Sonnenkopf Ski Area
Described as the “family ski area in the Arlberg”, the Sonnenkopf ski area is both detached from the rest of the Arlberg and a part of it, via a bus connection to Stuben. But the local skiing is well worth discovering first, whatever your standard.
The backbone of Sonnenkopf ski lift system is the 8 person Sonnenkopfbahn gondola. The gondola rises from the valley lift station near Danofen and Wald am Arlberg at about 1000m, through a middle station, to easy beginner slopes served by 4 surface lifts either side of the Bergrestaurant Sonnenkopf (1,840m) close to which there is a special children's ski area.
There are both sunny South-facing runs and North-facing ones which tend to have crisper snow. The runs down to the middle station and the base station meander through woods, but everything else is above the treeline. The highest lift reaches 2300m, which does not sound very high but the Vorarlberg is one of the snowiest regions in the Alps, so snow qaulity, at least near the top, is rarely a problem.
Sonnenkopf ski area is family-friendly and suitable for beginners and intermediates happy skiing a smaller ski area with quiet open slopes; but it can also be good for experienced powder hounds using Klostertal /Klosterle, Wald and Danofen as a low cost base from which to explore the entire Arlberg ski area via the bus connection to Stuben.
The Sonnenkopf ski area includes a dozen groomed ski runs and four marked ski routes totalling 30km in extent, one third of which is designated easy (blue) for beginners and early intermediates and two thirds red for intermediates. There is also one short but quite steep black run.
More experienced skiers and boarders can ride the 4 person Obermurlbahn chairlift and a couple of 2 person chairlifts to access higher level red runs. Explore half a dozen red runs and four red ski routes beneath Glattinggrat 2,300m before attempting Sonnenkopfs most challenging groomed run (black 10), the main part of which is considerably steeper and straighter than it appears on the map.
Top to bottom skiing includes easy blue (1 and 1a) and intermediate red (4 and 4a) run descents, each of which is approximately 6km long and over 1,000m vertical from the ski area down to the valley lift station. On mountain, there's also a 2km toboggan run and 3 winter walking trails (10km), longest of which is a 7km Winterwanderweg to Muttjochle at 2,075m.
In addition to Sonnenkopf's marked ski runs and routes, in good snow conditions there's plenty of off-piste skiing and freeriding, especially in the large North-facing bowl around the Gllttingrat and Obermuri lifts. Because this is an uncrwoded area, the powder here remains in much better condition than it does in St Anton. For those seeking greater challenges, there are genuine 'off-the-back' long off-piste descents from the ridge between Glattingrat (2300m) and Purtschakopf (2244m) and yet more difficult off-piste for advanced skiers behind Purtschakopf. Taking a guide is strongly recommended.
There are two mountain restaurants in the ski area, Bergrestaurant Sonnenkopf which is next to the top of the gondola and Bűndthűtte just above middle station and Kelo Bar at the bottom of the gondola is open for après ski from 4pm.
Although Sonnenkopf ski area is included on the main Arlberg lift pass, Sonnenkopf is overlooked by the vast majority of tourists visiting St Anton so it's a great place to ski on a blue sky day and in good powder snow conditions.
Sonnenkopf Ski Lifts & Lift Passes
Sonnenkopfbahn gondola is the backbone of the Klostertal Sonnenkopf ski lift system, with middle and upper station, four surface lifts up top and a couple of double chair lifts serving 30km of marked ski pistes and plenty of freeriding off-piste.
Sonnenkopf Ski Lifts
The Sonnenkopf ski lifts are open from early December until late April and Ski lift passes are available from ½ day to 6-days and longer periods. Queuing is rarely an issue except occasionally first thing in the morning at busiest times of the season when you may have to queue a little for the gondola.
Sonnenkopf Ski Lift Passes
You can buy either a local lift pass (Sonnenkopf ski lifts only) or, if you want to ski St Anton and the other Arlberg resorts, you'll need to buy a full Arlberg lift pass, which covers all 85 ski lifts and 280km of pistes and marked ski routes in St Anton, Lech-Zurs and Stuben as well as Sonnenkopf.
Sonnenkopf Ski Lift Company
Klostertal Bergbahnen GesmbH & Co KG
A-6754 Klosterle am Arlberg, Austria
Tel: +43 5582 292 0
Web: www.sonnenkopf.com (German language only)
Sonnenkopf Beginner Skiing
Sonnenkopf ski area in Klostertal includes 12 pistes one third of which is designated easy and suitable for beginners and families with young children. The remainder is mostly enjoyable and uncrowded red runs, which offer good for progression for beginners.
Beginner Skiing in Sonnenkopf-Klostertal
Beginner skiers and boarders, novices included, can learn high in the ski area on short, well groomed, blue runs accessed from the top of the Sonnenkopf gondola and close to the Bergrestaurant Sonnenkopf (1830m), hence they too can enjoy panoramic mountain views from the outset. There's also a special area for children close to the restaurant.
All of Sonnenkopf's intermediate and advanced ski runs are situated in the east whereas conveniently for beginners nearly all easy blue runs are concentrated in the west and easily accessed by the main gondola and four surface lifts.
Beginners can start by exploring the handful of well groomed, gentle blue runs served by four surface lifts close to the top of the gondola, until they are ready to ski blue runs 1 and 1a, a 6km long blue run down to the base station in the valley or stop half way at middle lift station.
After exploring the blue runs in the west, beginners can ride the Obermurl chairlift to 2,200m on Glattingrat where they can choose between blue 5 or the not very difficult red run 2, both of which lead back to the bottom of the Obermurl chairlift and adjacent Bettler Alpele drag lift which leads back to the main beginner area and the restaurant.
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Sonnenkopf Intermediate Skiing
Two thirds of Klostertal’s Sonnenkopf ski area is designated for intermediate skiers, but with less than a dozen red runs totalling just 20km, competent skiers can ski all of the local pistes in a day, and will be wanting to take the bus to Stuben and explore the rest of the huge Arlberg ski area.
After riding the gondola to the Bergrestaurant Sonnenkopf, intermediate and advanced skiers and boarders can take the Sattelkopf drag lift and ski down to the 4-man Obermurl chairlift which rises east towards Glattingrat. From the top of Obermurl, ski reds 2 and 4 then ride Obermoos and Glattingrat chairlifts to 2,300m, which is the highest point in Sonnenkopf ski area.
From Glattingrat it's an 8km long, 1,200m vertical descent via red runs 9, 4 and 4a back to the bottom of gondola in the valley or to Klosterle village. And when riding Obermoos chairlift, look right to view black 10, which is quite steep, straight and reasonably challenging.
Sonnenkopf is good fun, but with just a dozen groomed runs and three ski routes and only two mountain restaurants, there's not enough skiing to entertain good skiers and boarders for more than a day or two, unless you include the off-piste.
Fortunately, there's masses more piste skiing nearby in the other Arlberg ski area resorts - St Anton St Christoph, Stuben. Lech-Zurs and Warth-Schroecken. Sonnenkopf and Klosterle are less than 10km from Stuben, which is connected by lift and piste to all the other resorts and buses run between the Sonnenkof base station and Stuben (with stops at Klosterle, Danofen and Wald) every 30 minutes or so.
Stuben's own red runs are an excellent start to this wider area: you can ski a non-stop 1000m vertical all the way on red runs from the top of the Albona to the village, or there's an even larger 1200m vertical, shared between a red and a blue run, if you ski into the Stuben from the top of Schindlergrat. But this is just the apperetif. There are dozens and dozens of pistes in the Arlberg ski area - far more than anyone could ski in a week.
Sonnenkopf Advanced & Off-Piste Skiing
Klostertal’s Sonnenkopf ski area includes just one black run, which is steep and straight, but in good snow conditions there are plenty of opportunities for skiing off-piste. And once you have expored these, there is even more off-piste at Stuben and the other Arlberg resorts.
Ride the gondola to the restaurant at 1,830m then head east and ski black 10 - a steep straight black - before riding a couple of 2-man chairlifts to Glattingrat 2,300m, the highest point in the ski area and scan the ski area on the way up.
Check out ski route 14 and the off-piste descents from the ridge that runs between Purtschakopf, Glattingrat and the top of the Obermuri chair. Effectively it's one huge, North-facing bowl, perfect for freeriding with dozens of routes down. Most weeks you will still find off-piste powder here much longer than in any other Arlberg resort. It's not risk free and there are cliffs, so hiring a guide is recommended, but if you know what you are doing and can see what you are doing, and take care, you shouldn't come to too much harm.
There's more difficult off-piste skiing "off-the back" on the far side of the ridge in the direction of Nenzigasttal, which is beyond the ski area and unpatrolled. This is a much more serious proposition and should not be skied without a qualified ski guide - available locally through or through the ski school at Stuben.
Sonnenkopf is also a good resort in which to try ski touring.
At some point however, advanced and off-piste skiers are going to want to try the off-piste skiiing in the other Arlberg resorts, and Stuben, just a few minutes away by bus or car from Sonnenkopf and famous for its off-piste and freeriding, is the best area to start. One of the most deservedly popular 1/2 day trips involves getting to Stuben by bus to meet a guide from the Stuben ski school at 9am, skiing the long off-piste itinerary from the top of the Albona above Stuben to Langen forest, catching a bus or taxi to Sonnenkopf, then skiing off-piste around Sonnenkopf, before ending with a final descent off the back of Glattingrat. But there is great advanced & off-piste skiing at St Anton, Lech-Zurs and Warth-Schroecken as well.
Sonnenkopf Mountain Restaurants
Sonnenkopf has two mountain restaurants in the ski area, the Bergrestaurant Sonnenkopf and the Bündhütte, an Eisbar at 2,050m at the bottom of the Glattingratbahn chairlift and the Kelo Bar next to the base station in the valley for apres ski.
The Bergrestaurant Sonnenkopf (1,840m) is a popular meeting place in the middle of the Sonnenkopf ski area with a large sun terrace and seating for over 400 guests. Open daily from 9am to 4pm, Bergrestaurant Sonnenkopf is next to the top of the main gondola lift station and hence it's easy for non-skiers to get to.
Tel: +43 5582 292
Bündhütte am Sonnenkopf
The Bündhütte is a small mountain restaurant offering warm hospitality and rustic ambience in a quiet setting. Located on the side of a blue piste (number 1) just above middle station, it's a useful alternative to the busier Bergrestaurant Sonnenkopf.
Tel: +43-5582-292 0
Kelo Bar Apres Ski
Situated at the bottom of the Sonnenkopf gondola lift station, Kelo Bar is Klostertal's main après-ski bar with live music and open daily for apres ski from 4pm throughout the ski season.
Tel: +43 664 1833 562
Klostertal Villages near Sonnenkopf
The small traditional Klostertal villages – Klosterle, Wald am Arlberg, Danofen and Langen am Arlberg - have a limited range of accommodation in small hotels and bed & breakfast guesthouses, plus a few apartments and chalets to rent. The après ski is quiet and there's very little nightlife. This can be ideal for families, those on a restricted budget, and those who want to stay in an unspoilt mountain village.
The Sonnenkopf base station is situated between the village of Wald am Arlberg and the small hamlet of Danofen, which is mostly composed of chalets, some of them are within walking distance of the Sonnenkopf lift. There are a couple of small 3 star hotels though: the Hotel Garni Stockinger and the Gasthof Spullersee - both are about 500m from the lift.
About 2.5km to the East is the slightly larger village of Klosterle am Arlberg. Its western fringe is called Waldle and some consider this a separate hamlet too. 2.5km to the East of Klosterle is Langan am Arlberg, another small village but with a railway station, connecting it to Innsbruck and St Anton amonf other places. That's really the last of the Klostertal villages, but it's worth noting that it's only another 2.5km to Stuben am Arlberg which unlike Sonnenkopf is lift-linked to all the other Arlberg resorts, and so is an important gateway into the main Arlberg ski area.
Bus Route 90 connects all thes villages with the ski lifts at Sonnenkopf and Stuben, and the railway station at Langen, and there are about 20 buses a day (for a time table see www.stuben-arlberg.at/en/services/public-transport ) so if you don't have your own car, or you want to drive as little as possible when you are on holiday, check how close your accommodation is to the nearest bus stop.
The S16 Arlberg motorway runs along the valley but most of the Klostertal villages are sufficiently set back from it to prevent it from spoiling the holiday environment. (The accommodation finder below lets you see map locations and read previous guest reviews and ratings.)
Architecturally, Klostertal is unspoiled with a few traditional family-owned hotels and private guesthouses renting out rooms. Besides the local SPA supermarket there are no shops and not a great deal happening in the villages so there is little for non-skiers to do during the day, apart from soak up the sun, weather permitting, on the terrace at the Bergrestaurant Sonnenkopf or to go for a walk. The main night time activity is eating, drinking and relaxing in hotels and a handful of restaurants in the village. Best bring a scrabble board, an iPad and a few books! If you have your own car and want a change of scene, there are some very smart but quiet restaurants at Stuben, Lech and Zurs, and lots of bars and nightclubs at St Anton which could never be described as quiet!
Sonnenkopf Apres Ski Bars & Restaurants
Klostertal villages – Klosterle, Danofen and Langan am Arlberg – are quiet, community villages and there’s little in the way of traditional après ski or other activities outside the hotels and a handful of unsophisticated restaurants and bars, none of which are vibrant.
Klosterle Apres Ski Bars
Off mountain bars include the Kelo Bar for après ski next to the bottom of the Sonnenkopf ski lift next to Zum Fuhrmann, but if you're in the mood for après ski you'd be better off getting a taxi to Stuben (8km), or for a big night out go to St Anton (20km).
The Kelo Bar is an apres ski bar situated close to the bottom of the Sonnenkopf gondola ski lift station. Open daily in winter from 4pm.
Tel: +43 664 1833 562
Klosterle restaurants, including hotel restaurants serve simple traditional Austrian dishes and typically are good value for money. Restaurants are small so best to book in advance and arrange to eat early evening rather than late, otherwise you might go hungry.
A traditional restaurant and bar next to Pension Chesa Raetia in the centre of Klosterle, Zum Fuhrmann serves local specialities and is popular with locals.
Tel: +43 5582 30190
Gashtaus Johanniter Stube
One of the oldest houses in the centre of Klosterle, Johanniter Stube restaurant serves home cooked seasonal regional dishes with and selection of international wines and local wines.
Tel: +43 5582 30 199
Sporthotel Klostertalerhof's is a 44 bed hotel close to the centre of Klosterle. The hotel restaurant serves regional and international dishes and reasonable selection of wines.
Tel: +43 5582 535
Wirtshaus Restaurant Engel
Wirthaus Restaurant Engel (the Angel) is a cosy restaurant in Klosterle serving Austrian specialties made from fresh and natural produce and traditional fare, such as "Vorarlberg Kässpätzle" served in a pan for several people, and a selection of fine Austrian wines.
Tel: +43 5582 627
Cafe Bäckerei Albrecht
For a wide choice of home made fresh bread, pastries, cakes, desserts and various snacks.
Tel: +43 5582 227
Pension Gasthof Rossle restaurant in Klosterle am Arlberg serves regional dishes, fondue specialties and a la carte dishes including roast duck. Gasthof Rossle has two double rooms and a studio for 2-4 persons for resident guests.
Tel: +43 5582 755
Restaurant Seestüble in Danofen offers a choice of traditional home cooked dishes including fondue or raclette if reserved in advance.
Tel: +43 5582 33348
Cafe Restaurant Margaret
For home made cake and strudel, open daily except Wednesdays
Tel: +43 664 5727 449