- Snow Reports
Big names, ski pioneers and the high society – but also Tyrolean down-to-earthness, Gemütlichkeit and hospitality: these contrasts are what make Kitzbühel one of the greatest ski resorts in the Alps. Kitzbühel is even recognised as the “Best Ski Resort in the World” for 2013. With 51 cable cars and lifts, connecting 170 kilometres of ski slopes, Bergbahn AG Kitzbühel is one of the largest cable car companies in Austria. In addition to the spectacular “Streif”, Kitzbühel trumps with a variety of ski runs suiting all sizes and ski styles. In fact, the vast and snow-reliable ski resort boasts an above-average number of family runs (69 km easy, 77 km intermediate, 24 km difficult). The “flagship” run is, of course, the Family Streif, which elegantly snakes its way around the extremely steep part of the downhill course, before returning to the original racing track at the Seidlalm, dodging the “Hausbergkante” ridge on the incline Ganslernhang and ends up back at the usual finish. Don’t miss out on the most spectacular lift in the world: the 3S-Umlaufbahn (tri-cable gondola). It spans the 2.5-kilometre wide and 400-meter deep Saukaser Valley between the mountains Pengelstein and the Wurzhöhe. Snowboarders and freeskiers will also find their perfect playground on the Resterhöhe. The experienced QParks team lead by Franz Lechner is responsible for the setup of the Hanglalm Park as well as for the park on the Kitzbüheler Horn, including all kicker, rail, jib and tree lines, picnic tables and chill-out areas. Skiers and boarders keen to head off-piste will love Kitzbühel’s 200 km2 backcountry. Around the 32 kilometres of ski routes there are endless opportunities to ride through perfect deep powder snow. After dark, the 700-year-old “Old Town” with its typical après ski bars and pubs becomes the social hub of the world. Fashionistas will be in their element hopping between international designer addresses, from Bogner and Boss, Gucci, D&G and Moncler, to Prada and Louis Vuitton. And between them, classic Kitzbühel “fashion originals”, such as Sportalm, Frauenschuh, Franz Prader and Helmut Eder, add a traditional element to the vibrant collection. The “town of the chamois”, as Kitzbühel is affectionately known, is easily accessible by road and by rail. From the airport cities Munich, Salzburg, and Innsbruck, it takes a maximum of one and a half hours by car to get to Kitzbühel.
Kitzbühel’s ski area has grown over the years into one of the world’s leading ski regions. There are two sectors immediately accessible from the town itself, with gondolas ascending from opposite sides of the resort to the stand-alone ‘natural snow paradise’ of the Kitzbüheler Horn on one side and the famous Hahnenkamm on the other – from which it is possible to ski onto neighbouring ski areas above Jochberg and Pass Thurn.
You can quickly expand the ski area available to you by purchasing the Kitzbüheler Alpen AllStarCard pass and taking a short ride on the ski bus to neighbouring areas such as the Skiwelt (280km more piste) or the Schneewinkel at neighbouring St Johann (170km more piste), each just 10 minutes away, and all included on the pass which incorporates other areas too – more than 1,100km of piste served by 360 lifts altogether in fact.
Back on Kitzbühel’s local slopes, you’ll find 170km/60 pistes which are largely easy blues or intermediate reds, although there are more than a dozen blacks and 32km of marked off-piste routes so plenty to challenge experts too. Much of the terrain is below the treeline, but the 750 snow guns ensure snow isn’t a problem.
Kitzbühel is not known as one of the world’s leading powder destinations, but there are a myriad of off-piste opportunities if you know where to look.
The off-piste above Pass Thurn is often the best in the area as it’s the highest sector which typically, if not always, means the best snow. The Steinbergkogel area is recognised as freeride terrain down to the Ehrenbachgraben and routes 90 and 33 from there are possible, although you need to take a bus or taxi from the bottom of 33 or it’s a long hike back.
On the Hahnenkamm area there can be good tree skiing and often unpisted slopes near the Eggl lift. There’s also a growing freeriding scene at the Bichlalm sector, once something of a Kitzbühel backwater, now offers some excellent powder field skiing served by a snowcat.
Although Kitzbühel does have plenty of off-piste challenges, the vast majority of skiers here are not looking for that, but rather the groomed cruising terrain which the ski area offers in abundance. Indeed if you add Kitzbühel’s ski area to the SkiWelt, you get 450km of piste – 85 percent of which is made up of blues and reds that just go on and on, the longest of them a 7km descent. Buy the regional Kitzbuhel All Star pass and that volume of pistes doubles again with more similar neighbouring regions added.
This excess of easy and intermediate graded runs, supported by state-of-the-art high-speed, high-capacity chairs and gondolas, and you get wonderful family-friendly skiing. Half a dozen different itinerary routes are offered by the tourist office to help you make the most of it all.
Bigger still, but suitable for most recreational skiers, the Ski Safari route which takes you on a 50km circuit (35km on pistes, 15km on lifts) around a huge ski area covering Kitzbühel/Kirchberg to Pass Thurn is a ‘must ski.’ Since the completion of the 3S gondola, no ski buses are required to make the full safari route. The route is suited to intermediate level skiers and above.
But it’s not all easy and intermediate stuff on the pistes. There are 28km of groomed black runs including the infamous Streif (see Inside Scoop) of course, one of the world’s most famous runs, and its neighbour, used for classic World Cup slalom racing, the Ganslern slope.
Children are not forgotten either, the wonderful Mini-Streif course at the base of the Hahnenkamm is a brilliantly designed combination fun ski run and obstacle course for the budding young downhill racer. It’s not to be missed.
As with many leading resorts, Kitzbuhel has revised its snowpark over the years and has constantly invested in ever better facilities. The original park on the Kitzbuhelhorn remains but its focus is now on providing a smaller provision for beginner and early intermediate level freestyle skiers and boarders.
The resort’s main facility is now at the Hanglalm in Jochberg where the state of the art Snowpark Kitzbuhel contains lines for all ability levels right up to pro. Signature features include the giant Gap jump, not for the faint hearted. Along with lines of rails, boxes and kickers, there’s a popular ‘treeline’ using elements made of wood. An all-new sector was added to the park in 2011-12 adding beginner-to-intermediate level elements to broaden the park’s appeal. An active shape team work to keep the elements in top notch condition, under the guidance of park designer Franz Lechner.
Pano, Kitz-Bohne KG, Hinterstadt 12, A 6370 Kitzbühel (+43 (0)5356 65461). It is a large, modern and airy café in the resort centre which opens at 8am each morning with specials on the blackboard, but bakeries and coffee are its main staple.
Heigenhauser Bakery, Jochbergstrasse 6, A 6370 Kitzbühel (+43 (0)5356 6218). If you want something very early, this bakery is open from 7am, seven days a week, and serves up all the fresh bread and bakeries your body needs for a full day on the slopes.
Centro, Rathausplatz 2, A 6370 Kitzbuhel (+43 5356 65862). This stylish bistro cafe is open from 9am until midnight daily. It is one of the town’s most popular restaurants, which can occasionally lead to waits occasionally and reservations are not normally accepted. The popularity is thanks to its central location, friendly service and good food. Italian cuisine is the main theme with excellent pizzas prepared in a traditional wood fired oven.
Berggasthof Sonnbuhel, Hahnenkamm 11, A 6370 Kitzbuhel (+43 5356 62776) is widely regarded as the best on-mountain restaurant. It sits at 1,700m above the town and was built well before the gondola, and a few years before the first Hahnenkamn race was staged. Originally constructed in the mid-1920s by rich Berlin industrialist Dr. Julius Bueb as a luxurious private residence, the restaurant has been reviewed as “the best above 1,000m” by Die Welt newspaper. The traditional Tyrolean cuisine is cooked to the very highest standard. Reservations are highly recommended.
Romantikhotel Tennerhof, Griesenauweg 26, A 6370 Kitzbühel (+43 (0)5356 63181). Home to Michelin-starred chef Thomas Dreher, Tennerhof is one of the two restaurants in two to score 16 out of 20 points in the prestigious Gault Millau gourmet guide. Expect dishes ranging from foie gras with marinated apricots and coconut starter through a medallion of monkfish with lobster ravioli and cream of peas and lemon-raspberry dessert with yoghurt-vanilla sorbet desert.
Neuwirt, Schwarzer Adler Hotel, Florianigasse 15, A 6370 Kitzbühel (+43 (0)5356 6911). Aside from the Tennerhof, this is the other restaurant in town to score 16 out of 20 points in the prestigious Gault Millau gourmet guide and also boasts a Michelin starred chef, Stefan Hofer. His culinary creations are rated as an unpretentious combination of the finest ingredients from the local mountains and from the sea, with new variations on traditional favourites.
Rosi's Sonnbergstub'n, Oberaigenweg 103, A 6370 Kitzbühel (+43 (0)5356 64652). This is a good choice for a pleasant dinner of traditional Tyrolean dishes. All are served in the atmospheric wine cellar and there’s often live music to accompany your meal and make for a jolly evening courtesy of in-house musical maestro "Rosi".
O´Flannigans Irish pub, Jochbergerstrasse 4, A 6370 Kitzbühel (+43 5356 63237). A slightly surreal experience in the Austrian Tyrol, this full-on Irish pub is nonetheless one of the best places to acquire a sizable and affordable pizza, so long as you’re happy to dine while the place is in full swing all around you.
The Londoner, Franz-Reisch-Straße 4, A 6370 Kitzbühel (+43 (0)5356 71427). This après ski institution was established nearly 40 years ago by the late Rik Gunnell who had previously worked as a leading music promoter in the UK. Rik saw a gap in the market for a lively venue in the town and the Londoner has filled that space ever since, maintaining a reputation as the loudest in town. There’s often live music in the early evening and the younger crowd come in later on.
Seidlalm, Route 21, Streif, Kitzbuhel (+43 (0)5356 63135). It offers a rather different après ski experience to the Kitzbuhel norm. Located on the mountain right next to the Streiff run, the 400-year-old building serves up typically Tyrolean food, drink and fun, sometimes with live traditional music. It also has long associations with the Hahnenkamm race and there’s plenty of memorabilia to enjoy, along with great views out over the valley. It’s a good place to end your ski day.
The Hahnenkamm is the mountain above Kitzbühel but is better known as the greatest annual downhill ski race in the world: The Hahnenkamm. The race has been staged here most years since 1931. In Austria it’s the biggest sporting event of the year with 80,000 fans arriving for the main event, the men’s downhill, on a late January Saturday each winter. It’s a popular misconception that the piste where the race takes place is called the Hahnenkamm, when in fact the race takes place on the 3.3km Streif piste which descends 860m with pitches of up to 40.4 degrees and racers hitting nearly 100mph on the fastest section. Famous victors have included Franz Klammer on four occasions, including a record three successive wins and Didier Cuche with five wins.
Visiting Kitzbühel for the race is a great experience, but you can also tackle the Streif yourself for most of the winter (apart from the weeks before the race from early January) and you don’t have to be an expert racer as the resort has conveniently produced a less challenging ‘family-friendly’ variant of the route using the red piste number 21. If you do feel up to the full course the most famous sections of the piste such as the Mausefalle, Steilhang and Hausbergkante, are marked as “extreme ski routes” and are suited to experts only. In either case the start is opposite the summit station of the Hahnenkamm cable car.
From Munich Airport - Europe's only 5-Star Airport - you can reach this ski resort quickly and conveniently: simply use the shuttle services provided by Four Seasons Travel.
Discount option for Lufthansa travelors
You will receive a discount of 10 % on both shuttle services. If you book when you arrive, simply show your Lufthansa boarding pass. If booking online, please use the relevant Lufthansa Shuttle pages of Four Seasons Travel and enter your flight number.
Four Seasons Travel
The official transfer partner of Tirol Werbung (the Tyrol Marketing Board), Four Seasons Travel has been operating its shuttle service for 30 years. Its modern, 8-seater minibuses will take you to your ski resort reliably, safely and comfortably. Larger groups can travel in buses with up to 45 seats.
As well as Economy Class and Economy Plus shuttle services, there is also a Private Class and First Class available which will take you directly to your destination without stopping en route. You will find transfer-service counters in each of Munich’s two terminals. You can book at any time online or by phone.
For general information:
To book with Lufthansa Shuttle:
Tel.: +43 5 12 58 41 57
KM Night Skiing
Phone: +43 5356 6951-215
Munich is the ideal destination for skiers wishing to access resorts in Austria and Germany.... More