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Zell am See / Kaprun, Austria

Charming lakeside town, varied ski slopes and glacier options.

Zell am See is an unusual resort – not a rustic village like most of its small Austrian competitors, but a lakeside town with a charming old center that seems more geared to summer than winter visitors. It’s a pleasant place, and – since a tunnel now takes through traffic to Schüttdorf – less plagued by traffic.

Zell’s slopes have a lot of variety and challenging terrain for a small area, but not enough to keep a keen intermediate or better happy for long, especially if, as some reporters have found, there’s a lack of snow. Zell is very near the Kaprun glacier, but so are many low-altitude resorts, all of which run buses there if snow is in short supply. The result can be horrendous liftlines.

Zell makes an attractive base for holidaymakers who enjoy travelling around. Having a car makes it easy to visit numerous other resorts – including Saalbach-Hinterglemm, Bad Gastein-Bad Hofgastein, Wagrain, Schladming and Obertauern.

Ski Stats:

Pistes: 29
Snowmaking: 100%
Halfpipes: 1
Terrain Parks: 1
X-Country: 31 miles

Top Lift: 6562 ft
Vertical Drop: 4075 ft
Bottom Lift: 2487 ft

What’s Great

  • Pretty, tree-lined slopes with great views down to the lake
  • Lively, but not rowdy, nightlife
  • Charming old town center with beautiful lakeside setting
  • Lots to do off the slopes
  • Huge range of cross-country trails
  • Kaprun glacier nearby
  • Varied terrain including a couple of steep black runs

What’s Not-So-Great

  • Sunny, low slopes often have poor conditions despite snowmakers, which makes the area more limited
  • Trek to lifts from much accommodation, and sometimes crowded buses
  • Less suitable for beginners than most small Austrian resorts
  • The Kaprun glacier gets horrendous liftlines when it is most needed
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