10 Activities Beyond the Ski Slopes

    Not everyone feels inclined to track up a mountain in snow shoes. However the reward that awaits you is quite grand: an unforgettable experience in the majestic Austrian Alps, beyond the flurry on the ski slopes. Here are 5 activities to enjoy winter in Austria away from the slopes.

    Snowshoeing in Styria

    1. Snowshoeing

    Enjoy spectacular panoramic views and marvel at fresh snow clinging to a mountain cliff on a snowshoe hike far away from the prepared slopes and runs. You might even see wildlife up-close. And even if you don't, the stunning glacier views in perfect silence will be worth totally worth it!

    Vorarlberg's Montafon offers 150 km of marked routes as well as guided tours leading through the snowy winter landscape, across glittering fields of snow and through enchanting forests, while Tux in Zillertal has 68 km of trails, with many of them leading to rustic huts and panorama restaurants.

    Alternatively, head to the Teichalm in Styria for a leisurely hike in a spectacular setting or to Rauris Valley in Salzburg's countryside, where an impressive snow shoe trail surrounded by 3,000 m peaks awaits.

    Flachau, Salzburg

    2. Winter Hiking

    Wanna take it a bit easer? Then winter hiking might be just your cup of tea. There are countless, prepared trails at different altitudes across Austria, leading through enchanting forests, over sun drenched mountain pastures, or even into some of the highest mountain regions.

    Tirol's Zillertal boasts a whooping 460 km of winter hiking trails, ranging from challenging routes for pros to family-friendly leisurely walks. Or how about hiking around the water? Lake Wörthersee in Carinthia, famous for its "dolce vita" vibe in summer, turns into a white wonderland during the colder months. And then there's Tirol's Achensee - join a guided tour, head out solo, or explore the magnificent landscapes together with your significant other.

    In Salzburg, the Lungau region features many panoramic routes. Start walking right from your doorstep or take a cable car up fo the nearest trail.

    Cross-country skiing at Bad Ischl / Bad Ischl

    3. Cross-Country-Skiing & Ski Touring

    Not ready to give up the skis but still looking for an adventure away from the classic slopes?

    Kufsteinerland is one of Tirol's most popular and beautiful regions for cross-country-skiing, as is Seefeld, where 245 km of prepared trails and a stunning mountain plateau await. Galtür in the Paznaun region offers perfect tracks at 1,377 m and up to over 2,000 m altitude, plus snow-guarantee and lots of sunshine.

    Arlberg is a paradise for ski touring fans of all ages and skill levels, while Ötztal features challenging trails for experienced tourers, covering some of the highest mountains in Tirol (and routes for newbies to the sports, too!). When heading to Hinterstoder in Upper Austria, you can enjoy a ski tour in the stunning Kalkalpen national park.

    Dog sledding at Waldviertel

    4. Dog Sledding & Alpaca Excursions

    A ride on a dog sled is an unforgettable experience - and not just for the kids. When you drive a sled pulled by huskies, you will experience the winter landscape in a whole new way. After a short introduction, teaching you all you need to know about the dogs, the most important commands, and the art of manoeuvring a sled, you will head out on your Alaskan adventure in Austria.

    Kühtai in Tirol and Sportgastein offer husky sledding for all ages throughout the winter. Or how about paying Vorarlberg's Husky Toni and his 18 dogs a visit?

    However, dogs aren't the only animals that make great companions for a winter walk. In Lower Austria, you can go on hikes with donkeys, Ilamas and alpacas!

    Family, sledding, Schladming

    5. Tobogganing

    A true Austrian winter classic during the day as well as at night. Heading to Tirol? Ötztal valley alone has 15 downhill runs offering roughly 50 km of tobogganing fun. Hike up the starting point - just just hop on a cable car. Zillertal awaits with 15 runs covering 48 km, and about 30 km of them are illuminated - perfect for some exciting night-time tobogganing!

    Bregenzerwald, Vorarlberg, has an 1,2 km long natural toboggan run perfect for families. The most powerful floodlight system in Europe illuminates the toboggan run on the Hirschenkogel at Semmering, while the world's longest floodlit run (14 km / 8.7 mi) can be found on the Wildkogel in Salzburg.

    True friends of nature, however, stick with the tried and true methods of yesteryear. Grab a torch, get a sled, and stroll up the mountain over snow-covered paths through forests and pastures.

    Weissensee Lake: Ice skating in winter

    6. Ice skating

    As soon as the ice cover is thick enough, Austria's lakes turn into beloved skating rinks. Put on your skates (you can rent them!), and forget about your busy everyday life while gliding on the surface.

    Carinthia is home to Europe's largest natural ice rink, Lake Weissensee (6.5 km2). And the good news is: Not a single winter has gone by without the lake freezing - just one of the many reasons why skating enthusiasts from near and far come here again and again. In and around Innsbruck, you can choose between an impressive number of natural and artificial skating rinks, with many of them offering stunning views of the Alps on top.

    And if you find yourself in Salzburg, Lake Fuschlsee, less than half an hour drive from the city centre, is your go-to place for gliding between the mountains across the lake (check ice conditions online before you leave!).

    Fackelwanderung im PillerseeTal

    7. Torchlight Walking & Hiking

    Night walks with torches certainly rank among the most mystical winter activities - and they are not just romantic, they come with great benefits for body and mind, too! They stimulate our different senses - as we can't rely solely on our eyes - while deeply relaxing us at the same time.

    In Tirol, local guides Hubsi and Lisa offer weekly tours around Lake Pillersee, where you will walk on snowy paths along the water, only illuminated by torches - a truly memorable experience.

    Travelling to Carinthia? Sign up for a moonlight or torchlight walk at Lake Weissensee and experience the beauty of the Gailtal valley at night.

    horse drawn sleigh Saalbach Hinterglemm

    8. Horse-drawn Sleigh Rides

    What more comfy (and memorable) way to enjoy Austria's dreamy winter landscape than safely tucked away under warm blankets on a horse-drawn sleigh, together with your significant other? Horse-drawn sleigh rides are a popular winter activity all over Austria and many most resorts offer daily tours.

    In Arlberg's Lech, you can choose between day and night rides, with the latter ones especially popular with couples - just imagine all the romantically lit houses around and the blanket of stars above you!

    If you are looking for a family-friendly sleigh tour, SalzburgerLand might just offer what you are looking for. Some rides in resorts such as Saalbach-Hinterglemm even offer stops at huts for hot chocolate or Kaiserschmarren!

    Aqua Dome in Ötztal valley

    9. Snow & Spa

    Stressed out from your everyday life? Head to a mountain spa for a day (or after skiing) and we promise you will forget all your worries and tensions within seconds! Austria is famous for its top-notch spas and many are located in the larger winter resorts. Go for a swim in an outdoor heated pool, surrounded by snow-covered mountains, or book a massage or beauty treatment after a day out on the slopes.

    Hotel Aqua Dome in Längenfeld has Tirol's largest spa with a whooping 12 indoor and outdoor pools, 14 saunas and a whole spa treatment world, while luxury hotel Das Central in Sölden offers a breathtaking scenery with more than 250 majestic 3000-metre peaks.

    Other hotels worth checking out include the Green Spa Resort Stanglwirt in Going am Wilden Kaiser, also in Tirol, and the Naturhotel Forsthofgut, Europe's first forest SPA, located in Leogang, SalzburgerLand.

    Snowshoeing at Bregenzerwald in Vorarlberg

    10. Igloo Building

    This is certainly one of the more unique ways to spend a winter vacation.

    In the Bregenzerwald region in Vorarlberg you can participate in an igloo building workshop - and then actually spend the night in your newly built ice home!

    It's quite impressive that even on the coldest days the temperature in the igloo remains above freezing and, thankfully, clothing and sleeping bags stay dry, too. Enjoy a torchlit hike followed by a proper cheese fondue and a nightcap around the campfire before you settle down for a memorable night in the middle of a snow-covered wonderland.

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