Austria’s little known gem, Obertauern, is hardly an hour’s drive from Salzburg Airport. It has an infectiously friendly laid-back atmosphere and with generally quieter slopes than the big name resorts it’s no surprise that this destination is gaining in popularity fast. Situated in the Salzburgerland region of the Austrian Alps and nestled within the scenic peaks of the Tauern mountain range, Obertauern was originally just a mountain pass before it became a ski resort. At 1750m it is one of Austria’s highest ski resorts and one of the most snow-sure. The snow conditions are second to none. It has one of the longest winter seasons in the Alps, usually from November till May. Obertauern is referred to as “Austria’s Snow Bowl” and having “Champagne Powder” due to the quality of the snow which has been scientifically proven to be some of the best and most reliable in Austria. Based on the 10-yr average snow depth rates Obertauern as one of the most snow sure ski resorts in the Alps. 

Obertauern is both Austria’s only attempt at a purpose-built destination and also one of its oldest. The village is a rarity in Austria. Don’t let that put you off, it has a charm of its own and bears no resemblance to the concrete purpose built monstrosities in the French Alps. The attractive, typically Austrian, chalet-style architecture is pleasing on the eye and gives the impression of a traditional Austrian mountain village. Of course the real advantage of a purpose-buil’ village is that it brings real ski convenience. The majority of accommodations offer doorstep skiing so there is no need to catch a bus here.


Skiing here has been well designed; the ski pass allows access to a modern interconnecting lift system where you can ski 100km of pistes in a natural circuit without the need of ski buses! This clever system allows you to always return to your original starting point, whichever direction you start off in. Obertauern’s ski area is modest by ‘super resort’ standards and the vertical drop is not enormous, but the figures are deceptive and there is endless fun to be had exploring the various circuits you can make of the area in both directions.

Obertauern’s terrain is best suited to the all-round intermediate with the majority of the slopes being wide open blues and reds. Intermediates are spoilt with two thirds of the terrain graded at that level. You can clock up decent mileage on flattering, cruisy runs without encountering too many nasty surprises which makes Obertauern an ideal family destination.

Although not famous for its expert level skiing, nonetheless 20% of terrain is graded black and Obertauern’s powder bowl skiing is very highly regarded. The five black pistes include testing mogul fields. The off-piste promises some decent challenges for experts.  Guides will take you on the many off-piste routes, including the ski excursion down to the nearby town of Untertauern

There are some wonderful wide nursery slopes near the village and in the centre of town with virtually guaranteed snow throughout the season. Strangely, for a snow-sure resort, most of the pistes are south-facing.

Ski Obertauern

The lift system is modern, fast and made up almost entirely of gondolas and high-speed chairs. Despite the resort being busy due to the excellent snow conditions, you will barely encounter a queue all week. The slopes are generally quiet especially outside peak weeks, perfect for beginners and families not wanting to waste valuable ski time in long lift queues. Obertauern also has some of the best piste maintenance. The mountain was alive late into the evening with an army of piste-bashers ensuring the slopes were in perfect condition for the following morning.

The town has retained a slight village atmosphere with some fun and funky places to apres ski. There are plenty of bars and taverns and restaurants on the slopes to stop in for a break. There is fabulous apres-ski at “the Lurzer” and up the mountain at “the Hochalm”. The Edelweiss bar on the slopes is a real treat at the end of your day – and a 400 meter run down an easy slope into the village after.

Ski map Obertauern

The resort is part of the Top Tauern Ski Check pass scheme which includes more than 30 ski resorts in the Tauern area, some of them lift-linked to one another, although not to Obertauern. Some of the better known resorts in the ski arena – which opens up over 700km of slopes and nearly 300 lifts – are Altenmarkt, Schladming and the Dachstein glacier lifts.

Getting there

By air: Salzburg’s W.A.Mozart Airport is closest and offers shortest transfer times to Obertauern (1 hour 40 minutes).

By train: buses leave every hour from the Radstadt station. The journey takes just 20 minutes by car.

Link suggestions

For more information on Obertauern please visit the official website of Obertauern

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Saint Gervais is a well established spa town that has been welcoming skiers for over 80 years and its proximity to Geneva airport – less than an hours drive – is ideal for short stay ski holidays. Despite its proximity to Mont Blanc and the popular Chamonix, it is not a very well known resort, probably due to the fact that no major tour operators go there. The ski area Saint Gervais – Megève itself is not big, but it’s Evasion Mont Blanc lift pass covers six ski areas comprising over 450km of prepared slopes, as well as some easily-accessible off-piste areas.

Saint Gervais is a pleasant place that makes it a cheaper alternative to staying in Megève, and a good base for exploring nearby resorts.

Located across from Mont Blanc, it is the highest town in France and Europe because Mont Blanc’s peak is located inside its territory. The village disposes of the most extreme difference in altitude in Europe: from 580 to 4810 metres.

One resort, two ski areas

Taken together with Megève, Saint Gervais offers skiers of all levels, although intermediates in particular, plenty of terrain to choose from. Most of the pistes are classic trails cut through the woodland, many with wonderful views over to Mont Blanc. The highest pistes on Mont d’Arbois are above the tree line however and are wide, open snow slopes.

Families will normally enjoy the unhurried nature of Saint Gervais and there are some good facilities off the slopes as well as plenty of family-friendly terrain on the mountain with a predominance of chair and gondola lifts you can all ride together. The childcare facilities are good too.

Beginner ski school classes meet in the ski school’s chalet at le Bettex, which is reached by a fast, easy to ride gondola from the edge of the resort. Le Bettex is a good learner’s area with several excellent nursery slopes with their own lifts. There are some good green and blue runs to progress on to once you’ve mastered the basic skills.

Most people take the high capacity gondola that whisks skiers and boarders from the edge of the resort up to the heart of the resort’s local skiing at Le Bettex on Mont d’Arbois, shared with neighbouring Megève on the other side of the mountain. Carrying on to the other side of Megève you reach the Rochebrune and Jaillet ski areas shared with the villages of Combloux and La Giettaz. A cable car connects the bases of Mont d’Arbois and Rochebrune.

Perfect for intermediates

Beginners can pick up the basics on the nursery slopes in Le Bettex, and have some incredible greens and blues to build confidence from Mont d’Arbois. Chateluy is a confidence boosting 4km trail back to Le Bettex, which might look a little steep at the top but once you’ve zig zagged down the first bit, it’s gorgeously varied with a fantastic powdery stretch between the trees. Another fabulous run is the Ideal-Mandarines which ends up at the Megeve golf club. La Finance, a lovely long blue, is a favourite run back from Mont d’Arbois. It is lined by thick forest and great for building up a rhythm. More blues worth skiing include the sunny Prapacot, which links to green le Plan or blue Encraty down to La Princesse.

Saint-Gervais boasts loads of ideal intermediate terrain directly above the town on Mont d’Arbois and Mont Joly, with long reds and blues. Some of the best intermediate runs are a swathe of reds very local to Saint Gervais up above Le Bettex, and a ski run back down to the village is also graded red. Heading across to Megève, Rochebrune is an excellent area for intermediates while Combloux and La Giettaz across the valley are blissfully quiet.

It’s mixed blessings for expert skiers who have rather limited options close by the resort. There are 17 black slopes adding up to more than 40km of steep piste. Mont d’Arbois accesses a handful of black runs like Princesse; an absolute joy to blast down. For a sharper gradient, try the Chamois from Mont Joly. Where the expert offerings really rule here is off piste, with some incredible powder runs on open fields and between the trees – head to Mont Joly and down to Saint-Nicolas for some of the best of it. The Marmottes run from L’Epaule towards St Nicolas is challenging but is sometimes closed due to avalanche risk. The Grand Chamois is a steep black run, that can be fantastic on powder days but nerve wracking when the snow is not so friendly. The ski school and mountain guides will be happy to take you to the region’s many off-piste assets. In the Rochebrune sector Cote 2000 is the venue for World Cup races.

On-mountain dining to a higher level

There’s a huge choice of on-mountain dining in the region of Saint Gervais, with more than two-dozen restaurants spread across the various sectors. The majority are small to mid-sized locally-owned establishments and there’s a higher proportion of table-service establishments than you’ll normally find, for which it’s advisable to book a table in advance if you can.

At Le Bettex at the base of the slopes both Causettes and La Coterie are both good. The former has table service and a good terrace with wonderful views, the latter with favourite French and Savoyard dishes and a good choice of grilled meats. La Fleche d’Or nearby is also good and serves traditional cuisine in a lovely wooden restaurant or out on the terrace.

Getting there

Direct trains run from Paris to La Fayet. La Fayet train station is 5km from St Gervais from where there is a free shuttle bus service into St Gervais itself. The nearest airport is Geneva (1 hour) which can be accessed by bus or ski transfer company. We had a great experience with Cham-Van. Chambéry Savoie Mont Blanc is about 1hour 15mins.

Hire the latest award-winning 2018 skis from rental chain Intersport, including touring skis, powder skis and the new Nitro Q Series retro snowboard shapes. All from

The Intersport shop at the midstation of Le Bettex is very conveniently located.

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