Austria is well known for its rich culture and history, the alps, Mozart and winter sports. To kick off the New Year, my Austrian visit circulated around a ski trip with my friend, Billy. Travellers often rave about Innsbruck but we were told of an alternative. It’s a small town in the Styria region, just out of Salzburg. I can assure you mountains for days!
Located in the north-west corner of Styria, Schladming is a former mining town home to approximately 7000 people. It is making its way up the ladders, becoming an international ski destination. The Schladming-Dachstein Region is one of the top 5 skiing regions in the country. There is over 120km of piste to discover and accommodates to various skill levels from beginners through to experts.
Located 75 km South West of Salzburg, Schladming is easily accessible by bus. Flexbus offers services to and from Schladming taking 1.5 hours (time varies due to road conditions) and setting you back €7, an additional €9 for your bulky luggage (skis/snowboards) payable to the driver. Alternatively, there are OBB trains servicing Graz to Schladming and vice versa taking 2.5 hours.
The Schladming-Dachstein Region is just one of 5 regions that make up the Ski Amade area.
Fun fact: Ski Amade is Austria’s largest ski area and Europe’s second largest.
At the main lift, there are free maps provided in case you’ll like to carry a referral. Otherwise, there are maps throughout the park to help with navigation. As always, there are different colour coded runs, which are as follows:
The main hub of this 4 mountain well-connected ski complex is Planai Mountain. The foot of this 1894 meter mountain is a 5-minute walk from the centre and a 20-minute walk from the train station (Bahnhof). In the main town of Schladming, there are all the amenities from sporting stores to restaurants to Apres Ski bars. The majority of restaurants cater to non-German speakers. The Apres Ski Culture is alive and pumping with a lot of places scattered on the slopes and a large bar located at the foot of Planai. There’s a wide range of accommodation options. Spoilt for choices in town to the resorts on the slopes.
Tip: Try getting a place with a sauna. Best thing after a long day of tearing down the slopes.
On top of Planai, you’re welcomed to amazing views over the mountain range and there are viewpoints to snap for the ‘gram. There are benches and chairs to take a time out after smashing it down those slopes. Throughout the area, there are free WIFI points to keep you connected, commonly found in some restaurants or the ski lift stations.
Hauser Kaibling (2015 meters)
Located on the left side of Planai and is suitable for all levels, however, conditions were a tad icy – we did get around this mountain quite late in the day after the sun had gone, though.
Planai (1894 meters)
The main mountain that was explored on this trip. The main station is called Planet Planai and the main bus port with services to other parts of town or to Ramsau-Dachstein. There is a Ski Park, towards the upper right side. There are a handful of black runs if you’re feeling adventurous.
Hochwurzen (1850 meters)
Located on the right of Planai. Half of the runs here are blue and the other half are red – a good starting point if you were still learning.
If both Hochwurzen and Planai were on your agenda for the same day, it is advisable to go to Planai West Ski Station. To get to Planai West, take Bus C from Planet Planai. Ideally, ski Hochwurzen first and come back to Planai West to take the lift up to Planai. There is no piste connecting Planai to Hochwurzen so this is the best way to navigate it.
Reiteralm (1860 meters)
The next mountain over. There wasn’t enough time to get to this mountain as we spent most of our time on Planai. However, from the maps, it looks amazing so I’m a little gutted. There’s always next time, though! To get to this mountain, you’d have to ski to the opposite side of Planai West (further east) and take the ski lift up.
Apart from enjoying the fresh powder through skiing and snowboarding, there are a variety of things offered in the region. Sledging is available if skiing isn’t your “thing“.
On the opposite side of the valley is Ramsau am Dachstein. To get here, there is a bus departing from Planet Planai destined for Ramsau-Dachstein taking approximately 45 mins and is free with your ski pass. There are 3 ski lifts so skiing is available. Why come here? Well, if you’re looking for breathtaking views, there is a suspension bridge over the Dachstein Glacier linked to the Ice Palace and Stairway to Nothingness. During the winter period, there is no entrance fee however it will cost you €10 in the summer. Unfortunately for us, these attractions were not accessible due to renovations and heavy snow fall. Once again, another reason to return.
Although I’ve only travelled around Austria for 10 days, Schladming is honestly the prettiest place I’ve laid my eyes on. It is such an underrated skiing region, making it ideal to immerse yourself fully into the ski culture. The majority of tourists here are Germans and as German is the spoken language in Austria, it’s a perfect place to practice. Ski Amade, in my opinion, is Austria’s best-kept ski secret. Be prepared to have your breath taken away by the views, especially on blue bird days.
Peace, love and good vibes.