Solden Ski Resort

Long a favourite of fun-seeking German-speakers with powerful ski legs and drinking arms to match, Sölden has two glaciers and multiple peaks above 3,000m, guaranteeing year-round skiing. The Ötztal Super Skipass and bus connections to Obergurgl further enhance its appeal.

Sölden, which in English is simplified to “Solden” although “Soelden” is occasionally seen, used to be as Germanic as its umlaut. It first made international headlines in 1991 when its original diehard patron, a 5,300 year old man, was uncovered perfectly preserved but with “the skin of a roasted turkey”. And then in 2016 a James Bond film was released with key scenes shot in Solden. Ötzi the neolithic hunter and Spectre the movie are both still widely commemorated in the resort, but its growing global profile is not just the result of canny marketing: Solden delivers what winter holidaymakers want.

For a start it’s high enough to be snowsure. The main resort is located at only 1377m (Hochsolden the satellite resort up the mountain is significantly higher at 2090m), but the ridge between the Rettenbach and Tiefenbach glaciers is over 3000m high and there is skiing on both sides, as well as at Schwarzkogl (3020m) and Gaislachkogl (3060m). Some spectacular observation points have been built so even non-skiers can appreciate the high mountain views, but for skiers the main benefit is in the quality of the snow. No wonder that the World Cup ski races start here as early as October.

Then there is the extent of the ski area. The official stats suggest it’s only mid-sized (145kms of piste, 33 lifts), but it seems larger, because of the length and vertical of the runs. Keen confident skiers who want more more can buy the Ötztal Super Skipass which gives access to 5 other ski areas, including Obergurgl-Hochgurgl, which is just 25 minutes away by bus. And there is a decent variety of runs in Solden too: none of the black pistes are very scary, but there is plenty of off-piste for experts, lots of steepish red runs to challenge intermediates and no shortage of blues for novices and nervous skiers. The ski schools are good too.

And lastly there is the typically Austrian après ski. This starts early in the mountain bars and continues into the small hours back in the resort with live concerts and loud pulsating clubs, and ensures Solden’s hotels and apartments are filled with youthful party-seekers. Hochsolden, the semi-isolated ski-in, ski-out suburb higher up the mountain, is much quieter.

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Solden Pros & Cons

+ Snowsure
+ Mid-sized local ski area
+ More skiing in other bus-linked Otztal resorts
+ Intereresting, steepish red runs
+ Lively après ski & nightlife

– Resort is rather large and strung-out
– Après ski can be too rowdy.

Solden Ski Area

Solden's ski area, on the west side of the valley and nearly all above tree line, is serviced by two gondolas at opposite ends of town.

Two gondolas at opposite ends of town provide access to the ski area, all of which is on the west side of the valley, and nearly all above tree line. A free shuttle bus runs between the two gondolas (and to the neighbouring villages of Vent and Langenfeld) though rush hour queues mean using whichever lift is closest to your hotel is definitely a plan.

The Gaislachkoglbahn, with a handy Intersport rental shop at the base, connects at the middle station to a peak of 3,058 metres. You can connect from this side to the glacier areas by the Landegg chairlift, which traverses the narrow Rettenbach Valley.

At the north end of town, a chairlift ascends to the hamlet of Hochsolden and more usefully, the adjacent gondola serves the Giggijoch. Up here, the BASE Youth World lays on a boarder bonanza with a park, easycross, and a race course. A further eight high-speed chairlifts service the mostly red and blue runs, and clutch of blacks, as well as connecting to the Gletscherexpress and the Rettenbach Glacier.

Beginners can take the dedicated single chair located between the two main gondolas. This ascends to a T-bar serviced blue slope, with a bar and restaurant at its base.

Solden Ski Lifts & Lift Passes

Solden's many high-speed lifts will impress anyone, but it can take a while to get up the mountain in the morning.

Solden's ski lift system will impress just about anyone. At nearly every turn, shiny modern Doppelmayr lifts whisk you upward with little wait. Since everyone, apart from beginners using the old but charming single chairlift, heads for the two gondolas at either ends of town, in the mornings you can expect a crowd. For this reason if no other, the sit-down gondola at Giggijoch is more comfortable than the higher volume stand-and-be-squished Gaislachkoglbahn. Once you've negotiated the gondola, 32 further lifts are capable of moving more than 67,000 people per hour. Good news, especially for boarders, as only eight of these are drag lifts.

Beginner Skiing in Solden

The gentle wide slope at the top of the Innerwald chair, with a restaurant and après ski bar at its base, is a great place to start.

Beginner Skiing in Solden

Beginners can tool around the gentle wide slope served by two T-bars at the top of the Innerwald chair. There is a restaurant and après ski bar at its base, good for fortifying tea breaks but otherwise somewhat isolated with not much there, there. Once you've got the hang of it, the little Minilift 16 at the top of Giggijochbahn gets you up high enough to feel part of the action and eventually advance via chairlifts and gondolas to the glorious smooth pitches of the glaciers. The snow, while beautifully groomed, can get rather fast so you'll want to take it easy. There's another short lift, the 39, at the foot of the Tiefenbach glacier.

Ski Schools & Ski Lessons in Solden

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Intermediate Skiing in Solden

Solden is an ideal spot for intermediate cruisers to rack up the miles on splendidly groomed red and blue pistes.

Solden is an ideal spot for intermediate cruisers to rack up the miles on splendidly groomed red and blue pistes. Beneath peaks that soar like pyramids snake some 73 kilometres of red runs - half of all available groomed terrain. The broad rolling glaciers are an obvious draw and skiing the same runs as the pros (albeit in a lower gear) is always a thrill. These smoothies are a top choice for doing laps on some sharp carvers. When this, or riding the T-bars, gets tiring, there's a serious bump run off the bottom right of Rettenbach.

Solden has six kilometres of ski routes, marked on the piste map with dotted lines and diamonds and within the reach of keen intermediates. These slightly off-the-trail ski routes lead through deep caverns and pass some charming mountain huts. The longest run you're likely to find, or need, leads from the Schwarze Schneid panorama point and ends some 2,000 metres in altitude far below in the valley.

Solden Advanced Skiing

Only a fraction of Solden’s pistes are black, but there's also accessible off piste skiing in Wasserkar and the area's signature Big 3 Rally ski journey.

Only a fraction of Solden's pistes are black, but these are nicely distributed over most areas apart from the glaciers. There are challenging bump runs off Hainbachjoch and below Rotkuglhutte on Piste 17. The most accessible off piste skiing is found in Wasserkar beneath Gaislachkogl down to the midstation. More black pistes intercept these descents towards the bottom. There is extensive ski touring beyond the lift-serviced area.

The area's signature ski journey is called the Big 3 Rally, a 50 kilometre journey that encompasses an elevation gain of around 10,000 metres - and splendid 360 degree views much of the way. The four-hour route begins with more lifting than skiing, on the Giggijoch gondola and through the so-called Golden Gate to the glaciers. Ski through the 170 metre ski tunnel that connects the two glaciers and it's hell for leather on the super smooth and wide Tiefenbach and Rettenbach glaciers. If you're on your carvers, here's dinner. Once you're done nursing your Hermann Maier fantasies, take a bow and head down the winding ski route through Rettenbach Valley. One more gondola ride, up the Gaislachkogl to 3,058 metres, and you'll arrive at the final Big 3 panorama platform.

Boarding & Freestyle in Solden

Solden has a boardpark, an easycross and a racecourse operate in winter, and there's also plenty of activity on the glacier in summer.

BASE Youth World Solden provides a full-on summer and winter snowboard scene. The boardpark, an easycross and a racecourse operate in winter. Come June through August, the BASE moves to the Rettenbach Glacier and features snowboarding, snowskating, skateboard, streetball, street soccer, a gamezone, a chill area and more.

Solden Mountain Restaurants

Solden has more than 20 on-mountain restaurants so you’re never far from your next sausage break.

More than 20 on-mountain eateries mean you're never far from your next sausage break. The Gampe Alm huts are good for Tirolean fare as is Hunersteig'n, the atmospheric sister operation to s' Pfandl on piste 7 in Ausserwald. In addition to the many lovely independently owned huts, there are a number of self service restaurants, large enough to be visible from space, notably at both glacier bases and the major lift stations.

Solden Village

Solden buzzes with people and traffic, with hotels, restaurants, bars and shops all within easy walking distance from each other.

Bakeries, bank machines and bars -- they're all here in abundance. Clustered along one long densely packed strip of a main road, Solden's numerous hotels and restaurants and bars are within a short walk of each other, making a car unnecessary and route finding easy. Shopping for ski clothes and equipment is plentiful and there is a large Intersport hire shop right at the base of the Gaislachkoglbahn.

The town buzzes with people and traffic, though not it must be said with as much boom-boom from the outdoor umbrella bars that some Austro-resorts can produce or that you might expect from a place so renowned for its nightlife. Still, no matter how thick the walls of your hotel, be aware of late night revellers' noise (if you're not out there making it youself).

The main tourist information office is on a side street within the Freizeit recreation complex. The bus trundles through town and nearby towns of Vent, Langenfeld, and Umhausen, and between the two main gondolas every 10 minutes.

Solden Apres Ski Bars & Restaurants

Solden’s other specialty is full on euro apres ski. Save some energy for Solden’s 85 bars, restaurants and discos that are designed to blend seamlessly with the skiing, ready to pop their corks whenever you are.

Solden Apres Ski Bars

Beginning in the afternoon at the mountain huts at Gampe Alm. From there all roads lead to Phillips, the large indoor-outdoor complex at the base of the beginner T-bar next to Ausserwald. If you manage to escape (and some don't), the delights of the strip are well under way by 9pm.

The centre of Solden is packed with bars. Chris&Co has live Sport on TV and serves (relatively) cheap beer; the Joker has darts, pool and shows music and ski videos; there is live music at the Snowrock Cafe till late. A cozy bar stool can be found at Die Alm, or a hard rock one at the Harley Davidson Otzi Alm bar. Fire and Ice is a large two-storey glass space that makes a lively starting point at the top end of town.

Moving down the high street, Bla Bla is next - a shoulder to shoulder tent affair complete with bubble machine. Otzi Keller, with a small cover charge, provides pool tables and darts, as well as dancing and thonged waitresses. If you're still with the programme by then, there's always the table dancing darlings of the Rodelhutte at the far end of town, open daily so the sign says.

Solden Restaurants

There are over 40 restaurants in and around Solden and they cater for all. Try the Hotel Bergland or the Hotel Central Otzaler Stube, for high brow traditional Austrian food; there are the pizzeria's Die Zwei and La Tavola and countless other eateries in the Solden area.

Solden Other Activities

No sleepy Alpine hamlet this: a BMW ice driving course, a Hannibal light and music spectacle and a pleasuredome of outdoor thermal saltwater pools are vying to tempt you away from the skiing.

Solden has a number of non-ski alternatives on offer, including cross country skiing, paragliding, sledging, bungee jumping and ice skating. "Europe's First Test and Exhibition Center" lets you try out flash new skis and boards. In town, the Freizeit Aqua Center offers an indoor pool, sauna, cinema, tennis, bowling, shooting range. You can test drive the new BMWs on the high alpine ice driving course. In April, a light and music spectacle on the glacier re-enacts the 200BC trans-Alpine journey of Hannibal, complete with elephants. A worthwhile 30-minute drive or local bus ride from Solden, the brand new Aqua Dome is a pleasuredome of outdoor thermal saltwater pools, saunas and spa treatments. If you're too relaxed and pruney for the trip back, you can bed down in the adjacent four-star plus feng shui-friendly hotel.

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