Ski Juwel Alpbachtal Wildschönau in the Tirolean ski area, is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful regions in Austria.
It’s a family friendly resort and one of the largest in Tirol.
It’s two main mountains used to be separated and were competing ski areas, hence the full name of Ski Juwel Alpbachtal Wildschönau. But now they are one, offering far more variety of skiing and snowboarding options, and even better value for money than ever before. It’s what attracts most of it’s visitors- that and the unique villages in the valleys, with a distinctive Alpine style and unrivalled traditions and heritage. Most of these are mentioned below in our list of things to do in winter in Ski Juwel in Tirol.
Skiing & Snowboarding
Obvious hey? Well I know that, but this is not so much a suggestion for things to do, but more a guide about how to do it. The Ski Juwel ski area is one of the 10 biggest in Austria. It has the Wildschönau and Alpbachtal sides, with accommodation options in Niederau, Auffach, Alpbach and Inneralpbach. There’s a real mixture of runs available, and with excellent value for money it is popular with families, owing to the 10 ski schools and numerous beginner’s slopes. From Auffach you’ll also find the new Schatzbergbahn gondola, a modern 8-seater that can transport 2,650 people per hour.
For fun on the slopes, Ski Juwel has two snow parks and a speed check track where you get a recorded time and can reach up to 60km/hour (includes a souvenir photo). It also turns on the floodlights several times a week in Reith IA and Oberau for night skiing. Take a look at the Ski Juwel card and Ski Pass prices.
Ski Area: 109km pistes, 26km easy, 54km medium, 13km difficult
Lifts: 45 lifts, 9 gondolas, 7 chairlifts, 28 drag lifts
Huts: 25 huts & mountain restaurants
Snow parks: 2
Highest Lift: 2,025 metres
Ski Schools: 10
Webcams: 8 click here to see them.
Ski With a World Record Holder
In fact, you can learn to ski OR snowboard with one. Meet Johann Schneider, featured in the video above, who I (foolishly) accepted a press up challenge with. Johann lives in one of Alpbach’s beautiful farmhouses and offers tailored and flexible lessons for all abilities. But the best part is the man himself, he holds 3 official Guinness World Records (learn about these in the video), he was a karate championship holder, and a “nunchaku” world champion! All of this and one of the most genuine, down-to-earth people I’ve had the pleasure of meeting, who has a passion for life and the outdoors. You can book here, and trust me you won’t regret spending the day with Johann.
If you want another fun way to see the mountain that’s not on skis or a snowboard, then Ski Juwel has plenty of options for tobogganing for all levels around the resort. For beginners, my advice is start slow and take it easy. Tobogganing can be dangerous, so make sure you understand how to brake and steer. The best run to start with is the ‘easy’ 5km run at Schatzberg, one of the toboggan runs with an official seal of approval for quality and safety. You can then work your way up to the more difficult Niederau Lanerkopfl route, a 5.4km ‘difficult’ route with a 14% gradient. Or for a really fun trip, you can toboggan down to a little hidden gem called Thierbach, see below.
Did you know? One of Austria’s first ski lifts was built in Wildschönau in 1947, using the engine from an old World War II tank.
It’s known as Ski Juwel’s hidden gem, and rightly so. Thierbach is a small village of only 400 people, and in my opinion it’s a must visit. You can get there from the Schatzbergalm gondola, by either skiing or toboggan. It’s a challenging little route through the trees and passes one of the snow parks, it then descends away from the crowds and into the valley towards Thierbach. When you first see the views over Thierbach you realised you’ve found somewhere special. Finding the village this way adds a real sense of achievement, and you really feel like you have the place to yourself.
You’ll want to allow some time to take photos of the church and enjoy a spot of lunch at the nearly 350 year old guesthouse Sollererwirt, which also has rooms if you really want to escape the crowds of the other resorts. There’s no lift back up the mountain from here, so you’ll need to time it with one of the 3 buses that take you back to the main resort.
Alpbach is a unique and charming village with real character, and it’s a real gem in Ski Juwel. This is more of a village where you can go skiing, rather than a ski resort, perfect for those who want to get away from the typical busy ski town and noisy apres ski. Everything about it is quaint and appealing. A development law restricts new buildings, meaning they must be made in the same traditional alpine style of most of the farmhouses. The farmhouses themselves have a great history, many having been there for hundreds of years, with a golden eagle at the front signifying that the farmhouse has been in the same family for over 200 years.
The village only has a population of around 2,700 and stretches no more than one mile from end to end, meaning you can get around easily. If you do want to stay here there are frequent buses to the nearest lifts. If you do stay, I’d recommend Hotel Boglerhof, a beautiful spa hotel right opposite the church with a fascinating history. The building itself used to be a workshop for bow and arrow craftsman, then it was a courthouse and finally an Inn, and that’s not even half of it. Be sure to ask for a tour of the wonderful wine cellar.
Across the road from Hotel Boglerhof is the church of Saint Oswald, with distinctive iron crosses on each of the graves. When you want to eat, head to the highly recommended Gasthof Roosmoos, set with stunning views overlooking the valley and with a delicious traditional menu. The guesthouse and restaurant has been in the same family for over 200 years (and has a golden eagle).
Finding the local brewery is very much becoming my thing, and the smaller the better. So when I heard about the one-man brewery of Kristall, run by Jos Moser, I was going. And I was so happy I did. Jos officially opened in 2006, after supplying malt to breweries, many years before it had always been Jos’s dream. But it took a while. When you ask him why, you’ll start to get an insight into what an amazing character Jos is. It might be down to designing a ground-breaking trailer or winning championships in sidecar racing, I’ll let you find out more about that for yourself.
Then of course there’s the beer. Jos produces a range of award-winning beers, including a bock (dark and malty), the Kellerbier (amber and strong), and my favourite the Zwickel (unfiltered and easy to digest). I took a bottle of the Zwickel home. Jos attributes part of the success of his beers to the quality and purity of the local water, an invaluable ingredient for brewmasters. You can find Jos within walking distance from the Inneralpbach gondola, so there’s no excuse, and once you eat the home-baked bread, enjoying the rustic surroundings with a beer in hand, you won’t want to leave. I cannot tell you enough how much of a "must visit" Kristall Brewery is.
I always try the local food and like to eat new things, so if you’re a foodie you’ll find the following recommendations on the menu at the mountain huts or farmhouse restaurants.
Kaiserschmarrn mit Apfelmus: a delicious homemade pancake with apple puree. A perfect late breakfast or energiser midway through the day.
Tiroler Schlutzkrapfen: stuffed pasta (similar to ravioli) filled with spinach, brown butter and parmesan.
Tiroler Kasespatzle: Cheesy noodles often with meat and a side salad.
Insider tip! Restaurant Kellerwirt has a fascinating history and incredible food, it's a great place to try all of the above dishes. Formerly a Court House, Post Office and Monestary, it's been in the same family for 6 and a half generations. One of my top recommendations.
Ride the Lauser-Sauser coaster
Next to the Wiedersbererhorn top station you’ll find a new Alpine Coaster “Alpbachtaler Lauser-Sauser”, where you can descend the mountain at up to 42km/h without skis. Starting at 1,845 metres the two-seater sledges descend 134 metres over two jumps and two 360-degree twists. The runs last around 7-8 minutes and offer a brilliant and fun alternative to skiing or snowboarding.
Have you tried? Krautinger Schnapps, a local speciality made from a vegetable we don’t have a word for in English, but often described as a white turnip.
How to Get There
The most popular airport to fly into is Innsbruck, which has incredible views as you land. If you get a chance take some time to explore Innsbruck itself. From Innsbruck it’s approximately 40-minute drive to arrive in Ski Juwel. If there aren’t convenient flights to Innsbruck try Munich, which is still only 90 minutes by car, being a much bigger airport, you might have more flight options. Either way, you won’t regret making the journey to Ski Juwel in Tirol.
Travel tip shared by Scott for Travel Dudes.