There are far more activities you can do in a winter destination like Austria, than “just” skiing/snowboarding down the tracks.
Most people book their winter holiday with the aim to snowboard or ski and to explore the dozens of kilometers of different tracks. Tyrol offers several excellent ski regions, which you can all use with a special ski pass, which by the way is not more expensive than the one for the biggest ski resort Skicircus Saalbach Hinterglemm Leogang Fieberbrunn.
But why not try out something different and new?
Tyrol offers so much extra and excellent ski pistes.
Here are my top 3 things to do off-track:
Off-track cross-country skiing
It's the “new” thing to do in the Alps! Actually it's not that new in general, as off-track has been done for many years in Scandinavia already. People love to do crosscountry skiing there, but there are not always prepared tracks everywhere. So they just go offtrack and enjoy the nature. I've done that myself in the past and you can do that with your regular crosscountry ski, but there are also special off-track skis you can get.
Just ask for special off-track cross-country skis at a rental place or contact the local tourism office and ask where you can get them. Those special skis are a bit wider and have a steel edge.
Off-track means that there is no path and no loipe and that you head into the fields, which are (hopefully) covered with lots of fluffy snow. The extra few centimeters in width of the ski helps to stabilize the ski a bit more on the soft snow. Don't think that it will keep you above the snow. No, you will sink in and move your legs through lots of snow. But with a bit of cross-country experience, you should be able to not just snow-walk, but actually glide a bit. The steel edge will give you a bit more hold when skiing down, but don't expect the same stability like on regular downhill skies.
It's definitely a lot of fun and it seems that nobody has a problem if you just cross fields. Most farmers take off the wires from their fences in winter, so that you also have lots of options and ways to explore the region.
The name says it all. You have a fat bike, which you then use on snow. The bike looks pretty much like a regular mountain bike, but the tires are far bigger and softer. That way you have lots of grip on the snow. Don't expect that you can simply drive through soft powder snow. You will have to look out for specific tracks and that's where it still lacks a bit. But the different ski regions work on those and also offer a few already. Most tracks are rather simple round tours. “Rather simple” as it's actually not that easy to cycle on snow. Remember, you are not on a paved road or hard dirt track. It often feels more like driving through mud, but with the difference that you don't get that dirty. Going uphill is different as it's still snow and you have to step gently into the pedals, as otherwise the big tires loose grip and you simply wheel spin. You also have to be a bit careful when going down, as it's far more slippery than on dirt or on a paved road. Especially watch out for ice! If you like to cycle, then you'd definitely love fat biking.
It's simply awesome riding through the winter landscape, exploring the region and doing something good for your body and your fitness. More and more shops do offer to rent fat bikes, so it should be no problem to give it a try.
Go for it!
This is so much fun and can be done with the whole family, friends or alone. Pretty much every ski resort offers to rent a toboggan and to slide down on extra tracks. Those tracks are usually snowy roads and go down a long way! You might ask yourself if you first have to carry your sledge all the way up? No... luckily not. Just take the lift.
My favorite runs are the ones that you can do in the evening. Pretty much in each ski region you'll find the option to take a lift up and ride down also after sunset. There will be flood lights along the way, so that you won't need any head lamps or your car's beamer.
If you live in a region where it snows, then you have done this as a kid already. But in the Alps it's different. It's not just a simple hill, but several kilometers you have to slide down. And then you can also try to steer the sledge the proper way, which is NOT by putting your foot into the snow. If you want to do a right turn, you press your left leg against the sledge, towards the middle and the right hand pulls on the line. That obviously only works if you have the right sledge, which is flexible in the front. This sounds far easier than it actually is. On my first turn I headed into the wrong direction and I had my foot on the ground quickly to maneuver it in the correct way. Using your feet is definitely the easiest way and it's also the feet that allow you to slow down the toboggan quickly. You will be surprised about the speed you can get!
Extra tip: Start with having dinner in one of the Alm huts (restaurants). Usually there is one right at the top, when you arrive with the lift, but you can also check before if there might be one on the way down. That one would give you a break in between, so that you can get some energy for the rest of the way down. The landscape looks very different at night from an Alm hut, as you look down and you see all the lights in the valley. That alone makes it worth it to do the toboggan at night, but also to have that extra stop in one of the Alm huts.
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