Ski Resort of the Week: Saalbach Hinterglemm

Following a short silence we’re back on track with presentaion of what’s new in Alpine ski resorts. A few weeks ago we covered Livigno ski resort. Today, we go with Saalbach.

New in Saalbach Hinterglemm!
New for summer is the Tauern mountain bike path. Saalbach already has an extensive mountain biking circuit for summer use, and they have now connected into the famous trail which runs for 270km along the Salzach and Saalach rivers, taking in castles, palaces and cities along the way. This latest extension of the trail is making Saalbach Hinterglemm one of the best mountain biking regions in Austria. In the 2011/2012 winter season, Saalbach also replaced two old chair lifts with a gondola (Bernkogel) and a heated-seat, six-man chairlift (Reiterkogel-Ost) with a bubble hood.

The Resort
Saalbach Hinterglemm, a resort which covers two neighbouring villages, is one of the most geared-up towards tourists in Austria. It has a reputation for hosting events and competitions, which started in earnest in 1991 when the Alpine Ski World Championships were held here. Since then it has been constantly updated and improved with such good lift systems that queues are rare even in the height of the season. Saalbach has two sides of the valley’s worth of good skiing, as you ski between Saalbach and Hinterglemm, as well as a snowpark for boarders and freeskiers, and is popular with off-pisters, too. The altitude is quite low, but don’t worry – they’re all over it. There’s plenty of snowmaking, and the overall climate contributes to decent snow conditions. It’s a pretty resort – despite the fact that the the majority of the buildings have been put up since the 60s, local laws require any new structures to be built to traditional styles, and this has kept Saalbach Hinterglemm very attractive.

Skiing in Saalbach Hinterglemm
Skiing between the two villages is easy, so you have the best of both sides of the valley. Hinterglemm offers more and better runs for lower intermediates, and Saalbach has the more challenging runs. On the other hand, Hinterglemm offers night skiing – floodlit slopes for you to zoom down after dark. Saalbach is famous for its extensive piste skiing – 200km of runs, with a 30km ski loop and 15km of black runs. There’s also 10km of cross-country skiing and a toboggan run to keep you entertained. Slopes are well-maintained and often quite wide, allowing for some nice cruisy skiing.

Saalbach Hinterglemm in Summer
400km of well-marked hiking trails and the famous Seven Summits route is just the start of it – Saalbach Hinterglemm is great for summer activities. This is a popular place for mountain biking – a dedicated circuit cover cross country, free riding and downhill in a 720km network of regional bike routes, as well as the new Tauern bike path. The facilities are good, too, with several lifts that transport bikes and plenty of bike-friendly mountain huts. There are twenty golf courses within an hour’s drive of Saalbach, and several attractions like the High Rope Course, Canyonland and a Treetop Path. For even more active things to do, try canyoning, horseriding, paragliding, tennis, archery, rafting, quadbiking… You’ll never be bored.

Things To See Nearby
If you’re travelling around the region, you’ll find nearby the resorts of Bad Gastein, Bad Hofgastein, Kaprun and Grossarl, all with their own facilities and attractions. The beautiful city of Salzburg makes a nice and easy day trip, as does the spa city of Bad Reichenhall and the mountain town Berchtesgaden from which you can do excellent rock climbing trips. You can also head out to see some natural wonders such as Krimml Waterfalls  in National Park Hohe Tauern, or the ice caves in Werfen. If that’s not enough, Kaprun glacier ski resort is only 25 km away and water sports fans should be happy with the Zell am See lake area which is just 18km from Saalbach.

Saalbach Hinterglemm Nightlife
Saalbach village is quite compact which makes traversing from one bar to the next very easy.  Bobby’s Bar and Bauers are popular in Saalbach, in Saalbach, or try Thuneralm on the slopes above Saalbach for cheap beer. Goastall in Hinterglemm is about 100m up a piste, and it’s a great place to stay until mid evening and then ski down at night. Otherwise Hinterglemm is host to the London complex, made up of a few bars and a nightclub which stay open to the small hours.