Kitzbuhel Ski Area
Despite the justifiably fierce reputation of the Hahnenkamm, the skiing around Kitzbühel is enjoyable, but not particularly challenging.
It is important to distinguish between Kitzbühel's notorious 'Hahnenkamm' World Cup downhill (in reality, the Streif run on the Hahnenkamm) and the much more benign remainder of the Hahnenkamm area. Despite the justifiably fierce reputation of the Hahnenkamm, the skiing around Kitzbühel is enjoyable, but not particularly challenging.
Most skiers with any real experience will want to try the resort's signature feature (not counting the Hahnenkamm) - the 'Safari' route which traditionally ends at the highest end of the valley, at Pass Thurn. For many years this was the end of the road, at least for skiers in Kitzbühel, since there was no way of getting back except by bus at the end of the day, until 2005 twhen an impressive new gondola, the 3S, was opened across the Saukaser Valley blinking the resort's two main areas - Hahnenkamm-Pengelstein and Jochberg-Pass Thurn. This eliminated the need for the taxi link and, more importantly, now enables skiers and boarders to return from Jochberg and Pass Thurn to Kitzbühel on snow.
Kitzbühel's Ski Safari
The main Ski Safari route begins at the Hahnenkamm gondola (but can also be accessed down the valley on the Fleckalmbahn on the outskirts of Kirchberg). If there's a long queue at the Hahnenkammbahn, you can while away the time by studying the names emblazoned on the side: famous racers galore, with their individual national flags. Franz Klammer is the only man to have won it three years in a row - and four times in all.
At the top, before you start out on the Safari circuit, you can meander over to the start of the Streif course to see why it's the one downhill the racers nearly all fear - and most want to win. To start the Safari tour, skiers and boarders need to aim for Pengelstein, where the impressive new gondola will take them onwards, and bring them back at the end of the day, on their return from Pass Thurn. Kitzbühel's longest run, the Hahnenkammside Pengelstein Süd (6.8km) is also here.
The next stop is Wurzhöhe, reached either by taking the gondola across the Saukaser Valley, or the old route (including the short taxi ride) via Jochberg. Once skiers and riders have reached Wurzhöhe, the route continues in seemingly endless zigzags all the way to what sounds like a tempting resting place - the Resterhöhe area - before the final plunge down to Pass Thurn. This is traditionally the end of the Safari, but for those with plenty of energy it's now the point at which you can turn back and head for home or perhaps at least try to get half way by skiing back to Jochberg and catching the ski bus from there.
A completely separate area, the Kitzbüheler Horn - the so-called 'sunny side' of Kitzbühel on the opposite side of the valley, and reached by a gondola close to the railway station - has some excellent cruising runs. The T-bars at neighbouring Bichlalm have been removed, and the area is now limited to snowcat skiing and touring - and is regarded as a special area for back-country adventure. All of Kitzbühel's areas are linked by ski bus.
Kitzbuhel Ski Lifts & Lift Passes
The opening of the impressive 3S Saukaser Valley gondola in 2005 was a big step forward in the modernisation of Kitzbühel's lift system and further significant improvements include the new six seater covered chairlifts at Ehrenbachhoehe at Hanglalm.
Kitzbuhel Ski Lifts
Kitzbühel does its best to upgrade its rather ageing lift system, and the new Saukaser Valley gondola is a gigantic stride forward. But upgrading others can be difficult and there is sometimes a battle with local farmers to make any changes. The resort would like to replace the old Steinbergkogel double chair with a six-seater, for example, but the land-owner is reluctant to give permission.
Kitzbuhel Ski Lift Pass
Kitzbuhel lift ticket options include full-day ticket (Adult 47 EUR peak season 2013-14), restricted day tickets valid for specified time periods, multiday tickets (6-days Adult 233.00 EUR peak season 2013-14), ski passes for random use on 5 in 7 days or 10 in 14 days, season passes and annual paases.
Kitzbuhel Ski Lift Company
With over 500 staff in winter and around 200 staff all year roun the Bergbahn AG Kitzbuhel plays a major role in the local conomy. The lift company is responsible for 51 ski lifts with an uphill capacity of 91,000 riders per hour, over 170km of ski pistes of which 99km can be covered with artificial snow by 820 snow canons fed by eight reservoirs with over 550,000 cubic meter capacity and 30 highly trained mountan rescue staff.
Bergbahn AG Kitzbühel
Tel: +43 5356 6951-215
Kitzbuhel Beginner Skiing
Although in Kitzbühel is, by and large, a friendly and unthreatening resort, the skiing in Kitzbuhel it is not ideal for beginners.
Beginer Skiing in Kitzbuhel
Although Kitzbühel is, by and large, a friendly and unthreatening resort, it is not ideal for beginners. The main reason is that unless based in Jochberg, which has nursery slopes right in its centre, it's a chore to get to the slopes. There are gentle nursery slopes, including a special children's area, in meadows between the Hahnenkammbahn gondola and the Streifalm chair, at the bottom of the race area; there are also wide open and sunny nursery slopes high on the Kitzbüheler Horn.
Ski Schools & Ski Lessons in Kitzbuhel
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Kitzbuhel Intermediate Skiing
Intermediates will thrive throughout the Kitzbühel region, particularly in the Hahnenkamm area.
Intermediates will thrive throughout the Kitzbühel region, particularly in the Hahnenkamm area. The whole area is littered with long blue runs. There are numerous runs worth trying at Pengelstein. The problem with circuits like Kitzbühel's Safari tour is that it can be difficult to gauge how much time to spend checking out other tempting runs en route which are not going to take skiers any nearer their destination. Yet any over-eagerness to get to Pass Thurn means there's a risk of missing out on some good skiing.
Apart from the Safari route, which is a good day out for reasonably experienced intermediates - who can still always call it a day when they get to Pass Thurn without making the return journey on snow - there's a wealth of easy skiing on the western flanks of the Hahnenkamm-Pengelstein massif. There are wonderful long blue runs from Pengelstein and Ehrenbach-höhe down to Kirchberg, a large satellite resort which also has its own little ski area on the Gaisberg (1264m). The Kitzbüheler Horn also has some scorching intermediate runs.
Kitzbuhel Advanced Skiing
Once the Hahnenkamm races are over, you can usually ski the whole course, but the steep sections are pretty savage.
The celebrated Streif run on the Hahnenkamm course is out of bounds to the skiing public from the start of the season until after race week in mid-January. Once the races are over, you can usually ski the whole course, but the steep sections are pretty savage, even at snail's pace: the first section is so steep and icy that World Cup racers accelerate like a racing car to 60 mph within a second or two. Diving down to your left you only have a split second to correct your line before becoming airborne in the Mousetrap. To spectators, cheering and clanging huge cow-bells, it looks almost vertical.
Although Kitzbühel is not particularly celebrated for its off-piste skiing, it has plenty. It's just a question of finding it. The obvious way, of course, is to find a guide. The Hahnenkamm area has some good off-piste skiing in the trees. On the Kitzbüheler Horn, there's usually good ungroomed snow near the Eggl draglift (B9). Bichlalm, once a non-descript little ski area overlooked by the Kitzbüheler Horn has been transformed into a memorable off-piste-cum-touring area where a snowcat takes up to 14 skiers or boarders into exhilarating back-country powderfields. It's well worth seeking out the off-piste high above Pass Thurn, where the altitude means there's a good chance of powder remaining in good condition.
Kitzbuhel Boarding & Freestyle
The Kitzbüheler Horn, with good freeriding terrain, is the main focus for freestylers, freeriders, and riders on alpine boards.
Some serious snowboarders swear by the off-piste at Pass Thurn, the highest part of the region. But the Kitzbüheler Horn, with good freeriding terrain, is the main focus for freestylers, freeriders, and riders on alpine boards. A special snowboard area near the Brunellenfeld chairlift (B5), complete with 100 metre-long halfpipe and permanent boardercross track is the main attraction. There's a music system and on-mountain bars, and you can clock your speed on the radar course. Some sections of the Hahnenkamm and Bichlalm are also popular with snowboarders. The Rote-Teufel (Red Devils) Snowboard Academy offers snowboard lessons, freestyle and alpine camps, and snowboard World Cup training.
Kitzbuhel Mountain Restaurants
Kitzbühel and the surrounding region have a vast choice of mountain restaurants and huts for pit-stops, ranging from frugal simplicity to full-on dining; 41 moutain restaurants and huts in all.
The Hochkitzbühel, a modern full-service restaurant is within easy reach of the top of the Hahnenkammbahn gondola - but a little pricey. There's a sun terrace, umbrella bar, and a ski museum incorporating a Hahnenkamm race simulator. You can enjoy a candle-lit dinner here on Friday and Saturday nights too, including the gondola ride up and down.
The Pengelstein Bergrestaurant, a large self-service restaurant, with a good choice of home-made dishes, has magnificent views of the biggest mountain on the horizon, the Grosser Rettenstein (2,366m/7,763 ft) and a big sun terrace. The Kasereckhütte is ideal for a quick pit-stop before you drift down from Pengelstein to Jochberg. The diminutive Bruggeralm, which also has a sun terrace, is an old family-run hut serving traditional dishes like Tiroler Gröstl (a delicious fry-up of potato, onion and bacon).
Jochberg has a handy choice of restaurants around the base area near the Wagstätt lift. There are numerous restaurants along the final stretches of the Safari route between Bärenbadkogel and Pass Thurn. As its name suggests, the Panorama-Alm, high on the Zweitausender, has exquisite views. At Kirchberg, the Gasthof Maierl at the top of the Maierl lift specialises in Tirolean dishes like Blutwurst, Gröstl mit Spiegelei or Kasespätzle mit Röstzwiebel.
Kitzbühel is especially picturesque with snow on the ground (not always a given), as hundreds of wealthy guests promenade around the town.
Once a copper-mining centre, Kitzbuhel became an important staging post on the shortest route between Bavaria and Venice. The Chizzo family ruled it in the 12th century - hence 'Chizbuhel'. Apart from the beauty of its local mountains, the Kitzbüheler Alps, the town is blessed with an exquisite walled centre, divided into two rectangular areas - Vorderstadt and Hinterstadt.
Even in ski-boots, visitors feel compelled to walk the narrow cobbled streets, savouring the gabled houses with their frescos, archways and colour-washed facades, as the bells of the Liebfrauenkirche and the nearby 14th Century St Andreas parish church ring out.
Kitzbühel is especially picturesque with snow on the ground (not always a given), as hundreds of wealthy guests promenade, many of the women wrapped in voluminous furs, and the men frequently towed by large dogs. The period between Christmas and the staging of the celebrated Hahnenkamm races is the most exhilarating in the party town's calendar.
Kitzbuhel Apres Ski Bars & Restaurants
Kitzbühel’s apres-ski and nightlife always threatens to be lively, especially at weekends.
Kitzbuhel Apres-Ski Bars
Kitzbühel's nightlife always threatens to be lively, especially at weekends. During the Hahnenkamm weekend it will certainly be extremely crowded and boisterous except perhaps in the casino at the Goldener Greif Hotel. But Kitzbühel has a sedate side too, with such celebrated tea rooms as the Praxmair and Kortschak cafés. Less sedate is the Prax Keller bar down a steep flight of steps next door to Praxmair's, which opens till late. For those whose ski holiday is incomplete without a visit to a noisy pub or bar, it has to be the Londoner, where the Hahnenkamm racers congregate, regardless of triumph or ignominy. The Stamperl, opposite, is just as lively. The Drop In Pub in the Rathausplatz square is worth visiting by day too, when it serves veal sausages, pretzels and fresh tap beer. Jimmy's is a trendy cocktail bar which is popular with locals, and for mid- to late-evening drinks try the characterful Funferl which attracts an older clientele and is fun.
There are more than 100 restaurants in the area, with Hotel Tennerhof and the Unterberger Stubenwith as top of the range. Hotel Tennerhof's prize-winning gourmet restaurant specialises in classic Austrian cuisine with 'Mediterranean and Asian touches' has two toques in the influential Gault Millau restaurant guide. So does the Unterberger Stuben, with a sun terrace and delightful garden, which offers 'authentic, unadulterated Tyrolean dishes'. The Landhäusl excels in those Austrian staples, Wienerschnitzel and Kaiserschmarrn. The highly rated Schwedenkapelle restaurant is a converted medieval church near Fleckalmbahn gondola between Kitzbühel and Kirchberg. Or for a romantic on-mountain setting at night and excellent food take a 15-minute taxi rise to Rosi's Sonnbergstub'n. Kitzbuhel restaurants are often fully booked so it pays to plan ahead and book in advance to be sure of a table.
There are three discos in the town square area: the recently refurbished and pricey Club Take 5, the Olympia, and the Royal: all usually stay open till dawn. Although you are unlikely to run out of options in Kitzbühel, Kirchberg, less than four miles away, trumpets its London Pub as one of the most 'happening' in the Alps. The Mockingstube, near the gondola, and the American-themed Highways bar are popular night-spots.
Kitzbuhel Other Activities
From an activities perspective there’s just about everything you can think of in Kitbuhel, including an Alpine Zoo.
From an activities perspective there's just about everything you can think of: bobsleigh, cross-country skiing, curling, skating, ski-jumping, tobogganing, indoor horse-riding, sleigh rides, snowshoeing, ice yachting, hot-air-ballooning, paragliding, indoor tennis, squash, shooting, and swimming. The Aquarena has two big water slides, a sauna area with steam and Turkish baths, solarium, massage (and underwater massage) plus various mudpacks and mudbaths. There's even an Alpine Zoo just out of town.
Shopaholics will love Kitzbühel and we're not talking just ski gear of which there is plenty and designer ski gear at that. Kitz oozes quality and part of the charm and character of this wonderful town are the many good spending opportunities. It's a great place for credit-card busters and interested window shoppers. Haute couture boutiques, traditional handcraft shops, clothing, shoes, real estate, jewellery and antique shops are just a few examples. Without question there are better places to ski, but Kitzbühel is world famous and justifiably so. And not just for the Hannenkahm, Kitzbühel is an economic powerhouse and one of the best resorts in the Alps to live or visit all year round.