Winter Activities Away from the Slopes
Give your skis a break and try out winter paddling, snowshoeing, mountain yoga, and more.
Skiing remains the most popular activity among Brits visiting Austria in the winter months, no doubt. But why not spice it up with some alternative sporty activities in between the days on the slopes? Rent a kayak or paddle board and explore Austria’s snow-covered landscapes from the water, head out on a tour with huskies, alpacas, or donkeys, find your inner Zen while practicing mountain yoga, or take a break from downhill skiing with a leisurely walk or hike through the snowy landscapes.
Outdoor activities in nature are great for both body and mind and make winter holidays attractive even for those who are not fit enough or not too keen on hitting the slopes.
Have a look at our suggestions for a balanced winter below – as part of a classic skiing escape or enjoyed on their own!
SNOWSHOEING, WINTER WALKING & HIKING
Walks and hikes through snow-covered landscapes are great ways to experience Austria’s wintery landscapes first-hand and leave all the stress of everyday life behind. What’s more: Many trails are manageable for all ages and skill levels, making the outdoor adventures accessible for even more people. And, unless they opt for snowshoeing, holidaymakers don’t need any special equipment except for boots and warm clothes either.
While walking and hiking is possible in all winter regions, some are especially known for their extensive network of trails and beautiful tours. Zillertal (over 460 km of winter hiking trails!), and the Arlberg region feature everything from family-friendly walks to multi-day hiking adventures, while Kitzbühel additionally offers guided star gazing hikes in February. Vorarlberg’s Bregenz Forest and the Hohe Tauern National Park in Carinthia and Salzkammergut are popular with snowshoeing fans.
WINTER & ICE CLIMBING
Winter and ice climbing are another activity becoming increasingly Austria, not just among experienced mountain climbers no longer wanting to limit themselves to the summer months, but also adventurous holidaymakers in the ski regions.
St. Anton am Arlberg has an 850 km long winter climbing trail at Rendl, which is considered one of the most beautiful ones in Tirol. Always wanted to climb up a frozen waterfall? In the Ötztal region even beginners can give ice axe and crampons a go together with a local mountain guide. Tirol’s Kaunertal awaits experienced climbers with several routes and waterfalls, the highest being a whooping 160 metres high.
WINTER SUP, CANOEING & KAYAKING
Who says you can only paddle in the warmer months? With the right equipment, think dry suits, waterproof gloves, and neoprene boots, navigating your boat or board around the Austrian lakes and rivers can be just as enjoyable in the colder months. Just imagine the unique and unusual views of the snow-covered landscapes right from the water!
Winter paddling, especially SUP, is best suited for those who have already gained some experience in the summer. You want to minimize the risk of falling into the ice-cold water after all. That being said, some winter resorts do offer paddling courses for beginner. Check out winter kayaking in the Kitzbühel Alps for workshops and guided tours (all skill levels), rent your board at Carinthia’s Lake Weissensee, or, if you are looking for something extra special, the Hintertux Glacier in Zillertal, where you can stand up paddle – or swim! – in an ice cave.
ANIMAL EXPERIENCES IN THE SNOW
Feel the fluffy fur of alpacas, play with dogs in the snow, admire the wintery landscapes from a horse-drawn carriage, or head on a winter hike together with donkeys. Animal experiences are a great way to enjoy winter both away from the slopes and the crowds.
At Husky farms – such as Toni’s dog paradise in Brandnertal (Vorarlberg) – guests can learn how to navigate a dog sled, while holidaymakers in Saalbach-Hinterglemm are invited to head on llama trekking tours and Innsbruck has alpaca adventures included in their Welcome Card (available at hotels). The Mühlviertler Alm region in Upper Austria, not far from Salzburg, features an impressive 700-km-long network of horse-riding paths. And for those who prefer to sit down and relax in a carriage, St. Johann in Tirol, Zillertal, Kitzbühel and Saalbach Hinterglemm are just a few of the many options.
Long gone are the times when yoga was considered an indoor and summer activity!
Zell am See offers free open-air yoga classes throughout the winter, while Schladming in the Dachstein region has workshops especially designed with skiers in mind. St. Anton am Arlberg, home to the popular annual Mountain Yoga Festival in September, now offers yoga classes all-year round, including in winter. And Vorarlberg’s Kleinwalsertal has its own yoga hotel operating throughout the cold months.
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