Skiing in Austria
The skiing in Austria is excellent and is much more affordable than if you were to search for an equivalent resort in France or Switzerland. The ski resorts are scenic, based out of old Austrian villages, and you get a real sense of the culture in the ski resorts.
Austria is one of the most popular holiday destinations during the winter months, owing largely to the expansive range of Austrian Alps and the Austrian culture that seems to have been well maintained in the beautiful, once small mountain villages which the ski resorts are based out of, and which have been dramatically expanded to accommodate the many tourists arriving in search of beautiful Austrian snow. There are plenty of excellent ski resorts to ski in across Europe in the many different countries which have the mountains for it such as France, Italy & Switzerland to name just a few of the biggest ones. Austria is personally my favourite place to ski in Europe for a number of reasons I will explore below. The extensive resorts as well as the discrete lack of Bristish people compared to France have a large part to play in my love of Austria during the winter.
Is Skiing in Austria Expensive?
Personally I find Austria the most cost-efficient way to enjoy top quality skiing in Europe. Although any ski holiday is expensive, there are certain ways to make this holiday more affordable. Have a look at the article Is skiing expensive to find out how you can take steps to ensure skiing is as affordable as it can be, allowing you to get the best quality and most fun holiday you can get for the smallest cost.
Everything from the lift pass to accommodation to the price of food and drink in the mountain restaurants is more affordable in Austria. Beers in the Austrian ski resorts are some of the most affordable prices in the European Alps with a beer on the mountain averaging at around €3-4, not much more than you would pay normally anyway if you were looking for a taste of your favourite Austrian beer! Compare this with a beer in Chamonix, France where you are paying up to €10 for a beer, and you can see where I am starting to go with this. I think it his is part due to the fact that Austria has resisted the flood of tourism diluting down their culture, as you can still get a glimpse of how these villages used to function, and a taste of the authenticity of the mountain restaurants serving up classic Austrian dishes such as Gulash soup or Tiroler Grostl. These can often be picked up in the mountain restaurants/ authentic mountain huts for around €12 -14. This is a warm hearty meal which should keep you going until the lifts close. If you do normally get peckish around 2/3pm its always worth treating yourself to an Apfelstrudel (Apple strudel), another classic Austrian dish.
Altitude of ski resorts in Austria
As far as snow reliability goes for ski resorts, Austria has a solid ranking. Although not home to the tallest peaks in Europe, the altitude of the majority of resorts in Austria is high enough for them to receive more than enough snow each year, and as long as Europe generally speaking gets a good season for snowfall, Austria will receive more than their fair share of snowfall. There is no denying that on average the ski resorts in France are at a higher altitude than those of Austria. This just goes to show that there is more to receiving heavy snowfall than simply high-altitude resorts, as I talk about below.
Snow depth of ski resorts in Austria
Both Warth-Schröcken and Lech-Zürs in Austria receive the highest snowfall in all of Europe. These resorts range from 1270-2050m and 1450-2450m respectively. While it is true that on average the resorts found in the French Alps receive more snowfall than those in Austria and are more reliable, these figures for Warth-Schröcken and Lech-Zürs show you that Austria has a lot to say for snow reliability too. You just need to know where to look! These figures also show that there is more snow reliability that just altitude.
To ensure you get the snow you are hoping for on a ski holiday it is really important that you plan the resort you are going to carefully. If you have planned your ski holiday for over the Christmas break (lets be honest we would all love to spend Christmas in a wintery wonderland in the snowy mountains), you need to make sure you have picked a super reliable resort for snow, to make sure that if this season does so happen to start late in terms of the snowfall, or simply not as much snow falls this season, that you will still be in a good position to ski. You will need to pick a snow sure resort like that of Warth-Schröcken for example.
Snow quality of ski resorts in Austria
The snow quality in Austria is as good as you will find anywhere in Europe. Provided it is cold enough, much the same snow falls in France as it does in Austria as it does in Switzerland. The main comparisons to be made in terms of snow quality come when comparing the likes of Canada or Japan with resorts in Europe. Although the snow quality in the good resorts around Europe is all you could ask for, for a good day of skiing, it is just simply not as light and powdery as what you will find in Canada. The powder in Canada is drier and lighter, which makes skiing off-piste that bit more exhilarating. If the conditions are right, you can easily get a fantastic day of off-piste skiing done in Austria, with top-quality powder snow. It just... will never... be like Canada. If you are trying your hand at off-piste skiing in Austria or anywhere in the world, it is essential that you do so with a guide! Unless you are a qualified off-piste skier, you should never travel into the back-country ski areas by yourself. Even if you are a highly qualified off-piste ski instructor with lots of experience, it can still be very dangerous and unpredictable. An avalanche can happen at any time, and there is no out-running an avalanche if it does happen. You need to make sure you have all the relevant off-piste equipment if you are venturing off-piste, however these are almost always provided by the instructor you will be skiing with.