Ischgl / Kappl Area
Ischgl has been a popular Austrian destination for Scandinavian, German, British and Irish winter sports enthusiasts and not just because of the quality of its pistes, but also because of the apres ski and live shows. Ischgl’s famous start- and end-of-season Top of the ountain concerts have attracted an A-list of international stars including Elton John, Bob Dylan, Tina Turner, Mariah Carey, the Beach Boys and Kylie Minogue. Traditional Tirolian in style, but with some contemporary touches – Ischgl offers a unique airport-style travelator in a tunnel through a giant rock connecting the two ends of Ischgl.
The main ways up to the slopes and its 45 lifts are via three main gondolas. Once on the slopes, they are extensive, snow-sure and mostly above the treeline, with some magnificent scenery. The 240km Silvretta Arena ski area extends across the Swiss border to the tax free resort of Samnaun and best suits intermediates who enjoy covering lots of ground each day before returning to the resort for some of the wildest apres ski in the Alps (although not all of this is in the best of British good taste).
Ischgl’s après ski and table dancing caters generally for the 30 to 50 age group, mainly from Europe and for the fun loving statisticians amongst you, there are more pole-dancing and lap-dancing clubs here than anywhere else in the Alps. For those that aren’t bothered, there’s still an enjoyably buzzy atmosphere and it is possible to escape all this by choosing accommodation away from the main street or better still for value, in Kappl or Mathon, both connected by a free and frequent shuttle. Ischgl is also home to a 7km toboggan run that drops 950m, open from 7pm onwards on Mondays and Thursdays, after the first wave of après partying…perhaps worth avoiding unless you are also suitably intoxicated!!
Ischgl’s high altitude – its highest peak, the Palinkopf, has a top lift station at 2,864m – combined with some of the most sophisticated snowmaking anywhere in the Alps, pretty much guarantees at least adequate snow cover here in a season that runs from the last weekend in November to May 1. Two of the three main access gondolas whisk up to the centre of the ski area at Idalp, 2,320m, while the Pardatschgrat gondola from one end of town feeds into a network of lifts and runs that stretches across the Swiss frontier and down to the village of Samnaun at 1,840m.
With the exception of the lower runs immediately above the resort, nearly all pistes are above the treeline, so it’s best to head to those lower runs to avoid white-out conditions when the weather closes in. With the Silvretta Arena’s 239km of extensive, snow-sure and sunny terrain on which to play, intermediates can have a ball here. Some of the blacks would be marked red in other resorts and piste highlights include a glorious red of 1,000 vertical metres served by a giant cable-car, the Piz Val Grondabahn. There is an overall absence of truly steep slopes, but the off-piste and touring opportunities with a guide are excellent. Beginners need to buy a full lift pass, and ride either the Silvretta or Fimba lifts from town up to the mountain base at Idalp. The ski schoolmeets here and broad, gentlenursery slopes are served by a moving carpet, T-bar and a chairlift. After first turns, learners can progress to some marginally more challenging blue runs on the east side of the bowl. The runs down to town though are red and can become icy and crowded in the afternoon rush hour – complete beginners are strongly advised to catch the gondola down at the end of the day.
The Jeep Snowpark Ischgl is one of the best terrain parks in Europe. Its presence is a deliberate lure for all the 20-something snowboarders and twin-tip skiers who – music apart – might otherwise have considered Ischgl to be too middle-aged and expensive for their taste.The park is one of the longest in the Alps, well maintained and constantly updated It has a host of kickers, ramps and rails and is served by three chairs. Separate beginner, intermediate and king-sized lines are matched to varying technical skills. There is also a halfpipe and a boardercross course. Samnaun has the Obstacle Freestlye park, specifically designed for experts, while Galtür has the Zeinispark Galtür.
So back to the apres ski….which can involve scantily clad dancing girls, which are an advertised feature in several bars……Ischgl buzzes with a raucous sense of après enjoyment all season. Piste-side partying develops into traditional foot-stomping Austria sing-alongs and late night clubbing and for those who want it there are more sophisticated hideaways in upmarket hotels. A British home-from-home for 40 years, the Golden Eagle Pub plays UK pop, rock and soul to add to the atmosphere.Niki’s Stadl is arguably the most unusual bar in town and has been providing genially rowdy song and dance entertainment for over 30 years. The music is oompahpah Germanic, but the whole place buzzes, so after a few drinks it’s really hard to tear yourself away. Après also ups its style game at Champagnerhütte, part of the five-star Schloss hotel on the piste at the foot of the Silvretta gondola. It has a variety of champagne and music on offer from 3pm, for those with an unlimited thirst for champers, the party ramps up in the Champagne Club later on. Close to the Pardatschgrat gondola, Kitzloch’s après sessions kick off at 4pm, with typical Austrian oompah and sing-alongs creating a fun atmosphere. There are cosy booths too, and the place calms down into a restaurant at 8pm. Pacha offers perhaps “Ibiza on the snow beach” and is one of the après venues which attracts international stars, models and actors. The interior decor changes regularly with the aim of keeping VIP guests to come back.
Ischgl also has a wide choice of smart hotels – more than is usual in an Austrian resort. However, prices tend to be higher than in the Tirolean heartland of the Kitzbüheler Alps with which Britons are more familiar. The most convenient places to stay are near, but not on, the main street, away from late-night noise and with mountain access lifts just a short walk away.Staying in Marathon or Kappl can save your small fortune and you will just have to use the shuttle bus system, which is excellent to get into the centre. There are a number of apartments in the centre and going on to the satellite villages, from studios to 4 bedrooms, a few good B and B’s (such as the Abendrot which is close to the resort centre, but tucked away from the noisy main drag and is an easy walk from either the Silvretta or Fimba lifts and it’s possible to ski back to within 50m) and the odd catered chalet, but whatever your choice we can help, so just call or email us and and we can give you a number of options to choose from, at the best prices.