Austria offers a winter wonderland made up of some of the world’s greatest skiing regions and destinations dedicated to all things Christmas.
Largest Ski Region in Austria
Skiing has been a tradition for more than 100 years in the Arlberg region, but the sport is now even better for visitors. The new Flexenbahn connection in the Arlberg region has created the largest ski region in Austria and one of the fifth largest in the world. The Flexenbahn cableway and the Trittkopfbahnen I and II, and Albonabahn II have made it possible to reach all of Arlberg’s ski resorts on skis. This incredible powder playground includes 189 miles of downhill skiing, 125 miles of deep snow skiing and 88 lifts and cable cars in St. Anton, St. Christoph, Stuben, Zürs, Lech, Schröcken and Warth.
St. Anton, one of the resort choices, is only a little over an hour away by train from Innsbruck. The Valluga II cable car goes up 9,222 feet where views of Germany, Switzerland, Liechtenstein and Italy can be seen. Lech Zürs boasts a world-class ski and snowboard school, plus easy and intermediate slopes make it a good option for those starting out in the sport. For the more experienced skier, the half-day thrill of “The White Ring,” which spans 14 miles of easy to difficult ski slopes linking Lech with Zürs, Zug and Oberlech, will certainly challenge.
Plan a winter vacation to Austria during the holidays and clients get the added benefit of the country’s magnificent Christmas Markets and decorations. Innsbruck boasts six Christmas Markets that open Nov. 15 where shopping is paired with a storybook setting. The Altstadt Christmas Market is the centerpiece and is located in Old Town. Booths sell ornaments, Tirolean handicrafts, candles, pastries and much more, while students from the Innsbruck music school provide festive tunes to add to the holiday joy. A more modern take on the market is the Maria-Theresien-Street Christmas Market, while a cable car ride from Old Town takes travelers to Hungerburg’s wooden stalls on the Nordkette Mountain Range.
Graz provides its own picture-perfect Christmas postcard with 14 Christmas Markets opening a week before the first Advent Sunday. Top choices include the Christmas Market on the Hauptplatz in front of City Hall. Music groups and choirs perform at the Angel Pavilion. A giant advent calendar illuminates the façade of City Hall when nighttime comes. The Schlossberg funicular transports visitors to the "Aufsteirern" Christmas Market open Friday to Sunday on the small mountain in the city. Stands sell local arts and crafts, mulled wine, and regional specialties, and the view is beautiful. After all the shopping, travelers can visit a larger-than-life Nativity Scene backlit with colors and made out of 50 tons of ice. It is located in the courtyard of the historic Landhaus, the seat of state government.