Zell am See ski resort
About Zell am See
Combining the useful facilities of a town with the intimacy of a village on the shores of Lake Zell, Zell am See-Kaprun ski resort – to use the resort’s full name – in Austria is a year-round magnet for tourists.
Skiing caught on early here and has gathered pace ever since. Downhill descents were recorded as far back as 1893, while the resort’s Kitzsteinhorn glacier was the first Austrian glacier to be skied. Zell am See-Kaprun incorporates the nearby and smaller Kaprun village to create a large skiing region with almost 140km (87 miles) of terrain to suit all abilities.
There has been huge investment in recent years in both ski areas, with new terrain, lifts and facilities. Most recently big investment has been ploughed into the lift-connected Kaprunm area, with new modern lifts installed in celebration of its 50th anniversary in winter 2015/16.
Another winning, though less glamorous, attribute of the resort is its convenient transport links, with access by road and rail simple and reliable in both summer and winter seasons.
Zell am See-Kaprun lies in the Central Alps in Austria, south of Salzburg and east of Kitzbühel. The Dientener Berge Mountains are impressive as they rise skywards from across the lake, but larger mountains, including the 3,797m-high (12,457ft) Grossglockner, can be found to the south and east in the Hohe Tauern range.
On the slopes
The main ski season in Zell am See-Kaprun runs from late November until mid-April, but the 3,203m (10,509ft) Kitzsteinhorn glacier is skiable year round, except in high summer.
Skiing in Zell am See-Kaprun is good for all abilities but is at its best for intermediates – in particular, its wide-ranging glacier runs are among the resort’s best for mid-level skiers. Many of the runs here are easy to medium and can be found in a relatively smooth area circled by imposing peaks.
The best twisting, expert runs are directly above Zell am See-Kaprun in the Schmittenhöhe sector, where the cable car ascends to 1,965m (6,647ft). The experienced can also find plenty of opportunities on the glacier, but off-piste skiing is discouraged in most places here in the interests of environmental protection.
Beginners heading to Zell am See can learn in safety on the slopes of the Maiskogel Mountain, which is a particularly good place for families.
Snowboarders will enjoy the terrain park at the Gipfelbahn, while the Kitzsteinhorn park on the glacier has the biggest superpipe in Austria and a range of other features to explore.
There are also 40km (25 miles) of cross-country trails for Nordic skiers to ski, which include the enjoyable loop around picturesque Lake Plettsaukopf at Schmitten.