The Austrian ski area known as ‘Ski Welt’ connects the villages of Söll, Scheffau, Ellmau, Westendorf, Hopfgarten, Brixen and Going to create the country’s largest interconnected ski zone. In total it consists of almost 280km of pistes which are served by an advanced network of cable cars and ski lifts.
The area is particularly well known within the skiing community for its sociable atmosphere thanks to the widespread presence of Alpine-style huts and many lively ski bars which are easily accessible from all the villages which make up the SkiWelt area.
The area usually enjoys excellent snow conditions and has an impressive selection of snow-cannons as back-up. Whilst it is particularly well suited to intermediate skiers thanks to its array of outstanding blue and red runs, it also caters well for less experienced visitors.
The inter-connectivity of the slopes serving these villages allows visitors to enjoy what are referred to as ‘ski-safaris’. These are ski routes which go from one village to the next with the option of returning to your base by bus thanks to road connections between Ellmau, Scheffau and Söll.
The best of these ‘safaris’ is the popular circuit known as the ‘Hohe Salve tour’ which goes around the highest mountain in the area. The views of all the surrounding mountains are simply sensational and with a network of piste-side bars and restaurants to break up the journey this is not surprisingly the highlight of their holiday for many visitors to the region.
Why Choose Söll?
Perhaps the best known of the ski resorts for those looking to enjoy their après-ski is Söll. The resort lies in the shadow of the the famous Hohe Salve mountain some 10km east of Wörgl and 10 km south of Kufstein. Whilst the nightlife has long been an attraction for many skiers it is also an ideal destination for the skiing itself which is ideal for all ability levels.
From Söll you can walk or hop on one of the frequent ski buses to reach the Hochsöll gondola which takes you up to a range of intermediate slopes with the ability to access some black runs. Next to the gondola station is an area set aside for beginners which is used by the local ski schools.
Of the other resorts in the area, Ellmau is a lovely village with a traditional Austrian feel to it. It is most popular with families and couples rather than the wilder crowd who head for Söll every time. Nearby Scheffau is a good choice for relatively inexperienced skiers thanks to its expanse of slopes. On the other side of the mountains is Westendorf which provides access to not only the ‘Ski Welt’ area but also the Kitzbühel ski area. Visitors here can purchase the ‘Kitzbüheler Alpen AllStarCard’ which gives visitors access to over 1000km of pistes. The nightlife in all these other resorts is fairly quiet in comparison to Söll.
Getting to Söll
Söll and the neighbouring resorts of the ‘Ski Welt’ area can be easily accessed from three airports. Innsbruck Airport (80km) is the nearest followed by Salzburg (120km). Both of these airports welcome ski charters during the winter months and have seen increased traffic from a number of European budget airlines to meet the demand from skiers.
Another option which is probably the most popular thanks to the sheer number of incoming flights is to arrive at Munich Airport (145km). The picturesque drive to Söll takes about 1 hour 30 minutes on a week day though this can be longer at weekends due to traffic heading for the slopes.
Shuttledirect is a specialist transfer company which offers ski transfers from all these airports. They provide both private and shared airport transfers from Munich Airport to Söll.
Where to Stay in Söll
In its infancy as a ski destination Söll earned a reputation as a place where cheap rooms were easily available in private chalets. Whilst independent skiers will still find abundant guesthouses offering rooms there are also now a selection of nice hotels located in the heart of the resort and on its outskirts. Here are a few favourites:
Hotel Postwirt (Dorf 83): Located right in the centre of the village, this 4-star property is housed in the town’s most historic building which has welcomed many distinguished guests over the years including Archduke Ferdinand in 1897. It has large rooms with balconies offering lovely views together with a pool and sauna area and one of Söll’s most highly recommended restaurants.
Hotel Tyrol am Wilden Kaiser (Wies 10,): Another fabulous 4-star option which lies just on the edge of the village within very easy walking distance. Large, spotless rooms with excellent pool, sauna and gym facilities together with a first class restaurant. Views from the property are spectacular.
Hotel Greil (Pirchmoos 26): This highly regarded, family-run hotel is well-known for its exceptional restaurant and focus on fine wines. Its rooms are of the highest standard and facilities including an indoor pool, spa area and a panoramic terrace make this one of the top hotels in town.
Alpin Apartments ( Dorf 5127): If you’d prefer to go self-catering then check out these spacious and well equipped apartments which lie just a few minutes’ walk from the centre of the village. Ideal for small groups with easy access to local shops.