Why the royals head straight for Austria’s ski slopes every winter

Love everything about skiing? Discover these legendary slopes this year

Whether you’re a ski novice or you fly downhill like a modern-day Franz Klammer, Austria is the perfect destination for your winter skiing break. It’s been a favoured destination for royal visitors for decades, with Princess Diana introducing her sons to the slopes in picturesque Lech back in 1991 after learning the sport there herself.

Other regular visitors include the Dutch royal family, as well as the royals of Monaco, who own a beautiful chalet in the exclusive resort. Princess Caroline holidays there frequently, with her daughter Princess Alexandra often accompanying her. And a network of underground tunnels and a brisk mountain lift mean Oberlech remains a blissfully traffic-free, tranquil – not to mention exclusive – getaway.

Skiing’s history began here in 1885, when Mathias Zdarsky first used wooden planks to slide down steep mountain slopes, using a pole to change direction. Later Austrian innovations like stem turns helped transform skiing from a mode of transport into a thrilling sport – and the first ski schools were founded here too.

Over the years Austria’s traditional mountain villages have changed to become superbly equipped resorts. Yet thankfully they remain steeped in the charm and welcoming hospitality that’s traditionally associated with the country, from elite five-star slopeside accommodation to family-run alpine inns. It all adds up to make a skiing holiday one of the most challenging yet relaxing ways to spend a winter break.

If you love the nightlife, enjoy the winter opening celebrations in resorts all through November and December, with après ski entertainment on offer throughout the season.

You can also indulge in the country’s wonderful food and wine, with everything from easygoing lunches in cosy mountain huts to fine dining. Don’t miss a chance to raise a glass at 1900 metres in Innsbruck’s highest chillout zone, the Alpenlounge Seegrube and Hafelkelar restaurant, with its magnificent views across the city.

And of course, wherever you go, you can enjoy world-class skiing, with fabulous snow and mile after mile of incomparable runs.

Looking for inspiration? Here are just some of Austria’s legendary skiing highlights:


©Schladming, ANTO Wolfgang Weinhäupl

Find forests, castles and superb wine in the region. Its ski resort has hosted more than 30 World Cup races and the Special Olympics.


©Seefeld Maesern Church, Olympiaregion Seefeld

You’ll be charmed by picturesque Seefeld, surrounded by snowy peaks and rustic taverns. Look out for the Snow Festival with street music and snow statues – and enjoy the sound of church bells ringing each morning.


©Hahnenkamm Race, KSC/HKR

With 54 cable cars and lifts criss-crossing 179km of slopes, here you can marvel at the Hahnenkramm, setting for the iconic ski race.

Zell am See-Kaprun

©Zell am See Kaprun, Nikolaus Faistauer

Gateway to the Kitzsteinhorn glacier ski area, and situated on the beautiful Lake Zell, this is the most stunning setting where you can enjoy cross-country skiing and hiking as well as the slopes.

For further information on Holidays in Austria, visit: www.austria.info