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Culture, Cuisine and Salsburg. The Amadé Sports Region

This article is a reprint from the “Classic” version of the SkiEurope Report Newsletter. While some of the pricing is no longer accurate. The article gives a great overview of the region’s attractions.

A winter vacation in Salzburg is more than a ski vacation. This picturesque old city offers an extraordinary cultural experience and serves as a fantastic base for skiing more than 100 resorts throughout “Land Salzburg.” Salzburg is located on the site of the Roman town Javavum, once an important crossroad in the empire. The beautiful baroque city that you see today was built in the 17th and 18th centuries. Museums and palaces bear witness to the city’s fascinating history.

Salzburg is a city, not a resort. But the surrounding area offers skiers and snowboarders just about any type of terrain that they could want. There are a number of different ski areas to explore. The Amadé Sports Region includes the scenic resorts of Altenmark-Zauchensee, Wagrain, Filzmoos, and Kleinarl. The Gastein Valley is home to three popular resorts: the spa resort of Bad Gastein, the quieter town of Hofgastein, and the family-oriented Dorfgastein. The Europa Sports Region includes the well-known resorts of Zell am See and Kaprun, and the scenic Hohe Tauern National Park provides many resorts at lower elevations. There are also ski safari programs that make it easier to ski several of the resorts in one trip.

The ski season in Land Salzburg generally runs from mid-December to mid-April, with year-round skiing available at the Kaprun glacier. About 60 percent of the resorts in the overall region are best suited for intermediates, with over 80 mountains to ski. Advanced skiers find fun off-trail terrain at Bad Gastein, Leogang, and Saalbach and for an even greater thrill there are off-trail glacier tours at Altenmarkt/Zauchensee, and the Kitzstein Glacier near Zell am See. While most of the resorts in the area are small, skiers will find challenging, varied terrain within a short distance of Salzburg.

The Salzburg Super Ski Card is valid in 22 ski regions in Land Salzburg covering 2,000 kilometers (1,250 miles) of trails. Passes are available for anywhere between three and 14 days. The Amadé lift pass is valid in 28 ski destinations covering 860 kilometers (538 miles) of trails. Skiers can travel by ski shuttle between different resorts for €13 (US $16).

Saalbach-Hinterglemm is one of the most popular resorts in the area for snowboarders. There are two half-pipes, a boardercross, and a funpark that is lit at night. There are 12 kilometers (eight miles) of terrain dedicated only to snowboarders. There are also funparks at Bad Hofgastein, Flachau, Saalfelden, and Grossarl. There’s plenty of off-trail terrain, but boarders must be aware of avalanche risks. There are lessons available to instruct boarders on survival techniques as well as the finer points of snowboarding.

Cross-country skiing enthusiasts enjoy over 220 kilometers (137 miles) of trails in the Wagrain Region, 76 kilometers (47 miles) of trails at Abtenau, and over 200 kilometers (124 miles) of cross-country trails in the scenic Hohe Tauern National Park. Ice climbing is available for those who prefer to scale the frozen stuff rather than ski down it. Climbers can sign up for tours and receive instruction before heading out. Advanced climbers love the Salzach Gorge and waterfalls located 30 kilometers (19 miles) from Salzburg.

Most resorts in Land Salzburg have toboggan runs. Some of the best in the area are at Bad Hofgastein, Saalbach-Hinterglemm, and Wagrain. Most resorts also offer horse-drawn sleigh rides. Many companies offer sleigh rides in the Grossarl Valley and in Bad Gastein, some of which include a stop for snacks at a mountain inn.

Après-ski is lively throughout Austria and the Salzburg region is no exception. Saalbach has a reputation as the best of the resorts for rowdy nightlife. There are almost 40 bars keeping the night alive. Zell am See is also a good spot for those who like to party. Bad Gastein draws an older, more serene après-ski clientele. In Salzburg itself, there’s a wide range of nightlife opportunities. In the bars that line the left side of the Salzach River, you’ll find everything from Irish music to heavy metal. Along the Steingasse are numerous bistros and bars, among many others in the Old City.

One of the main perks of staying in Salzburg is the abundance of cultural events and activities to experience. Salzburg is known for being the birthplace of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and the city celebrates his life in many ways. From Mozart Square to Mozart’s birthplace, there are ample opportunities to learn more about the composer. Salzburg’s Old City is listed on UNESCO’s list of world cultural heritage sites and is always popular with sightseers. There are excellent museums in Salzburg including the Museum of Natural Science in the center of the Old City.

With so many Austrian traditions to learn about and enjoy, Salzburg is the perfect choice for vacationers looking for a cultural experience in addition to first-rate skiing.