Located 90km from Salzburg and train-linked, Bad Gastein is one of the most well-known spa towns in Austria. Located at the centre of the Gastein Valley ski area, which has four domains totalling 250km of pistes, it is also part of the Ski amadé area. Bad Gastein and Bad Hofgastein are lift linked but the rest of the resorts in the Gastein ski area are not. The skiing favours good intermediates with lots of challenges and tree-lined skiing. For experts, there is a wide range of off-piste and great powder can be found on the Kreuzkogel. There is also the World Cup downhill run to test the best. Beginners aren't overly catered for, with the easier slopes spread around the area, even though the ski school has a good reputation. You can't ski to your door and you'll have to take a bus to the lifts. Boarders have only just been provided with a park and half-pipe, but they could find the high number of draglifts a bit of a challenge.
The spa town's atmosphere is not to everyone's taste. But there are very good facilities for accommodation and restaurants, for non-skiers and for après-ski in general. Nightlife is quite sophisticated and prices are predominantly high. The 'bath and beer' option is very popular for afternoon après-ski. Transfer times are minimal from Salzburg, but you might not like the resort traffic and the irregular bus links to the skiing. Overall, Bad Gastein is an excellent base for the whole winter experience, but its few disadvantages won't please beginners and families.