Rauris is a picturesque village set between the Gastein Valley and Zell Am See, in the east of Austria. You may have never heard of it, but there’s a reason for that – the people who go there want to keep it a secret.
Unlike some purpose built resorts, Rauris is a real village where real people live all year round, meaning it has real culture, real architecture, real restaurants and genuine ambience. The resort is perfect for learning the basics and brushing up on technique. Learner-friendly blue runs sit alongside wide, winding reds. When you are ready to push a bit harder and challenge yourself there are a few rolling reds and a technical black at the foot of the mountain too.
This resort has got altitude. Whilst there may not be a huge amount of slopes to choose from, the vertical range is well over 1,200m, meaning less time on lifts and more time mastering your new favourite sport. If you prefer pottering around rather than clocking up the kilometres, or enjoying a nice beverage and marvellous views in a mountain hut instead of stressing about making the last lift home, then this is the place for you.
The ski area
Although the ski area is relatively small the pistes are really wide and very rarely feel too hectic. The area ranges from 950m to 2,200m with spectacular views from the top looking down the valley.
The blues right at the top of the mountain are for better skiers looking to improve and can be quite testing in places. The blue run under the Hochalm and Heimalm is the most popular of the runs and will challenge skiers and boarders alike.
On the other side of the village is the Kreuzboden area, with challenging red runs for more advanced skiers. Both sides are linked with very gentle blue runs making the whole area easily accessible.
At the foot of the mountain is the beginner area – which is perfect for learning your slope skills or even for a quick warm up in the morning. There is another slightly more advanced beginner’s area on the Kreuzboden side of the mountain.
With the resort being superb for beginners and people wanting to progress, the ski school is obviously very important. Luckily in Rauris, it’s fantastic.
The Karl Maier Ski School are excellent when it comes to lessons for all ages and abilities, and they even hold their very own Austrian dance afternoon with a great chance to see why the instructors teach skiing rather than dancing. At the end of the week they hold an awards evening, complete with fireworks and photo show.
Children can join in group lessons from 4 years old – with lessons running 2 hours mornings and afternoons. At the end of the week the ski school organise a race with prizes for everyone taking part.
Lunch and lunchtime supervision can be paid for locally, so your children get looked after by their instructor and have something hot to eat. Which leaves parents free to explore the area – or improve their technique in ski school too.
If you’re leaving your skis behind there is some great winter walking down the Raurisertal Valley, or the option to try your hand at snowshoeing in Kolm Saigurn only a short journey away. Also in Kolm Saigurn is an ice climbing wall for anyone feeling particularly adventurous, and the opportunity to go tubing.
Even after the sun has gone down there is still a chance to have fun on the mountain as the 5km toboggan run is floodlit twice a week, and you can even make a night of it with a mulled wine at the hut at the top of the lift.
Your Crystal team in resort also organise a weekly events programme including quiz nights, candlelit walks through the woods and if you fancy a different view of the region – you can have a go at paragliding.
The après ski is a little more low-key in Rauris than some other parts of Austria, but there are still a few fun places to head to. The liveliest place in town is Shakesbeers – always popular with Brits and locals alike, often having theme nights and drinks offers. The Rock Bar is also quite popular. It’s called this due to being an underground bar, and not because of the type of music it plays. Drinks are very reasonably priced for a ski resort and will cost a similar amount to back home.
Rauris has a good choice of high quality restaurants serving traditional Austrian cuisine. Italian food is also very popular in the village with a number of pizzerias all on the main street.
Heading down the valley to the neighbouring village of Worth, the restaurant Gusto (once awarded the Austrian equivalent of a Michelin star) is a fantastic option if you want to indulge yourself on your trip.
If all that sounds far too healthy, fast food lovers can try the Austrian specialities of Currywurst (curry sausage) and Bosna (a hotdog with mustard and fried onions) from the mountain huts by the gondola.
It only takes around 15 minutes to walk from one side of the village to the other but in ski boots that can feel a lot longer, so the friendly people of Rauris provide a free ski bus during the day that runs every half an hour.
This bus also runs down the Valley to the neighbouring villages too. You can get this to the nearest train station, which has direct trains to Salzburg, if you fancy a bit of sight seeing instead of skiing.
Where to stay
Rauris offers great accommodation, some of which could compete with even the most exclusive of resorts on quality and facilities – but at a fraction of the price.
At the top end there is the luxurious 4* Rauriserhof with 5 course dinners and a spa that you definitely could write home about. One of Rauris’ most popular hotels has to be the family-run Alpina. Every year sees plenty of guests returning for its amazingly friendly atmosphere and superb home cooked food. For the budget conscious, there are quite a few self-catering apartments and bed and breakfast houses scattered around the village.
Overall, Rauris is one of our favourite beginner resorts. It combines a pretty and traditional Austria town with quiet slopes, a fantastic ski school and a range of other activities to keep all of the family entertained. If you can’t face the packed slopes and huge size of some of Europe’s bigger resorts, than Rauris may be the perfect fit for you.
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