Skiing in Sonnenkopf

Sonnenkopf Klostertal Ski Area Overview

Described as the “family ski area in the Arlberg”, the small Sonnenkopf ski area in Klostertal is not lift-connected to the main Arlberg ski area, but is covered by the Arlberg lift pass and offers good skiing for all ability levels.  

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More peaceful and less crowded than the main Arlberg ski area, the small Sonnenkopf ski area is family-friendly and best for beginners and intermediates 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. In good conditions, it also offers great powder skiing off-piste.

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. Sonnenkopf is fun, but relatively small so there’s not enough skiing to entertain good skiers for longer than a day unless you include the off-piste.

However, the vast Arlberg ski area is easily accessed from other resorts nearby. Sonnenkopf and Klosterle are less than 10km by road from Stuben am Arlberg (the nearest lift connection to the main Arlberg ski area) and 20 km from Lech-Zurs. The express train journey from Langen am Arlberg to St Anton (one-stop) is also easy. Buses run between the Sonnenkof base station and Stuben (with stops at Klosterle, Danofen and Wald) every 30 minutes during the day.

The backbone of the Sonnenkopf ski lift system is the 8-person Sonnenkopfbahn gondola. The gondola rises from the valley lift station near Danofen and Wald am Arlberg (1,000m), through a middle station, to easy beginner slopes served by 4 surface lifts on 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, and 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 2,300m, but the Vorarlberg is one of the snowiest regions in the Alps, so snow quality is rarely a problem.

Top-to-bottom skiing includes easy blue (1 and 1a) and intermediate red (4 and 4a) runs approximately 6km long and over 1,000m vertical elevation from the ski area down to the valley lift station. There’s also a 2km toboggan run and 3 winter walking trails (10km), the longest of which is a 7 km Winterwanderweg to Muttjochle at 2,075m.

More experienced skiers and boarders can ride the 4-person Obermurlbahn chairlift and a couple of 2-person chairlifts to access 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.

In addition to Sonnenkopf’s marked ski runs and routes, there’s plenty of off-piste skiing and freeriding, especially in the large North-facing bowl around the Gllttingrat and Obermuri lifts. Because it’s off the beaten track and uncrowded, the off-piste terrain in Sonnenkopf remains untracked for longer than in the main Arlberg ski area and there are long and challenging off-piste descents off the back of the ridge between Glattingrat (2,300m) and Purtschakopf (2,244m).  And more challenging off-piste for experts behind Purtschakopf. Taking a local 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 the middle station and Kelo Bar at the bottom of the gondola open for après ski from 4 pm.

The Sonnenkopf ski area is included on the main Arlberg lift pass and is well known to locals, but generally overlooked by skiers visiting St Anton. It’s a great place to visit on a blue-sky day, especially in good snow conditions.

Beginner Skiing in Sonnenkopf-Klostertal

Sonnenkopf ski area in Klostertal includes 12 pistes one-third of which are easy blue runs for beginners and families with young children. The remainder are mostly enjoyable uncrowded red runs for intermediates and offer good progression for confident beginners.


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.

Conveniently for beginners, nearly all easy blue runs are concentrated in one area to 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 halfway at the middle lift station.

After exploring the blue runs, 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.

Ski Schools & Ski Lessons in Sonnenkopf-Klostertal

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Intermediate Skiing in Sonnenkopf-Klostertal

Two-thirds of Klostertal’s Sonnenkopf ski area is designated for intermediate skiers. With just a dozen red runs (20km) and 10km of blue runs, competent skiers will easily ski all of Sonnenkopf’s ski area in one day. However, it’s just a short journey by car or bus from Klostertal to Stuben where you can access the vast Arlberg ski area.

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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, the highest point in the 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 the 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.

Advanced & Expert Skiing in Sonnenkopf-Klostertal

Klostertal’s Sonnenkopf ski area includes just one black run, which is steep and straight. In good snow conditions, there are plenty of opportunities for skiing off-piste and plenty more off-piste at Stuben and the other Arlberg resorts.

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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.

Ski route 14 and the off-piste descents from the ridge between Purtschakopf, Glattingrat and the top of the Obermuri chair are North-facing and 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 as there are cliffs, so hiring a guide is recommended.

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 or through the ski school at Stuben. Sonnenkopf is also good for ski touring.

Stuben is famous for its off-piste and freeriding and one of the most popular but challenging off-piste itineraries is a long off-piste descent 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. Also, there is plenty more challenging skiing at St Anton, Lech-Zurs and Warth-Schroecken.

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.

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Bergrestaurant Sonnenkopf

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. Located next to the top of the main gondola lift station, it’s easy for non-skiers to get to and open daily from 9 am to 4 pm. Tel: +43 5582 292. Web:

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 the middle station, it’s a useful alternative to the busier Bergrestaurant Sonnenkopf. Tel: +43-5582-2920. Web:

Kelo Bar Apres Ski

The Kelo Bar at the bottom of the Sonnenkopf gondola lift station is Klostertal’s main après-ski bar with live music and is open daily for apres ski from 4 pm throughout the ski season. Tel: +43 664 1833 562. Web:


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