Sölden in Austria’s Arlberg region offers an impressive and snow sure ski area, set around a traditional village base, with a modern and efficient lift system. But it can also boast impressive party scene, with large groups of party seekers revelling well into the night. With some of Austria’s highest pistes and lots of intermediate terrain, Sölden ski resort won’t disappoint on any level, on or off the pistes. Conveniently located it’s only 90km from Innsbruck, so it makes for a very easily accessible ski resort and great short break destination. The area has seen a lot of investment in recent years in state-of-the-art lifts and these now reach all the way up to the two glacial skiing areas of Tiefenbach and Rettenbach, guaranteeing great snow all season long and as such it’s an ideal option for early and late season breaks and also for singles, couples and families.
Sölden’s reputation as a party haven has spread far and wide and many people mainly go for the superb après ski vibe and the area has been enhanced by being used as a base for the 007 film, Spectre. It’s also generally cheaper than Ischgl or St Anton. A regular on the Sölden hosts world class ski events throughout the season, being on the Alpine World Cup circuit, yet the 144km of pistes and impressive uplift capacity of 68,000 people/hour, soon eats up all the crowds. These numbers do have an effect on conditions, however, as many of the pistes, particularly down into resort, can be heavily cut up by the end of the day. Sölden opens each year in October and with its high altitude and glacial skiing, doesn’t close till late May. Off the slopes, the James Bond Experience at the top of the Gaislachkogel lift is also well worth visiting.
Sölden is home to the ‘Big 3’, which are three skiable mountains over 3,000m: Schwarze Schneide, Gaislachkogel and Tiefenbachkogel. All are easily accessible by ski lifts, making for some long and steep descents. At the top of the Gaislachkoglbahn you’ll find a new panorama restaurant, made in a very modern style from glass and steel. This was also featured in the film Spectre, its roof having an awesome viewing deck, with views towards Italy. It’s connected to Gaislachkogl peak by a suspension bridge
The main Sölden-Hochsölden-Gaislachkogl sector has over 100km of trails, interlinked by a number of high-capacity lifts and long runs, the longest of which descends for 10km, over 1,675m of vertical. Throw in the once separate glacial ski area – adding an additional 30 plus lifts – and the whole area offers a very respectable 144km of piste, which is about the size of Tignes. A challenge for skiers who like to clock up the miles, is the ‘Big 3 Rally’, which can be completed in a tough four hours, taking in more than 10,000m of vertical. The route starts at the base of the Giggijoch Gondola and continues through the 170m long ski tunnel that connects the Rettenbach and Tiefenbach glaciers and takes you to the Tiefenbachkogl peak via the Tiefenbach gondola. On the Rettenbach glacier you can ski down through the Rettenbachtal Valley all the way to the base terminal of the Gaislachkogl gondola. Once this lift has been taken and the descent made, you’ll have clocked up some 50km. Freestylers will love Sölden, as the Area 47 park is well planned and superbly maintained. Beginners too are well catered for with a large selection of boxes and rails to progress on.
Freeride lovers – including those venturing off-piste for the first time – will find perfect powder runs and more than 70km of lift-accessible off-piste terrain. Thanks to the high Alpine altitude, and the two good glacier ski areas, the season is long, with locals finding fresh powder, well into May sometimes. Freeriders will especially enjoy the Gaislakogel Mountain, which has some of the resort’s best off piste, but it’s best to hire a guide as the slopes here are prone to sliding and potential avalanches.
If you’ve never skied in Austria, then you won’t have experienced the world’s best après ski. The party starts here, before the lifts close at the Sonnblick bar before continuing back down to the village, where you have the Black and orange Rock bar to name but one. If you want to carry on, you can go all night, even finishing up in one of the slightly seedy strip clubs on the high street, if that’s your thing. While Sölden does kick off at night, it shouldn’t be discounted as a family destination, as it’s well geared up with good ski schools, kindergartens, a toboggan run and a community swimming pool. With regards to food, Sölden and its surrounding villages have around 50 restaurants to choose from. Most of what’s on offer are Tyrolean specialities, but pick up the resort’s restaurant guide (available free from the tourist office), which details the type of cuisine available in every restaurant. Categories quoted include home cooking, local cuisine, wild game, vegetarian, fondue, steak, children’s menu. On the slopes, Sölden rightly has a good reputation for its many dining opportunities, with 25 rustic and gourmet mountain huts to choose from.
Accommodation centres round the usual hotels, apartments and chalets and we are only too happy to help advise and book your perfect accommodation choice, which also includes a few catered chalet options, be it for a week or a short break.