7 Days Skiing Austria's Famed Arlberg Region

14 April 2015

Austria's Alrberg region links the ski resorts of St Anton, Stuben, Lech, Zurs and St Christoph, with 85 lifts and 300 kilometres of runs.

Considered 'the birthplace of skiing', the Arlberg's season generally runs from November to April. Here's how to make the most of it over seven days.

Day 1

St Anton

The quickest way to the Arlberg is to fly into Zurich. Arlberg Express has mini-van transfers from Zurich airport that take you across the border into the Austrian Alps.

Organise your lift ticket and settle into your hotel.

Consider the budget, chalet charm of Aussie-Austrian run Hotel Alkira, or mid-range Skihotel Galzig right by the slopes.

If you’re looking to splurge, Mooser Hotel is an ultra-chic, minimalist on-slope hideaway with a glorious infinity pool overlooking snow-covered forest.

Take it easy on your jetlag and explore St Anton. Join folk in furs and designer ski jackets on their evening perambulation, and browse for upmarket souvenirs and fashions.

Warm yourself in cosy Delikatessen Plangger over a cheese plate and Austrian red wine. Ski fanatics should check out Sailer Cafe, where ski instructors go after work.

Day 2

Stuben

Ease gently into skiing on long runs above St Anton, before veering towards St Christoph’s high-altitude reds on the Valluga cable car.

Then ski down to Stuben village, where Hotel Post provides a suntrap terrace and hearty Austrian tucker.

 Sunny breaks are popular

Take a different set of lifts and runs back to St Anton in the afternoon. Above Stuben, you’ll appreciate wide, treeless pistes and challenging off-piste runs.

Back in St Anton, head to Arlberg Well for a sore-muscle massage and float in the heated, outdoor pool.

Celebrate your first full ski day at Restaurant Museum, a quirky ski museum combined with excellent restaurant serving traditional dishes such as surprisingly tasty hay soup, or boiled-beef Tafelspitz.

Just down the hill, Underground Bar, run by a 70-something Aussie with orange hair and a liking for jazz, is good for a nightcap.

Day 3

St Christoph

Start on Nasserein gondola with gentle, early-morning runs before letting Kapall chairlift haul you atop the mountain for exhilarating swoops down Fasch and Plattiwald pistes.

 Powered by powder on the Arlberg

Galzig cable car takes you towards St Christoph for lunch at ever-popular Hospiz Alm. St Christoph ski area is yours for the afternoon.

If you don’t want St Anton’s busy, party atmosphere, you could stay instead in this petite, rather old-fashioned village at renowned family-run Arlberg Hospiz Hotel, which has a kids’ club and large wellness area.

Alternatively, just dine at its restaurant on top-quality Tyrolean fare at day’s end; it’s a quick bus or taxi ride back to St Anton.

Over your jetlag? Explore St Anton’s infamous clubbing scene at places such as Kandahar, where table-top dancing and cocktails laced with energy drinks keep the crowd going all night.


Find the perfect place for you. Where Is Your Perfect Europe Ski Destination?

St Anton welcomes families too Family Lessons On The Ski Slopes


Day 4

Zurs

Hit the powder on the Schindler below the 2812m Valluga peak. Then follow runs to Zurs. Local wit has it that you go to St Anton with friends, Stuben with family, Zurs with lovers.

Lunch in the intimate, romantic village or on-slope at Seekopf on schnitzel and cream covered Austrian desserts.

Returning to St Anton is a lazy afternoon’s meander, best suited to intermediate skiers.

 The Hospiz Alm at St Christoph

The mountain above Zurs often has good powder, with the 5km Zurser Tali run a highlight. St Anton’s lower slopes are crowded and slushy at day’s end, challenging for beginners.

Everyone is funnelled down Happy Valley past the ultimate apres-ski bar, Mooserwirt, where you can demonstrate your YMCA and macarena.

As the crowd chants, waiters haul 25kg trays of beer and plum schnapps. Soak up the alcohol afterwards with a hearty Tyrolean farmer’s platter at rustic Fuhrmannstube restaurant.

Day 5

Lech

Spend a couple of hours on Rendl mountainside adjacent to St Anton, popular with young snowboarders.

Then transfer to a hotel in Lech: perhaps Hotel Kristberg, run by a former 1960s Olympic ski champion and offering good mid-range accommodation and dining packages, or Kristiana, which forgoes wood and antlers for a contemporary interior, wellness area and impeccable service.

Moving to another resort gives you a wider appreciation of the Arlberg’s variety of skiing and apres skiing.

Lech is a quieter alternative to St Anton, with good shopping and restaurants but little bling. It’s favoured by serious skiers; free-riders appreciate Lech for its deep-powder snow and heli-skiing.

Have a gourmet schnitzel dinner at venerable Hus No. 8, giving you energy for a 2km floodlit toboggan run from Oberlech to Lech across snowy fields afterwards.

Day 6

White Ring

Prepare for one of the best days of skiing anywhere in the world.

The White Ring is a well-signposted ski circuit that brings you down 22km of runs and 5500m of vertical descent in a leisurely day, without taking the same lift twice.

The starting point is at 2360m atop Rufikopf cable car, which runs from the middle of Lech. A brilliant red run with fabulous scenery gives you a taste of what the day has to offer.

 The Arlberg region has many attractions

Take the Schuttboden and Trittalp lifts, then follow Hexenboden run to Zurs, before you regain height. From the top of Madloch cable car, a 4km run into Zug and another series of lifts returns you to Lech.

You’ll have worked up an appetite, so eat early at lively apres-ski haunt Skihut Schneggarei at the bottom of the final White Ring run.

Day 7

Swansong

If you’re checking out, you might only have a few hours: enough for some farewell runs above Lech. Alternatively, a network of valley hiking trails is open, even in winter.

You could follow the 5km riverside walk to Zurs, or the 7km hike to Zug and Alpele, where Gasthaus Alpele rewards you with a great fondue lunch.

A horse-drawn taxi carriage conveys you back to Lech, where you’ll have to wave the Arlberg so long, farewell, auf wiedersehn, goodbye.

Know this...

  • St Anton - The biggest of the Arlberg resorts is lively and cosmopolitan.
  • Stuben - A compact and laidback village. No discos, just supreme Austrian hospitality in family-owned lodgings.
  • Lech - A pretty and romantic village packed with top restaurants. Bridget Jones skied here in one of her movies.
  • Zurs - Cosy and exclusive, renowned for its superior accommodation and food.
  • St Christoph - A traditional village surrounded by white peaks.


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Brian Johnston

Born in Nigeria of Irish parents, Brian Johnston has lived in Switzerland,the UK and China, and now calls Sydney home. The widely-published freelance writer and author is a two-time Australian Travel Writer of the Year.