By Marina Aagaard, MFE. Photos: Henrik Elstrup and Marina Aagaard
Skiing Holiday in Austria? There are pros and cons. My skiing holiday this year went to Bad Gastein in Austria, my second time there. It is a very special city with lots of spas and a beautiful skiing area.
One advantage of skiing in Austria is that the national parks and mountains are very beautiful and when the weather is good, the skiing is super nice.
A special advantage of going on a skiing Holiday to Bad Gastein is, that the city occasionally is having skiing and snowboard events and every year in the beginning of february the city is hosting the Red Bull Playstreets, a freestyle skiing event (for pros) in which the city’s historic centre is the centre of skiing on narrow ramps through and over the city. There is a very special atmosphere and some impressive stunts to look at.
The downside of going skiing in Austria is, that the weather and snow is of mixed quality. If you are lucky the sun is shining and the snow is super, however, in latter years, there has been a lot of wind, fog and grey days. Also warmer weather and less snow has resulted in the base pistes being closed.
1) Get ski fit – do ski specific fitness – before going; be ready (for slush or ice).
2) Buy a 5-days-within-7-days lift Card. If the weather gets bad and the lift stations close, you won’t have wasted 30-40 Euros that day. You can always buy extra lift days later if the sun keeps shining.
3) Have a plan for activities, if the weather is poor. Austria has a lot of great spas and public pools. In Bad Gastein there is a large spa; Felsentherme Gastein. Alternatively you can take a train trip to one of the cities close by.
Bad Gastein city
Bad Gastein, until 1996 Badgastein, is a historic old spa town, formerly a fashionable destination visited by royalty and celebrities from all over the World.
The city is known for its spa treatments and idyllic surroundings and there is a picturesque water fall in the middle of the city.
The water in the springs in the Gasteiner valley contains Radon, gas, which is said to have a healing effect on the body; Radon is absorbed by the skin and by inhalation and boosts the immune system. Spa visits in general soothes several chronic diseases. Wellness and spa treatments are offered several Places in town a.o. 2 km inside an old mine; Gasteiner Heilstollen (healing tunnel).
The city looks impressive from a distance with large majestic buildings from yesteryear. Unfortunately a lot of the buildings have been bought by foreign investors, who have left them to disintegrate, so now the city is a strange mix of beautiful, but worn out buildings and really ramschackle ditto, a ghost town look in places, and more modern, ugly buildings.
Still the town is quite popular among tourists (especially skiers and spa enthusiasts). There are many large hotels with spas, e.g. the grand old Hotel Elisabeth Park, which boasts a pool, spa, beauty salon and a tiny fitness centre.
The city has several cozy and nice restaurants as well as bars, the famous Silver Bullet bar, coffee shops, discos and a casino. Furthermore there is a large super market and several shops.
Recommended restaurants a.o.:
Wirtshaus Jägerhäusl, a very cozy restaurant with traditional Austrian food and a friendly staff in Tiroler clothes.
Prälatur in Hotel Elisabeth Park. A small à la carte restaurant with a nice atmosphere, they serve Austrian specialties as well as international dishes.
Restaurant Wildbad in Hotel Salzburger Hof, offering international dishes and fine wines and exquisite meat.
Wildbad (above), stylish setting, very nice food and a gourmet buffet. A popular place, so you have to book in advance.
Location and journey
Bad Gastein lies in the Gasteinertal in the Salzburg region in the middle of Austria and in the Northern part of the Hohe Tauern National Park; a very beautiful mountain area.
You can fly to Salzburg or Innsbruck and take a bus or go by car.
In Europe you can go there by bus or by car, which is fairly easy.
Bad Gastein is a part of the Ski Amadé area with 860 km pistes.
With the lift Card you have access to other skiing areas (you have to drive there) e.g. in St. Johann im Pongau, Wagrain and Flachau, Schladming and Maria Alm.
From Bad Gastein in Gasteinertal you have access to five Towns/skiing areas with 202 km pistes; Bad Gastein, Bad Hof Gastein, Dorfgastein, Grossarl and Sportgastein, the latter can be reached by bus or car (1600-2700 m a.s.l., open until late April).
It is a nice area for beginners and intermediate skiers, who wants long outings and there are 24 km Black pistes for advanced skiers.
By the lift station Stubnerkogel there are two popular attractions, a panorama point and a suspension bridge.
Location: Bad Gastein is 1002 m a.s.l.
Highest skiing: 2686 m a.s.l.
Lowest skiing: 835 m a.s.l.
Cross county skiing tracks: 35 km
Number of pistes: ?
Piste kilometers: 202 km
Black: 24 km
Red: 118 km
Blue: 60 km
Green: 0 km
Ski rental: Yes
Ski school: Yes
Accomodation: Lots of hotels, hostels and Apartments.
Dining: Several restaurants.
After skiing: Yes. Many places.
Fitness: Yes. In hotels.
Wellness: Yes. Several places and thermal baths.
WIFI: Yes, most places
Facilities: Shopping/shops, bars, coffee shops, thermal baths, casino.
Activities: Skiing, snowpark, ice climbing, sled tours, ice skating, paragliding, golf, tennis, hiking, wellness.
You can find more information:
Gastein Ski, Mountains & Spa – the Monte Carlo of the Alps