Home Travel Guides Gurgl, Austria: The ski season has begun!

Gurgl, Austria: The ski season has begun!

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On Thursday, November 17, the lift switch was turned on. By the weekend, the party was full swing. A Christmas market featuring trumpeters, a gala meal at the angular Gurgl Carat Convention Centre (the resort is called Diamond of the Alps). The multi-course menu was created by young chefs from local hotels. It was surrounded by modern art and sculptures by Austrian Alpine artists.

New snow fell on Saturday and Sunday, with temperatures not exceeding zero. This allowed cannons and other equipment to continue pumping out more non-stop. On Saturday, there was not a cloud in sight. Sunday dawned with snow falling and more sunshine. Monday is expected to have even more snow.

This is why Gurgl, Austria’s most popular snowsure destination, would make a great ski holiday in the early or late season.

The region

Gurgl is located in Otztal valley. It has a base elevation of 5,900ft and an highest point at 9,940ft. Obergurgl is the main village. Hochgurgl, which was purposely built, sits at 7,700ft. Their respective slopes can be connected by the horizontal Top Express Gondola.

Skiing

70 miles of fun pistes are available that are mostly above the treeline due to the high altitude (unusual in Austria). The red runs wind down the mountain faces along the valley. They offer a challenge, but also provide a way down for those less confident.

Two lifts depart from the same building in Obergurgl. The Hohe Mut Bahn 1 gondola takes you to the base Hohe Mut Bahn 2 and offers a variety of reds and blues, as well as a few off-piste itineraries. A family-friendly area includes a ski-cross track, freestyle park and beginner slopes.

The Rosskarbahn is the other lift and it’s a large, smooth, new gondola that glides up to another section. Halfway up the Top Express jumpfrogs two valleys, one of which is the King’s Valley. This off-piste adventure takes you to Hochgurgl. There are many more red and blue runs here. Even a few short blacks. These can be found at the resort’s top point, where the Top Mountain Star restaurant is located on a ridge with views of Italy.

Three-day lift passes include all six valley resorts, including Hochoetz and Solden with their twin glaciers.

Why not go there?

The region offers plenty of skiing, but it isn’t overwhelmingly large. Obergurgl, a small village with nice hotels, is quite upmarket. Hochgurgl may be smaller, but the hotels here are just as good. The Diamond of the Alps is a shining jewel. Top Mountain Star is a circular, glass-walled place for hot chocolate and coffee (with rum!). Hochgurgl’s peak is surrounded by views of Italy. The entrance staircase looks like the tail a shooting star. The sun, haze and sun constantly alter the views.

Hochgurgl’s many other attractions are part of the family empire that Alban Scheiber and Atilla Scheiber, identical twins who love motorbikes and are amiable and easy-going. Top Mountain Crosspoint is the jewel in their crown. It’s a modern on-mountain lift station and restaurant, as well as a museum, at the Timmelsjoch High Alpin Road entrance. This road, which runs through Italy, is a popular route for bikers and open-top drivers. Top Mountain Motorcycle Museum was opened in 2016. It houses its 200-strong collection. Although it was nearly destroyed by fire in January 2021, the museum was rebuilt by fans and friends with a larger collection.

Top Motorcycle Museum

It’s not just for motorcycle enthusiasts. It recalls the huge Henry Ford museum near Detroit. A window on history, 400 motorbikes, from expensive Harley-Davidsons, to 1920s products Wolverhampton, Ruislip, panoramas honoring Austrian adventurer Max Reisch (he rode all the way to India in 1933), and a collection historic snowmobiles (including one Harley). You can even ride on a motorcycle simulator and sit on it. You get a six-day lift ticket and all this for free.

Obergurgl is home to the Piccard Memorial. It commemorates the 1931 emergency landing by Auguste Piccard, a balloon adventurer, on the Gurgler Ferner glacier.

The fun doesn’t stop there… There are five miles of floodlit ski runs in Obergurgl (each Tuesday) and Hoghgurgl (5th Friday to Christmas) – unlike other resorts, it’s included with the liftpass. This is also toboggan night.

Drinking and eating

Top Mountain Crosspoint, the largest and most popular daytime location, has a huge terrace with sun, modern timber interior, motorbikes hanging from it, and memorabilia. Tiroler Groestl is a classic griddle dish consisting of potatoes, beef, and a fried eggs, EUR16 and a large pork Wiener Schnitzel, EUR18.

Wurmkoglhutte can be rented for self-service, while Festkogl Alm offers Tirolean specialities and views of the glaciers. Festkogl Alm is open at night and provides warmth. Nederhutte, located at the top Hohe Mut Bahn 1 offers food, drink, and lively apres ski with live music.

Even though many restaurants are located in hotels, there are many gourmet options for dinner. The Hotel Enzian’s Sud-Tiroler Fondue Tube is a cozy spot, while Hotel Edelweiss & Gurgl offers a fondue area with a glass-domed ceiling and an open fire. While the main dining room has wood panels, it features five-course contemporary menus that have an Austrian twist – barley soups, lake fish and local meat. Hochgurgl’s See You restaurant serves ‘Alpine tapas’ and is all concrete arches with sleek timber.

Where to stay

The family-run Hotel Edelweiss & Gurgl opened in 1889. It is Obergurgl’s heart, with its large bar area, impressive restaurant, and spa with an outdoor swimming pool that overlooks the slopes. You won’t find them more convenient than this. It has its own sports rental shop and a ski room with an elevator up to the top.

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Hochgurgl’s Top Hotel, another stunning ski-in/ski-out property, combines Tirolean cool and feel. I

It features a contemporary decor, elegantly-timbered rooms and an elegantly-traditional restaurant. There is also a spa with several saunas and an outdoor heated pool that overlooks the mountains.

It is conveniently located near two lifts. There is also a ski shop right next to the ski room.

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