In a country of chocolate box ski villages, how do you choose the most beautiful? Viewers of an Austrian TV show once did just that and came up with Alpbach.

Few would argue with their choice. When you add to Alpbach's rustic and welcoming charms skiing on some of the loveliest slopes you could imagine, rarely intimidating but always interesting, you understand why it commands loyalty among its fans like no other Austrian resort.

And things took an exciting new turn a few season ago when, simply with the construction of a two-stage gondola, the Alpbach ski area was linked with the neighbouring Wildschonau area to create Ski Juwel - at a stroke creating a combined area offering about 80 miles of pistes.

British loyalty to Alpbach is very high. Generations of skiers from the same families return year after year, often re-booking the day they leave for the same guesthouse or hotel for the same time next year.

The fierce devotion to one resort is remarkable. Say Guten Tag to a fellow skier or boarder as you tramp down the street to the ski-bus stop and you'll almost certainly get a booming Good Morning in reply. The owner of the  voice may well be something to do with the Army or something in the City. The British Connection is very much part of the Alpbach experience. You can’t claim to know Austria until you’ve skied here.

It has a higher percentage of UK holidaymakers than any other Austrian ski village – thanks in no small part to the Alpbach Visitors Ski Club, founded in 1958 by the late Major Billy Patterson and his wife Dinny, an Alpbach institution.

Many of Britain's best skiers made their first turns on Alpbach's slopes. There are nursery slopes right in the village centre. You have to take a ski-bus to the main lifts, but that's a small price to pay to wallow in charm and gemutlicheit that you can measure in metres.

It was feared by some that the link-up with Wildschonau would change the dynamic of this very traditional Tirolean village, but the charm has not been at all compromised - it just means that a lot more skiing is on offer than before. It has also increased the importance of what was once the outlying hamlet of Inneralpbach, which has now attained prominence as the central point of the linked area.

For access to the skiing, in both Alpbach and Wildschonau, there is now no better place to stay. But the majority naturally still prefer to stay in the Alpbach village centre proper.


  • One of the most charming and historic of Alpine villages.
  • Easy to reach, with a nearby mainline station and short bus transfer.
  • Lovely cosy atmosphere, with a particularly warm welcome for British guests
  • Including the link with Wildschonau, plenty of skiing to explore
  • Beginner slopes right in the village centre.
  • Has a very highly-regarded ski school that has honed the skills of generations of aspiring British racers, and also specialises in looking after youngsters.
  • Excellent unintimidating slopes for families and groups of mixed ability. 
  • Great terrain park


  • There are a few lively bars but nightlife is nevertheless on the restrained side.
  • The main slopes are reached from lifts that are a short ski-bus ride from the village centre.
  • Some may be anxious that it’s not a high resort – but the snow record is good despite that.
  • This is primarily a family resort, so very advanced skiers and boarders could soon run out of real challenges - however the off-piste is excellent