Zell am See
Zell am See (Schmitten) Ski Resort Austria
Beautifully situated lakeside, Zell am See ski resort (a.k.a. Schmitten) Austria merges many wonderful qualities inviting to all Powderhounds. A stellar location, easy access, guaranteed snow cover, varied ski terrain and a real village with lively apres.
Linked with the nearby Kaprun
ski resort and part of the huge Salzburg Super Ski Card, Zell am See is a classic mid-level Austrian ski resort that is surrounded by mountains of possibilities.
The Powderhounds skiied Zell am See (Schmitten) in January 2017. A full review is under way.
Zell am See Skiing and Snowboarding Terrain
The Zell am See ski area has a low base of just 760m but rises to a lofty 2000m on Schmittenhöhe. One can take at least 5 different thigh-burning ways down the entire 1240m vertical on the ‘front side’, plus a 1000m+ descent on the ‘back side toward Saalbach.
The main base area for the ski resort is at 945m elevation and has three major cable cars and gondolas emanating from it. One of them, the Schmittenhöhe cable car, goes all the way to the top of Schmittenhöhe (1050m vertical climb). Cutting laps from this lift will very quickly render your legs jelly.
Speaking of lifts (and jelly), there aren’t too many places that can boast having cable car cabins designed by Porsche. Zell am See can, and does, boast about it. They do look pretty cool (if you are into that, we prefer jelly!). Putting that aside, Schmitten does have an expansive and modern lift system hauling skiers and boarders up its 77km of piste skiing. Lifts total 25 and include 2 cable cars, 6 gondolas, 9 chairlifts and 8 surface lifts. New for 2016/17 is the ZellamSeeXpress gondola, serving a 700m vertical of north facing terrain. Another gondola situated below this is expected to be completed for season 2017/18, opening the way for better links with SkiCircus
The piste terrain is mainly east facing and quite varied. Unusually for a lot of the resorts in the region, Zell am See includes some very long advanced (black) runs. The range of beginner and intermediate trails will satisfy most skiers for several days. Lifted terrain has expanded with the new ZellamSeeXpress Gondola serving some extremely long and tasty intermediate terrain.
Off piste terrain is only limited by your imagination. For the adventurous when the snow is deep, there are some quite lusty alpine bowls and literally kilometres of great challenging, tree skiing possibilities.
Zell am See Snow and Weather
Whilst snowfall statistics are difficult to acquire, the low base elevation of Zell am See make it vulnerable to warmer weather. Pleasingly for winter visitors to Zell Am See, all piste runs are covered by high tech snow-making.
The high elevation and northerly aspect of the nearby Kitzsteinhorn will generally guarantee quality snow conditions all winter, regardless of what is happening at lower elevations.
Interlinked with Kaprun
Zell am See (Schmitten) ski area is interlinked via a short bus ride to the high alpine ski resort of Kitzsteinhorn
south of Kaprun
. The combined Kaprun-Zell am See ski area covers the slopes of Kitzsteinhorn, Maiskogel and Schmittenhöhe. The difference in vertical from the base near Zell am See (760m) to the top of the ski-able area of Kitzsteinhorn (3029m) makes for an impressive 2269m vertical across the resorts – shame you can can’t ski it all in one hit! It does however provide access to a total of 138km of trails and 50 ski lifts.
It appears also that by season 2017/18, the Zell am see lifts will link more closely with the neighbouring SkiCircus Saalbach-Hinterglemm- Leogang-Fieberbrunn. Stay tuned.
Where is Zell am See, Austria?
Zell am See is in Salzburg province near the border with the Tyrol and is located 110km south of Salzburg in central Austria
. Zell am See is close to Austria’s highest mountain – Großglockner (3798m).
Closest major gateway airports are Innsbruck
(142km) and Salzburg. Another option would be Munich.
For all airport transfers click below.
Public transport options abound. Trains run regularly direct to Zell am See. Most train journeys to Zell am See from Innsbruck take around 2 hours (change at Wörgl) and from Salzburg about 1½ hours. Regular buses, free for anyone with a ski pass, regularly connect Zell am See to the Ski lifts and Kaprun - Kitzsteinhorn.
A host of nearby ski resorts can be conveniently reached by car, bus or train from either Schuttsdorf or Zell am See stations. Ski resorts accessible by train include the vast SkiCircus
at Leogang and Fieberbrunn (or bus to Saalbach), iconic Kitzbuhel-Kirchberg
, the huge SkiWelt – Brixental, Wildkogel at Bramberg, Weiβee Glacier World and resorts in the Zillertal via Krimml. Buses also connect to SkiCircus at Saalbach and Hinterglemm, and if skiing under the new ZellamSeeXpress gondola at Schmitten, you can continue off piste all the way to the valley bottom near Viehhofen (also part of SkiCircus Saalbach) and catch the bus back to Zell am See and Kaprun (buses run every hour).
Zell am See Accommodation
Zell am See has accommodation of every type and standard ranging from ski in ski out in the upper part of town, boutique options in the town centre to lakeside bliss on the shoreline.
Some accommodation favorites in Zell am See include:
Grand Hotel Zell am See
– Classic lakeside hotel is everything one would expect.
Tauern Spa Hotel
– Unique hotel located a short distance from Zell am See. Beautiful rooms, all with balconies, complimentary beverages, access to 25 different pools, spas & saunas on site plus a buffet breakfast without equal make this a stand out in area. Half board also available.
– Zell am See’s best ski in ski out location. Near the CityXpress lift and operated by an Irish couple known for their superb hospitality. It has a great range of family rooms that are modern, cozy and well-priced. Hearty breakfast is included.
Hotel Tillerhof Zell am See
– 4 star hotel with comfortable and well-appointed rooms and suites near the centre of Zell am See. Large indoor pool and spa complex. Delicious half board included.
Hotel Stadt Wien
– Ski in ski out option close to the CityXpress lift, this hotel has a huge range of wonderfully appointed rooms and suites for up to 6 guests. Excellent breakfast included.
Zell am See Accommodation Listings – options for lodging only.
Not a fake ski resort base, but a real town, Zell am See has a full range of shops, services, bars and restaurants including ski shops to hire ski or snowboard equipment.
The nearby Tauern Spa complex will sooth anyone’s cares away.
Summary of Pros and Cons
100% of slopes on Schmitten covered by snow making means perfect pistes.
Variety of terrain and link with Kaprun means skiing available in all types of weather.
Breathtaking views from Schmittenhöhe.
Guaranteed snow any time of the season on nearby Kitzsteinhorn.
Huge range of accommodation available.
Easy access by train direct to Zell am See from major centres.
Close to vast number of ski resorts in the region.
Base areas vulnerable to vagaries of climate warming.
Can get busy at times.
Limited expert terrain.
Tours in or near Zell am See