as THE meeting place for local freestylers, it is a huge park and usually catches the sun and is maintained to the highest level.
For me personally, I fall on my butt if I try jumps and tricks. I did however, love the Red Viper Crossline! At the Rinnerabfahrt lift (46) you can race up to 4 people along a downhill crossline for skiers and snowboarders. And if that’s not enough they offer a free video recording of the race, and it’s timed. You can access it online using your personal ski-pass number on Skiline.
I challenged our guide and local expert Janine to a race, and you can see who won in the video above.
If you’re not sold on SkiWelt yet, the resort also has more night skiing available than anywhere else in Austria, with 10km of illuminated slopes. But please note night skiing is not usually included in your standard ski pass, so check if you need to get a ticket.
If you’ve had enough skiing for the day, you could grab a toboggan instead. The runs open from Wednesday to Saturday and individual slopes opening times vary, but check out the official page for Night Skiing on the SkiWelt website.
It’s not something you usually associate with a ski resort, but SkiWelt boasts being named “Ecological Ski Resort of the Year” in 2017, a fantastic achievement.
The accolade was awarded at the World Snow Awards, a prestigious event held in London by the British newspaper ‘The Telegraph’.
The high-profile panel judged the award on several factors, such as environmental considerations given to construction projects, the use of solar energy and renewable energy. These factors, in addition to the GPS snow management system were crucial for the judges and resulted in SkiWelt’s triumph over resorts such as Whistler, and taking home the honour.
Did you know? The SkiWelt lift The “Sonnenlift” in Brixen is the first 100% solar panelled powered ski lift.
Meet the Local Witches
Yes you read that correctly.
You’ll notice around the resorts that the logo or emblem of the resort is a witch on a broomstick. This is due to the “legacy” the Witches of Hexenwasser Soll have left on the area, and the myths and legends left behind.
However, these witches do not hibernate for winter! Each day at the Simonalm hut you can visit the witches and the magical witch’s potion, and listen to stories, folk sayings and traditions to understand their previous life on the Alpine pasture.
If you’re really daring you can even try the Witch’s meal in the dark, and sharpen all of your senses.
SkiWelt is only approximately an hour away from Salzburg, Innsbruck and Munich. The most popular airport to fly into is Innsbruck, which has incredible views as you land. We flew in to Munich as there were more options with flight times from our local airports, we had our car hire organised in advance.
But if that’s not for you, Westendord and Brixen im Thale have their own train stations. All the other resorts in SkiWelt can easily be reached via Kufstein or Worgl.
And there is a new direct night train connection from London! Leaving at 3:04am you can get on in London, the train stops in Brussels and Cologne and continues to Tirol, arriving at 8:30am. How cool is that? It will be the perfect time to hit the slopes, and you will love the skiing here in SkiWelt.
Where to Stay
Officially there are nine resorts that feed into the SkiWelt ski area, so you have a fair bit of variety!
We stayed in Soll, close to the flood-lit toboggan trails and with impressive views over the Wilder Kaiser. Snowshoeing is popular in the area, and as an activity there is no greater way to really feel the mountain and get away from the crowd.
Another popular town is Brixen im Thale, one of the oldest villages in the mountain, and has a mixture of 4-star hotels, B&Bs and traditional Inns.
For a picturesque and quiet village in the Windau Valley you can try Westendorf, which is known for its fantastic infrastructure.
Finally, for charming village life perhaps Itter is for you, here you’ll find great beginner slopes and Itter Castle.
For more information on the local towns, have a gander at the SkiWelt list here, I don’t think you can go wrong with any of them.
Stollen 1930 is an underground gin bar in a cave.
Located in the village of Kufstein (which you often pass through if you travel by train), Stollen 1930 has an incredible 1000 gins to choose from, which they state is the largest in the world.
Expert servers, will assess your taste and recommend a unique gin, the matching tonic and blend it with a unique twist of fruit or herbs. All of this in a unique setting that will make you feel like a speakeasy from the ‘30’s.
Have you ever stayed overnight in an igloo?
The AlpenIGLOO is a snow village made up of 18 igloos right next to the Hochbrixen mountain station, making it accessible for skiers and non-skiers. It’s basically a theme park and hotel made of ice! Everything from the tables to the bars is ice, and many rooms are decorated with ice sculptures from renowned artists, there’s even an altar to get married.
You can stop for a cocktail in the sun, served in an ice glass and watch the world go by.
For the more immersive experience, stay in one of their two-person igloos, which includes an ice carving workshop, a fondue dinner, a torch-lit hike and a night snuggled away in expedition sleeping bags. Quite an experience.
If you’re not a skier or snowboarder, no worries. SkiWelt offers the most impressive hiking pass I’ve seen, and with incredible panoramic views, it’s totally worth it.
One ticket covers 12 cable cars, and once you’re at the top you can see over 70 mountains that all reach over 3000 metres, including the Wilder Kaiser. There’s also a variety of hiking paths and of course lots of alpine huts to stop at.
My personal favourite was Gipfelrestaurant Hohe Salve, which has Austria’s first panoramic terrace! You can eat in the revolving restaurant and fully enjoy the views across the 70 surrounding restaurants.
For a full list of other restaurants and mountain huts take a look at the SkiWelt official overview.
Travel tip shared by Scott for Travel Dudes.