It’s not often you find a ski resort that pretty much has everything.
- Stunning surroundings? Check
- Great skiing? Check
- Top quality après, nightlife and food? Check
- Access to glacier skiing? Check
- Great value? Check
Although you’d be mad to not already be frantically researching the possibilities of Zell – if we’ve already convinced you, click here – here are 6 more reasons that we think it’s one of the best ski resorts in the world.
1. It’s objectively beautiful
How many resorts give you a huge lake, surrounded by snow capped mountains and traditional chocolate-box buildings? Zell is a traditional town, filled with locals, tourists and adventurers – about as far away from a purpose built resort as you can get. Even though we think it looks better when the snow is there, it’s still an incredibly popular place to visit in the summer, which proves that it’s a bit of a looker. It was inhabited by monks in the 18th century, and is still considered a sacred place in some cultures today. In winter the place becomes a wonderland, with the lake (sometimes) freezing, Christmas lights strewn all over town and families wandering through the snow holding candles. It’s like a fairytale, honest.
2. The skiing on the Schmittenhohe is ace
We’re smitten with the Schmittenhohe. A varied, large ski area, chocked full of tree-lined runs and every stop bringing a stunning view, look around and you can spot the Ski Circus skiing area, the Kitzsteinhorn, and other ski areas in Salzburg. As well as the great beginner bowl near the top of the area, there is loads for the intermediate and more advanced skiers, with 3 reddish blacks through the trees, some fine mogul runs underneath the chairlifts and some superb powder skiing when conditions are favourable.
3. You can also ski in Kaprun and the amazing Kitzsteinhorn glacier
On your local lift pass, you also get access to Kaprun, a short 25 minute bus away. Kaprun is a great resort on its own, but when you combine it with Zell it becomes an Alpine super-resort. Its crowning glory is the Kitzsteinhorn glacier, which is snow-sure and guarantees great conditions. There’s a wicked Ice Bar on the glacier, which is one of our fave mountain stops. For all the Park Rats out there, the park in Kaprun is something special.
4. Did somebody say alpine mountain huts?
While Austria is in general famous for lots of mountain huts, Zell has some of our favourites. The Pinzgauer Htte is a legendary hidden gem that’s only accessed by a little tree lined path. Great food, drink and a sun terrace await, with the place being run by a cavalcade of men with ridiculously huge, bushy beards. True men of the mountain. After being skidooed back to the slopes, you can check out Schnaps Hans at the top of the Schmitthohe. Run by a Mr Schnaps Hans, this is the best place in Zell for dancing on the tables and raising a glass of schnapps to cheesy Austrian bangers. Luckily it’s pretty close to the gondola, so after a few shandies you can pop in the bubble and be brought safely back down to resort.
5. Crazy Daisy – the best place in Zell am See
Crazy Daisy is a Zell institution – an amazing bar and restaurant in the town centre that literally everyone loves. The place is packed with tourists, seasonnaires and locals all year round. In the evening a live band serenades everyone, or you can pop outside to the aprs bar if your tastes are more of the Oompah variety. We always love to grab a beer and play the Austrian game of Nails – hitting nails into a stump of wood with the wrong end of a hammer. It sounds ridiculous – and it is – but also the most fun game you’ll ever play.
The food is something else. It’s worth coming here just for the ribs, cooked in the famous Crazy Daisy BBQ sauce. Crazy Daisy is a great place to start your night in Zell, but there’s loads of other great places to continue partying late into the night, like the Gin Haus, which has more cocktails than you’ve had hot dinners.
6. It’s dead easy to get about
As well as the free bus taking you over to Kaprun, Zell has a train station right in the town centre that allows you to get to loads of places. As well as it being easy to get the train to cities like Salzburg, you can go to loads of other resorts in the area like Kitzbuhel, Saalbach and Maria Alm. Upgrading to the Super Salzburger lift pass is surprisingly affordable, and you can pop on the train to really explore the best of West Austria on your trip.
Another benefit about Zell’s location is that if your flight home is late in the evening on a Saturday, you can sign up to the Salzburg city excursion. So instead of hanging around resort just waiting to get home, you can pop on a coach and go see one of Europe’s most beautiful cities. An unexpected treat to wrap up your incredible ski holiday.
Convinced? You should be. Zell am See is a magical town, with great skiing, a great atmosphere and great value. See you on the slopes.