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Kitzbühel, Austria

kitzbuhel

With a lot of piste, a lot of things to do in town, a lot of nightlife and a lot of shopping, it's not surprising that Kitzbühel has a lot of fans too

The Mountains

Skiing took hold in Kitz, as it's known to its many friends, in 1893 after local hero Franz Reisch brought a pair of skis from Norway to try out on the mountains of Austria. Since then the place has become most famous for the fearsome Hahnenkamm race – a steep and tricky run that is an annual stop on the World Cup race circuit. The race takes place in January, after which the run is open for anyone to have a go. Mind out though – it frightens even the racers, and for good reason.

Not counting the Streif run where the race takes place, the majority of skiing in Kitzbuhel is for intermediates. There is 168km of home slopes, and it's linked up to other areas – the Kitzbüheler Alpen Allstar Card liftpass includes four other large areas: Ski Welt, Alpbachtal, Wildschönau, Schneewinkel, Saalbach Hinterglemm Leogang, and Zell am See-Kaprun, adding up to a gigantic 1081km of pistes. For the indecisive, this is a great place to visit, but once you're there you'll want to organise your days carefully as many of the links between resorts require bus or train journeys.

Kitzbühel's home terrain is wide and open above the tree-line, with pistes that wind through patchy tree cover further down. Intermediate cruisers will love all the swooping runs. Beginners have the free town-level nursery slopes to start on, but at only 760m the snow can be patchy, so the best bet is to head to the top of the Horn, where the slopes are gentle and sunny, with the long cruisers back to town as the end-of-day challenge for anyone progressing well.

Freestylers will find a terrain park on the Horn which has good-sized features for intermediates, and off-piste fans will find a lot to explore, providing the snow has fallen recently at these low altitudes.

The Town

Kitz is undoubtedly charming, all onion dome church spires, medieval architecture and cobbles. If it's glamour you're after, you'll find some impressive shopping, from traditional crafts and cute boutiques to designer shops like Louis Vuitton and Swarovski, with horse-drawn carriages to take you and your expensive purchases around the place. When you've freshened up head to the Neuwirt for award winning dinner.

If this isn't your scene, don't be put off – Kitz also has a better value, rather more casual side, and the nightlife is infamous. You can pick whatever level of action you fancy, from the traditional apres chaos, or afternoon tea and cake, through to cheerful communal meals or raucous clubbing – Kitz sustains it all.

La Clusaz La Clusaz
Five things about Kitz
  1. Make sure you pay a visit to the Aquarena pool, whether you're in the mood for a burn on the flumes or some underwater massage recovery. You get a discount on entry with a liftpass

  2. There's a run called the 'Streif for families', an easier version of the famous downhill route. When you tell the folks back home, just accidentally miss off the 'for families' part!

  3. The 3-S-Bahn, finished in 2005, is a peak-to-peak gondola. At the valley's deepest point it's 400m up, and the longest distance between supporting towers is a huge 2.5km! Forget the skiing, there's enough excitement just getting around!

  4. There have been people in the area since 1100BC, when the pastime was copper mining

  5. If you find yourself eating at Chizzo in town, don't miss the opportunity to inform everyone that Kitz part of Kitzbühel comes from the word Chiz, after the Chizzo clan who settled here in the twelfth century

Brought to you by Kate Whittaker and the team at Mad Dog Ski     mad dog ski logo