Kitzbühel ski resort
One of skiing's most famous names, Kitzbühel is an attractive resort with a long-standing reputation as one of Austria's biggest and best ski areas. Famous mountains such as Hahnenkamm and the Kitzbüheler Horn rise up around the traditional Tyrolean-styled buildings that make up most of the small town.
Although synonymous with skiing (the first downhillers arrived here in the early 1880s), Kitzbühel's history dates back for millennia before the arrival of snow sports. Today, as one of the lowest major ski areas in the Alps, the resort is often cited as one of the first that may have to cope in an era after winter sports if global warming continues to take hold.
Perhaps with this reputation partly in mind, the resort has been spending heavily on new lifts, making accessing the highest slopes easier than ever, as well as on snowmaking and non-ski facilities, opening a sports centre and a casino.
Kitzbühel is also the venue of the Hahnenkamm World Cup races in late January each year. The men's downhill event, one of the great classic annual ski races, attracts more than 50,000 fans, making it Austria's largest annual sporting event.
Kitzbühel is located in the Tyrolean province of northwestern Austria, within the Kitzbüheler Alps. The resort shares some of its slopes with the smaller town of Kirchberg and neighbours the large SkiWelt ski area.
KitzbühelResort Elevation: 800m
Top Elevation: 2000m
Base Elevation: 800m
On the slopes
The season in Kitzbühel generally runs from early November - sometimes even late October - to mid-April; a somewhat science-defying lengthy season given the resort's low altitude.
Kitzbühel's extensive ski area can offer much to satisfy all needs, from gentle nursery slopes to some of the most difficult off-piste powder, which requires the help of guides. Most experienced skiers will want to visit the famous Streif run on the Hahnenkamm, where famous downhill races have taken place each January since the 1930s – still one of Austria's biggest sporting events.
Kitzbühel was the first resort to offer a 'ski safari' more than 50 years ago, with the concept of skiing in a circuit from one mountain to the next. A spectacular gondola installed a few years ago made a final key link in the route. It also, at that time, set world records for the highest point above the valley floor (400m/1,312ft) and the length of cable between lift towers.
Kitzbühel is also part of several larger 'ski regions' that are ideal for those looking for more than its own extensive slopes. The local ski area is linked more or less (there's a short bus transfer) to the neighbouring SkiWelt region, which brings with it a combined skiable area of more than 400km (250 miles) – one of the world's largest. Bigger still is the Kitzbüheler Alpen AllStarCard ticket, which takes in this area plus neighbouring (but not lift-linked) ski areas to offer a total of more than 1,080km (675 miles) of runs.