The new 145km Ski Juwel region comprises 82km of skiing in Wildschonau and 63km in Alpbachtal. The three ski areas in Wildschonau - Niederau, Oberau and Auffach - are connected by a frequent free ski bus service, with a similar free bus service connecting villages in Alpbachtal.
In 2012 the ski areas at Auffach and Alpbach were connected by an important new two stage gondola from the Schatzberg down to Inneralpbach, doubling the size of the ski area available to skiers in each valley from 55km each to a combined 110km. The newly connected ski areas include 20km of blue runs, 61km of red runs, 12km of black runs and 17km of ski routes. There is also plenty of easily accessible off-piste terrain both above and below the treeline which stays untracked for far longer than equivalent slopes in busier better known resorts.
The next biggest area in Wildschonau is the relatively small ski area at Niederau, with excellent nursery slopes down in the valley and 24km on mountain, most of which is ideal for first time beginners on easy confidence boosting blue runs progressing to easy red runs, but also including a few black runs and some enjoyable and more testing off-piste descents on north facing slopes and following the fall line through the trees from 1,500m to 828m.
The pretty village of Oberau is conveniently located roughly half way between Niederau and Auffach with its own tiny ski area for novices and for the convenience of locals.
|Ski Area||Total||Blue||Red||Black||Ski Routes|
Ranked the 10th largest in the Tirol, "Ski Juwel" Alpbachtal-Wildschonau features a total of 138km 138km of marked ski runs. Including 121km of piste sking and 17km of ski routes, 102km of which is now lift-connected thanks to the new gondola connection between the Schatzberg above Auffach and the Poglalm entry point to the Wiedersberger Horn ski area at Inneralpbach.
The new 8-person gondola (included in the table below under Alpbach) starts next to the Hahnkopf lift on Schatzberg and runs down to mid-station at Pechalm (1,460m) where a second stage gondola takes you directly to the Poglalm gondola at Inneralpbach, an entry point to the Alpbach ski area and rising to 2,000m. The second stage between Pechalm and Poglalm spans the valley at a height of 40m and takes six minutes to complete the descent. The return trip to the Schatzberg takes approximately 10 minutes without having to change gondolas at Pechalm.
The ski areas in each valley are also connected efficient free ski bus services, allowing you to travel easily and quickly between Niederau - Oberau - Auffach in Wildschonau and between Alpbach - Reither Kogl - Kramsach in Albachtal Seenland, but skiers wanting to switch from Wildschonau to Alpbachtal or vice versa must use the gondola.
|Ski Lifts||Total||Gondolas||Chairlifts||Surface Lifts|
The three ski areas in Wildschonau include two high-speed gondolas, three chairlifts and 20 drag lifts between 830m and 1,900m and serving 70km of pistes, of which 40km can be prepared with artificial snow.
Total lift capacity in Wildschonau is 31,300 riders per hour and you seldom have to queue for more than a few minutes on any lift, except for some queuing for the Schatzbergbahn first thing in the morning when upwards of half a dozen coaches arrive in Auffach bearing large groups.
To travel from Auffach to Niederau by free ski bus takes approximately 25 minutes.
Alpbach has an efficient lift system including three gondolas one of which is the new gondola which spans the valley from Poglalm in Alpbachtal to the Schatzberg in Wildschonau. Another two gondolas, the Poglbahn at Inneralpbach and the Wiedersbergerhornbahn on the outskirts of Alpbach, provide the uplift to the Wiedersberger Horn
There is no lift connection between Alpbach and Reither Kogl (one of the best night sking areas in the Tirol) and commuting by free ski bus takes no more than 15 minutes. Kramsach in Seenland is located on the Inntal valley floor and irrelevant unless you happen to be staying there.
Full lift passes are valid on all 47 lifts throughout the Ski Juwel ski region and the Alpbachtal are covered by the same Ski Juwel. Children aged five and under ski free when accompanied by a parent with a full lift pass and children aged 6-15 and those aged 16-18 are entitled to reduced price lift passes.
The lift station cash desks selling lift passes are open in Auffach and Niederau from 8:30am until 4:30pm and in Oberau from 9:00am until 4:30pm. Ski lifts are open in Niederau and Oberau from 9:00am to 4:30pm and in Auffach from 830am to 4:30pm.
And if you want to check your progress including lifts used, vertical meters and downhill kilometres completed, go to www.skiline.cc and enter your lift ticket number.
Skiers in Niederau have a choice of four restaurants for on-mountain dining and ten or more restaurants in the village, only a stone's throw or a short walk from the Markbachjoch gondola base station.
Anton-Graf Hut Niederau - located on mountain at the bottom of the Hochberg run; serves Tirolean specialities and also has accommodation in dormitories for up to 42 guests. Tel: +43 (0) 664 5874415
Berghof Niederau - located on mountain right next to the gondola; Tirolean dishes including beef and pork specials, and homecured ham. Accommodation for up to 100 people. Tel: +43 (0) 5339 8221.
Rübezahl Hut Niederau - a cosy wooden hut at the top of the Markbachjoch gondola; serving local dishes and with large terrace, deck chairs and a giant wooden barrel hot tub for relaxing after skiing. Tel: +43 (0) 5339 8324.
Mittermoosen Alm Niederau - located on mountain: serves farm produce and light snacks. There's also a petting zoo for children. Tel: +43 (0) 664 126 8160.
A pretty village in the heart of the Wildschonau, Oberau is roughly equi-distant between the main ski areas at Niederau and Auufach. While off-radar for most skiers, the beginners' ski area at Roggenboden just outside Oberau includes a restaurant for dining and a small hut for snack. Also a couple of good restaurants off-mountain in Oberau, notably the Gasthof Kellerwirt, an 800-year old coaching inn which is worth visiting for lunch or for dinner no matter where in the Wildschonau you are staying.
Riedlhof Oberau - located at Roggenboden ski area; the Riedlhof serves giant Wienerschnitzel, so big the fries are hidden underneath and a favourite to win any biggest schnitzel contest. Tel: +43 (0) 5339 8882.
Roßkopfhütte Oberau - located at Roggenboden ski area; a small hut serving snacks and drinks. Tel: +43 (0) 5339 2624
Landgasthof Dorferwirt Oberau - located in the village; Traditional Tirolean and international dishes prepared from own farm produce including roast suckling pig every Tuesday and live music daily. Tel: +43 (0) 5339 8113.
Gasthof Kellerwirt Oberau - located in the village opposite the church; serving seasonal Tirolean and Austrian specialities made from local ingredients, Ice creams, homemade cakes and a good wine list. Tel: +43 (0) 5339 8116
Reini´s Ess-Bar Oberau - located in the village: open from 11am Mon - Sat, from 10am Sundays and offering a large menu choice of homemade pasta and Austrian dishes. Tel: +43 (0) 650 324 3007.
The Schatzberg ski area above Auffach, the biggest ski area in the Wildschonau valley, offers a good selection of restaurants and huts on mountain and some good hotel restaurants just a short walk from the gondola base station. Better still, Wildschonau's Schatzberg ski area is now lift-connected to Alpbachtal, more than doubling the number of mountain restaurants as well as doubling the number of piste kilometres.
Shatzbergalm Auffach - located on mountain; warm meals available all day. Homemade cakes and gateaux, fresh summer salads and Tirolean specialities, self-service with large terrace and apres ski bar. Tel: +43 (0) 5339 8835.
Gipfo Hit Auffach - located on mountain at the top of the gondola; serves specialities of the region, waitress service, bar and large terrace, open evenings at weekends, but closed in bad weather. Tel: +43 (0) 664 13 00 871.
Koglmoos Auffach - located on mountain at the gondola mid-station; self-service restaurant, different types of knödel, pancakes and specialities of the region are served until 4 pm. Large sun terrace. Tel: +43 (0) 5339 8889.
Grutt'n Bar Auffach - located at the bottom of the ski slope opposite the gondola base station; homemade cakes, ice creams and snacks from 12 pm, apres ski bar from 4pm.
Cafe Martin Auffach - located in the village; light meals, pizza served from 6 pm. Tel: +43 (0) 5339 8855
Auffacherhof Auffach - located in the village; reasonably priced daily lunch menus; including fresh trout, steak, and beef dishes made from own farm produce. Tel: +43 (0) 5339 8837
Platz Auffach - located in the village; house specialities include chicken and sea food dishes, and delicious desserts. Tel: +43 (0) 5339 8928.
Gasthof Weissbacher Auffach - located at the uphill end of the village; warm Tirolean specialities, seniors specials and homemade cakes served all day, indoors or on south-facing sun terrace. Tel: +43 (0) 5339 8934.
Gasthof Schonangeralm near Auffach - located on the high Schonanger meadow some distance - a sleigh-ride - from Auffach; open all day and serves local dishes including cheese from own dairy. Tel: +43 (0) 664 326 7616.
Skiers and boarders in the Wildschonau now have access to a good selection of mountain restaurants on the Wieders Horn in Alpbachtal, now connected to Wildschonau by the new gondola between Schatzberg and Inneralpbach.
Bogalm Tel: +43 664 325 49 19
Kolberhof Tel: +43 5336 5334
Almhof Tel: +43 5336 5379
Liftstuberl Tel: +43 5336 5255
Asthutte Tel: +43 699 127 40 630
Wiedersbergerhorn Hutte Tel: +43 664 548 84 94
Berggasthof Hornboden Tel: +43 5336 5366 24
Dauerstoa Alm Tel: +43 664 105 19 29
Umbrella Six Pub Tel: +43 5336 5610
Joe's Saletti Tel: +43 699 111 68 992
Located at 828 metres above sea level, the small village of Niederau is the biggest and best known of Wildschonau's ski resorts. With three airports nearby, getting to Niederau is easy and transfer times from Innsbruck, Munich or Salzburg airports are short. Best known for its ski schools and beginner skiing including easy blue runs and excellent nursery slopes for novices and young children, Niederau is a picturesque family-friendly ski resort with around 1,000 inhabitants and accommodation for over 2,700 guests in traditional Austrian guesthouses, apartments and a reasonable selection of 2-4 star hotels.
Though quiet in comparison to bigger, better known resorts, Niederau has an adequate choice of bars and restaurants and offers both relaxed and lively apres ski with Austrian ambience and appropriate touches of local Tirolean culture. The village is spread out along the valley road and approximately 1km from end to end, but it's easy to get around on foot. Although Niederau has very few shops unconnected with snowsports, there are plenty of shops (and more restaurants) nearby in Worgl.
Niedrau's 24km ski area, best for beginners and early intermediates, is easily reached by 8-person gondola departing from the main base station near the centre of the village and rising to Markbachjoch (1,500m) and a 4-person chairlift to Lanerkopfl (1,600m) between the nursery slopes west of the village.
The quietest and loveliest of Wildschonau's ski resort villages, Oberau is absolutely delightful. This is where you'll find many of the prettiest buildings in the valley, many of which are decorated with charming murals or other Tirolean and Austrian hallmarks such as "Anton Sollerer Shuhmacher-Meister 1850", the Gasthof Starchenthof with dark wooden balconies partly painted red and white, the Gasthof Kellerwirt dating from the 12th Century and an Inn since 1750 and the Church of St Margarethe ( aka "the Wildschonau cathedral"). With four brass bands in the valley, the region has strong musical traditions and Oberau, home to the Hauptschule Wildschonau in Oberau, is the Wildschonau's music capital.
Though Oberau has over 2,000 inhabitants and accommodation for nearly 3,000 guests in chalet style pensions and hotels, the village, built on both sides of the valley road at an altitude of 936m and about 2km from end to end, is sometimes so peacefully quiet you could hear a pin drop. That said, for those who like to chill out and relax after skiing, there are some delightful apres ski spots, the two most popular being the Kellerwirt and Weinstuberl at the Starchenthof.
Oberau has a tiny ski area, just 3km at Roggenboden, about 1.5km from the village, but the vast majority of guests travel by car or regular free ski bus to the main ski area at Auffach or Niederau; and Oberau is conveniently situated half way between them. Look out for Café Unterberger, definitely the most characterful café building in the Wildschonau and among the prettiest in Austria.
Home to nearly 1,000 inhabitants and offering accommodation for nearly 1,400 guests, Auffach is 4km farther along the valley from Oberau, 9km from Niederau, and at 875 metres above sea level. Built on each side of the uphill valley road, picturesque Auffach includes a large gondola base station and free car park, a few ski rental shops and a selection of hotels including the 4-star Auffacherhof, Hotel Platz and Hotel Weisbacher, both 3-star, and a reasonable selection of guesthouses.
Apres ski options include Gipfo Hit and the Schatzbergeralm on mountain, the small but lively Gruttn Stadl, a purpose built circular wooden apres ski bar at the bottom of the slopes opposite the gondola base station, Charlie's Pizza restaurant next door and the small south-facing sun terrace at the Hotel Weisbacher, at the far end of the village.
Auffach is the access point to the Schatzberg ski area (55km), the biggest and highest ski area in the Wildschonau, now connected by a new gondola to the Wiedersberger Horn ski area (also 55km) above Alpbach; together they form the backbone of the "Ski Juwel" region (145km).
The Wilschonau's smallest and highest village at an altitude of 1,175m, Thierbach has just 188 inhabitants, 484 guest beds and is homw to Austria's smallest school - just 8 pupils - but there's no lift access to the ski area from here.
Wildschonau Tourist Office
Hauserweg, Oberau 337, Tirol
Tel: +43 5339 82550
Email: [email protected]
Though the Wildschonau valley is unspoiled, hidden away in each of the calm and pretty villages are some lively apres ski bars. Dining in or out in the Wildschonau mostly involves eating in your hotel or picking the best hotel restaurants to visit. Most offer reasonably high standards of cuisine backed up with adequate selection of wines, and a few restaurants such as the Gasthof Kellerwirt in Oberau are worth making an extra effort to visit and will help make your Wildschonau ski holiday more memorable.
Most of the lively apres ski bars and clubs can be found in Niederau where Bobo's Heustadl Bar, a circular wooden building next to the base area, is a popular first bar stop and the favourite of many locals. Other lively apres ski bars in Neiderau are O'Malley's Irish Pub at the Sport Hotel next to the Markbachjoch base station and opposite the Schnappshutte apres ski bar, the Sport Café at Pension Flatscher, and the Dorfstub'n. Later in the evening, clubbers might like to try the Cave Bar disco in the Hotel Staffer.
The 4-star Hotel Wastlhof (Tel: +43 5339 8247) is Niederau's best for fine dining and the Hotel Austria Stuberl (Tel: +43 5339 8188) in Niederau is the most popular restaurant in the village and serves international dishes as well as specialities of the region. For eating out Italian style, try Pizzeria Ferrari (Tel: +43 5339 2733) and Pizzeria Milano.
Just a 10-minute drive from Niederau, the small town of Worgl offers a bigger choice of restaurants including Austrian, Italian, Spanish, Indian and Chinese restaurants and with a touch more sophistication.
Next along the valley and much quieter is Oberau, where the Hotel Tirolerhof's Sno Blau Bar is a popular hotspot along with the Starchenstubl at the Gasthof Starchenthof and the Keller Bar at Gasthof Kellerwirt which are also popular for apres ski, but to experience the Kellerwirt at its best, a table reservation for dinner is highly recommended.
The Gasthof Kellerwirt (Tel: +43 5339 8116) in Oberau is among the best restaurant experience in Wildschonau and highly recommended. An historic building dating from the 12th Century, the Kellerwirt has been a traditional Tirolean coaching Inn owned and managed by the Keller family since 1750. Hans Keller, the most genial of hosts with a keen sense of humour (often seen riding his bicycle down the piste after night skiing) will delight you with his tales of the history of the Kellerwirt. Book a table for dinner, ideally to coincide with a wine tasting in the cellar deep within the 12th Century walls and be sure to visit the Monkey Room.
Also in Oberau, the Hotel Talhof (Tel: +43 5339 8465) serves home produced lamb and fresh trout from its own farm and the Landgasthof Dorfwirt (Tel: +43 5339 8113) is especially well regarded for its authentic Tirolean specialities. The Riedlhof Hut at Oberau would be a strong contender in any "biggest Wiener schnitzel" contest with chips hidden underneath.
The circular wooden Grutt'n Stadl Bar (Tel: +43 664 163 4182) in an unmissable location at the bottom of the slopes next to the main Schatzberg lift station is purpose built and ideal for apres ski. Apart from a few local hotel bars, it's possibly the only apres ski bar in Auffach which adds to its popularity.
Still in Auffach, the 4-star Hotel Auffacherhof just 80m from the Schatzbergbahn lift has reasonably priced daily menus and a choice of international and traditional Austrian cuisine including lamb, beef and fish dishes using locally sourced products. The 3-star Hotel Platzl (Tel: +43 5339 8928), located 120m from the Schatzberg lift, has a popular restaurant serving innovative dishes prepared by Chef Walter Frey who adds his own twist to traditional dishes. Examples are venison in a pumpkin seed crust or pear with pear croquettes and red cabbage with chestnuts or bream in a red curry sauce.
For those guests who don't have access to a car, the Auffach-Oberau-Niederau night bus service operates on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights from late December until early April (13 stops en route) in both directions every half hour from 8pm until the last bus from Niederau at 02:30 arriving in Auffach at 02:55am. Free for Wildschonau Guest Card holders otherwise a small charge applies. A timetable is available from Wildschonau Tourist Offices.
The Wildschonau has 50km of cross-country skiing tracks including seven tracks running the lengeth of the valley between Niederau and Auffach, and a cross country ski circuit on the Schonanger Alm at 1,070m and located at the far end of the valley, 10km beyond Auffach.
At Auffach, there's a 5km long toboggan run starting from the Schatzberg gondola middle station and winding its way down to the village and Oberau has tobogganing on Wednesday and Thursday nights on floodlit slopes next to the night sking area on Roggenboden. Toboggan hire is available at the lift station. Tel: +43 (0) 664 125 4031. Contact the Wildschonau Tourist Office for more information.
The Markbachjoch above Niederau is an ideal starting point for tandem paragliding flights and to enjoy a bird's eye view of the Wildschönau Valley. The Flyingschool Wildschonau's highly qualified instructors also teach paragliding. Options in winter include 4-day Beginners Course from Thursday to Sunday including one high altitude flight, 2-day Soaring Weekends for those who have completed the 4-day course for beginners and 6-day course Including elementary and altitude flight training, five mountain and cable car rides, flight equipment hire, theory papers, all taxes and fees and a completion guarantee. Meeting point at Hotel Harfenwirt in Niederau at 9:00am
A-6314 Niederau 325, Wildschonau
Tel.: + 43 (0) 664 262 2646 or 664 5169 274
Email: [email protected]
Web: www.paragliding.at (German language only)
The Wildschonau is an idyllic place for romantic sleigh rides and five Wildschonau families offering sleigh rides from 1- 2½ hours and for 4-12 people. Hintersalcher, Sleigh rides from Auffach to Schönangeralm especially are highly recommended.
Hintersalcher, Family Haas, Auffach: T +43 (0) 5339 2164 or 2789
Hotel Tirolerhof, Family Erhater, Oberau: Tel: +43 (0) 5339 8118 0
Lehenbauer, Family Klingler, Thierbach: Tel: +43 (0) 5339 8817
Foischinghof, Famiy Hausberger , Niederau: Tel: +43 (0) 699 1841 6034 or 699 1266 9969
Schlittenweggemeinschaft Penning, Family Loinger, Niederau: Tel: +43 (0) 5335 2531
Snowshoeing is easy, especially if you're reasonable fit and enjoy walking. It's also an enjoyable way to experience the winter landscape and deep snow laden slopes away from the ski pistes. Recommended snow shoe routes in the Wildschonau include Thierbach Kogel , Sonnberg Jöchl , Zauberwinkl , Halsgatterl - Holzalm - Markbachjoch, Kragenjoch, Aschbach - Mitterbergalm - Steinerhöfe - Adlerhorst, Schatzberg - Gern - Sternboden and Hönigkaseralm.
Snow shoes are available at sport shops in Niederau, Oberau or Auffach, and guided snow shoe tours including snow shoes are free for Wildschönau Guest Card holders. Contact the Wildschonau Tourist Office for more information and to book.
The Wildschonau valley has 40km of cleared paths exclusively for winter-walking past beautiful old farms, onion domed churches and picturesque guesthouses in the stunningly pretty winter landscape. Wildschonau's 50km of cross-country ski tracks are also available for winter walking, but not in the tracks please. Recommended walks include the Path of Reflection, the cross-country ski area at Schonanger Alm and the tiny village of Thierbach.
Dedicated to St Francis of Assisi, the Path of Reflection winds its way for 3km through the beautiful winter landscape from Neiderau to Oberau. Stop at the Z'Bach Mountain Farmer's Museum (free entry to guest card holders) featuring over 1,200 exhibits illustrating the life and times of Wildschonau famers over the past 200 years.
The famous "cure-for-all" Krautinger Schnapps has been uniquely distilled in the Wildschonau from locally grown White Beet since the mid 18th Century. Josef Thaler, one of only 15 farming families still making Krautinger according to ancient traditions, provides a taste of it to walkers arriving at the Steinerhof in Oberau. Walk or stagger a few hundred meters more and you arrive at the village of Oberau, dominated by the Baroque church of St Margarethe ("the Wildschonau Cathedral") with its tower and onion dome rising to 52 metres. Just opposite the church, the charming Gasthof Kellerwirt, dating from 12th Century and a Gasthof since 1750, is a perfect place to stop for lunch or an early evening meal.
A motorised road-going leisure train, the type you see in fun parks, is great for families and the 15-minute ride from Auffach (875m) to Thierbach (1,175m) is an easy alternative to a 90-minute walk. Thierbach is the highest village in Wildschonau / Kitzbuheler Alps and home to the smallest school in Austria with 8 pupils, church, graveyard, a few scattered farmhouses and splendid views.
Ironically, the tiny village of Thierbach at 1,175m is also the home of star engine-tuner Conrad Gruber and his Albrex workshop providing high-technology performance tuning for Lamborghini, Lotus, Ferrari, Mercedes, Porsche, Viper, BMW and Audi. Delivering explosive performance upgrades from 400 to 1,000 horsepower, Conrad's wealthy customers include many A-list celebs, but it's all discreetly hidden from view and presumably fully sound proofed. Albrex, Sonnsteinweg 236, A-6311 Thierbach, Tirol. Tel: +43 5339 8694.
The Wildschonau Guest Card entitles guest to travel freely on ski buses and night buses running frequently between Niederau and Auffach. It's almost as useful as your ski pass, so keep your guest card handy and check the guest card booklet at the beginning of your holiday for more information about entitlements.
Although not part of the Wildschonau, if you have access to a car it's definitely worth making a small detour to visit the Riedel glass works at Kuftsein, just 8km north east of Worgl. Take a guided tour of the factory and see how Riedel's best glassmakers use the ancient blow-pipe method to create the world-famous handcrafted Riedel glasses. Enjoy the "Sinnfonie" multimedia presentation about seeing, hearing, smelling, feeling and tasting and allow time for shopping in Riedel's flagship store at the factory. Riedel, Weissachstrasse 28-34, A-6330 Kufstein, Austria.Tel: +43 (0) 5372 64896. Web: www.riedel.com