The Best Time Of Year For Avid Skiers To Visit Austria

"Climb every mountain, Ford every stream..." Or perhaps for winter sports enthusiasts, that should be "Ski every mountain, Skate every stream." With its towering peaks, picturesque mountain villages, and thriving après-ski scene, Austria is one of the best places in the world to hit the slopes. Its resorts consistently make it onto lists of the top locations to ski on the continent. You can even ski year-round in Austria, thanks to its glaciers.

But not all months are made equal in this mountainous Central European nation. At certain times, prices rocket, and hordes of people line up for the ski lifts and jostle for elbow space in the bars and restaurants. At others, snow cover at lower elevations is patchy. To avoid those issues, the best time to go skiing in Austria is mid-January. This time of year combines the best snow conditions across many resorts with lower prices and fewer crowds than during other periods.

Plan a ski trip to Austria

So, why is January a good time to plan a ski trip to Austria? First, if you want to be able to ski everywhere in Austria, you need to wait until January. During this month, there should be snow cover all over the country's resorts, even at lower elevations. Skiers who hit the slopes at the beginning of the season in early December or later in March and April, often have to head to higher elevation resorts for good powder.

January is also a great time to avoid the worst of the crowds on the Austrian ski slopes. Christmas can be magical, but it's made a little less so because everyone wants to spend the holidays in the mountains. In February, the crowds are back as schools in Austria and neighboring Germany and Czechia break up for the winter holidays, and families flock to Austria's slopes. January is a sweet spot between the holiday revelers and the tiny tots whizzing past as you struggle to remain upright.

Because it's peak season, late December and February also see higher prices in Austria. Prices for accommodations tend to be lower in January. However, if you really want to save money, you'll need to go in April (just not over Easter!). For the best balance, January is our pick.

Where to go skiing in Austria

There are over 400 ski resorts in Austria, with gentle blues for beginners and serious black runs for those with more experience. Assuming you're going in January, you can go anywhere, so you're almost spoilt for choice. Ski Arlberg in Western Austria is a great pick to suit all skiers. As one of the five biggest ski areas in the world, it's a vast network of picture-perfect villages with almost 200 miles of signposted ski runs and 85 lifts, as well as a top après-ski scene. Those looking for luxury accommodations can check out the villages of Lech or St. Anton, while families will love St. Christoph. One Tripadvisor reviewer called this ski area "fabulous." Other popular resorts include Kitzbϋhel, Zell am See-Kaprun, and Gastein. These areas all offer a variety of ski runs, a range of accommodations from high-end to budget-friendly, and excellent entertainment options from the thermal spas of Gastein to the superb shopping in Zell am See.

If you want to go somewhere quiet and family-friendly, try the village of Ellmau, about an hour's drive from Innsbruck. Ellmau is an excellent place for beginners and offers great slopes for intermediate skiers. However, Ellmau is part of the larger SkiWelt area, where you can find more advanced slopes and a party atmosphere. This area was called a "hidden gem" by a Tripadvisor visitor. Wherever you choose, strap on your skis, grab a Glühwein, and enjoy Austria's best resorts.