Schladming perhaps may conjure up images of World Cup downhill racing, as it has been a host for this event for a number of years, together with the World Alpine Skiing Championships. The leading resort in the Steiermark area of Austria and of the Dachstein area of the Tauern mountains, with easy access from Salzburg, is a very well established and highly regarded ski town, pedestrianised in 1997. Schladming is a small but lively town with a good selection of shops, bars, restaurants, apartments, chalets and hotels. It has many interesting and picturesque old buildings which add to its ambience. The immediate ski area links four mountains and the larger area includes nine mountains. The four main mountains of Hauser Kaibling, Planai, Hochwurzen and Reiteralm are all interconnected with 170km of linked runs round the resort and 88 lifts, ensuring that Schladming is one of the largest ski resort areas in Austria, on a par with Kitzbuhel.
Schladming is located at a junction of ski resorts which are all on the local lift ticket. On the east side the lifts of the Galsterbergalm above Pruggern and of the Haiser Kaibling above Haus (where FIS Women’s World Cup downhills are staged). To the west are the lifts of the Reiteralm area above Pichl Mandling. All of these resorts have north facing slopes and many have invested heavily in snow making. Finally, in a side valley above Schladming are the ski areas of Ramsau and the year-round lifts on the Dachstein Glacier. All are linked by a free bus service for ski pass holders.
Starting in Schladming visitors will find two ski areas linked by the Planai West chair lift which actually goes through a tunnel taking skiers from the larger and more exciting ski area of Planai over to the gentler slopes of Hochwurzen. There’s a gondola up to Planai which most residents in Schladming can walk to the base of, the second access point where the chairlifts go to Planai or Hochwurzewn, is a bus ride out at the edge of the town.
The vast majority of pistes on both mountains suit intermediate level skiers on the red runs which snake down through the forests. It is good recreational skiing with some excellent mountain restaurants (especially the popular Onkel Willy’s near the top of the Planai gondola) in which to enjoy lunch and/or a few drinks. Beginners start off on the lifts from day one taking the Planai gondola up the mountain to the nursery area. A second option, after a few days in school, are the lower slopes of Hochwurzen, accessed by chair lifts. Intermediates have the entire area to themselves with three quarter of all the runs above Schladming graded red and two thirds of all in the Ski Paradise Area. Experts have more limited choice but there are the two World Cup runs and the year round ski area of the Dachstein glacier, about 20 minutes away.
For families with young children under 5 there isn’t a lot of choice – with just a public play park and the swimming pool being the two major facilities, with the toboggan run and sleigh rides always a popular option. Once children are 4 or 5 years of age or older Schladming begins to look more appealing. Both of the ski schools offer the option of supervised full-day ski kindergarten and the intermediate level trails around much of the mountain are great fun for kids with a few days skiing on the nursery slopes under their belts.
For dining out, Schladming boasts around 40 restaurants offering a wide range of cuisine for all budgets, although the majority naturally offer traditional Austrian fayre. Italian food is available at a number of outlets in the town, of which L’Osteria da Giorgio is the original, and highly regarded by officionados. Giovanni’s is another lively spot for pizza. Schladming is a pleasant place in the evening, especially since the large main square was pedestrianised making it possible to relax as you stroll around shops, bars and cafes in the early evening. One of the best of these is the Niederl in the middle of the square, which serves excellent cakes. The Siglu, Beisl and Hanglbar are often busy and are among several which stay open late. Maria’s Mexican tends to attract younger skiers and ‘boarders but there are several sophisticated quiet places such as Beisl. The two discothèques are generally lively, especially the Sonderbar.
An increasingly popular destination for snowboarders, the snowboard park on the Planai is one of three in the area, the other two are at Hoxhwurzen and there’ a Burton Superpark open almost year round on the Dachstein Glacier. Aside from the fun parks the terrain mixes wide open piste with the possibility of back country tours and then there’s also the glacier ‘boarding options. Although the majority of the lifts are the less snowboard friendly T Bars, all of the Paradise Area resorts have access to the upper slopes by gondola and/or chair. The dedicated Snowboard Schule Dachstein Tauern, based at the Planai gondola middle station organises Snowboard camps, winter and summer on the glacier and runs a shop, supplies demo material and handles rentals and repairs. All in all we think Schladming is well with a visit for your next winter ski holiday and we are on hand to help with any airport transfers, car hire, accommodation, ski school, ski hire and flights if need be.