Resort Profile: Zell am See - Schmitten

By adamrowden, 5 Dec '12 at 15:13

The attractive lakeside town of Zell am See has a different feel to it than most Austrian ski destinations. Perhaps because of its size or its water front location, this is not the normal mountain village made up of a few dozen giant wooden chalets.

On the other hand the mountains are still there, towering high above to altitudes capable of maintaining glacier skiing at neighbouring Kaprun, so the comparatively low altitude of Zell am See doesn't prevent guaranteed skiing throughout the season. The two have been joined, on the same pass at least if not by lifts, in the Europa Sport Ski Region since 1968. Today there are more than 130km of trails (78 miles), 80km (50 miles) of which are local to Zell.

Even though it doesn't meet the standard Austrian resort model, it's still a very scenic spot, with the lake in front and the mountains behind. Another factor making Zell seem that bit different is the feeling of history that oozes from the medieval centre (now pedestrianised) and the culture of the place which stems from it. The water sports, beach parties, classical concerts, festivals and theatre performances at the castle all combine to prove that Zell am See was around long before winter sports were thought of, and still has a life beyond them.

It is a resort that is well known for its snow reliability and has some cracking valley runs as well as some cracking pistes that cover all abilities. The slopes begin in open snowfields and then, as you descend, they cut through the trees. This offers you plenty of variety and when you consider that Zell is linked to Kaprun that variety is even greater. Kaprun has some brilliant runs off its glacier and is only a ten minute bus journey from Zell.

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