Badgastein / Badhofgastein
Badgastein is located in the centre of the Gastein Valley, to the south of Salzburg and first became famous in the 19th century for its radon-rich natural hot springs and people travel there now for spa breaks! Today the ski area, with its four main areas, provides an extensive array of pistes, a World Cup downhill run and great off-piste powder. Bad Hofgastein shares the hot springs and is another pretty Austrian village, directly next to Badgastein, to use as a base to ski the whole area. Both are great resort choices, for all reasons.
Badgastein is an attractive medieval town, with steep roads, is based on the northern slope of the Sauern Alps, with a natural waterfall at its centre. The main street is lined with hotels, luxury shops and quaint old buildings, while several promenades on the outskirts offer lovely quiet walks through a meticulously maintained surroundings commanding outstanding views.
Bad Hofgastein had a major upgrade at Schlossalmbahn, replacing the old funicular railway, so queuing at the base station is now virtually non-existent. The base station is a newly built, including a high standard ski storage centre, bus station, car parking, toilet facilities, cafe/bar/restaurant and the step-free access to the 10 person telecabine. As a ski area itself, Bad Hofgastein has a reasonable number of runs. The red H1/H2 is a long run, dropping some 1400m. Most runs above mid station level are very good, some challenging. The home runs into Bad Hofgastein are relatively steep in places and in fact a lot of the area is considered steepish, so beginners be warned! The village is quite pretty and atmospheric but relatively quiet at night. Certainly Badgastein would be a better choice if wanting livelier apres ski and more fun in the evenings.
Ski Gastein (ski area around Badgastein and Bad Hofgastein) consists of 3 sections with 205km of mainly well prepared slopes, which are not connected. The first one is around Bad Gastein and Bad Hofgastein, with 86.6 km of slopes. Sport Gastein has 40 km of slopes. Then you have Dorf Gastein with an additional 79 km. It is also part of the bigger Ski Amade area (28 ski areas around Salzburg and 760 km of pistes), which is one of the biggest ski areas in Europe, skiable all on the one ski pass, though you will have to use a bus or car to get from one to the other.
Skiing in Badgastein is best for good intermediates, with lots of challenges, moguls and tree-lined skiing. For experts, there is a wide range of off-piste and great powder can be found on the Kreuzkogel. Over in Sportsgastein the highest point in the area, snow sure skiing is offered up to nearly 3000m, with BIG back country areas to explore. The Sport Gastein area is a regular host of the world snowboard cup and snowboard cross races. One funicular train, one cable car, 10 gondolas, 21 chairlifts and 18 surface lifts provide access to the runs.
For more options on and off the slopes, it is possible to ski from Bad Gastein to Bad Hofgastein and return by train. A ski circus also connects Dorfgastein, another village in the Gastein Valley, with the Grossarl Valley. Nearby Salzburg, known for Mozart and its churches, palaces, castles and art collections, makes a great day trip.There is also the 140m footbridge on the Stubnerkogel, with a 28m drop and at 2400m above sea level, actually Europes highest suspension bridge, as well as the Glockernblick lookout platform, where the views are outstanding.
There are a significant number of rooms available in the Gastein Valley in hotels and apartments, with accommodation ranging from pensions and luxury hotels, to apartments and the odd chalet. Facilities are good with ice-skating and an abundance of saunas, while numerous excellent restaurants provide good traditional Austrian food. Many guests just spend time whiling away in the superb natural springs and spas. The nightlife is quite lively with apres ski, dancing, a cinema and several bars and discos, as well as a casino with Rossalm and Kraftwerk bars deserving a mention. Good resort for short breaks as well as the standard week long break.
If you prefer travelling by train you are lucky because both Badgastein and Bad Hofgastein have their own stations, thanks to the status of Badgastein in the past and the fact that famous people loved to travel by train (it was Emperor Franz Josef’s favorite resort, German Kaiser Wilhelm with his chancellor Otto von Bismarck also visited the city, Franz Schubert used to compose here…). Now you can choose between Intercity, Eurostar or other express trains to get you there.
The ski season at Badgastein runs from December to early May, with the optimal elevations and wide snowmaking coverage of Gastein’s ski area guaranteeing reliable snow conditions all season. The most convenient means of getting to Bad Gastein is to fly to Salzburg 95km away and take a train or transfer (which we can help you with online) to the resort.Hiring a car from the airport is another option (again we have best rates online). Ski schools are good too, getting great results in a friendly manner, so for any ski school requirements check out : www.schneesportgastein.com/en or www.checkyeti.com.