Alpbach, Austria: A Family Ski Holiday in the Alps

When we are planning our holidays, 95% of the time I’m like, “Let’s go somewhere warm!”, but in February in Europe there just aren’t many places where you’re guaranteed a sunny, blue sky holiday, so instead we chose to embrace the cold and plan our very first family ski trip.

The last time I’d skied was almost two decades ago, Lexie had never been, and Cory was so young when he went that it doesn’t even really count, so we were all VERY much beginner skiers. This made the task of finding a family ski holiday in the Alps a little daunting. It seemed like every all-inclusive resort I looked at was either too big, too expensive, or the slopes in the surrounding area were too advanced. That’s when I switched gears and began searching for a ski village, somewhere where we could rent a room and plan each part of our stay ourselves. It was then that I discovered Alpbach, Austria, a picturesque little village tucked into a valley in the Alps.

Alpbach, Austria: A Family Ski Holiday In The Alps

Alpbach, Austria: A Family Ski Holiday In The Alps

Alpbach, Austria: A Family Ski Holiday In The Alps

Alpbach has been awarded the title of ‘most beautiful village in Austria’ in recent years, and it’s not hard to see why. The village sits on a plateau in the Alpbach valley, offering panoramic views of the majestic Alps. The streets and hillsides are lined with charming, traditional timber chalets with carved balconies. Shops and restaurants inhabit the ground floors of the chalets lining Alpbach’s main street; guest rooms are available on the upper floors, most with striking views of the nearby slopes. It was in one of these chalets in the center of Alpbach that we chose to stay during our holiday.

Alpbach is relatively new to tourism, only just becoming a popular ski destination during the middle of the 20th century. Today, tourism accounts for much of Alpbach’s income, the rest coming from the nearby farms. (We hiked through some of these on our last day!) The village can only accommodate around 2,500 visitors, so we never felt the least bit crowded during our stay. The limited availability of rooms also means you need to book your stay early. We booked over four months early and secured the last room in the guest house we stayed at. (Half-term break is a popular travel week, though, so that certainly had an effect on the availability of open rooms.)

Alpbach, Austria: A Family Ski Holiday In The Alps

Alpbach, Austria: A Family Ski Holiday In The Alps

Alpbach, Austria: A Family Ski Holiday In The Alps

We reached Alpbach from London on Austrian Airlines by way of Vienna and Innsbruck. Our original plan was to arrive in Innsbruck around 1pm and have a private car drive us an hour away to Alpbach, but our flight from London to Vienna was late, causing us to miss our connecting flight to Innsbruck. We had to wait until evening to catch the last flight out and lost a half-day in Alpbach. (This is why I prefer to travel by train. It’s always so much more reliable!) Even though it was pretty expensive, I’m glad we chose to have a private car pick us up. The only other way that I’m aware of to reach Alpbach is to take a train to Brixlegg, and then catch a local bus from there. Cheaper, sure, but not nearly as quick.

Since we arrived late at night, I didn’t get to see the beauty we were surrounded by until the next morning. I opened the curtains on our master bedroom window and was greeted with the stunning view pictured in that last photo. To top it all off, by the time we were ready to leave the room, it had begun snowing! It was like being in a fairytale village! I would have been perfectly content to simply walk the streets in the snow, but seeing as this trip was about the skiing, I had to cut my morning walk a little short. It was quite foggy anyway, so I didn’t really get to see how fantastic the mountains were until the next day.

Alpbach, Austria: A Family Ski Holiday In The Alps

Our second day in Alpbach was the only day we had with clear skies. It was so clear that we could even make out the ski lift carrying skiers to the top of Gmahkopf from our bedroom window. For our other two days in Alpbach, it was either snowing or we were stuck in a cloud for most of the day. While I love a sunny day, I actually enjoyed the way it felt being in the mountains with the snow gently falling around us. The weather fit the occasion quite well, I think.

Alpbach, Austria: A Family Ski Holiday In The Alps

Alpbach, Austria: A Family Ski Holiday In The Alps

Alpbach, Austria: A Family Ski Holiday In The Alps

Alpbach, Austria: A Family Ski Holiday In The Alps

One thing I really loved about Alpbach was its size. We were in the center of town, just up hill from the church and where the bus would stop to pick up and drop off skiers heading to and from the ski lifts. We were within a 5-minute walk to all the shops and restaurants, but because Alpbach is so small, even if you’re staying on the outskirts everything is still accessible on foot. It’s a very well-planned village, and so clean. Alpbach has been the cleanest place we’ve visited thus far in Europe.

Alpbach’s thirty miles of pistes are mainly for beginner and intermediate skiers, but there are also black runs and off-piste routes for expert skiers. We skied on Gmahkopf, the closest to Alpbach and the mountain with the most blue runs. While there is a festive nightlife in Alpbach, it’s more cozy than exciting, making Alpbach the perfect spot for families looking to avoid the rowdy, party atmosphere of other ski resorts.

While talking with other guests staying in Alpbach, I discovered that most people return here year after year, often staying in the exact same room they stayed in the years before. As someone who almost never returns to the same city, much less to the same hotel, I wouldn’t have understood why someone would choose to spend their holiday in the same place every year if I hadn’t visited Alpbach myself. It’s the sort of place that does draw you back again and again. Once you’ve found the best, why go somewhere else?

Did you enjoy this article or find it helpful? Save it for later on Pinterest!

Alpbach, Austria: A Family Ski Holiday In The Alps

Share this post:

  • Kristall Spaces
    October 15, 2018 at 5:26 AM

    Beautiful photos,Austria is one of the ideal places for beginner skiers.

  • Claire
    June 8, 2018 at 1:13 AM

    I must say this is an awesome guide. Every year I used to go on holidays with my family, but this year due to few complications I haven’t go. But, next year I’ll definitely go on ski holidays at Austria and I’m sure your guidance will help me for sure.

  • Cameron
    August 30, 2017 at 10:19 PM

    Great blog post


  • Sara Louise
    March 20, 2014 at 12:48 PM

    My brother and his wife and kids go skiing in Austria every February and they absolutely love it!

  • Leah S.
    March 19, 2014 at 12:53 PM

    Sounds like a wonderful family vacation spot!

  • Emmymom
    March 14, 2014 at 10:41 PM

    Looks so beautiful! Glad you were able to have this fun vacation

  • Irene @ Away from Tenerife
    March 12, 2014 at 9:45 PM

    Your photos are so pretty! I’ve only been to the Swiss Alps and they’re one of the most beautiful sites I’ve seen for sure and villages are also the fairytale kind.
    Alpbach looks really charming – you make me want to visit Austria even more – and you’re so lucky to have seen some snow. I’ve missed that this winter!

  • Jess {JessOnThames}
    March 10, 2014 at 9:34 PM

    Your pictures are just gorgeous – those snow shots!! Almost enough to make someone who is scared of skiing get up there ;)

  • Sand in my Suitcase
    March 8, 2014 at 4:33 PM

    Looks like you lucked out in Alpbach with this “most beautiful village in Austria”! Nice to read about this family ski adventure…

  • Melanie Fontaine
    March 6, 2014 at 7:33 PM

    I haven’t gone on a Ski Holiday in at least 8 years, but I would so love to go again! Unfortunately, no matter how you look at it, Ski Holidays are known to be amongst the most expensive trips you can take in Europe… accommodation, gear, passes for the Ski lifts… it all just adds up so quickly! But maybe I’ll try again next year! :) Alpbach definitely looks like a beautiful destination. Exactly like you would an Alp village to look like! I bet Lexie loved getting a glimpse of the snow-capped Alps – it’s such an amazing sight!

    • Sarah Shumate
      March 7, 2014 at 5:09 PM

      Yeah, we learned that the hard way. Each piece in itself isn’t outrageous, it’s just when you started adding it all together that you realize how much you’re spending! I think this will be one of those “once in a lifetime” trips for us. :o)

      • Melanie Fontaine
        March 7, 2014 at 5:15 PM

        Do you know if Ski Trips are that expensive in the US as well? That’d be interesting to know!

        • Sarah Shumate
          March 7, 2014 at 5:21 PM

          I actually asked my parents that on the phone last week and they said yes, our ski trips to Colorado were some of the more expensive vacations we took in the US. They did ease the cost a little by driving there and renting a condo with two other families. You might want to try that if you go – splitting accommodations with friends, I mean. And if you get a place with a kitchen, you’ll save money on food, too!

  • Abby Rockwood
    March 6, 2014 at 7:22 PM

    I am not much of a winter person but it is locations like this that could convert me I think! Love the chalets and the view is beautiful:)

  • Diana Bockus
    March 6, 2014 at 5:08 PM

    This sounds like my kind of place. Small, quaint, clean. The picture of the snow on the railing just makes me want to reach out and touch it. Miss those flakes! The picture of the lodges / homes on the side of the mountain – extraordinary! Such a cool shot!

  • rorybore
    March 6, 2014 at 4:07 AM

    gorgeous pictures!! and such a lovely location too. I live in an area that has a lot of ski resorts — but nothing like this. wow! I think next year will be our year to get the kids skiing too. The youngest will be 5 and that is about the age I learned. But I haven’t been skiing myself in probably 15 years – so it should be interesting.

  • Jo
    March 5, 2014 at 8:21 PM

    It is stunning! We have never gone skiing, this looks like an amazing place to go

  • Tina @ Girl-Meets-Globe
    March 5, 2014 at 11:45 AM

    Beautiful place! We didn’t do much traveling within Austria while we were there, but this looks beautiful!

    • Sarah Shumate
      March 5, 2014 at 6:14 PM

      We would like to go back again another year and see Vienna and Salzburg. I know Vienna wasn’t your favorite, but I’d still love to see it! :o)

      • Tina @ Girl-Meets-Globe
        March 7, 2014 at 10:07 PM

        You definitely should! Don’t take my word for it! ;) I think a lot of it was just that Vienna happened at a bad time and a lot of yuck stuff happened there. Of course, we made some close friends while there, so it wasn’t all bad!

  • Sammy @ Days Like This
    March 4, 2014 at 11:22 PM

    Beautiful pictures Sarah and how awesome that it snowed while you were there! I have never skied and am thinking of doing it in Sweden while I’m there. I already know how it will go though – me, falling on my arse every one second haha

    • Sarah Shumate
      March 5, 2014 at 10:48 AM

      Uhm, yeah…stay tuned for next week when I share about my experience. I am such an uncoordinated person – I don’t know what I was thinking planning a ski vacation! :o) I hope you get to go in Sweden, though!

  • Alyx
    March 5, 2014 at 3:04 AM

    So beautiful!!! I’ve never been skiing before, but what better way to jump right in than by going to the Alps? !

  • Mrs. Match
    March 4, 2014 at 8:07 PM

    I always want to go somewhere cold for vacations, but have never been able to. This post is basically my dream vacation. What a beautiful village! I love that it’s not crowded, and that you got away from the party atmosphere of most resorts. I would love to visit Alpbach someday!

  • Miwa
    March 4, 2014 at 12:15 PM

    Oh wow! This place looks amazing! I love that the town isn’t so big. Breathtaking photos, too ;)

  • Katrin
    March 4, 2014 at 10:16 AM

    What a beautiful little town! I only went skiing once so far but it was a lot of fun. I would definitely like to go again some day. Not that I am any good at skiing. :) Your pictures are beautiful as usual! I am sorry you had problems with the flight though! I prefer the train as well!

  • Dannielle @ Chicadeedee
    March 4, 2014 at 2:20 PM

    I want to go on a skiing holiday so bad! But I’m only learning so I’m terrified I will just waste my money, this sounds perfect if it’s more for beginners. I love the houses in ski villages too, so cute.

    • Sarah Shumate
      March 4, 2014 at 4:43 PM

      After our first day when all I did was fall all day long, I felt like I’d wasted all our vacation money on a ski trip, too. It was an awful feeling. But after I got the hang of it the second day, I stopped thinking about the money so much. Not sure I’ll be going on another one anytime soon, though!

  • kayleigh maryon
    March 4, 2014 at 3:40 AM

    This looks like a perfect winter vacation. I can’t wait to plan something similar like this

  • Cynthia
    March 4, 2014 at 9:28 AM

    Lovely– especially the snowy pictures at the beginning :) Austria is such a beautiful country.

  • Agness
    March 4, 2014 at 2:35 AM

    Definitely on my bucket list for next winter!! :D

  • Tammy Chrzan
    March 4, 2014 at 2:01 AM

    I have never been skiing and I lived in Maine!! I’m just not the athletic type, so I admire you and your family for giving it a go! The town looks gorgeous!
    I hope you’re having a great week Sarah, Much love,
    Tammy x

  • Adelina // Pack Me To
    March 3, 2014 at 11:37 PM

    Wow that looks gorgeous! Maybe I’ll head there next year. It sounds like you had a great time.

  • Stacie Stamper
    March 3, 2014 at 4:55 PM

    So pretty! I would go just to sit by a fire with cocoa and watch the snow fall.

  • Keith Wynn
    March 3, 2014 at 12:49 PM

    I really love the pictures of the falling snow. I have always wanted to go skiing. I would like to go this fall to the Alps!!

  • Jenn
    March 3, 2014 at 6:17 PM

    This is exactly what I would picture an Austrian Ski town looking like! Too cute