38 things to do on an Austrian winter holiday - and 79 Austrian things to be thankful for!

Skiing above the Kitzsteinhorn Glacier near Kaprun

Kitzsteinhorn glacier above Kaprun where it possible to ski in the Summer months.

Thinking about winter holidays? or skiing holidays in Austria? I started a list off to count up the options, of things to do, places to go,  got to twenty suggestions and the ideas still came flooding out. But it is reasonable to say that there is plenty to do and see on a winter / ski holiday in Austria.

If you are looking for a list of events and happenings in the Kaprun and Zell am See ( On the internet sometimes spelt ZellamSee ) ski  area click on the link here.

Salzburg a superb city to visit whatever the time of the year.

Salzburg in winter, a fantastic city to visit, explore and to shop in.

36 things to do on a winter holiday in Austria
  1. Go in search of Apre Ski. (what you do after a day on the slopes, eat, drink & party).
  2. Visit an Art gallery in Salzburg, Vienna, Linz, or Innsbruck, cities of culture.
  3. Visit a local museum Bad Gastien, Kaprun, Zell am See or Saalfalden  are pretty interesting ones.
  4. Visit a Wellness, Spa or Beauty centers, relax, unwind, ease away aches and pains. Tauern Spa Kaprun and  the  spas  in the  Gastein  valley  are  fantastic  places  to  chill.
  5. Skittles or indoor Bowling  great with a beer!
  6. Children's playgrounds, children still like them in the snow!
  7. Visit the cinema, improve your German! some have international day showings.
  8. Cleared footpath walks to follow, stopping at a mountain restaurant for a hot chocolate or something stronger!.
  9. Cross Country Skiing across the valley bottom.
  10. Curling on ice or even on a frozen lake?
  11. Horse riding in the snow, or maybe a sleigh ride.
  12. Ice-skating inside or outside
  13. Ice-sailing something different
  14. Ice-surfing?
  15. Indoor tennis at Zell am see.
  16. Outdoor fitness course, take a run
  17. Nordic Walking - walking with poles, give that body a workout.
  18. Top up the sun tan, bright and sunny in the snow.
  19. Spa, sauna, steam room, Spa-World-Kaprun  well  worth  a  visit,   or  try  the  Gastein valley  with  2  fantastic  thermal  spas,  at  Bad Hofgastein  the  alpentherme.com or at Badgastein  Felsentherme.
  20. ? Make  this one up for your self? or go and see an ice hockey match in Zell am See
  21. Snow shoeing,  walking  across  snowy  slopes  through  trees  and  across  snow  covered  meadows.
  22.  Have a ride on a horse drawn sleigh
  23. Skiing an independent view point 
  24. Sit  have  a coffee  or  a   Glühwein  and  soak  soak  up the  atmosphere and  history  of  the  place. 
  25. Snow-boarding.
  26. Snow-tubing.
  27. Snow Kiting
  28. Parascending
  29. Visit a Sports centre with a gym.
  30. Squash or tennis.
  31. Swimming pool inside or out?
  32. Sledging or tobogganing there is a great one in Kaprun
  33. Winter markets, shopping at Zell am See or Salzburg market in the snow.
  34. Sit down have a hot chocolate, take in the views and relax, you are on holiday.
  35. Have a meal to remember having burnt off the calories.
  36. Hot air ballooning over snowy mountains! Balloon festival at the end of January (now  moved  into  January) in Kaprun and Zell am See
  37. Take a cable car to the top of a mountain and take in the view. Schmitten views, history and activities
  38. You are on holiday you decide? 

      Winter Ski map of the Kaprun and Zell am See area.

      Looking for somewhere to stay in the Kaprun area then please consider looking  at  

      Convenient and Spacious accommodation for your holiday stay in Kaprun

      Attached  was added at a later date and is copied with permission from an interesting blog found / written by an American teaching assistant by the name of Rebecca, who was based in the  Austrian City of  Graz, on her work experience trip in Austria.

      "Under the heading I'm thankful" it adds to quite a list of 79  things about Austria.

      1.     for a city that's safe at night
      2.     for a city that's safe during the day
      3.     for a fantastic church home
      4.     for a rich national history
      5.     for accessible and affordable operas
      6.     for affordable housing
      7.     for an abundance of castles
      8.     for an orderly and cheap laundry system in my apartment building
      9.     for Austrian school and office supplies -- so much cooler!
      10.     for balls (i.e. dancing balls, like Cinderella went to a ball)
      11.     for bike paths
      12.     for cheap but good wine and beer
      13.     for cheap sparkling mineral water
      14.     for cheap, convenient and reliable train travel within Austria
      15.     for cheap/easy/convenient opportunities to travel within Europe
      16.     for church bells that ring at 7 am, 12 pm, 3 pm, and 7 pm
      17.     for consistently good coffee
      18.     for cute, quaint villages
      19.     for dialect and its accompanying amusements, puzzles and challenges
      20.     for everyone who helped me and/or made phone calls to figure out all the bureaucratic visa stuff
      21.     for everything pumpkin out of Styria: pumpkin seed oil, pumpkin cream soup, pumpkin bread, etc.
      22.     for exclusively Austrian Sturm, Glühwein, Christmas markets, and Buschenschanks
      23.     for ex-pats
      24.     for friends
      25.     for good bread and cheese
      26.     for good health insurance and no referrals
      27.     for good places to run and bike
      28.     for having 38 public holidays
      29.     for having the Mur river running though town
      30.     for hospitality
      31.     for how Austrians will really pull through for you
      32.     for incredible scenery
      33.     for kebabs
      34.     for Labello
      35.     for lackadaisical passport control officials
      36.     for living in a bike-friendly city
      37.     for meeting so many cool people from all over the world
      38.     for my connections
      39.     for my fellow foreigners
      40.     for old European streets, houses, and architecture in general; especially how this everyday cityscape stayed fresh and new for me
      41.     for reliable public transportation
      42.     for skiing and Austrian-style sledding
      43.     for so much free/leisure time
      44.     for sturdy toilet paper and tissues
      45.     for the abundance and coexistence of kitsch, history, and design
      46.     for the Austrians who adopted me and introduced me to Austrian life and culture
      47.     for the comfortable pace and quality of life
      48.     for the coziness of Graz
      49.     for the insanely cheap price of a chunk of fresh mozzarella
      50.     for the lack of cockroaches, poison ivy, and poisonous spiders and snakes
      51.     for the ubiquitous ice cream stands in the summer
      52.     for traditional clothing and accordion music
      53.     for tram and bus drivers who will stop the vehicle and wait for you if they see you running to catch a ride
      54.     for wearing slippers at home or as a guest in someone's home
      55.     for wonderful room mates and a flexible landlady
      56.     that Austria takes care of its people
      57.     that dogs are so well-behaved here and are allowed to go everywhere
      58.     that even in Austria I can be BFF with my bank teller(s)
      59.     that Graz was the Cultural Capital of Europe in 2003 and therefore has lots of spiffy new buildings and such
      60.     that having a car is so unnecessary
      61.     that having a real Christmas tree with real candles is the only tree most of them have ever known
      62.     that I can leave my bike simply standing and loosely locked anywhere in the city and it will still be there when I come back
      63.     that I can understand German on the phone
      64.     that I can walk in to the doctor's office without an appointment and actually be seen
      65.     that I could live in the same apartment for over 2 years - longer than any other apartment I've ever had
      66.     that I had so many visitors in the past couple years!
      67.     that I lived for 2 years without a deadbolt and it never bothered me
      68.     that I'm no longer pre-judged on the basis of my president
      69.     that it is so easy to split the bill in a restaurant
      70.     that my room doesn't face a street
      71.     that nearly everything you ever use is recycled
      72.     that people have stopped introducing me as, "This is Rebecca. She's American."
      73.     that receiving phone calls is free on your mobile phone
      74.     that Styria has it all -- mountains, hills, vineyards, thermal baths…
      75.     that tax is included in all your purchases and tipping is practically nonexistent
      76.     that the country is very stable and doesn't have any severe political or international problems
      77.     that there are so many old people who are out and about
      78.     that there are very few Americans in comparison with other Austrian cities
      79.     that there are very few tourists in comparison with the other Austrian cities"

      Quite a list, we would welcome other suggestions about what is good about Austria.

      Things to do in and around Zell am See and Kaprun

      Attractions in and around Kaprun / Zell am See to enhance any Austrian holiday. Or things to do and what to see in the Salzburgerland area of Austria.

      1) Visit the Kitzsteinhorn glacier mountain above Kaprun, fantastic views, complete with 3 cable cars to take you to the top. With a further funicular railway to take you down onto the glacier.  A new summit restaurant, cinema and viewing platforms opened recently.  It is possible to take guided walks to the very top of the Kitzsteinhorn at 3203 Metres what a view!

      2) Go up on the Maisikogel lift, from Kaprun, take your bike and cycle back down the hill, or  just go for a hike, routes galore, open winter and summer.
      So much to see and do in the Kaprun - Zell am See areas, all year round

      3) Sigmund-Thun-Klamm,   is a steep gorge, very pleasant and interesting walk on boarded platforms above the waters.  In summer come back for the lighted torch walk! worth at least two visits!!  Call in during the day also at the free hydro electric museum, next  to the gorge ticket office, for the history of the hydro electric scheme / Kaprun dams going back to the 1930's.

      4)  Visit the superb  Tauern Spa Kaprun it opens its doors all years round, at 80 million + euro investment it will have been worth the wait. Whether after a hard days skiing, a mountain walk, or just for a relaxation and pamper its well worth a visit.  Sauna and Spa area, textile and non textile areas ( clothed and separate nude area).

      Tauern Spa Kaprun a visit will enhance any holiday

      5) Visit the high  Alpine reservoirs,  travel over alpine passes, and take a ride in a high level cable, plenty of choice with stunning views, take a further look and click on the attached link.  Hochgebirgsstauseen - Tauernkraftwerke 

      Kaprun reservoirs note the glaciers in the distance well worth a visit

      6) Burg Kaprun, visit Kapruns castle, with a history going back nearly a thousand years,  worth a visit,  events,  pageants and parties are held in this location throughout the year. 
      Kaprun castle, note picture and  Zell am See in a lakeside setting in the far distance.  
      Burg - Kaprun - Castle

      7) A blast into the past with Vötters Oldtimer- Car Museum, it is located just down from Kaprun  castle on route down to the village centre. There is a train outside the hotel entrance and the museum is located in the basement area.

       8) Grossglockner Pass is a toll road, and is the highest pass in western Europe, ride over it by bus, car, coach, taxi, motorbike or even cycle over for the ultimate challenge!  the Grossglockner pass (Großglockner Hochalpenstrasse), whatever your mode of transport expect to be impressed, but choose a sunny day, open from May to October, weather dependent.

      In the 2011 Season  the Grossglockner High Alpine Road opened on Thursday 21 April 2011. which was much earlier than normal May opening,  after closing for the winter snows.  It normally stays open until early November weather dependent.

      The pass makes a spectacular passage  from Salzburgland  - Carinthia- Southern Austria, with  glaciers to be seen.   There a  shops and exhibitions in the alpine nature show and at the restaurants and will normally be open for daytime passages.

      Grossglockner Pass fantastic whether to drive or cycle!!

      If you are looking for somewhere to stay then please consider austria holiday apartment

      Kaprun - austria-holiday-apartment.com

      Winter Skiing Kaprun- Zell am See the Europa Ski area.

      Chapel next to Kaprun Castle

      The lake side market town of Zell am See and the alpine village of Kaprun have teamed  up together for the past 40 years and were aptly collectively known as the "Europa Sport Region".  They have now recently changed the focus on the joint marketing of the names of Zell am See and Kaprun.

      Between the the lively medieval lakeside resort town of Zell am See and the spectacular Kitzsteinhorn glacier, lies Kaprun. Which is a traditional Austrian village with a pretty church and interesting castle.  It is convenient for nursery slopes, pistes for all levels and fast links to near all year round snow sure slopes on the glacier so good for  November to June ski  holidays and beyond.  For some night life check out the Austrian scene oompah bars always turn out to be very special nights!

      The skiing area of Zell am See and Kaprun is varied with three distinct Ski areas of:-

      i) Maiskogel, where it is possible to ski down into the center of Kaprun and it is only a 10-12 minute walk away from Austria holiday apartment where up to 9 persons can sleep in comfort.

      ii) The second area is above Zell am See down from the 2000 meter high Schmittenhoe, topped by a chapel and restaurant.  This area has fantastic views down onto the frozen lake of Zell am See, where in the right conditions people will be found walking and skating.  There is consideration to the possibility to linking up this ski area to meet up with the adjacent ski resorts of Sallbach and Hinterglemm.  It is also possible to upgrade your Zell am See / Ski pass  for a few Euros include this additional area on top of the 3 ski areas in Zell am See and Kaprun.  There is speculation of new ski lifts and slopes  down into Piesendorf extending the ski area even further.

      Austrian Traditional Holiday Poster.

      iii) The third area is above Kaprun on the Kitzsteinhorn which rises to 3203 metres in height.  Below the summit there is the Kitzsteinhorn glacier, which is open all year round and normally subject to weather it sometimes only closes for 2-3 weeks in the summer for maintenance to the ski lifts. So it is possible to ski throughout most of the year, creating the possibility of a longer ski season for visitors and locals alike. This mountain area also has the benefit of a snow park for the ski boarders. For the recent season a new lift had been installed the "Kristallbahn" which had the benefit of heated seats! which made the ride up, nearly as much fun as the ski down! With upgrades and improvements being made year on year to the facilities provided.

       Joint Ski resort area Map of Zell am See and Kaprun

      The valley bottom between Kaprun and Zell am See is the location of a cross country ski course for an alternative form of skiing the Nordic type.

      Tauern Spa Kaprun

      New from November 2010 is the fantastic Tauern Spa Kaprun, it is located just  to the north of Kaprun, on the road  out of the village to Zell am See.  Our sister blog at Austria-Spa-World provides further information on this 85 million Euro project, which will enhance any holiday by a visit and the use of its extensive facilities. There is a fantastic spa area, split into a  "textile" and none textile (nudist) areas to suit.

      Tauern Spa Kaprun close to Zell am See

      As mentioned there are further additional ski areas in the immediate area the joint resort of Saalbach Hinterglemm   and Kitzbuhel.  Around 30 minutes away is the Gastein valley, where there is further additional  extensive skiing, and  it also the benefit of 2 (yes two) world class spa complexes at Bad Gastein and at Bad  Hofgastein.  Both are thermally  thermally heated ( natural) and are definitely worth a visit what ever the time of the year.

      Pisendorf and Niedernsill are just a few miles away from Zell am See and Kaprun, and are compact resorts, they tend to be a little quieter and cheaper,  than their busier neighbours.  A ski map of the area can be found via this link, can be used as a great base to commute to the larger ski areas.  It is a good base, along with Kaprun  for cross Country skiing with extensive routes along the valley bottom in all directions. 

      The holiday region Zell am See-Kaprun attracts 2 million overnight stays every year is one of the most popular holiday destinations in Austria. During the summer months you can enjoy a variety of outdoor activities like rafting, golf and hiking.  And also in the cold season there is never a dull moment thanks to the possibilities of  sleigh rides and hiking tours in snowshoes. Skiers can comfortably reach the 132 kilometres of slopes with powder snow on one of the 56 lifts. Snowboarders also enjoy the perfect high altitude conditions of the Snow-parks on the 2,600 metre high glacier plateau. Even in the summer you can swish down the slopes there.

      Ski passes can be brought at a variety of locations in Kaprun and Zell am See, with the Kitzsteinhorn glacier comes a snow guarantee as well!! with an  extended ski season into June and October starts for a new ski season possibilities.

      Ski  slope Cameras

      Many holiday resort destinations have internet cameras, for example via the attached Zell am See / Kaprun link the site  lead to cameras covering the areas of Maisikogel, the Kitzsteinhorn ( more than one camera to cover different areas of the glacier), the Schmitten, with further cameras looking over the lake at Zell am See. It is a useful resource to see perhaps the weather conditions, visibility, numbers skiing, or if there are and swimmers or skaters in or on the lake. 

      The renowned German publishing house of 'Falk Verlag' awarded Zell am See and Kaprun the high accolade of the voting the area the most family-friendly holiday region in Europe!

      Austria holiday apartment - Kaprun comfort and convenience

      Summer Holiday in Austria

      Summer holiday in Austria 2015 

      Since the age of 8 (and I’m now 43) I have been a big fan of the Austrian alps, it’s such a beautiful part of the world! I love winter sports, from watching the downhill ski-ing and snowboard slopestyle on TV to freeriding the slopes on what is now an almost antique Ride snowboard. It never really occurred to me that it was a summer holiday destination until 2003 when we made our first wonderful trip to a village near Innsbruck after we had seen a feature on the BBC’s Holiday programme. A few years later and we decided to return to Austria with two small children and little did we know that we would unearth a real gem of a place that would capture all of our hearts and minds.

      And so it is that we have made our 5th (yes 5th!) summer excursion in seven years to Sue & Derek’s fantastic austria holiday apartment in Kaprun. Why change a winning formula! It is still an exciting place to visit where we can enjoy what we have experienced previously coupled with the fascination of discovering new and interesting places and events. This is of course made a little easier as our children get older – they were just 4 & 6 on our first visit and are now 10 & 12 but they love going back just as much as we do.

      The start of this years trip wasn’t the best when we couldn’t even get off the ground in England, our flight was cancelled as we were sat on the plane (curtailed by a lightning strike!). But we knew what we were going to miss so hastily re-arranged a new flight to get us on our way. On arrival at the apartment the stress of that major problem quickly evaporated and was very soon forgotten. The apartment was clean, comfortable and in great condition just as it has been in past years and so didn’t disappoint. We had a nice relaxing evening watching a film, having a bite to eat and deciding what we should do the next day.

      Well the heat wave seemed to have settled in and at 30c it was a simple choice of which lake or pool (or both) to go for a swim in. As we like the ambiance of Zell am See we chose the lido or Strandbad. A family day pass was around €23 and as we arrived early when it was quiet we did get our money’s worth. Great fun to begin the holiday and fantastic views around the lake. Without much persuasion my youngest daughter & I took an exhilarating tow behind a speedboat from Edi’s Wasserskischule, “Daddy I’m hanging on for dear life” she said quite calmly really, which is pretty much what I was doing too! Very proud I was though. There are other activities on offer such as water-ski-ing, wake-boarding, the donuts and banana boat so something to keep those with an adrenalin rush entertained.

      It was also Wednesday which meant that the weekly summer festival – the Zellersommernachtsfest – was on too. We ate outside in one of the many restaurants and then enjoyed street festivities particularly the music – a mixture of traditional Austrian oompah and the more contemporary – and the food & drink on offer at the many stalls. The atmosphere made it so that we visited it again the following week.

      We had such great weather, it was wonderfully sunny and incredibly hot with the forecast for it to continue so our two favourite ways of cooling down are to go up into the mountains in the morning and then go swimming in the afternoon. The most economical way of doing both is the “Hike and; Swim” ticket which lasts for 6 days and provides access to the pools in Zell am See, all the cable cars that are operating in both Zell am See and Kaprun as well as the local post buses. For our family of 4 this cost €260 (or £193), which is quite reasonable given that two trips to the Kitzsteinhorn would cost the same amount.

      One of our favourite ‘cool’ activities is summer sledging on the Kitzsteinhorn glacier at the Ice Arena. So cool in fact that we had to do it twice. The best time to go is as early as possible to avoid the lift queues that build up as the day progresses. On our 2nd visit we went very early and even spotted a wild alpine marmot grazing on the lower slopes during the first cable car ride, anyway we were first to arrive and the piste bashers were still preparing the piste with fresh snow but once they’d finished we made ‘fresh tracks’! There’s something for everyone up there, even if it’s just relaxing in the café/restaurant with a coffee and apfelstrudel.
      We used the cable cars on all six days with our pass and we all enjoyed the walks on the Schmitten all of which gave stunning views of the region. These included:

      1.     Schmidolin’s Baptism of Fire – a great walk for all with activity stations for children at 12 different points en route. It seems that on each of our visits there has been one or more new stations to try out which maintains their interest. Our preference is to start at from the Areitbahn lift, although it’s possible to do it from the City Express (Mittelstation) too.

      2.     Route 68 - the High Promenade is a lovely walk down from the Schmitten summit to the Sonnkogel chairlift where there is lots to see and do on the way, finished off with a drink and a bite to eat at the restaurant before taking the chairlift to the Sonnenalm cable car.

      High  above  Zell  am  See  and  Kaprun
      Walking  at  its  best  in the  Austrian  Alps  above  Zell  am  See  -  Kaprun
      3.     Route 55 – the Plettsaukopf is a great short walk from the City Express (Mittelstation) through the trees to the reservoir where there is a play park and a water feature. The apfelstrudel at the Mittelstation restaurant was wonderful too and the children enjoyed the trampoline!

      4.     Route 50 – this is much longer and downhill all the way (but not as easy as you might think) from the Schmitten summit past the Breiteckalm and on to Mittelstation. We imagined we were skiing in the winter whilst walking down the grassy pistes. After arriving back in Zell on the City Express we took the free bus back to the Schmitten car park to fetch our car.
      After all this good exercise in the fresh mountain air we were ready to relax and have fun by the lake/pool. On the days when we didn’t go to Zell we explored a little further afield:

      1.     Derek & Sue had always said how nice the bathing lake was at Niedernsill and so this time we made a point of visiting it, in fact twice, and the entry cost for us all was approx. €18. They are absolutely right, and it’s crazy how it has taken us until now! It’s a beautiful small lake in a picturesque location with climbing frames and hammocks above the water, a water slide and pontoon plus a giant water fountain. The water temperature was just perfect and even when busy it’s not overcrowded. There’s a café and ice cream stall, just everything you could need for a full afternoon lazing about on or in the water or its grassy banks. If you don’t want to take it easy, there are tennis courts next door and a sandy volleyball court too.

      Fantastic  Swimming  Lake and  Sporting  Facilities  at  Niedernsill

      2.     We also returned to the pool at Piesendorf which is a little cheaper at €11 for us all. This too has stunning views and is separated by multiple pools, longer water slide, Jacuzzi and sports pool. It too has a café The water was a little cooler but given the heat that was fine too. It too has a café and changing rooms and can be accessed by the lokalbahn train that runs between Zell am See and Krimml.

      Most evenings we were too tired to do much exploring and so relaxed in the apartment but on the Monday night we did also enjoy the ‘Mystical night of water’ in the Sigmund Thun Klamm gorge walk which is just a minute up the road. We’ve walked through the gorge a number of times before because it is so nice but had never done so at night. The guides spoke in German and English and after walking through the gorge in twilight and by the lake we arrived at a welcoming campfire where we listened to stories and ate a baked potato. On our return we were each handed a firelit torch to make our way back. It was very popular and well worth the money (<€20 for the family).

      On our last full day we decided to treat ourselves to a full day pass at the Tauern Spa in Kaprun, which cost €65. It’s a five star complex with many different pools indoor and out as well as a long water slide, outdoor café with waters edge ordering and an excellent restaurant. This place never disappoints! With a non-alcoholic cocktail in hand, on a sun lounger by the salt pool, with a great view of the Kitzsteinhorn and music playing in my ears whilst the children are having fun, what could be better!
      The day we left for home we said goodbye to Kaprun with another go on the Maisiflitzer alpine coaster, an exhilarating experience whizzing down the mountain side in a cart on a rollercoaster track. Our family ticket for one ride was €26. We were also unlucky to just miss the annual village festival which was setting up for the evening, and by all accounts they even managed to set a new world record for the longest ever apple strudel at a staggering 752m!

      So that was our trip this year, there were so many other things we could also have done including biking along the many flat trails , visiting Salzburg, exploring Saalbach, the Grossglockner pass, the list is literally endless. If you don’t believe me just visit any of the tourist information offices

      Once again thanks to Derek & Sue for the use of their apartment in Kaprun. It’s the perfect base for everyone young and old to explore this wonderful area.

      Richards Family 2015 J

      View  from  the  apartment  terrace  of  the  Kitzsteinhorn

      If  you  are  looking for somewhere to stay for 3-9 people? With the benefit of three bedrooms and three bath / shower rooms. For further information please see www.austria-holiday-apartment.com