Ischgl Ski Resort Guide
Ischgl has long been the premier ski destination for German and Russian holidaymakers. Until recently it has not been popular with visitors from the UK – but that is changing at a pace now. After St Anton, Ischgl is Austria’s second most important ski resort. However, while the two are just 45km apart and developed at roughly the same pace, St Anton was much quicker to build an international reputation.
Thankfully, Ischgl has been building its own brand and is now recognised as (almost) on a par with St Anton for both ski area and nightlife. A large part of this recognition is down to the resort’s famous start and end of season Top of the Mountain concerts. As one of the first to tap in to this market Ischgl has been able to bring A-list stars like Elton John, Robbie Williams, Kylie Minogue & Rihanna to the slopes.
Ischgl itself sits in the Paznuan Valley in Austria. The resorts of Galtur, Kappl & See are within this same valley some 20 minutes journey time away, and can be visited on the same ski pass. Ischgl’s own extensive pistes stretch over the Swiss border and connect with the resort of Samnuam.
The town itself has come a long way from its beginnings as a small farming village. While it has maintained its traditional Tirolean style of architecture overall, many smart hotels and guest houses have a contemporary feel to them. Ischgl resort compact in size and easily walkable due to the pedestrianised central street.
The quality of skiing in Ischgl is excellent – due to its extensive, snow-sure pistes and well-connected lift system. What brings many people back time and time again though is the quality of the apres-ski, which is second only to the legendary St Anton. Most will start drinking on the slopes at Paznauner Thaya before heading to the Kuhstall or Schatzi bars to continue into the small hours. Unfortunately there is quite a steep piste to navigate off the mountain which can be a struggle.
The lively apres-ski scene provides a buzz around the town centre in the evenings which is maintained by vibrant bars, shopping & restaurants. On average the clientele in Ischgl tends to be slightly older and slight more mature than St Anton – but they can still party the night away. It is possible to escape this if you would prefer an early night, but you will need to choose accommodation as far away as possible from the main street through town.
Ischgl is large enough to cater for every taste in music and atmosphere with trendy nightclubs sitting right next to old-style Austrian pubs. If you prefer to keep away from this completely though there is a fantastic 7km toboggan run which is lit in the evenings, plus a nice sports centre with free entry to the pool for kids, and extensive cross-country skiing trails.
Skiing in Ischgl
Ischgl benefits from access to a huge, high-altitude ski area which is the largest in the Eastern Alps. Coupled with predominantly north-facing slopes, this ensures an excellent snowfall record and sees it being consistently one of the first Austrian resorts to open and the last to close each season.
Ischgl’s continuous investment in their ski lift system is also well-known. They have been able to spend over €270 million in the last ten year on improvements to the infrastructure. This means not only do you have quick lift which can handle a high volume of people efficiently – but they also have little luxuries like heated seats. There are three fast gondolas around town to take you up to Idalp, and from here you can access all parts of the ski terrain.
The total length of groomed pistes in Ischgl is 239km. Much of this skiing takes place above 2,000m and well above the local treeline. The terrain here is perfect for intermediates with long & wide red runs being in the majority. For more advanced skiers there are sweeping black runs coming down from the resorts highest altitude of 2864m as well as easily accessible off-piste areas. The only slight drawback is that beginners have to travel up and down the mountain by gondola at the beginning and end of their days.
Several pistes make it possible to ski from Ischgl in Austria to Samnuan in Switzerland very easily. Anyone over beginner level will definitely want to head over at least one of the days to enjoy a cheesy mountain lunch plus the duty-free shopping that can be had over the border. The only complaints we ever hear about skiing in Ischgl are that the main lifts up the mountain can get busy at peak times – and that the runs down in to the resort are difficult and can require taking the gondola down the mountain rather than risking a fall.
If you want a snow sure Austrian ski holiday with perfectly maintained wide pistes then Ischgl is a perfect choice. Add to that the buzzing apres-ski and international music superstars (if you wish to partake in either) and Ischgl is an excellent choice for both young, and young-at-heart skiers & snowboarders.