Austria’s Winter Wonderland
The Austrian Alps are a winter sports paradise offering some of the world’s best skiing and a winter wonderland. But you don’t have to hit the slopes at Kitzbühel or strap on the skates and glide over Lake Zell to have a great time in Austria during winter. Lower prices and fewer tourists make winter city breaks a bargain, while the charm of a traditional Austrian mountain resort is not to be missed. The amazing views of an Alpine winter can also be enjoyed from inside a luxurious spa as well.
Austrian culture is deeply rooted in skiing and Skicircus is its crowning achievement. Spread over Saalbach-Hinterglemm and Leogang, the winter sports area features nearly 170 miles of piste terrain and is extremely popular with both skiers and snowboarders. Guests can look forward to 70 cableways and lifts, more than 60 cozy ski huts, numerous snow parks, floodlit slopes, and toboggan runs. For those not staying at the resort, the Salzburg Snow Shuttle provides transportation from the city to the slopes.
Graben, 1010 Wien, Austria
Vienna lights up with the warm glow of the Christmas season. Twenty official Advent Markets can be found throughout the city selling seasonal gifts, crafts and sweets, from City Hall to Maria-Theresien Platz to Schönbrunn Palace. Streets throughout the city, like Graben in the first district, are illuminated with hanging lights.
There’s nothing quite as magical as a horse-drawn sleigh ride through the snowy wonderland that is the Alps in winter. For the most romantic option, head to Salzburg and take a ride through the Salzach River Valley, past snow-topped Alpine chalets, quaint inns, and huge glaciers. Panorama Tours offers excellent December tours, during which guests snuggle beneath warm blankets before warming up with traditional Styrian cuisine in Ramsau.
As the snow glistens on the surrounding mountains and the Wörthersee sparkles with ice crystals, Klagenfurt lights up with its Christmas market. The scent of mulled wine and baked goods permeate the chilly air around Neuer Platz, while stalls sell handmade ornaments, jewelry and toys, as well as other regional specialties. It’s considered one of the best Christmas Markets in Austria. An additional market focusing on crafts can be found at Domplatz in front of the cathedral.
Hoher Dachstein, 4830, Austria
The Dachstein Glacier offers some of Austria’s most incredible Alpine experiences in any season, but particularly in winter. Head to the easily accessible Ice Palace for a fun look deep inside the glacier, or brave the highest suspension bridge in the country for stunning views over the snowy Dachstein Mountains. The truly daring can explore the “Stairway to Nothingness,” which takes visitors down 14 narrow steps to a glass platform jutting out from the rock face.