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Obergurgl; One of Europe’s Best Kept Skiing Secrets

Obergurgl is a perfect example of why it’s important to shop around for ski resorts.

While some dedicated fans of this Austrian resort love nothing better than its snowsure beginner and intermediate runs, expert skiers or those with a taste for a high level of nightlife will most likely find themselves bored here.

Obergurgl’s greatest attractions are its slopes and the thick blanket of snow that covers them every season.

Obergurgl consists of two large skiing resorts, Obergurgl and Hochgurgl, which are connected by an eight-seater gondola that opens the magnificent view on the Ferwalltal and the Königstal. The resort includes 110 kilometers (68 miles) of north and south exposed alpine trails of which 35 kilometers (22 miles) are beginner, 55 kilometers (34 miles) intermediate, and 20 kilometers (13 miles) are expert.

Obergurgl is one of the Alps’ most reliable resorts for snow. During its long season that stretches from mid-November until the beginning of May, the resort keeps its runs covered with a coating of the white stuff all the way down to the village. The snow is a collaborative effort between Mother Nature and man. Mother Nature provides the altitude of 1,800 to 3,080 meters (5,905 to 10,105 feet) and man has installed snowmaking on 90 percent of the slopes.

Cross-country skiing in Obergurgl is possible on three tracks that each stretch about 10 kilometers (6.2 miles). Each track runs close to a village. A two-kilometer (1.3-mile) course is found in Hochgurgl above the tree line at about 2,150 meters (7,054 feet); the trail gives a spectacular view down into the valley.

Other Winter Wonderland activities include tubing on the slopes or on a steep run from a local restaurant, taking a sleigh ride, ice skating on the village’s rink or going for a hike in the woods (with or without snowshoes, depending on the trail).

For those days of rest off the slopes, visitors can check out local tourist attractions. Two not to miss are the highest church-village of Europe, the church of Saint John (Johannes) Nepomuk and the monument to Piccard, a Swiss professor and balloonist who, in an emergency, landed in Obergurgl on May 27, 1931 because his oxygen supply was running out.

The church is a large part of the charm this village retains despite it being a primarily modern development. Only about four hundred live year round in Obergurgl, but as many as 4,000 skiers can invade the village on the weekends. There aren’t many beds, so you need to book early to avoid disappointment.

Although it is a small village, Obergurgl is home to 28 restaurants serving regional and international cuisine.

In the evening, visitors will find the nightlife to be quiet by Austrian standards. Rather than a raging party scene, nightlife is more traditionally Austrian; offering cozy atmosphere, drinks, and the music the region is known for.

Serious party lovers can head to nearby Sölden, which is known for its nightlife. Other possible excursions include Innsbruck, Salzburg, or even a hop over to Italy for the day.