Saalbach Ski Resort

Saalbach and Hinterglemm are almost joined at the hip, and with Leogang and Fieberbrunn they form the Skicircus, a huge low-lying ski area in the Austrian Alps. But skiing is only part of Saalbach's appeal: it's an attractive village with lively apres-ski that continues long into the night.

The neighbouring Salzburgerland villages of Saalbach and Hinterglemm are only two miles (3km) apart, but the ski area they form with Leogang and Fieberbrunn is one of Austria’s largest lift-linked areas. Called the Skicircus it has 270 km of ski slopes, split evenly between blue runs (140 km) and slightly tougher red (112 km) and black slopes (18 km), connected by 70 lifts. In good snow conditions that’s more than enough for most skiers who come here for a week, and perfectly suited to those who like cruising on wide runs. For those who like tougher challenges, there are freeride trails through the trees, speed skiing tests and the opportunity to ski on floodlit runs late at night, but very few steep pistes. For beginners there are nursery slopes at Saalbach and Hinterglemm, and a good choice of ski schools.

The caveat about snow conditions is worth noting, though. The Skicircus is almost all below 2,000m. When nature falls short,  snow guns and vigorous piste grooming keep the main runs skiable if temperatures are cold enough for artificial snow-making. In a warm spring however, the best you can hope for in the immediate area are slushy ribbons of white snaking down green and brown hills. There is a solution in sight: the Skicircus has agreed a merger with Zell am See and the snowsure glacier ski area of Kitzsteinhorn Kaprun. But the connecting lifts have not yet been built, so to reach the glacier you have to take a bus and buy a special lift pass, which is not ideal.

Fortunately, skiing is only part of the reason to come to Saalbach. With or without snow, Saalbach-Hinterglemm hosts one of Austria’s liveliest party circuits, complete with tea-dancing in ski boots, mountain bars and restaurants that serve drinks all day and clubs in the resort that stay open all night. And even when it snows, skiing has to take its place alongside toboggan runs, snow tubing and freestyle parks.

And whilst Austria has other all-round mountain resorts with lively nightlife, Saalbach is one of the more appealing. The village is largely traffic-free, the church is typically onion-shaped, the mountainous backdrop can be stunningly picturesque and the accommodation is mostly in low-rise traditional buildings that are pleasing on the eye. If you have to wake up with a hangover on a cold winter’s morning, this is a nice place to do it in.

Ski & SnowBoard Hire in Saalbach

There are plenty of ski rental shops, but usually they won’t give discounts if you just walk into them when you arrive. ALPINRESORTS.com works with several shops in Saalbach, Hinterglemm and the other Skicircus resorts, and offers discounts of up to 35% if you book online in advance here.

SKISET also has outlets in Saalbach-Hinterglemm, and it too gives discounts if you book online.

Saalbach Pros & Cons

+ The Skicircus is a big lift-linked ski area
+ Non-stop party atmosphere
+ Plenty of mountain bars and restaurants
+ A nice, traffic-free village

– Too low to be snowsure
– Few testing runs for good skiers
– Over-rowdy nightlife can be annoying.

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Saalbach Ski Area

No matter where you start, the SkiCircus Saalbach Hinterglemm Leogang is a truly excellent circuit which can be skied in either direction.

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The runs-some above the tree-line, some delightfully gladed-are engagingly varied. Above all, the linked piste networks provide adventurous intermediates with a vast playground-and would-be intermediates with a wonderful opportunity to develop their skills. In addition to your ability, where you stay will have a sizeable influence on where you ski.

Starting from Hinterglemm, the Zwölferkogelbahn provides access to an assortment of runs appealing to skiers of varying abilities. There are both red and blue runs all the way back down to Hinterglemm ideal for beginners wanting to progress, though it is the Zwölferkogel-Nordabfahrt route which is the highlight of the region. Suitable for both confident intermediates and experts, the 3km black run offers a magnificent descent to Lengau, through which skiers can access either side of the ski area. On the other side of Lengau there is a multitude of blues from which to choose, whilst intermediates are well advised to navigate across to the network of connected reds closer to Hinterglemm.

If you are based in Saalbach, the Kohlmaiskopf area is enjoyable and is the best way to access the Bründlkopf and Wildenkarkogel regions. It also offers the quickest access to Leogang for those on skis. Depending on your ability, either the blue Maisabfahrt run or the red Asterabfahrt route provides enjoyably lengthy paths down to Saalbach.

For those not yet ready to test themself on the Zwölferkogel-Nordabfahrt run, the Jausernabfahrt run from Schattberg to Vorderglemm represents the highlight of the ski area. Easily accessible by gondola from either Saalbach or Hinterglemm, the run dissects the network of red runs leading back down to Saalbach to provide skiers with a 7km cruise which is well worth the lengthy trip back from Vorderglemm.

Skiing in the Leogang part of the ski area is limited, with skiers having to spend more time on lifts than on the pistes.

Saalbach Ski Lifts & Lift Passes

200 km of best prepared slopes, 55 modern cable-ways and lifts, 10 km cross-country tracks , carving funpark, halfpipes, GS race courses, flood-lit slope, moguls ungroomed and snow parks!

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Saalbach and Hinterglemm lift systems are fast and efficient and boast a total of 15 gondolas, 16 high speed chairs and 23 surface lifts with a capacity of 90,000 rides per hour. This means that queues are always short making sure that you can make it all across the ski area in a predictable amount of time. Not only does this mean you can plan to be back near your hotel for an après drink in one of the numerous bars, but it also means that you can ski the entire valley in only a couple of days.

Saalbach-Hinterglemm lifts open between 8:30-8:45am and run until 4:00-4:30pm. 4 lift companies operate in the area but 'Skicircus' is the joint resort venture which manages them.

In the Saalbach end of the valley the Schattberg Ost (2020m) and Schattberg West (2096m) are linked by the Schattberg Sprinter an efficient gondola enabling skiers in Saalbach to quickly access the Hinterglemm circuit. The Limberg Sessellift is a very fast 6 man chair lift which gets you back over to Saalbach at the end of the day with the choice of skiing the black run (1) or getting the high speed gondola home.

The Kohlmaiskopf peak on the other side of the valley from the Schattberg X-press is a fantastic location to ski. The Kohlmaisgipfelbahn is not only a catchy name, but a very comfortable gondola taking you right to the top of Saalbach at 1794 metres. By then catching the Magic 6er chairlift followed by the Schönleitten 6er it is possible to reach the Leogang cicuit. Beware that the Gr. Asitz (1914m) and Kl. Asitz (1870m) peaks are entirely red pistes and therefore unsuitable for beginners. The highlight here for modern freestyle skiers is the Nitro Park, which is in the top three parks for this area of Austria and is famous for being well kept and the home of some large features.

Back over in Hinterglemm the Reiterkogelbahn gondola takes you to 2 chair lifts which are brand new and high speed. These chairlifts take you to 1819 metres and give you access to 14 intermediate runs. This is a superb location to ski and can keep you occupied all day but be aware that on the sunny days in the late season these runs can become very crowded.

Even further up the valley there is another gondola and lift combination including the heated seats and bubble chair lift the Spieleck Sesselbahn which takes you to 1998 metres and gives the option of staying to the extensive piste network including the longest piste in the resort, or skiing the trees both under the lift and off the back side of Spieleckkogel peak. These are brilliant runs all day because of their elevation and offer some of the best skiing in the resort.

The Zwölferkogelbahn lift takes you to 1984 metres from the base in one run and is the bright red lift in the centre of the Hinterglemm resort. This is a good ski area in which to start the day, though the short pistes in the Seeker area will begin to frustrate given the need to interrupt your skiing by taking a number of chairlifts. Although an enjoyable ski area, with the only alternative in the region to ski down towards the village, skiers typically move on to another area before lunch.

Saalbach Beginner Skiing

Of the two villages, Hinterglemm offers better facilities for beginners with bigger and better nursery slopes. While Saalbach offers similar facilities, Hinterglemm offers three babylifts and its nursery area is distinct from the main slopes, allowing children and beginners to build up their confidence without interference. Saalbach’s Turmlift is a good spot, whie the Unterschwarzachlift is surrounded by some of Hinterglemm’s best nursery slopes.

Beginner skiing in Saalbach-Hinterglemm

Having practised their skills on the nursery slopes, beginners situated in Hinterglemm wanting to test themselves on the slopes are advised to take the Reiterkogelbahn before skiing back down the Familienabfahrt blue route. The large number of blue runs in this area ensures beginners can transfer their skills onto the mountain at an increasing altitude without fear of being caught on an overly testing run.

For beginners based in Saalbach, the Kohlmaiskopf offers an equivalent area in which they can test what they have learned, with a series of blue runs all the way back down to the village. Bernkogel is an equally good region, with the run down to the mid-station from the top of Bernkogel assuring beginners that altitude is no hurdle as they ski down the wonderfully wide and gentle route.

Saalbach Hinterglemm caters well for beginners, and offer blocks of lift tickets and single tickets at the beginners' lifts to avoid having to buy an all mountain lift pass.

Ski Schools & Ski Lessons in Saalbach-Hinterglemm

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Saalbach Intermediate Skiing

If ever a ski area was conceived with intermediates in mind, it’s the Saalbach-Hinterglemm circus. With approximately 90% of the terrain suitable for them, there are almost endless opportunities for intermediates to let their hair down and attack mile after mile of trouble-free but exhilarating terrain.

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Virtually all parts of the Saalbach-Hinterglemm ski area offer a good choice of runs suitable for intermediate skiers, with the Schattberg Ost, Reiterkogel and Gr. Asitz sections all permeated by a series of short, interconnected reds. 

Intermediates will also enjoy the wide range of runs back down to the village, be it Saalbach or Hinterglemm. It is possible to ski all the way down from the top of almost every chairlift or gondola without needing to take another lift. However, should skiers find their chosen run down too tricky or too simple, there is almost invariably a point at which the pistes converge and skiers can continue on a more suitable route down if necessary.

Saalbach's black runs aren't as tricky as those in other resorts, providing intermediates with a chance to build up their confidence. Several of the black runs in the area begin relatively gently, allowing intermediates to ease their way into the run before testing themself on the steeper latter sections of the runs.

There is, of course, no need to attempt the circuit-there are plenty of alternatives. Remaining on the sunny side, on the Kohlmaiskopf, Bernkogel, Reiterkogel, Reichkendikopf and Spieleckkogel peaks and ridges will provide more than enough options and avoid some of the more difficult skiing across the valley. Intermediates will also find the wide open, sweeping runs down to neighbouring Leogang a wonderful treat.

Saalbach Advanced Skiing

Both the British Royal Air Force and police hold their Ski Championships in Saalbach Hinterglemm. The big attraction for advanced skiers and boarders is not so much the off-piste but the possibility of relentless high-speed cruising over long distances, concentrating on the steeper options.

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There are some good opportunities for seriously steep skiing across the valley on the north-facing slopes such as the long black run from Schattberg Ost back to Saalbach.

The region is not celebrated for its off-piste, but there can be sizeable pockets of powder after fresh snowfalls, particularly on the Schattberg, Zwölferkogel and Asitz and even on the wide-open slopes down to Leogang.

The runs marked as black on the map are not as challenging as in other resorts but they have sizeable pockets of powder and tight tree skiing around the sides of them. Notably the number 14 run, reached by the Zwölferkogelbahn gondola and the Zwölfer-Nordbahn gondola, which has a number of trees on either side of the piste all of which lead to the bottom of the run so there is no chance of getting lost. The run is long and is a good one to ski early on if there is powder because there is very little avalanche risk.

The dotted, diamond orange run (meaning approved off piste) along the side of the Westgipfelbahn is good for beginners to off-piste as it is not challenging and is untracked by the locals. Also worth noting on the Saalbach side are the Stiegerabfahrt at Schattberg West, and the extensive run down from Bernkogel back down to Saalbach.

Over towards Leogang the red runs can be skied fast are challenging for intermediate skiers and the Stöcklalm point at the top of the Almlift near the bottom of the resort on the Leogang side is home to some fun tree runs linking in and out with the two black runs in that area.

The Orange Diamond runs are marked around the resort and should be skied with caution. For any other off-piste it is recommended that you hire a guide for a day. It's possible to arrange guided off-piste tours with Sepp Mitterer, a ski and mountain guide (Tel: +43-664-2420236) on request.

There is also a Carving Funpark and GS racecourse open to the public on non race days which is suitable for advanced piste skiers. The Saalbach-Hinterglemm area also has a number of runs which are specifically for the mogul skiers. These are marked on the piste map with a mogul sign. These are ungroomed, but maintained well and are great for advancing piste skiers.

Saalbach Boarding & Freestyle

The main highlight for freestyle in this resort is the Nitro Park located up the Asitzmuldenbahn six man chairlift. It is of world class quality and is in the top three parks in the whole of Austria. They constantly change the setup, with only a couple of features for those completely new to the park. For the advanced skiers and boarders there are 25 metre gaps and long snake and rainbow rails. For the intermediate park skiers there are over 6 rail features and two jumps, which are big, but safe.

Right in the centre of Hinterglemm there is a smaller park, located just above the VIP bar at the bottom of the Westgipfelbahn gondola. This park is open to 9pm in the high season lit by floodlight and is home to some easier features.

Because very little of the terrain is flat, as in many other European resorts the area is popular with snowboarders. However, there are many gondola lifts, so be prepared to be stepping in and out of the bindings at the bottom of every run. Favourite spots for snowboarders include Bernkogel (Saalbach), Asitz (Leogang) and Hochalm (Hinterglemm).

Saalbach Mountain Restaurants

There’s a remarkable choice of 44 pit stops in Saalbach Hinterglemm—some of which double as night spots. The majority of the region’s mountain restaurants are self-service, though there are some more characterful spots to be found.

The Alte Schmiede, at the summit of the Asitzkogel above Leogang, is one such restaurant. Having been painstakingly restored stone by stone, its sundeck makes it an excellent lunchtime destination in good weather. It's invariably busy in mid-season, but worth a short wait.

The Hintermais Alm, off the blue route 11 on the Zwölferkogel above Hinterglemm, is smaller, with occasional live music, and excellent local food and drink backed up by good table service. Similarly, the Sportalm by the top of the Reiterkogelbahn has a more personal feel to it.

The Thurneralm, just off blue route 56 above Saalbach, is always warm and cosy, with a real fire, convenient location and wonderful views down the valley from the deck. Chilli spaghetti is the house special. There's extra seating at busy times. The Rosswald Hűtte at the crossroads of the blue link route between Saalbach and Hochalm is ideal for sun-seekers, and the food indoors in recommended.

Saalbach Village

The villages of Saalbach and Hinterglemm are quite different from each other. Saalbach is generally prettier, with a maze of pedestrianised streets and packed rooftops clustered around a traditional onion-domed church.

Driving in to Saalbach, especially after dark, can be confusing. One route takes you through a curving tunnel, and it's difficult to work out where you're heading. You can find yourself negotiating narrow streets and driving into pedestrianised areas by mistake. The sooner you park the car somewhere the better-Saalbach is best explored on foot! As the resorts are keen to stress: "There's unlimited fun-completely without a car: our lifts bring guests directly from the village centre up to the slopes, and the runs lead almost directly to the hotel doors."

Hinterglemm, more sedate and spread out nearer the end of the picturesque Glemmtal Valley, is a broader canvas, dominated by large chalet-style hotels. 

 

Saalbach Bars & Restaurants

Saalbach is renowned party territory and the après-ski starts early. With 35 or more bars and over 70 restaurants, even the most committed party animals and food and drink lovers will be spoiled for choice and dancing and partying in Saalbach continues until late.

Apres Ski in Saalbach Hinterglemm 

Saalbach Hinterglemm is renowned party territory. The après-ski starts early, and for a while dovetails agreeably with the skiing. So while you are moving towards the end of the circuit, you might find that when you drop in to a bar for a quick drink en route-at the Bergstadl, for example, on the way down to Hinterglemm from Schattberg West-some skiers have already "downed tools" (but not ski boots) and are more involved in après than ski.

Among the more lively haunts in Saalbach is Bauer's Skialm-a really popular venue at the foot of the nursery slopes, with indoor and outdoor bars and tables, and lively, eclectic music-always busy, with a multi-national ambience.

There's dancing at the Pub (and Karaoke) and the Zum Turn, an old jail next to the church and cemetery, with a small, classy but rather pricey bar. Castello's, at the bottom of the main street below the Saalbacherhof Hotel, gets busy when the live music starts, and there's an entrance fee when it switches to its night-club role.

The Arena Disco has live music and special promotion nights. The Hinterhag Alm, above Saalbach's nursery slopes, is always packed early on, with a live band, dancing on tables, in and outdoor action, gallons of glühwein, and a pulsating atmosphere. (If you're based in Saalbach you'll have to ski back afterwards!)

The Goass-Stall, at the bottom of the west slopes in central Hinterglemm, is obsessed with goats - real and plastic ones which "flash" the audience sporadically. In spite of (or perhaps because of) this, it's a very popular après ski haunt, with indoor and outdoor action.

If you prefer the idea of a witch stripping to goats flashing, the Hexenhäusl is a cheap bar next to the slopes with a good atmosphere (the witch is an animated model which disrobes).

Restaurants in Saalbach Hinterglemm

The á-la-carte Heurigenstube restaurant at the Hotel Salzburg offers five-course dinners. In Saalbach, the Stamperl and the Alibi bars are especially lively. The Temptation Bar has a happy "hour" between 5 p.m. and 7.30 p.m. Bobby's Pub, next to the tunnel snowboard shop, is low on style, but strong on atmosphere, and always busy, with all kinds of games, including bowling, billiards, darts, table football, and computer games.

At Hinterglemm, the Harley Davidson and Bikers' Pub, in the basement of the Hotel Zur Dorfschmiede, features a collection of immaculate Harleys and motorcycle memorabilia. Spielberghaus is three kilometres up the toboggan track, and revellers can toboggan down at 1 a.m. There's a wonderfully lively atmosphere there, with a genuine "local" ambience. It gets very busy in mid-season, when booking is necessary. Conditions need to be good for the toboggan track to be worthwhile.

 

Saalbach Other Activities

Saalbach offers a variety of activities for the non-skiing guest, as well as a wide range of summer activities when the snow has gone. In addition Saalbach is well known for its 10 kilometres of cross-country tracks, including a high track on the Reiterkogel. Classes are offered for cross country; information can be found in our ski schools section.

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Tobogganing

At least six huts around the resort offer tobogganing, but the best place to do it is in the evening on the Reiterkogel run. This is the longest course in Saalbach and is available floodlit from 6:30 to 9:00 in the evening. The cable car up is free with a valid lift pass and the cost of renting a toboggan is only 5 euros (with a 30 euro deposit).

Winter Hiking

Twice a week from January to March you can meet a guide and be shown around the mountains on the extensive walking path network. If you have not got a lift pass they will provide you with a sun pass. There is a minimum participation of 4 people. Walks depart: Tuesday 10am from the information centre in Saalbach and Thursday 10am from the information centre in Hinterglemm.

Snow Shoe Tours

The range and versatility of snow shoes is much greater than walking and between December and March there are twice weekly guided tours at the end of the Glemm valley. Tours leave every Monday and Thursday (meeting place given on booking). All equipment except hiking shoes is provided including a headlamp, poles and snowshoes. Bookings can be arranged through Hans Eder, qualified guide. Tel:+43 699 1110 5629

Icekart

Icekarting is a lot of fun! Small spiked wheels allow you to go-kart but with the added excitement of being surrounded by ice. Bookings can be made through Saalbach's Icekart centre. Tel:+43 676 517 5630

Snowmobiling

There is a course designed for snowmobiling practice by the 'Snowmobile City' centre in Saalbach. Driver instruction and advice are offered for 12 euros for a 10 minute ride and children can ride as passengers. The centre is open daily from 3:00pm to 10:00pm and reservations can be made. Tel: +43 664 844 4323

Swimming

The indoor pool in Saalbach is 25 meters long and open every day until 9:00pm. In addition there is a beginner's pool for children. Tel: +43 6541 7131

Paragliding

Tandem flights are offered for a flight around the extraordinary scenery in this wonderful valley. We advise booking through the tourist office for these flights as the companies offering the flights are Austrian.

Curling

The curling arena costs 22 euros to hire per hour which includes all equipment

Ice skating

There is a large indoor skate arena located next to the tennis courts in Saalbach. It is open every day and costs are around 6 euros for each session per person. Tel: +43 6541 7403.

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