Ischgl's large ski area stretches across to Samnaun in Switzerland but the resort is perhaps best known for its après-ski. There is a formidable list of bars on the slopes and in town, plus nightclubs to suit most tastes, and it hosts the famous Top of the Mountain concerts and many other live events.
In a country known for partying as hard as it skis, Ischgl is a snow-covered, mini-Ibiza which eclipses all other resorts for après-ski. All this means its slopes are sometimes forgotten about which is a shame because there’s great skiing and boarding to be had as well. The lifts are almost all modern and high speed; the piste grooming is generally spotless, and there is sufficient artificial snow-making to guarantee a long season, although it’s not always needed because this is a relatively high resort (by Austrian standards) in a naturally snowy area.
Full lift and piste integration with neighbouring Samnaun over the border in Switzerland creates a large connected ski area with more than 40 lifts and over 200km of piste. That’s enough for most intermediate skiers staying for a week, especially if they don’t get out of bed first thing in the morning, which seems a safe bet given the nightlife. And if they do run out of new runs to discover, they can always take the bus to Galtur, which is nearby and will keep them busy for a day or two.
Advanced skiers who want to be challenged should try the ungroomed ski routes that are marked on the piste map and on the ground. The Val Gronda lift rises to over 2800m and has only one official run down but there is lots of unofficial freeriding around it. Ischgl’s off-piste mountain guides can show you the best descents and also some itineraries that take you far away from the pistes. Boarders and freestyle skiers also have a good terrain park to practice their skills on.
Beginners get a mixed deal. There are plenty of ski schools and the nursery slopes are high quality, but you have to go up the mountain to Idalp to find them, and that means buying a full lift pass.
Ultimately whether you like or loathe Ischgl is unlikely to be decided by the quality of its skiing alone. Ischgl might be compact and traffic-free, but if you’re seeking a charming, traditional, quiet Tyrolean village, you’ve come to the wrong place (although you could try Galtur or Samnaun). But if you want to stay in the party capital of the Alps with all its glitz and noise then Ischgl could be the perfect ski resort for you.
Ischgl Pros & Cons
+ Lively apres-ski and nightlife
+ Big enough ski area
+ Excellent pistes for intermediates
+ Some challenging ski routes and off-piste
+ Compact, traffic-free resort
– Beginners need an expensive lift pass
– Too loud, brash and charmless for some.