One of the most legendary sports towns in the Alps, with its resort villages Reith, Aurach and Jochberg, Kitzbühel offers picturesque, historic town centres, strong local traditions and pristine nature, along with wonderful local cuisine and a wide range of outdoor activities to make this a perfect winter holiday destination.
Every year, for one week in January, the best skiers in the world come here to face the challenge of the spectacular Hahnenkamm Races, with the highlight being the Streif downhill race, the Super G and the Slalom. 2023 will be the 83th year the Hahnenkamm races have graced the wintersports calendar and they make for truly spectacular viewing for the 100,000 fans who come to watch legends being born and reputations made - including British ski champ Dave Ryding, a slalom winner in Kitzbühel in 2022.
But for the rest of the winter the town and the mountains are open to winter sports enthusiasts willing to test their skills or to just enjoy the mountain air and all this Alpine city of sports has to offer
For more information about Kitzbühel in winter, go to kitzbuehel.com
Where is Kitzbühel?
One of the top international destinations in the Alps, Kitzbühel – sometimes called the Gamsstadt – lies in the heart of the Austrian Tirol region, framed by the Kitzbüheler Horn, the South Mountains and the famous Hahnenkamm.
Getting here is straightforward, with regular flights to Munich (120km), Innsbruck (95km) and Salzburg (80km). Thanks to three train stations, Kitzbühel has uncomplicated connections to the surrounding airports and a smooth-running public transport network.
Why visit Kitzbühel in winter?
KitzSki, one of the very best skiing areas in the world, has 233km of downhill skiing with slopes to suit every level, served by 57 lifts, and fed and watered by 60 inns and huts in the skiing area – all good for skiing fun from mid-November to mid-April. The enviable skiing is supplemented by three toboggan runs, cross-country ski trails freshly groomed every day, and countless winter hiking trails in the valley and on the mountain.
And if you aren't a skier, Kitzbühel is still a magical place to be in the winter. Soak in the cosy atmosphere of relaxing by the fire with a gluhwein while the snow falls outside, go for a hike in a winter wonderland or do some Christmas shopping. If you are visiting in December, you won't want to miss the fantastic Advent Market in the centre of town, where you can browse the stalls and sample local delicacies. A truly Austrian experience.
The best winter things to do in Kitzbühel
Kitzbühel winter activities range from the traditional skiing and snowboarding to winter hikes, tobogganing, carriage rides or just riding the cable cars to enjoy the scenery.
Skiing or snowboarding
With jumps stretching as far as 80 metres, steep slopes with gradients of up to 85% and speeds of up to 140km/h, the Streif is truly one of a kind on the World Cup stage. But with perfectly groomed slopes, a state-of-the-art lift system, and 145 miles of slopes, every skier will leave Kitzbühel with a full heart and a head crammed with memories. The Gamsstadt has won the World's Best Ski Resort award for Austria for the ninth time, and is currently 'The Best Ski Resort in Austria.'
The ski season in Kitzbühel is long. From mid-November to mid-April, enthusiasts will find ideal skiing conditions in the Kitzbühel ski resorts, not to mention a rocking après-ski scene.
To follow in the tracks of the greats on the Streif, you must be experienced as the key points, like the Mausefalle, the steep slope, and the Hausbergkante, are marked as 'extreme ski routes.' However, leisure skiers can try the Familienstreif, without the same trepidation, as the route skips the most difficult passages of the ski race. Beginners can have a go at the Mini-Streif, a skill course at the foot of the Hahnenkamm ski run.
Another highlight of the Kitzbühel ski area is the legendary 'Ganslernhang' – one of the classic World Cup slalom courses. Kitzbühel's extensive freeride terrain also has great opportunities for powder-hunters and ski-tourers alike, and you can hire local guides to help you get the most from the area.
The mountains also have much to offer for families and children. Each of the ski schools has its own children's area, while the snow park on the Kitzbüheler Horn mountain - accessible from Kitzbühel via the Hornbahn lift - offers pure skiing fun. Another park highlight is the KitzSki Snowpark - Hanglalm. This freestyle playground offers something for all abilities, with a huge variety of kickers, rails, boxes and jibs to practise your tricks.
The kicker line for advanced skiers and snowboarders is perfect for trying out your new freestyle tricks, and the free practice ski lifts in the valley are available to all beginners in Kitzbühel and its holiday villages.
Winter hiking and snowshoeing
With or without snowshoes, a winter hike is a great way to explore the Kitzbühel area. The snow crunches under foot, ice crystals glitter in the winter sun, the air is cold and clear and the views over the Tirolean mountains are breath-taking.
It’s a great idea to book a hike with one of the local experienced guides at the Kitzbühel tourist office and discover the most beautiful corners of the region, before warming up in one of the 60 mountain huts with regional delicacies. There are more than 30 wonderful hiking routes to choose from, from valley trails to spectacular panoramic mountain treks.
A snowshoe hike, which crosses over deep powdery snow or frozen paths, is a bit more demanding than hiking on prepared paths. However, it is also a unique and adventurous experience, crossing the glittering, untouched paths and slopes.
Cross country skiing
Kitzbühel offers perfect conditions for some truly remarkable cross-country skiing. You can glide through snow-covered meadows and fields in the valley and among the stunning Tirolean mountains on more than 70km of perfectly groomed trails. Whether you are a professional or a beginner, a cross-country skier in classic or skating style, Kitzbühel offers ideal training conditions for all skill levels.
For all cross-country connoisseurs, the trails in Gamsstadt provide a true experience of nature. Use of the cross-country ski runs is free for all Kitzbühel guests, and the sports trail at the Kitzbühel Schwarzsee-Reith golf course is illuminated every day until 9:00 pm.
Tobogganing and sledding
While it doesn’t require any special skills, it can be almost as fast as skiing, and it is definitely just as much fun: tobogganing is an excellent adventure for people of all ages. With the wind in your face, you speed downhill on long straights and winding sections from the Kelchalm, the Trattenbachalm or the Gaisberg.
If you can't get enough of the tobogganing fun, you're in good hands on the Gaisberg. There, a chairlift can take you back to the toboggan run for as many goes as you like. For a particularly great tobogganing experience, you can combine a trip to a traditional mountain hut for a hearty meal, with a run back down the toboggan course.
Experience the magic of winter
The mountains in winter exert their own magical appeal to visitors, even those who don't ski! Families will find plenty to do off-piste – including weekly children's themed hikes, rides on the cable cars, or a visit to the swimming pool in the ‘Aquarena’.
Enjoy a carriage ride around the beautiful Schwarzsee lake, or have a go at ice skating or simply have a wander - Kitzbühel is a great walking town for those who just want to explore the shops, cafes and bars in the historic 750-year old centre. The town also has its own curling rink and ice hockey arena, and there's even a snow polo tournament to watch in January.
The cuisine is another highlight of any winter visit. A culinary journey through the ski region weaves through traditional local dishes and gourmet meals, served in a variety of restaurants, including rustic mountain huts and traditional inns.
To find out more about planning your winter trip to Kitzbühel, go to kitzbuehel.com
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