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St Anton vs Ischgl vs Mayrhofen vs Kitzbuhel

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Skied all my life in France and Switzerland but going for Austria this year, first week of February. Please could you rank and give comments on St Anton, Kitzbuhel, Mayrhofen and Ischgl.

Will be going the first few days just as a couple, both experienced skiers but still want a lively atmosphere and some good bar options.

Second half of the week will be in a big group, more of a mixed bag in terms of ability, but those that aren't interested will make up for it with apres!

Will have a car so the intention was to spend the first few days in one resort and then drive to something different. Not worried about travel logistics etc (as will likely be driving to the airport in any case), but would appreciate any advice on the 4 resorts and comparisons between them.

Any comments and recommendations would be much appreciated.
Thanks!
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
I've been to St Anton many times, Kitzbuhel once, Ischgl once and Mayrhofen never so can't comment on the latter. St Anton and Ischgl are more lively apres ski than Kitzbuhel. Ischgl is arguably the most lively but St Anton has more on-slope bars, such as KK, Moose, Griabli, Heustadl to mention a few.

On piste-skiing is definitely more challenging at St Anton, whatever the colours of the slopes show the snow is not as heavily pisted and packed down there and more interesting to ski in my opinion because of it. I don't ski off-piste but the Arberg region is legendary for this. There are also plenty of ski routes which while technically are on-piste they can be quite challenging.

Ischgl/Kitzbuhel have lots of intermediate runs which can be skied by most people so are great for mixed groups. The final run down in Ischgl which runs down to the hotel Elizabeth bar is a bit steep for beginners and you see a few falling/having difficulty while standing at the bar. Generally it's mostly all good for beginners and intermediates though. The same can't be said of St Anton where even some of the blue slopes such as run 100 down to Rauz and 50 down to the Moose have some tricky sections wtih piles of rough snow even for intermediate skiers, though if you can ski them well it livens up what would be a fairly boring run otherwise.

In St Anton, often the only way back to town from Galzig involves black run 52 which while is not really difficult at all for a black run does usually have a fair bit of carnage on it at the end of the day if happy valley (steissbachtal) is shut which it often is.


Last edited by Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person on Thu 5-09-19 17:47; edited 1 time in total
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@otjs, would be helpful if you could tell a bit about the resorts you visited and things you liked/disliked.
Also specify 'experienced'. What type of skiing do you like/dislike: reds, blacks, moguls, off piste....
Preferred type of accomodation is also important. Austria is still predominantly hotels instead of chalets etc etc.


Last edited by Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see? on Thu 5-09-19 20:12; edited 1 time in total
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Stanton: Not really the best for mixed groups, where i would prefer Lech in that area, but the apres is wild in Stanton without a doubt. Pricelevel is okay

Mayrhofen: More town than village and download via gondola - No skiing back to the village. I am no fan of the town feeling there, and it is totally different from Stanton. Fair size ski-area, and there should be enough for a mixed group. More skiing up the valley if needed, but bus ride involved. God nightlife and apres. Pricelevel very fair!

Kitz: Very posh and low-lying area, but great skiing. Many really aren't the for the skiing, but to be seen wearing skiwear - Not my cup of tea! Okay apres and nightlife. Bring a ton of money - Overpriced like hell!

Ischgl: Personal favourite here - Very good for mixed groups (apart from total beginners), and very large area (Stanton bigger) and a village feel. Don't expect a 1200 century village... Can be a bit "Disneyland", but i like it for all the convenience ! Apres and nightlife are among the wildest in the Alps - Perhaps more nightlife than Stanton. Not exactly cheap, but everything is high quality. Most skiing above 2000 meter much facing north. Snowsure but also pretty messed up when you have a whiteout (only 10% below 2000 meters, and even less with wood). Note about Kitz, Ischgl and Stanton: Better liftsystem than anything in France!


Last edited by You need to Login to know who's really who. on Thu 5-09-19 21:22; edited 1 time in total
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Never skied Mayrhofen, so won't comment there.

From the others:

St Anton/Arlberg has the best off-piste terrain, and gets more snow. However there are many more good skiers there, and more and more competition makes it harder and harder too ski good untracked snow (unless you are hiking/touring). Piste skiing is fine, but not outstanding, and better on the Lech side. People say it's not great for beginners and intermediates... I think it's more accurate to say it's not ideal for nervous skiers regardless of ability. If you like bumps it's great! Apres is obviously famous, but other than the Mooser, I kinda feel it's been getting worse at about the same rate the real ski bum bars (Funkies etc) have been closing... Though tbh that's probably more nightlife than apres.

Kitz, I've only skied for one week in April. We had great snow and skied a lot of powder, but nothing really to write home about otherwise. Can imagine with more local knowledge there'll be a lot of offpiste with less competition than the other two.

Ischgl I think has the best onpiste skiing of the three. Definitely steeper/more challenging pistes in places than anything in the Arlberg. Most snow sure (but not snowiest) of the three. Offpiste terrain is great but not quite as good as the Arlberg. It's been getting more competitive the last couple of years, but still much easier to find fresh tracks than the Arlberg. Apres, for my taste, feels a bit more expensive/upmarket (and probably a bit seedier) than St Anton, and less my vibe. Been over 10 years since I went 'out out' there, but I suspect proper nightlife is better than St Anton these days.
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@otjs, as noted above without a bit more info about yourself and what you prefer it is not so easy to help.

I have skied all the areas you ask about, though Zillertal Arena rather than Mayrhofen itself, along with a good number of other Austrian resorts. I have come to the conclusion that whilst there is not really such a thing as a bad ski resort the Arlberg is a good deal better than all the others and whenever possible I will go there rather than anywhere else.

I like Kitzbühel, it has more challenging and varied skiing than most typical Austrian ski areas (eg SkiWelt or Saalbach-Hinterglemm) along with the normal easier stuff. There is a link into the SkiWelt area which opens up the possibility of a lot more (mostly straight forward) ski kilometres. Kitzbühel itself is a real town with a life outside skiing. It does attract a lot of well off Germans and Dutch so has more than the normal share of expensive restaurants and high end shops. Whilst there are plenty of more normal bars etc it is not really the place for enthusiastic apres more canapes and Sekt. I would tend to stay in Kirchberg as it is more convenient for skiing and cheaper to stay though it is not the liveliest village.

The Zillertal might suit you, I can only personally report on the Zillertal Arena area, which has pretty extensive reasonably, varied skiing, though does not really stand out in any way from many other places. The advantage for you would be the other areas up and down the Zillertal. Mayrhofen itself, Kaltenbach / Fugen and the glacier area at Hintertux. Lots of possibilities for different areas all within easy reach. I have been to Mayrhofen in the summer and it is a pleasant enough place and does have a reputation for lively apres.

Ischgl has a first rate ski area very snow sure, lots of variety, some lovely long runs into Switzerland with plenty to keep folk happy whatever their ski level. The downside is that with it being so high it is not such a good place in bad weather, little skiing amongst the trees and the lifts up to the border ridge do get affected by high winds. The major downside for me is the "village", I know that not everyone agrees with me, clearly lots of people like the place and are happy there. I find it rather all rather "Disneyfied", most of the original village is long gone, lots of overly flashy 4 star hotels, tacky apres, multi storey car parks, tunnels with travelators to get to the lifts and a general undercurrent of folk wanting to show off how much money they have.

The Arlberg is one of the top ski areas in the alps, I would suggest it is the only area in Austria that is at the same level as Verbier and Val d'Isere. It is the biggest ski area in Austria and offers a great variety of skiing. St Anton is just one part, Lech is the other main centre. You will find various negative comments about St Anton; its too crowded - it can be in peak weeks but so can other places; the skiing is only for experts - it is not ideal for timid intermediates but for anyone who wants to stretch themselves a bit whether intermediate level or rubber legged expert there are few better places; its full of drunks - no it isnt, there are folk who insist on clambering back into their skis after far too much beer & schnapps in the Mooserwirt or Krazy Kangaroo, sliding down in the dark to the taxi rank and being a general nuisance, but this affects only a very small part of the village, it is very easy to avoid. St Anton remains a real village (though the 5 star hotels are beginning to creep in) but with skiing as the key focus, Lech remains very much a pretty remote alpine hideaway for those with plenty of cash, the skiing is very good but maybe without some of the rougher edges found in St Anton.

Sure you will have a good time wherever you choose but I would suggest that you dont miss out the Arlberg.
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Additionally, and this is not meant to be rude: How did you come to this list? Because it does sound a bit like the "big 4 Austrian cliché's for British guests".
St.Anton and Mayrhofen are worlds apart. And where is -already mentioned- St.Anton's finer sibling Lech, or Saalbach, which would the sportier alternative to Kitzbühel. Etc, etc....
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
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I don't think it matters which one you go to, they are all fantastic and once you have tried Austria I am sure you will return and visit the other three resorts in time.

Mayrhofen, I have spent more than 20 weeks there and return each Easter for the great weather and 9 out of 10 chance of powder days, great family resort but lots of apri too. I have done more OP there than anywhere else but that's just because I know the area so well.

St Anton/Lech, 5 weeks here in January (plus another last week in Lech), massive fantastic area and amazing scenery, apri on the hill can't be beaten. OP heaven if that's what you are into. Lech is the more expensive, sophisticated, ....and sedate side.

Kitzbuhel, 2 weeks in Jan and one in the summer, love the town and the ski area is good, apri ski was lower key than all the others.

Ischgl, 2 weeks in Jan, fantastic ski area again, home run tough for beginners but download in the gondola is the solution there. Apri at the bottom of the hill is crazy.
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@otjs, You've chosen my favourite places.

I would put Mayerhofen at the bottom of my list
Its not very convenient for lifts in and out.

I love all the others particularly Kitzbuhel (I'd like my ashes spread by the Sonnenbuhel Blush )
It's a long time since I've been back but the skiing is very varied despite it being a bit low.
The night life is fabulous, it is a huge area with something for everyone.

Ischgl has changed a lot since I was last there, also a long time ago.
It used to be pretty empty with wide open pistes, great powder on occasions.
There were only a few bars there then, so I could not say it was raucous.
But times change.

Stanton:
Fantastic skiing, great nightlife, lively apres ski such as the Mooserwirt and Krazy Kangaroo.
Very sophisticated mountain restaurants such as The Hospitz at St Christoph.
St Anton to me would be a "must visit"... I must go again.
Big area taking in the sophisticated village of Lech.
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1. St Anton = best skiing, deepest snow, rowdy nitelife, mostly for the lower classes.
2. Kitzbuhel = average skiing, glitzy shops, posher nitelife, a sprawling mess.
4. Ischgl = average skiing, long season, rowdy nitelife, mostly for the lower classes.
3. Mayrhofen = cr*p.

Go to St Anton.
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@otjs,
Quote:

Additionally, and this is not meant to be rude: How did you come to this list? Because it does sound a bit like the "big 4 Austrian cliché's for British guests".
St.Anton and Mayrhofen are worlds apart. And where is -already mentioned- St.Anton's finer sibling Lech, or Saalbach, which would the sportier alternative to Kitzbühel. Etc, etc....

It does seem a little curious that you have narrowed down your options to these four resorts, some of which are well down the "league table" of most popular Austrian resorts. As you say that you fancy staying in one resort and then driving to somewhere different, and the first resort needs to suit experienced skiers, whilst the second one needs to suit a mixed ability group (with lively apres-ski), how about combining resorts that are fairly close to each other, and in some cases on the same lift pass? For example, the Super Ski Card doesn't cost much more than a normal single area pass, and it covers 2,750km of skiing in 22 resorts. (https://www.superskicard.com/de )

With that card you could combine two areas (or even base yourself somewhere fairly central, like Zell am See, and drive between several), such as Kitzski/Ski Circus/Ski Amade/Ski Juwel/Zillertal Arena (and what a fantastic holiday that would be!) It would be interesting to get your feedback.
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Hi all,

Thanks for your help and comments so far. The reason for narrowing down to those resorts was purely because I've already booked flights to Innsbruck (super cheap!) and they're all more or less an hour away, decent reputation for skiing and bars. Open to other Austrian resorts, but was more due to the practicality of it. Being relaxed about moving resorts was because I'm going to end up driving back to the airport mid week in any case (to drop off/collect) so relaxed having to move and try somewhere new, but appreciate the comments on getting one ski pass for the whole week.

In terms of 'experienced' - I used to live in Meribel, went to school there and grew up on skis, now going through the BASI process (passed Alpine L2 and Adaptive L2). Racing background so more piste skiing, but increasingly off piste too (I'm in my 20s). Girlfriend is also a decent skier, but probably more piste orientated as well.

No doubt won't make a 'bad' decision - but having only skied in Austria once, it's completely unchartered territory for me hence the question and looking for advice.

Thanks for comments so far - any more would be mega appreciated!

Cheers team
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I believe you choices then would be Ischgl first, and Stanton number two. That would be my list for you guys Happy
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You know it makes sense.
@otjs, a couple of other possibilities would be.

Serfaus / Fiss no idea why this area is so little known in the UK as it is one of Austria's biggest resorts. The ski area is broadly comparable to Ischgl (which is not far away, there are off piste descents into the Paznauntal and there are plans to put in linking lifts). The villages are mostly car free. The villages do make an effort to attract families, as a result they are not big on lively apres.

Sölden / Obergurgl, not really sure this stands up well in comparison to the other areas discussed. Sölden itself has two glaciers and a reasonable sized ski area. Obergurgl is Austria's highest parish and has a small but very snow sure ski area. The two are linked by regular shuttle buses. Sölden is fairly lively but has a busy road running through it whilst Obergurgl is a pretty small quiet spot.

There are lots of other smaller resorts within a short drive of Innsbruck eg Kuhtai, Stubaital, Alpbach even over the Brenner into the Südtirol but not sure you would find anything better than has been discussed above.
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
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I can only comment on Ischgl and say while it would put a very big tick in most of your boxes you may struggle to find part-week accomodation. If rest of your party are happy with paying for a full week that's not an issue but finding somewhere actually IN Ischgl for just 4 or 5 days... You'd have better luck up/down the valley, but then you're travelling in and out. Core/manic apres runs till 19:00 and there's a good, free bus service that runs until ~19:30. Fine if you just want apres but if you want food post-apres, or to party on after that you're looking at cars (and some non-drinking drivers) or taxis.
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 Poster: A snowHead
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Never been to St Anton, and going to Galtur/Ischgl for the first time next year.

Mayrhofen, is a big party town IMHO, big queues to get up/down the mountain no matter which lift you use. Ski area uninspiring with lots of backwards and forwards. Been twice and wont go back.

Kitzbuhel, love the town, a mix of old and new, with lots of glitz if you like that sort of thing. The Hahnenkahm gondola is very efficient for up and down or ski down the strieff into the village. An efficient bus service to other gondolas in the area (a new gondola is being built for this season). Plenty of high speed chairlifts and a great variation of skiing.
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
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@munich_irish, worth noting that Serfaus/Fiss voted second best ski destination in the world, by a German/Swiss publication (Zermatt no1) Don't ask me which, but someone likes it a lot. Checked, its Snow-Online!
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Zermatt scores a maximum of 10 points in each of the categories of advanced skiers, freeride and snow. 9 points are awarded in the categories service, terrain parks and on-mountain dining – with 8 points in the categories beginner, nightlife, value for money and family.



Further rankings:

2. Serfaus Fiss Ladis
3. Ski Arlberg
4. Whistler Blackcomb
5. Saalbach Hinterglemm Leogang Fieberbrunn
6. Ischgl-Samnaun
7. Gröden
8. Sölden
9. Les 3 Vallées
10. Alta Badia
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@twoodwar, it is very popular with lots of people, Germans, Dutch, Swiss, Austrians etc but no one in the UK seems to have heard of the place, its odd. Especially for families it is a very good option, a good sized ski area, snow sure, largely car free, maybe not party central though.
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@otjs,+1 on Serfaus. Went there in March on the suggestion of a couple SHs and loved it enough to return again this coming March. While we can all quibble with portions of the list above, and all such lists, I would agree Serfaus belongs on it. Lots of options there for your mixed group to ski different slopes but still ride the same lift together. Plenty of English spoken, but not by guests, just resort employees. My hotelier said I was the first American to ever stay there, and I didn't hear any Brits either. As for the other areas, as usual I agree with @munich_irish.
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Thanks all.

Hoping to get a weekend in in Zermatt @twoodwar as well fortunately. Lots of shouts for Serfaus, thanks for that going to check it out
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skitech wrote:
Never been to St Anton, and going to Galtur/Ischgl for the first time next year.

Mayrhofen, is a big party town IMHO, big queues to get up/down the mountain no matter which lift you use. Ski area uninspiring with lots of backwards and forwards. Been twice and wont go back.

Kitzbuhel, love the town, a mix of old and new, with lots of glitz if you like that sort of thing. The Hahnenkahm gondola is very efficient for up and down or ski down the strieff into the village. An efficient bus service to other gondolas in the area (a new gondola is being built for this season). Plenty of high speed chairlifts and a great variation of skiing.


I haven't seen big queues in Mayrhofen since the Penkenbahn was replaced and that includes nEw Year.
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
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Serfaus is a very nice place for families - We go ourself with the kids. But for a mixed group that also like to go out, i am not sure it would be that great.
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@Ghost Dog, agreed. Only ever wait a couple of mins now except right at the last life for download.

It’s really only a party town around the lift area and easily avoided if you prefer a quieter life.

Great valley with a lot of skiing variety in the Zillertal but you probably need a car to make the most of it.
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