5 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.

    1. Snowshoeing

    Far away from the prepared slopes and runs you can reach well beyond what others will experience. Enjoy spectacular views off the beaten path and marvel at fresh snow clinging to a mountain cliff, glistening. You might even see timid wildlife or just simply enjoy the undisturbed splendour of a glacier.
    An especially impressive snow shoe trail can be found in the Rauris Valley in Salzburg's countryside. Before the trail leads into the forest, you will be amazed by the majesty of the soaring 3,000-metre (10,000 ft) peaks above you. After three hours of snowshoe hiking, you'll have earned a hearty meal at the Alpengasthof Ammererhof. We suggest borrowing a toboggan for the ride back down - or spend the night in one of their cosy guest rooms.

    Snowshoe hiking at Ramsau am Dachstein

    2. Winter Hiking

    Do you prefer to take it a bit easier? May we suggest to simply don warm footwear and set off for a winter hike. There are countless, specially prepared trails at all altitudes across Austria that lead through enchanting forests, over sun drenched mountain pastures, or even into some of the highest mountain regions. Ascend the mountain by cable car and start off from there, as in the Mauterndorf ski area. Or just start walking, there are plenty of hotels located directly on hiking trails.

    Flachau, Salzburg

    3. Igloo Building

    This is certainly one of the more unique ways to spend a winter vacation. In the Tiroler Zugspitz Arena you can enroll in an igloo building workshop - a fascinating experience for people of all ages. What impresses most is that even on the coldest days the temperature in the interior of the igloo remains above freezing and, thankfully, clothing and sleeping bags stay dry after you have settled down for the night.

    Snow hiking/South of Lienz/East Tyrol

    4. Dog Sledding

    A ride on a dog sled is an unforgettable experience - and not just for the kids. When you stand at the back of the sled pulled by huskies, you are able to experience the winter landscape in a unique way. This Alaskan adventure is yours to have in the heart of the Waldviertel region. In a dedicated workshop, you'll learn about caring for huskies, the most important aspects of manoeuvring a sled, and the commands that the dogs understand. All this can be put into practice straight away of course, under the watchful eye of a musher. Workshops are available in a variety of locations, such as Kühtai in Tirol, Sportgastein, and Brandnertal valley in Vorarlberg.

    Dog sledding at Waldviertel

    5. Tobogganing

    A true winter classic during the day as well as at night. The most powerful floodlight system in all of Europe illuminates the toboggan run on the Hirschenkogel at Semmering during long winter evenings. The World's Longest Floodlit Run can be found on the Wildkogel in Salzburg; an unbelievable 14 km (8.7 mi) and the entire length is lit at night.

    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.

    Family, sledding, Schladming