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Where to go for Christmas snowboarding in Austria

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
My husband and I are planning a Christmas trip to Austria. We would be traveling between Dec 21-31. I've read so much info on this forum and other places but I'm still a bit unsure of where we should go. Basically, we want to spend the majority of our time learning how to snowboard so would only be on the beginner slopes. But we also want to experience the Christmas atmosphere with all the festivities and what not because this will be our first European Christmas (we are from Asia). So, main criteria are a resort with a good Christmas vibe, good enough snow, good ski school/private lessons.

We haven't booked our flights yet but could fly into Munich, Innsbruck, Zurich or Salzburg. For accommodation, we definitely want to try a hotel with half-board, especially over the actual Christmas days because I heard a lot of them offer lovely meals and events for guests. However, we maybe wouldn't want to spend the entire time doing half-board so we can explore different restaurants etc.

Our budget is flexible because we know it is a pricey time to go but we aren't looking to go all out either.

I've read some places where they say we have to go somewhere with a glacier i.e. Mayrhofen, Neustift (Stubai), Obergurgl. But others that said there are snow machines so you should be generally okay. I've read Zell am See, Seefeld or Kitzbühel (kinda $$ tho) have great Christmas atmospheres and generally decent snow? But really I have no idea what to choose and I think we need some advice from people who are more experienced!

We are total noobs as we've never gone on a trip like this before. Thanks so much for any help!
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One issue you may have is with those dates, a lot of hotels will want to have booking from 21 / 22 for one week and then have change over 28/29. It won’t be impossible to find but you will be limiting yourself a lot that way.
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Kirchberg in Tirol is more budget friendly than Kitz. Same ski are, just another side of the mountain.
Seefeld has snow making & decent for learners, however that probably limits you to flying into Innsbruck. Stuabi has a large beginner area, but you would need a bus (free) daily to get to the slopes. Which can put people off.
Niederau could be worth looking at, if travelling from Munich.

You may want to spend some time researching if there are any free beginner areas. You wont need an expensive lift pass then. At least not one for 6 days!
I think Kirchberg has a free beginner area.
DO you plan on having any lessons beforehand?
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Yes, I've noticed a lot require a minimum stay or a package from sat to sat. We are okay with that. We would probably arrive early morning 21st and leave on the 30th or 31st. We would want to spend most time on the slopes but probably wouldn't mind having the last two days back in the main city ie innsbruck, salzburg, munich.

Thanks for the advice about free beginner areas. Will look into that!

I will have to check if my city has any dry indoor ski centers. I think it's unlikely...
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I’d go high and probably Obergurgl, fly into ZRH And train transfer
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daisy2836 wrote:
Yes, I've noticed a lot require a minimum stay or a package from sat to sat. We are okay with that. We would probably arrive early morning 21st and leave on the 30th or 31st. We would want to spend most time on the slopes but probably wouldn't mind having the last two days back in the main city ie innsbruck, salzburg, munich.

Thanks for the advice about free beginner areas. Will look into that!

I will have to check if my city has any dry indoor ski centers. I think it's unlikely...


its worth checking what is close by locally, even if its a dry slope.
A lift pass is going to cost you €200-€300 euro each if the resort does not have a free beginner area.
Chances are - you will not get off the nursery slope - so the money saved from the lift pass could be used for private lessons, rather than a group lesson.
If there are 2 of you in a private lesson, then you will spend 1/2 your time learning & 1/2 sat on your bum. If you are in a group with 6, then you will spend 1/6th of your time learning & 5/6th of your time sat on your bum.
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If you want Christmas atmosphere I'd recommend Salzburg ahead of Innsbruck. Perhaps consider doing your skiing then having a "City Break" over the New Year weekend in Salzburg. If you find a Christmas option in Schladming or Flachau you'll have a great time and it's only 45 mins from Flacahau to Salzburg.
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
@daisy2836, Christmas time is always a bit of a lottery with snow conditions, some years there are great conditions other years poor ones. There is no way to know in advance what things will be like. All the big resorts have comprehensive snow making so, especially for beginners, you will be able to board but it would be best to aim for somewhere likely to be pretty snow sure, which generally means higher. Personally I would say that glaciers are not so useful around Christmas, they can be cold and miserable places especially if you are in ski school which inevitably involves a certain amount of standing around.

A few suggestions.

Lech - is a picture postcard village in Austria's largest ski area (Arlberg), snow sure and it does have a good deal of gentle skiing nearby. The downside is cost, definitely not a cheap place to stay.

Ischgl - One of the most snow sure resorts in the Alps, it has an extensive ski area and the nursery slopes are at the middle station high above the village. Disadvantage is there is not much skiing amongst the trees in case of bad weather but that is down to the area being so high. I am not a fan of the village itself, it has a "modern resort" feeling with almost all of the original buildings replaced by much more modern ones, certainly not the traditional feel of Lech.

Serfaus / Fiss - Often overlooked but it is high, snow sure, has a large and varied ski area, the villages are mostly car free and the ski school has an excellent reputation. It is not a place for raucous apres ski if that is important to you.

Obergurgl - A small but high ski area (it is the highest Parish in Austria). The amount of skiing is more than enough for beginners and the snow is very reliable. The villages are a bit small not much to do besides the hotels and a couple of bars. It is linked (by bus) with the nearby larger resort of Sölden. Sölden has two glaciers and a reasonable sized ski area though the large village is not so attractive as it has a busy road running through it.

Obertauern - Much further to the east than the resorts above (its not far from Salzburg). It is a compact, high resort at the top of the Tauern pass. The upside is reliable snow the downside is that it can be a pretty bleak place in bad weather.

There are many other places eg Kitzbühel, Saalbach Hinterglemm, Ski Amade, Zillertal (supposedly where Silent Night was written) which have pretty villages and extensive skiing. You could choose somewhere like Alpbach which is stereotypically Tirolean for the atmosphere and not worry too much about the small and low ski area. In all of these places you will almost certainly be able to learn to board as the resort will make sure there is enough snow even if it is artificial. Whether it will be ideal is a matter of luck.

There is a lot of choice and much is down to personal preference. If forced to recommend somewhere I would say Lech but that is very much budget dependent, Serfaus / Fiss as second choice.
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If you really want to enjoy the Christmas atmosphere in one of the city’s (eg Salzburg), then keep in mind that the Christmas markets close after Christmas so you might want to do that at the start of your holiday.

https://www.salzburg.info/en/salzburg/advent/salzburg-christmas-market
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@panaga52, @nozawaonsen, my experiences of the Adventmarkt in Salzburg has always been crowds, miserable weather, coffee and cake (queue!) then decide to rapidly head for the Augustiner Bräustubl Very Happy
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Some good resortadvice already given.
But there is another, maybe even more important issue:
Don’t choose snowboarding, choose skiing.
You are probably not aware that snowboarding is a ‘dying’ sport. For some years already, it’s seriously in decline. Up to a point that the choice in gear is already seriously limited, and skischools not taking on dedicated snowboard-instructors.
Take my advice: go skiing. It’s the better option


Last edited by snowHeads are a friendly bunch. on Thu 15-08-19 9:34; edited 1 time in total
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And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
Thanks so much for the advice so far!

Yes, I read they will close the markets so thinking of spending at least the 21st in the city we land in to explore and then head to whichever ski resort the next day unless we have to do a Sat to Sat package. I guess Salzburg would be the prettiest, but I think we'd enjoy Innsbruck too since we’ve never even been to Austria or experienced a Christmas market of any kind.

We’d definitely get private lessons over group if they aren’t outrageously expensive.

And would prefer a more traditional village and hotel than modern since we want that local Austrian feeling, if we can. We don’t care too much about apres ski but wouldn’t want somewhere totally dead/just full of families, we’d probably hang out at the hotel mostly, especially if they have a pool/spa and just occasionally go for a drink. Will look into Serfaus / Fiss, haven’t heard of it before!

Are there any particular places that have really great schools or should they all be pretty decent? Am also researching local dry lessons, but would probably still need at least 3-4 days of lessons once we arrive.
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I haven't heard that snowboarding was dying. We really like surfing and wakeboarding so kind of want to stick to board sports.
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
And that is exactly the reason why snowboarding is dying. In the mountains you need your both legs free, not tied to a board.
Seriously, think about it. Snowboarding looks great -in commercial video’s- but has many practical downsides.
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Langerzug wrote:
And that is exactly the reason why snowboarding is dying. In the mountains you need your both legs free, not tied to a board.
Seriously, think about it. Snowboarding looks great -in commercial video’s- but has many practical downsides.


Seems a strangely one sided view, to someone who you don't know?

I do both, so it's not like I have a "side" to stick up for. Some people prefer one, some prefer the other, some like both.
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
@daisy2836, would definitely have a look at Lech (or even better, Oberlech) if it's within your budget. Something pretty special about the place. Most of the uplift is (heated) chairs so should suit boarders. Fun park there too if that's your thing.
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@daisy2836, Yep, Lech is amazing, I kind of didnt mention it because you said Kitzbuhel was expensive, Lech is another kerching level up, but equally another level of skiing up also (especially at that time of year). Magical place, we ski Ski Arlberg 4 weeks a season, we're also going next week for hiking to Lech, scoping out new to-do's for winter season.

I dont know why the downer on boarding above btw, i've never done it, never had the urge but if its your thing why not? Who cares if its on a downward trend......personally I wouldnt want to be strapped to a board, for many reasons, but if you enjoy it Lech is as good (and better than the majority) of places to give it a go, some very forgiving (and also super challenging) terrain and pistes.

For Lech fly to Zurich (or INN/ MUC but more options ZRH ime) and train to St Anton (or Langen) and taxi/ post bus transfer, but you'd best book flights soon, they'll be in high demand already.
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
For all skiresorts in the Alps, and definitely Lech, it will have to be either 21-28 december, or 28 dec-4 Jan.
You won’t get 21-31 december

And about Lech-chairlifts and snowboards: the essential Weibermahdbahn has footrests that come between the legs....modern chairlifts are like that....
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Langerzug wrote:
For all skiresorts in the Alps, and definitely Lech, it will have to be either 21-28 december, or 28 dec-4 Jan.
You won’t get 21-31 december

And about Lech-chairlifts and snowboards: the essential Weibermahdbahn has footrests that come between the legs....modern chairlifts are like that....


Are you not allowed on the bubble version of that lift with a snowboard?

I'm not trying to be an back bottom, but having a snowboard on has never prevented me from taking a lift, so I'm a bit confused by what you're trying to say.
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@porkpiefox, yes, snowboarders go in the gondola, stepping out of their boards....@daisy2836, you are coming from far away to Austria for this. The Alps and specifically Austria are still globally leading/trendsetting in wintersports. Take it from me: snowboarding is in decline, and yes, that is becoming a problem in terms of availability and choice in gear.
In Austria there is a ‘saying’: Snowboarding is for looking great in the parking-lot and in apres-ski.
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Wow. And I thought Whitegold was sure of himself rolling eyes
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daisy2836 wrote:


Yes, I read they will close the markets so thinking of spending at least the 21st in the city we land in to explore and then head to whichever ski resort the next day unless we have to do a Sat to Sat package. I guess Salzburg would be the prettiest, but I think we'd enjoy Innsbruck too since we’ve never even been to Austria or experienced a Christmas market of any kind.


I've never been to the Salzburg markets, but the Innsbruck markets are genuinely pretty lovely. Not just a tourist trap either - plenty of locals stop by for a post-work Glühwein.





For a chocolate box cute village with Christmassy atmosphere and early season snow record, it's hard to beat Lech.
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
@clarky999 is right about the Innsbruck markets, we did them 2 Christmases ago then went skiing to Kaltenbach (that resort doesn’t tick your Quaint Christmassy box, apart from the Christmas eve dinner in a hotel Christmas at the resort was quite underwhelming).

See my report for more details re Innsbruck.
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@clarky999, Nice! Not a bad place to live mate...... wink
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@porkpiefox
I’m afraid this is more about you thinking in ‘taking sides’. Very anglosaxon...
I’m not.
And appearantly you are still in denial about the obvious decline of snowboarding. But that is only logical, being a snowboarder yourselve.
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Langerzug wrote:
@porkpiefox
I’m afraid this is more about you thinking in ‘taking sides’. Very anglosaxon...
I’m not.
And appearantly you are still in denial about the obvious decline of snowboarding. But that is only logical, being a snowboarder yourselve.


As I said, I do both, so have no beef either way.
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And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
clarky999 wrote:


I've never been to the Salzburg markets, but the Innsbruck markets are genuinely pretty lovely. Not just a tourist trap either - plenty of locals stop by for a post-work Glühwein.



Its the best bit of the markets, the stalls for the most part sell tatt though there can be an occasional interesting one, the atmosphere around the Glühwein stands is usually very good. Much more relaxed than beer fests etc.
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So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
Langerzug wrote:
For all skiresorts in the Alps, and definitely Lech, it will have to be either 21-28 december, or 28 dec-4 Jan.
You won’t get 21-31 december

And about Lech-chairlifts and snowboards: the essential Weibermahdbahn has footrests that come between the legs....modern chairlifts are like that....


You must be stanton's brother


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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
Wow Lech looks beautiful but those prices are Shocked
Will have to research if anything fits our budget
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Lech.
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 Poster: A snowHead
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Hi @daisy2836,
I would seriously try to make Lech work for you, it is worth it for the distance you will be travelling.
The easiest way is to downgrade your accommodation requirements a little.
There is a fair range available for your dates on the tourist office website -
https://www.lechzuers.com/en/

If this still does not work, as others have suggested, Try Serfaus/Fiss or Obergurgl.
Good Luck!
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Obertauern. some really good snowboard/ski schools, great area which always takes you down to the valley (just let gravity be your guide). excellent early boarder and intermediate terrain. All accommodation is within easy reach of lifts. High(ish) village, with a solid lift system means which covers a bowl area means that lifts are pretty well always working. has a kind of micro climate which means it is one of Europe's most snow sure resorts. Easily reachable from Salzburg airport.
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Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
When I learned snowboarding in Canada in the late 90s, group lessons, the learning curve was steep, meaning we learned quickly. This was also told me by previous chalet buddies who had encouraged me to dedicate a week to it rather than half a day. I think I remember we were going round the mountain by the end of Day 3. So avoid your expensive lift ticket for the first two or three days but expect to need something more than the nursery slope by the end of the week.
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Langerzug wrote:
For all skiresorts in the Alps, and definitely Lech, it will have to be either 21-28 december, or 28 dec-4 Jan.
You won’t get 21-31 december

And about Lech-chairlifts and snowboards: the essential Weibermahdbahn has footrests that come between the legs....modern chairlifts are like that....


Taken the Weibermahd chair on a snowboard plenty of times no issue.....

If the OP wants to snowboard, let them snowboard, plus from experience of others learning to snowboard with a board sport background they tend to pick up snowboarding quicker than those that don't.
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Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Thanks! I will check out the lech website, was just looking on booking.com earlier. Obertauern actually seems very reasonably priced so might consider that too. It seems there are still lots of options, really have to narrow it down but thanks for the help on what I need to look out for.

For accommodation is half-board recommended? Or does it really depend on which resort you go to?

Quote:

So avoid your expensive lift ticket for the first two or three days but expect to need something more than the nursery slope by the end of the week.


Thanks will definitely double check that.

We also got a quote for a package stay (inc halfboard and 3 days of lessons) in Sankt veit im Pongau from Siegi Tours in the ski amande area. Not sure if anyones heard of that company, I haven't seen that area mentioned anywhere but kind of tempted by it since it's all arranged for us.
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@daisy2836, have a look at Sunweb as well, all their prices included lift passes. As beginners you would want more than 3 days of lessons.
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Its your first trip, if you are DIY'ing it then :-
1) find somewhere easy to get to
2) dont worry about 100's of KM of Pistes & the large resorts being recommended.
3) Prioritise what your trip is for. If you are there to learn & you have to work within a budget, then Private Lessons should be a must have.
Stubai for example - the beginner area needs a lift to get to (pretty much the same for any Glacier) - so find somewhere with a free beginner area.
4) . dont worry about snowcover. They will make sure beginner areas are good, as it's part of what makes them money!
5) Decide on 2hour or 4 hour lessons.
Day 1 you will spent getting used to the board, walking with, gliding unbinded on, skating around, etc.
Day 2 will be spent on toe edge & heal edge.
Its all about making sure you are not a danger to other people & you can control your board
Day 3 Falling Leaf
Day 4 Heal to Toe Turns, Toe to Heal Turns
Day 5 joined up turns.
An instructor probably wont be taking you on a slope until you are both at stage where you dont need his physical assistance
Some of it may get compressed, but be prepared you may see very little of the lift system & mountains.
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Langerzug wrote:
For all skiresorts in the Alps, and definitely Lech, it will have to be either 21-28 december, or 28 dec-4 Jan.
You won’t get 21-31 december

Absolute shite. Those are exactly the dates we did last year in a busy hotel in a popular resort. Mrs M enjoyed Sylvester so much we are doing it again this year.
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@daisy2836, St Veit im Pongau is a small village in the Pongau area of Austria near Salzburg. It is not far from Alpendorf which is one of the "gateways" to the Ski Amade area. There is a small town nearby, St Johann im Pongau which was the first place I went skiing many years ago. There are no lifts in St Veit itself but I guess there are regular ski buses to and from Alpendorf (in general Austrian resorts have an efficient network of ski buses). I would imagine it offers good value for money as it is not a regular ski resort so the hotels have to make extra effort to attract visitors. I would suggest the main issue with Ski Amade (as with many similar ski areas) is the likelihood of reasonable snow conditions. You will almost certainly be able to take your boarding lessons but how much real snow who knows.

In the end it depends what you want from your holiday, if it is a Christmas trip to Austria with hopefully an introduction to boarding thrown in then somewhere like St Veit could be ideal (though think you will need more than 3 days). Salzburg is nearby and it would not be that difficult to spend a couple of days in Vienna (or somewhere else). On the other hand if the main purpose is sliding around on snow then it would be best to choose one of the higher (thus likely to be more expensive at Christmas) resorts.
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@Mr.Egg thanks so much for all those tips! I guess I’ll budget in about 5 days of lessons at least. Do people normally book them in advance? Or could we just show up and see how it goes and add more/less as needed?

@Munich_irish Our main purpose would be learning to snowboard/hoping to actually hit some proper slopes but of course we want to experience nice Austrian village culture because we are coming from far away. I don’t think we would do any other sightseeing beyond the main city where the airport is on the first day we land (21st) and the last day before we fly off (30th or 31st).

I think our top options at the moment for snow-sure areas are Lech (if we can fit it into our budget), Kitzbuhel (they have a free beginner/nursery slope and nice village atmosphere) or Kirchberg (because the accom is cheaper but still very close), and Obergurgl (easy access to the nursey slopes).

Other options because they seem really great overall for beginners, have quaint village areas but the only problem is that they might not have snow are:
Zell am See since they also have good beginner area and if the snow is bad we could go to Kaprun.
Seefeld because it’s close to Innbruck and has good beginner areas, really highly rated accom, and heard it has a great Christmas atmosphere.

Thanks again everyone for all the help so far!
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