Add an extra element of adventure to your ski holiday in Ischgl by undertaking the new ‘Smuggler’s Runs’ from Austria across the border into Switzerland. You can follow your progress and mark your checkpoints on the free app – those who complete any one of the three Smuggler’s Runs will be entered into a prize draw.
When you think of smugglers, skiing in the Alps is probably the last thing which comes to mind. Howeve, up until as recently as the 1950s, smuggling goods from Austria into Switzerland in the Alpine region of Paznaun was good business for locals.
Anything from coffee, tobacco and furs to American nylon stockings were taken from Ischgl over the border to Swiss Samnaun. The journey, which could take up to 10 hours to complete, was done by foot and on skis by local residents who knew the mountains better than the local border guards.
According to some of the surviving smugglers, the customs officers often turned a blind eye, sometimes even buying the contraband themselves.
Of course, today ski lifts have made the journey much easier so modern skiers can enjoy all the joys of the downhill runs without having to endure the arduous uphill climbs the smugglers would have had to contend with.
Enjoy Your Own Smuggler’s Run
This season Ischgl has recreated the Smuggler’s Runs in a series of new ski trails around the area. Skiers are encouraged to download the app from AppStore or Google Play to track their progress around the circuit, which includes many of the routes used by the original smugglers. Choose between three Smugglers Runs, each one with a different level of difficulty, and the app will automatically check off the check points and track your progress around the trail.
Following your progress by GPS, the app also works offline so that if you lose your WiFi signal, you can send in check point information as soon as you are connected again. All the mountainside restaurants in the area now offer WiFi, so what better excuse do you need to stop off for a warming glass of glühwein?
You must complete the trail in the right order and within one day but there is no time limit. Speed is not considered for entry into the prize draw so you can take your time, maybe stopping off for a mountainside lunch.
Pick the Right Trail for You
The three Smuggler’s Runs have been created so that skiers of different levels can enjoy this mountain challenge. The Gold run is 59km, the Silver 41.1km and the Bronze 40.2km, so you can decide just how adventurous you want to be.
Only for experienced skiers, the Smuggler’s Run Gold is considered one of the most challenging, long distance ski runs in the world. Starting in Ischgl, the run will carry you across the border to the Swiss town of Samnaun before returning to the starting point. It will take around 4 hours to complete without stops, but with stunning views from Palinkopf at 2,864m and Piz Val Gronda at 2,812m. With great Duty Free shopping to be done in Samnaun, I would definitely advise starting early and taking it slow so that you get the maximum enjoyment from the run.
You can download a PDF of the Gold run here.
Still not for the faint-hearted, the Silver Smuggler’s Run involves a number of black and challenging red runs, so is definitely not for beginners. Taking around three and a half hours, the Silver run also starts in Ischgl and runs over the border to Samnaun. Stop off and admire the views at the top of Palinkopf and Muller before taking on the challenging runs of the Silvretta Arena.
You can download a PDF of the Silver run here.
Making sure that the advanced skiers don’t have all the fun, Ischgl has created the Bronze Smuggler’s Run which takes the journey over the mountains using only blue runs to reach the Duty Free shopping at Samnaun. It is the shortest of the Smuggler trails but there are still great views to be enjoyed along the way including Palinkopf, Pardatschgrat and the Alp Trida saddle.
You can download a PDF of the Bronze run here.
How to Get to Ischgl
The Austrian ski resort of Ischgl is an easy ski resort to get to as it is served by a number of airports in Austria, Switzerland and Germany, all offering flights from the UK.
No matter which airport you choose to fly into, Shuttle Direct can transfer you quickly and easily to your accommodation in Ischgl. And don’t worry about transporting all your ski equipment – as long as you let them know what you’ll be carrying when you book, Shuttle Direct will ensure they provide a vehicle with adequate space for you, and all your baggage for no extra cost.
Where to Stay
Hotel Brigitte – The recently-renovated Hotel Brigitte in the centre of Ischgl, just a few minutes’ walk from the Silvretta cable cars, is an elegant choice. A family-run hotel with a warm, friendly atmosphere, the Brigitte has its own delicious restaurant, and a spa where you can relax those tired muscles after a day on the slopes.
Hotel Mondin – Enjoy the elegant rooms and modern spa of the contemporary four star Hotel Mondin. Only a hundred yard from the main lifts and with an extensive spa including an indoor and outdoor pool, this is a relaxing, stylish haven for skiers.
Hotel Seespitz – For an authentic Austrian feel, try the four-star Hotel Seespitz. Think warm wooden panelling, roaring log fires and balconies looking out over the beautiful Alpine views. This ski-to-the-door hotel also includes a large modern spa, a bar and a gourmet restaurant.
About Shuttle Direct
Well-known for providing a reliable, friendly airport transfer service across Europe and North Africa, Shuttle Direct transfers are a great, stress-free option for skiers as the vehicle options include enough storage space for all your winter-sports equipment. Just let them know whether you’re travelling light with just a suitcase or transporting skis, boards, boots etc, and they’ll sort out the perfect transfer vehicle for you.