Apres Ski in Ischgl

The Village 

Ischgl is a fairly compact place, in parts a typical traditional Tirolean community, with a largely pedestrianised centre.

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Ischgl is set in the Silvretta mountains towards the head of the long narrow Paznaun Valley at the western end of Tirol. The main road up the valley is susceptible to landslides, and this means that on occasion the resorts strung along it – See, Kappl, Ischgl and Galtur – can be cut off for a day or two by heavy snowfall. Once a small farming village Ischgl was first settled by the Rhaeto Romans in the 10th century, with an influx of Walsers, a Celtic people who were escaping persecution in Switzerland, in the 14th century.

It became something of a holiday resort in 1929, when the tourist office was formed. Its first cable-car was built in 1963, and now Ischgl has 10,000 guest beds, with a local population of about 1,500. It’s a fairly compact place, in parts a typical traditional Tirolean community, with farming still an element of the economy. The centre is largely pedestrianised, the village being bypassed by the road which continues up the valley to Galtur. An underground moving walkway links the two ends of the village.

Development has gone on apace, but not to the detriment of the village’s charm. There are too many impressive hotels to really describe it as quaint now – more an attractive and handsome blend of the traditional, the elegant and the rustic.

Apres-Ski Bars & Nightlife in Ischgl

Once rivalled mainly by St Anton, Ischgl has taken over as the apres-ski capital of Austria.

Superlatives must be dusted off and applied liberally here. Possibly rivalled only by St Anton, Ischgl must be the apres-ski capital of Austria. It starts in early afternoon, at venues such as the Trofana Alm, with a DJ who adores both oompah and Europop, the Ice Bar at the Hotel Elisabeth, where scantily clad girls dance on the bar, and the famous Kuhstall in the village centre.

Opposite the Kuhstall is Fire and Ice, similarly lively and offering pool and bar football, while the Hollboden, just along the street, often has live bands. At the eastern end of the village, by the river, is the Kitzloch, a personal favourite which is noted for people dancing on tables in ski boots and with some uninhibited lady skiers, often not much else.

At peak season at 5pm it’s difficult to tell where one bar ends and the next begins. The village centre can become one swaying mass of happy skiers – but for the most part a very well behaved bunch it must be said. Despite the boisterousness of some of the bars, there is a welcome absence of serious lager loutishness.

For a quieter drink there is the Guxa, a cigars and cocktails establishment, and the Allegra. Hidden away down some of the alleys are a few simple bars where the local workers gather, and the prices here are adjusted down accordingly. And every hotel has its own bar too, for more restrained sipping, so there is an overall choice of scores of après-ski destinations.

Later, the discos beckon. The Madlein Hotel houses a branch of Pacha, which also features in Ibiza. The disco beneath the Post Hotel is popular too, while all the above mentioned bars party way into the early hours. The most lavish nightclub is the multi-million euro Arena, part of the five-star Trofana Royal, which has live bands as well as girls dancing in cages scattered about the place.

Ischgl also boasts no less than three lap-dancing clubs, the most famous of which is Coyote Ugly at the Madlein, which somehow has managed to avoid taking on a seedy image. The Trofana Royal also has one, through a door off the dance floor at the Arena, and the four-star Grillalm boasts the Living Room club, by all accounts the most participatory of the three.

Restaurants in Ischgl

It’s the Austrian way that most people are on half board and tend to eat in their hotels, which uniformly have a good reputation for their restaurants. But there are some special treats for those who want to venture out occasionally.

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The Trofana Alm reverts from being an ear-bashing pub with dancing at about 7pm, and is transformed into a beautifully atmospheric, candle-lit restaurant, serving Tirolean specialities as well as international dishes.

The Madlein has a stylish restaurant with imaginative menu, while the Allegra and Salz und Pfeffer are good for more simple pasta and pizza dishes. The Grillalm and Salnerhof also have highly-recommended restaurants.

But to really splash out, it’s impossible to beat the Stube at the Trofana Royal, a truly romantic room of carved wood-panelling which is presided over by celebrity chef Martin Sieberer. He’s quite happy to come out to chat about his creations – and his nine-course gala dinner is something very special.

Other Activities in Ischgl

Ischgl is noted for its very serious toboggan run and its Shapes in White snow scuplture competition.

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There is no shortage of non-skiing attractions. This is, after all, a can-do kind of town. Ischgl is noted for its toboggan run, a very serious matter of about five miles down a floodlit track from Idalp. You fortify yourself with a few schnaps at the Panorama restaurant beforehand. The ice-skating rink also has curling lanes, with all equipment for hire. The village also has horse-drawn sleigh rides (Tel: +43 (0) 5444 5365).

There are 15 miles of marked and cleared walks, plus an excellent sports centre, with an adventure swimming pool, sauna, solarium, massage and bowling. Many hotels also have wonderful ‘wellness’ centres, with all sorts of massage and beauty therapies. The best of these is at the Trofana Royal, one of the largest such centres in the Tirol.

The upmarket shopping is impressive, with Versace and Prada represented. There are restaurants that non-skiers can get to by gondola and a special ‘pedestrians’ pass is sold for non-skiers to use specially selected lifts and join up with skiing friends for lunch.

The resort specialises in big events, chiefly a series of concerts through the winter with big name stars. The biggest one is the closing concert held at the beginning of May at Idalp. Stars in the past have included Sir Elton John, Jon Bon Jovi, Sting, Tina Turner, Bob Dylan, Enrique Iglesias, Rod Stewart, Peter Gabriel and Alanis Morissette.

A big opening concert in the village centre opens each season at the end of November – Lionel Richie kicking off the 2005-06 season, following the likes of The Corrs, Amici Forever and Ronan Keating in previous seasons.

Another big Ischgl tradition is the Shapes in White snow sculpture competition, which attracts ice sculptors from all over Europe. The stunning ice sculptures dot the slopes and have a different theme each winter – cartoon characters, rock stars or mythological figures. The contest is held in early season and the creations are a feature of the landscape through the winter until the spring sun does its work – and the works of art melt away along with Ischgl’s season.


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