The Austrian village of Obergurgl has a reputation as a great family ski resort for good reason: practically guaranteed snow and a range of winter sports activities for families to enjoy together. If you prefer the atmosphere and beauty of a traditional Alpine village to the monstrous purpose-built resorts, then Obergurgl in Austria’s Ötztal Valley is definitely for you.
At 1,930m it is the highest village resort in Europe, and has a reputation for almost guaranteed snow – a reputation that has been strengthened in recent years by its lift links to the higher Hochgurgl with its 3,080m glacier.
A small, traditional village with a picturesque eighteenth-century church at its heart, Obergurgl has a loyal following amongst many British skiing families.The resort is perfect for those with older children thanks to its compact layout. Parents can feel confident allowing older children to safely venture off and explore without getting too lost. There are also only a handful of restaurants and bars for your kids to track you down in when they run out of money!
On and Off the Piste
While this is a resort predominantly for beginners and intermediates (especially confident intermediates looking for a challenge), there is plenty of great off-piste skiing here that will keep more experienced skiers and boarders happy.
With only 110km of pistes – most of which are either reds and blues – this is the perfect place for a relaxed family ski holiday without too many challenges. (Even the three black runs here would be red in most other resorts). Those looking to extend their runs should head across to Hochgurgl where the runs are longer, but still not exactly challenging for advanced skiers.
It is off-piste where the adventurous skiers will find their thrills. Head up the gondola from the centre of the resort to the top of Hohe Mut and you will find some wonderful off-piste opportunities for everyone, from beginner powder enthusiasts through to the more experienced crowd.
Snow Parks and Fun Slopes
For those looking for a little extra excitement in their skiing and boarding, the resort planners have come up with the goods in a great new Snow Park and Fun Slope. Close to the Bruggenboden chair at an impressive 2,120m, the Snow Park features 22 obstacles for winter sport enthusiasts to ski over, around or under. New items this year will include the ‘multibox’ which will challenge skiers and boarders alike.
The Fun Slope snow cross course is set over 500m with 14 elements, including rapid steep curves, waves and bridges; a snow snail and a range of boxes can also be found here. Close to the Festkogelbahn, the Fun Slope is a great place to challenge the kids to a high-speed snow cross race.
Beyond the Slopes
Of course, there’s more to a winter sports holiday than just skiing, or even boarding; Obergurgl offers a range of other activities for families to enjoy.
Ice Skating and Curling
After a day on the slopes, or if the weather stops you from going out, you could always try ice skating in the town centre. With a picturesque setting for an ice rink, this is always a popular pastime for families.
If your kids prefer something a little more competitive than seeing how fast they can go on the rink, you should head to the Hotel Enzian where they have two curling alleys. They can enjoy fun on the ice and winning at the same time! Other sports on offer at the hotel include table tennis, bowling and billiards.
Head over to Hochgurgl (there’s a free bus from Obergurgl) to take on the three-kilometre natural toboggan run from the top station of the Hochgurglbahn gondola right down into the valley.
If the runners, curves and downhill speeds aren’t exhilarating enough for you and your brood, then why not try it at night? The night time session takes place once a week and ends with a slap up meal at the Downhill Grill.
Take a Winter Hike Snowshoeing
The area around Obergurgl boast 12km of cleared winter hiking trails which will take you and your family through some of the region’s most beautiful landscapes. Walk through snow-covered pine forests, follow mountain streams and stop off for a hot chocolate at cosy mountain huts. There are guided walks or maps outlining popular hiking trails available in the area.
How to Get to Obergurgl
With flight times of two hours from the UK to Innsbruck Airport and a transfer of just an hour and a half, if you leave home in the morning you could be strapping on your skis in Obergurgl that same afternoon.
To make the journey as smooth and painless as possible, book an airport transfer with Shuttle Direct before you leave home. Let them know how many of you will be travelling and what ski equipment you will have with you, and a driver will meet you at the airport with the perfect vehicle to transport you and your family comfortably to the resort.
Where to Stay
Hotel Gurglhof – A stylish modern hotel with a traditional Alpine twist, the four-star Hotel Gurglhof is set in the heart of the resort just under 200m from the main lifts. The swimming pool and spa and wellness centre will help you unwind at the end of the day, while the kids enjoy the free Wi-Fi.
Haus Gurgl – You can ski-in-ski-out of the contemporary Haus Gurgl hotel and there’s a pizzeria and sauna on site (what more could you and the kids want?). Close to the Festkogelbahn ski lift and the restaurants and bars of the resort, there is also free Wi-Fi throughout.
Dorf Alm – For something a little more traditional, the charming family-run Dorf Alm also offers ski to the door access and is just under 200m from the Hochgurgl gondola. Despite the traditional Austrian décor, tell the kids not to panic – there is free Wi-Fi throughout the property.
About Shuttle Direct
Shuttle Direct is a specialist in providing ski transfers from European airports directly to a variety of resorts. Let them know what ski equipment you will be travelling with and they will transport it free of charge.