Klein aber fein: Austria's serene smaller ski regions
Tirol is home to some of the world's most famous and popular ski regions, from the sporty Sölden to the glamorous St. Anton am Arlberg - but its smaller, more relaxed areas can't be overlooked. If you're searching for ski destinations to recommend for family holidays and first time winter sports trips, the below selection won't disappoint.
"In Tirol, we have a saying to describe our smaller, more secluded ski regions: klein, aber fein, meaning little and lovely.
Holidaymakers - especially winter sports beginners or families with children in tow - who cherish peaceful and picturesque settings with tranquil slopes will adore the Tirolean destinations of Obertilliach, Pillerseetal Valley, Steinplatte Waidring, Kals-Matrei, Steinberg am Rofan, Nauders am Reschenpass, and Paznaun-Galtür."
- Elena Protopopow, Tirol Werbung
Reliable snow conditions, sunny south-facing slopes and incredible views of the Dolomites: there are plenty of reasons to fall in love with this small ski area located in the south of East Tirol. Holidays here benefit from a top quality ski school, an expansive children's area, 15km of pistes and great value pricing - perfect for families and beginners.
With the emerald Pillersee lake down in the valley, surrounded by mountain views on all sides, this destination is the definition of picturesque. Parents can enjoy breakfast on the terraces of jovial mountain huts while watching their youngsters learn to ski at the Pletzibär-Park, before setting off together to explore the region's 18km of pleasant, easy slopes.
This border-straddling ski region is home to 45km of slopes, 27.7km of which are wide, gentle pistes on which to experience the excitement of making one's first turns. The remaining red and black runs await more advanced skiers and snowboarders, while children can have fun in the Hausberg-Arena and dino-themed Triassi-Kinderland.
Reaching up to an altitude of 2,426m, the views from this ski region are nothing short of astounding. From the slopes - and from the Adler lounge, Austria's highest fine dining restaurant - one can gaze out across sixty 3,000m summits. Equally as impressive as its vista is the area's offering for families, with a well-appointed practice area, plenty of blue pistes, easy belt lifts and dedicated ski courses for children.
Steinberg am Rofan
Steinberg am Rofan's residents refer to the area as the "schönstes Ende der Welt“, or "the world's most beautiful corner". Surrounded by untouched natural landscapes, guests can spend their days learning to ski on this small, quiet resort's kilometre of slopes, warming up with hot chocolate and mulled wine in its charming alpine huts.
Nauders am Reschenpass
Situated by the Austrian-Italian border on the Main Alpine Ridge with slopes that climb up to 2,800m above sea level, this region is blessed with snow-sure skiing that continues into the spring. With 75km of varied pistes, beginners can find their stride on its easier slopes, while children learning to ski can practice and play at the Nauderix Kinderland.
This relaxed region has a few famous names amongst its fans, with Ernest Hemingway and Albert Einstein having been known to enjoy holidays in the area. But it doesn't take a genius to see its family-friendly appeal, with 49km of slopes, night skiing, two dedicated learning areas for children and a plethora of cosy alpine huts.