Traditional spa resort with a huge ski & snowboard area.
The Gastein valley isn’t widely known internationally. It deserves better: its slopes are impressively extensive, and mainly quite challenging – great for intermediates who are happy on real red runs. But the place doesn’t cater properly for air-package holiday makers without a car. With five mountains, of which only two are linked, the valley really needs an efficient bus service instead of the current token offering.
With its grand hotels, trinket shops and cramped gorge-like setting, central Bad Gastein itself is a far cry from your standard chalet-style Austrian village. But staying above the center near the lifts offers a more normal winter sports experience, and both Bad Hofgastein and Dorfgastein, respectively a few miles and a few more miles down the valley, are equally well worth considering as a base.
To make the most of the valley you need a car. With five spread out mountains, of which only two are linked, the valley needs a first class public transport system, and it doesn’t have one – traveling from end of the valley to the other can take over an hour and may involve a couple of changes.
- Four separate, varied areas with a huge number of slopes both above and below the tree-line
- Great for confident intermediates, with lots of long, challenging reds – and great cruising and carving in the Schlossalm sector
- More snowsure than most low-altitude Austrian resorts, with the high Sportgastein area as back-up
- Lots of good, atmospheric, traditional mountain restaurants
- Plenty of off-slope facilities, many related to its origins as a spa resort
- New Ski Alliance Amadé lift ticket covers wide range of nearby resorts
- Unless you have a car, you need to choose your location with care or budget for a lot of pricey taxi rides – the lift bases are widely spread and the bus service is a disgrace
- Spa-town atmosphere is not to everyone’s taste, and Bad Gastein itself can suffer from local traffic on the narrow streets; Bad Hofgastein is a better base for many people
- Near-beginners and timid intermediates must be wary of leaving the Schlossalm sector