Skiing in Tyrol Part I: Stubai Glacier, Kühtai & Serfaus-Fiss-Ladis
Now, we are starting a little series we announced a while ago, but we needed to work a little in advance to bring this to life. In a series of posts, we want to show you some of Tyrol’s great skiing areas, including the classic ones nearly every tourist has heard about and some of our personal favourites. We also try to examine what the weak spots and big pluses are that these areas offer.
Little disclaimer: none of these posts are sponsored. Sponsored posts are clearly marked and if you are curious about how we handle that, we suggest you read about that here.
But now let’s start with the fun on the slopes.
This is probably Tyrol’s most famous ski resort and it is also Austria’s biggest ski resort on a glacier. We are definitely lucky to live that close to a glacier. While a few years ago, you could ski there throughout the year, nowadays, the slopes are fine from October until June, depending on the weather. But there are some facts you should definitely keep in mind!
The busiest time is around October, when all the other resorts are still closed, but the locals are fed up with summer and finally want to test the slopes again. The worst day to ski there has to be the 26th of October, national holiday in Austria, when it feels like the whole country heads on over and onto the slopes. Honestly, you cannot imagine how packed the slopes can get. In general, the resort is very busy until the end of November / beginning of December, when most of the other resorts in Tyrol open for the new season. If you want to enjoy the slopes at that time of the year, we definitely recommend you go there during the week.
During January / February you definitely feel like you’re on a glacier when visiting. On more than a few occasions, you’ll experience -18 degrees Celsius when skiing, which is something you should keep in mind when gearing up. Nothing ruins a skiing day more than freezing because you brought a sweater that’s too light.
A point we have to address here is climate change. The resort is built on a glacier, which means the lifts are drilled into ice. When Natascha went there in October she was frightened. They had to use covers to prevent the ice, where the lifts are drilled in, from melting; where the covers were finished, there was a huge gap between the other ice. Climate change is affecting all of the resorts, but this showed once again that glaciers are suffering the most. We’ve been visiting this resort for years and this has gotten visibly worse over the last years.
A very cool place to visit when being on the glacier, is the ‘Top of Tyrol’, a platform you can reach by taking the Schaufeljoch cable car on 3.210 metres. 2 years ago, they built a new cable car that brings you from the valley up to the skiing area, the Eisgratbahn. Not everyone’s a big fan of the new cable car, including us, as we’ve seen other ones of similar size in other resorts that seem to be more efficient, but it is definitely a pretty one. Also, you can go into the glacier – an experience we haven’t done yet but planned on doing so in the upcoming weeks – by visiting the ice grotto. The pictures we’ve already seen look incredible!
Depending on the conditions of the slopes you can ski until the parking area. If you want to go skiing at nearly any time of the year, there’s no resort nearby that offers you better opportunities to do so, that’s for sure, but like we mentioned, keep in mind – if you have nowhere else to go, so do the others. As soon as other resorts open, it gets less packed and the conditions of the slopes are of course great!
The SNOW CARD TIROL & FREIZEIT TICKET TIROL are valid for this resort.
From Innsbruck, you need about 40 minutes to reach this resort. This makes it one of the resorts that are not too close to the city of Innsbruck to be packed with locals all the time, but still close enough to get away from the buzz in the city any time you want to. Especially on Saturdays, when most of the locals head to the Axamer Lizum (we will write about that resort in the next part of the series), we recommend spending 15 minutes longer to go to this resort instead. However, also in the Kühtai it can get quite busy on beautiful winter weekends.
The resort is located at the end of a valley and therefore spread over two mountain sides; depending on the time of day, there’s always at least one side in the sun and other slopes in the shadows, which prevents the sun from melting the snow completely on warmer days. Both sides offer great slopes, but, for instance, Natascha prefers spending the morning on the southern side and switching over to the northern one after or for lunch.
In the Kühtai you can also go night skiing and they even offer a shuttle service picking you up in Innsbruck and dropping you off there again afterwards. And if your hotel is located in the villages, you most likely are able to go from the slopes to your front door directly with your skies. Definitely something that makes a holiday even nicer. The resort is also famous for its great opportunities for people who enjoy fun parks or ski touring, but stay safe and know your limits, as accidents happen can happen really quickly when people cause avalanches by ignoring warnings (always check the avalanche alert levels when going off the slopes!) or do not know their limits.
Especially in the last years, Natascha has become a big fan of this resort, as it is not too far from Innsbruck and therefore not too crowded and it offers a very pretty view where you can enjoy the slopes and see nothing but mountains surrounding you. The drive through the Sellrain valley is definitely worth it! But keep in mind that you might need snow chains for your car depending on the weather conditions.
The INNSBRUCK CARD (summer only!), SNOW CARD TIROL & FREIZEIT TICKET TIROL are valid for this resort.
This resort is located at about an 1-hour distance from Innsbruck and definitely Natascha’s personal favourite as her parents live there and it is where she learned how to ski and snowboard many, many years ago. She spends most of her holidays and lots of weekends there; you can go hiking here as well, but more on that as soon as the hiking season starts again and blogposts on summer outdoor activities come your way.
But now some information about the resort: Some years ago, the three villages Serfaus, Fiss and Ladis were separate ski resorts (little ones) until they decided to unite and become one. From then on, the resort began growing very fast and still continues to do so. That’s what we particularly like about it, as most of the times resorts that grow very fast, then stop and just stay the way they are. But here, they continue on modernizing, creating new slopes and building more modern cable cars all the time. Right now, the resort offers you more than 210 kilometres of slopes and 68 different lifts.
Nowadays, every village has its own strengths. Ladis, the smallest one is focusing mostly on kids as a whole kids’ paradise was created there, where they can learn skiing and snowboarding by being part of courses offered by the ski schools.
Fiss, on the other hand is a combination of easy and harder slopes and offers something for winter sport fans on every level. A part of the resort you shouldn’t miss here is the ‘Nordseite’, the so-called northern part of the mountain. The whole resort is located on the southern side of a sun plateau. On the Nordseite the slopes are nearly always in perfect conditions as the sun rays hit the snow only a few hours a day, not like on the southern side, where there’s sun nearly all-day long. Here, you can also find a very great fun park.
Serfaus is Natascha’s favourite part of the resort. Like in Fiss, you’ll find everything you need there. Sledging areas, ski schools, hiking trails (also suitable for winter), cross-country trails, a fun park, beginner slopes and more advanced ones for skilled skiers. Important to mention is the area Masner: an area that became part of the resort a few years ago, a bit in the backcountry, surrounded by beautiful mountains. Here you definitely feel like tourism hasn’t reached you – until you turn around and see all the skiers on the slopes.
The resort has won several awards and, in 2014, it was voted the third best ski resort worldwide (2012 they even won and ever since they’re always up there with the best) and you’ll find numerous huts and lodges to rest during skiing. The villages contain numerous hotels of every standard (including *****s), various restaurants and shops. Serfaus even has the shortest and highest subway (when it was built, it was the shortest one, now it’s on place 3 worldwide) which is currently being renewed and should be finished by spring 2019. Nevertheless, it runs regularly even now. Also, there are various events taking place in the resort like night skiing (Wednesdays in Serfaus and Tuesdays in Fiss), night sledging, Christmas markets, you can use a flying fox, take a ride in a snow groomer and so much more. There’s no way you’ll get bored there!
The SNOW CARD TIROL, SKI 6 & REGIO CARD TIROL are valid for this resort.
We hope you enjoyed reading the first part of our series as we can’t wait to tell you more about ski resorts in Tyrol. If there’s any resort you would like to hear about more in particular, do not hesitate to contact us and if you happen to try out some of the resorts we wrote about, tell us! Have fun and most importantly stay safe on the slopes!