When is the Best Time to Ski Austria?

The second question asked about skiing Europe after 'Where is the best place to ski?' is 'When is the best time?' There are a few rules of thumb, spelt out below & made specific to Austria.

Europe has a large population in close proximity to the Austrian Alps. To maximise the enjoyment of our Austrian skiing experiences, the main factors we consider are:

  1. Crowds;
  2. Snow quantity & quality;
  3. Open lifts & terrain;
  4. Price.

Factors 2 & 3 are often beyond our control due to mother nature, but crowds can make even the greatest powder snow day a disappointment. So, we try to avoid crowds AT ALL COSTS.

The other lovely element associated with when to ski Europe, is that one can be safe in the knowledge that it is possible to ride a ski lift and schuss a piste every month of the year. Read on to find out where is best and when.

Best Times to Ski Austria with Low Crowds

It should go without saying that sleeping in until 10am & starting skiing at 11 is not a good crowd avoidance strategy. Dress for the cold, get to first lifts & let it rip for a couple of hours of bliss. Have an early lunch & then hit it again when everyone else heads in.

In a broader sense the following is rule of thumb for the best times to ski Europe with low crowds:

  • November & December before Christmas;
  • January after the first week;
  • Middle two weeks of March; and
  • April whenever Easter isn’t!

Times to absolutely avoid if you don’t like too many humans sharing your powder:

  • Christmas / New year period (everywhere);
  • German & Czech school holidays;
  • *Weekends;
  • Mid to late February (It is high season in ski resorts for a reason!).

*A general rule for any self-respecting Powderhound is ski backcountry on weekends & avoid the resorts. (*Note. Saturdays are often a changeover day though, so if the nearby local population isn’t large, Saturdays can be surprisingly good in a few remote resorts.)

Austrian Skiing Month by Month

Austria is the only one of two countries in the world that has lift served skiing all year round. Here is our guide to tick off the ‘I skied every month last year and avoided the crowds’ list.

December

Christmas in Austria at the snow fields is major affair. Prices are up & crowds are aplenty, but it can be a magical time to visit, especially as a family. Expect decent snow mostly everywhere, however it can be hit & miss. Austria is generally a very safe bet compared to France or Italy. Christmas in a snowy mountain village is an important ingredient to a memorable holiday. The best resorts with snow guaranteed high elevation villages include Kühtai, Obertauern, Obergurgl Hochgurgl, Lech-Oberlech & Zürs.

Skiing in the Austrian Alps in early December is usually restricted to the glacier & high elevation resorts or those with great snowmaking. The usual suspects include the glacier ski resorts of Kaunertal, Kitzsteinhorn(Kaprun), Pitztal, Sölden & Stubai. Of the resorts with excellent combined early natural snow plus snowmaking, the mega resorts are the business. Hochzillertal, Ischgl-Samnaun, Kitzbühel-Kirchberg, Mayrhofen, Skicircus Saalbach, SkiWelt & Ski Arlberg will have lifts turning for sliding down hills!

Hintertux Glacier (& Mölltal Glacier) are open. You will notice a theme here!

January

January is the best time to ski the Austrian ski resorts with low bases (600m+) as many of the smaller secret stash locations should have great snow and the valley runs will be open. Resorts like Diedamskopf, Krippenstein, Zell am See and a host of others south of Salzburg like Loser & Tauplitz are worthy of a massive ski safari road trip. All the Innsbruck ski resorts will be great, especially the Powderhounds favourites of Axamer Lizum, Kuehtai & Schlick 2000.

As it is quieter after the first week of January, it can be a good time to hit some of the Austrian mega resorts like in the Zillertal (Mayrhofen & Hochzillertal), Skicircus Saalbach, Ski Arlberg (St Anton, Lech, Warth Schroecken, Zurs) & Vorarlberg's snow magnet Damuels Mellau.

Hintertux Glacier (& Moelltal Glacier) are still open!

February

Snow-packs are deepening. Generally, the start of the next ‘high season’ will coincide with the beginning of the various school holiday periods throughout the month. Know that the price of lift tickets and lodging are higher accordingly. But not everywhere.

The larger Austrian resorts can be over-run from the second week of February onward. If you must ski in February, but dislike crowds, seek out the smaller resorts or the remote sections of larger ones. Always ski the storm as numbers of fellow skiers (the competition!) will be less. Try the resorts of the Pinzgau valley including the eastern end of Zillertal Arena, Weißsee, Wildkogel & the southern parts of the Kitzbuhel behemoth above Mittersill. A bit further east try Rauris & Ankogel. There are so many great ski areas in Austria. And if all else fails, go skinning & find your own piece of paradise.

Anywhere will be wonderful in Austria to ski, but to avoid the worst of the crowds, unless it is a powder day, ski during the week & visit places like Salzburg on the weekend!

Hintertux Glacier (& Mölltal) are still open!

March

Everywhere is glorious as sunshine increases & temperatures aren’t as brutal, but powder days are still on the cards. Make sure you are out in the storm to get the best of it. The Ski Arlberg resorts are particularly good in March. Midweek bargains in Lech or Zuers are definitely worthwhile. All the valleys are pumping, the Ötztal, Pitztal, Zillertal et al. Seek and you shall find.

Freeride & touring routes in Austria can be amazing in March but expect some company! Sport Gastein has some fabulous terrain 7 can be a surprisingly quiet freeride haven, particularly when combined with Ankogel.

Hintertux Glacier (plus Moelltal) are still open!

April

April can bring some huge snow dumps to the higher elevations but expect lots of milder temperatures and ego corn snow. If it does snow, get out there as the crowds have gone & prices are low. The longer routes at Hintertux Glacier, Pitztal Glacier & Stubai Glacier can be sensational after a storm. The high-altitude zones of Kaprun-Kitzsteinhorn, Obergurgl, Solden, St Anton & Kuhtai will still have wonderful snow.

The vast majority of Austrian Alps ski resorts will close in the first two weeks of April. The sun is out, snow is soft, days are long, and partying is definitely on. Try to get to Kitzbuhel for its end of season parties.

In early April, head to Nordkette above Innsbruck on a sunny day & participate in some Firngleiten. A truly unique experience.

Hintertux (and Mölltal) are still open!

May

Party central Ischgl ski resort in Austria will be having its last hurrah, and it has some of the best end of season celebrations in the world.

Hintertux, Stubai & Kitzsteinhorn are all still open! Sadly, Pitztal Glacier & Moelltal Glacier close in the middle of May (Mölltal only for a month) – they deserve a break!

June

Early June can be a great time to ski the backcountry in the high Austrian Alps. Use the summer lifts to ease access into the remaining snowpack.

Depending on the quality and quantity of the snow during winter and spring, several of the higher elevation resorts will still be open. Glacier based resorts and those with north facing terrain above 2500m are still a good chance.

While some Austrian glacier resorts are just closing to skiing for the summer (Kaprun-Kitzsteinhorn, Stubai Glacier et al), Hintertux is still open! Yay, Moelltal Glacier opens in the middle of June.

July

Seriously warming up in July & everyone is looking for a beach. Do not fear though, Hintertux Glacier (plus Mölltal) are still open for early morning turns in the snow!

August

Fairly lean times in the northern hemisphere, but Hintertux (and Moelltal) are still open for some early morning summer skiing. Good time to hit the snow park for a few tricks whilst wearing a t-shirt!

September

The Austrian glacier resorts including Kitzsteinhorn & Stubai Glacier will be trying to open, but if not, they will crank up in October for sure.

Hintertux (and Mölltal) are still open!

October

More of Austria’s glacier ski resorts are starting to open like Soelden, Pitztal Glacier & Kaunertal.

Non-glacier ski resorts like Obergurgl-Hochgurgl and Kitzbϋhel are opening. To avoid disappointment, check how much terrain is skiable before making the journey.

Hintertux (and Moelltal) are still open!

November

By the end of November, many places are operating, although some will only be on weekends and with limited lifts. Try the larger high snowfall ski resorts of Obertauern, St Anton & Zurs.

All the glacier resorts should be up & running. Of course, Hintertux Glacier (plus Mölltal) are still open! Yep, Hintertux is open all year, Moelltal Glacier does 11 months.

And by late November it is just getting cold again for the snow to drop right down into the low valleys. Winter is back. Yay!