Zell am See & Kaprun a visitors view.

 The contents of this article on Zell am See and Kaprun was written by Brian R Stevens came from "content Caboodle", where another one of Brian's articles can be found here, they  give an interesting overview of  first impressions of the Zell am See ski area. The links in the article I have put in to provide further information to the reader. Enjoy!

"The first time I visited Zell am See I was actually staying at a small town further north going back towards Saltzburg called Lofer bie Martin. I was actually staying in the Schloss Grubhoff castle 

Schloss Grubhoff castle, Austria

which was once owned by the king of Bavaria but has now been converted into luxurious apartments which can be rented out as holiday lets. I was enjoying my stay at Lofer and in particular the quaint ski facilities there, which incidentally would be no challenge for anyone who considers themselves good intermediate or advanced level but is well worth a visit for curiosity's sake, it really is oldy worldy Austrian skiing facilities and you will not find much of a presence there beyond the Austrians themselves.

The marked difference I noticed in visiting Zell am See was the level of activity there, lots more people, a thriving little town in a gorgeous setting and much more to offer the higher level skiers, still not a majorly serious challenge for the advanced skiers but certainly enough to keep them happy for quite a few days with some decent blacks and reds to go at.

The resort in my opinion is much more suited to the intermediate level skier with plenty of reds and blues plus those blacks for when you want to give yourself a bit of a challenge, you should be able to ski from the top of the mountain to the bottom without too much trouble as well. The top of the mountain (called Schmittenhohe) gives you access to a number of runs which you can circuit and if you do prefer a longer run you can ski down to Schuttdorf and get lifts all the way back, or of course you can ski back to Zell am See or to the gondola. I class myself as intermediate and there was enough there for me to visit this resort on 3 separate occasions.

It's not a bad resort for beginners either, other than if you want to ski all the way back to town then you might find it a bit tricky with some fairly steep slopes near the bottom that have to be negotiated, the alternative being some very shallow cross country tracks which can be really hard work and may put a lot of people off so they might decide to just come back to the bottom on the lift.
That aside, the slopes at the top of the mountain do cater for beginners and if I was a beginner again I certainly wouldn't rule out Zell am See particularly if you are moving towards intermediate level, it may just present you with the challenges you need to get you to that next level.

The addition of the ski lifts from the centre of town (in place for a few years now) has provided a much needed boost to the convenience level the resort has to offer, previously there was a long trek to the top of the hill going out of the town where you could get the gondola. This is still running and is serviced by a regular bus service or is accessible by people with a car available, personally I would not consider it walking distance from the town centre particularly if you are having to wear ski boots and carry skis, (although I am sure there are probably a number of people who could prove me wrong).
If you do park at the gondola there is a sort of cross country track that goes out to it from the main piste (number 4) but there are sections of it that are actually flat to uphill and no decent run that lets your speed carry you through those sections, so a lot of puffing and panting goes on. The alternative is to come down some of the steeper slopes or to ski to the bottom and then get the bus back up. If you caught the bus or walked (mad fools) then there is no problem.

View of the Kitzsteinhorn Glacier above Kaprun

Another bonus of staying at Zell am See is that you are pretty close to Kaprun, where if the worst occurs and there is no snow you have a glacier, although whenever I have been there snow has not been a problem. You are also quite close to Salbaach-Hinterglemm which is another great resort that has pistes either side of the valley where it is located, it also offers a few more challenges to the experienced and advanced level skiers as does Kaprun. Both of these resorts can be reached on the ski bus which can be used off the back of your ski lift pass at no extra charge, the ski pass also gives you free parking in the ski areas. If you have your own transport you can go visit Lofer which I mentioned earlier or you are also not too far away from, Bad Gastein, Bad Hofgastein, Wagrain, Schladming and Obertauern.

I have to say I really enjoyed my skiing at Zell am See but I also really enjoyed the apres ski and evenings out as well, there are loads of bars and restaurants to choose from and the place has a real buzz to it. If you are there at the right time of year you might be lucky enough to see some of the traditional Austrian celebrations, for example the seeing out of the winter and welcoming in of the spring, I have memories of the band coming into the bar dressed as chickens and playing music aimed at getting everyone to have a good time and into the street to join in with the locals dancing.

I hope you have found this review useful and that it has given you a flavour of one of my favourite ski resorts in Austria, I have skied in a few different places and countries, including Italy, Bulgaria, Germany and Canada but cannot think of anywhere that delivers the full package quite as well as Zell am See, although to be honest I would not knock any of the other places I have been to either all of them have their special characteristics and are also worth visiting in their own right"

To see another of Brian's article  please click  here on the link.

If you like the area and are looking for for somewhere to stay? then please consider Austria holiday apartment it sleeps from 3-9 in comfort, and has the benefit of three bedrooms and 3 shower rooms.

Summer Holiday in Austria -Kaprun and Zell am See

My husband , two older  teenagers and myself  flew to Munich airport and hired a car and drove to Kaprun in Austria, near to Zell am See for a 10 day holiday, in the Alps.  We had wonderful sunny weather and so for the first day, after visiting the tourist information office in Kaprun,  we  went to a lovely swimming lake at Niedersill between Mittersill and Piesendorf.  Here the grassy banks run down into the lake, and there are trees for shade and a sweet little cafe where we had a snack. In the centre of the lake is a fountain which pumped water up about 50 metres. The lake was delightful and the scenery was fantastic. I think this was much more fun than a beach swim, being able to swim and mountain watch at the same time was wonderful. 

The  lake  at  Niedersill

The following day we brought a 6 day a swim and lift  pass, which covers the area of Zell am See and Kaprun which enabled free ravel on the cable cars in the area and also swimming lakes and can be used on buses as well.  We went up into to the Tauern mountains, on the Kitzsteinhorn. Looking down from the ski lift we saw our first Marmot. Later on the nature trails we learnt  that baby Marmots are called monkeys and adult females "Cats" and adult males "Bears". Also that they are hunted for the medicinal value in the creation of ointments.

We have been swimming at Optimum Kaprun baths which is lovely but apparently going to partially close when the new Tauern Spa Kaprun opens between Zell am See and Kaprun in November this year (2010). Later in the holiday we hired cycles,   and went close past the location of the new spa, and it is in a stunning location in the valley bottom surrounded by mountains.

In the evenings we have entertained ourselves by going to a European Ice Hockey match in Zell Am See, watching Salzburg Red Bull play  a team from Switzerland. The score was 4 to 2, and it was a very exciting and fast moving game - but we gave up trying to work out all the complex rules involved. That same evening a  Wednesday we went into Zell am See centre where there is a festival on the streets every week and we watched large good natured crowds milling around listen to various musicians / bands playing a range of different music, throughout the town centre. It was all very lively and uplifting.

On Thursday  after another walk in the mountains,  at night we went to the Porche Congress conference centre in Zell am See to watch an Austrian Folk evening which included songs, dances, cow bells and the typical Austrian horn. We all ended up being dragged on stage to dance or yodel!!  It was highly entertaining and good value at 36 Euros for 4 of us. They served drinks at your table during the evening and it lasted about 1.5 hours.

Another day we hired bicycles from Kaprun for 52 Euros for 4 of us  and took them up the Maisikogel, lift, we had to pay another 2 euros for the transport of each bike, on top of the 6 day  lift passes we had.  We then cycled down the cycle route into Kaprun which was really fun. As I am not an experienced cyclist this was an easy route and enabled us to have a peaceful cycle stopping half way to a packed lunch, even though there were two mountain restaurants we could have stopped at.

Kaprun Austria holiday Apartment where we stayed

This is the view from the Austria holiday apartmentt garden where we where we stayed, we could clearly see the Kitzsteinhorn glacier.

Overall we had a great time and there is lots to see and in and around the area  for all  ages, our teenage children even said they would like to come back!!