St Anton ski resort, in the Arlberg region of Austria, is one of the world’s most famous ski resorts. Well known by its followers for its vibrant apres ski scene and superb ski terrain, St Anton offers some of the most challenging intermediate and advanced ski slopes in the Alps, yet Intermediates will get a lot out of the area and it has also improved a lot for beginners, who perhaps might enjoy the Lech family area first, accessed from the lift in the centre of St Anton.
St Anton is one of the world’s longest established ski resorts. One of the first cable cars in the Alps was installed here and pioneering ski instructor, Hannes Schneider, founded the Skischule Arlberg here in 1921, introducing the concept of group ski lessons that was later adopted by ski schools everywhere. Today firmly established as one of the world’s best resorts for winter-sports holidays.
Situated in a narrow valley, close to the Arlberg Pass in the westernmost Arlberg region of the Tyrol, St Anton is comprised of several suburbs and hamlets including Lech, Zurs, Stuben and St Christoph which together now form one big resort area, about the largest connected area in Austria.
The centre of the main village is pedestrianised, has plenty of traditional Alpine character and is bustling with activity throughout the day and late into the night. As mentioned, St Anton is renowned for its very lively apres ski scene and nightlife, which is a big draw for many guests, but the principal attraction is the superb ski terrain surrounding St Anton, offering some of the best high-end intermediate and expert-level slopes in Europe.
St Anton has two separate local ski areas, plus three further bus-linked areas nearby, all covered on the Arlberg lift pass. The major local area covers the slopes of the Gampen and Kapall mountains directly above the village, together with the famous peaks of the Galzig and the Valluga, and is linked with the slopes of the villages of St Christoph and Stuben.
This extensive area offers high-end blue and testing red runs, plus a few black pistes, but the main attractions for St Anton’s many advanced-level visitors are the ungroomed ‘ski route’ descents and off-piste terrain in the powder-filled high bowls and upper valleys beneath the Valluga and off the summit of the Schindler Spitze above St Christoph.
The Valluga’s minor summit, the Vallugagrat at 2,650m, is the highest point accessible to skiers and snowboarders without a qualified local guide; guide-accompanied experts and pedestrian sightseers can board the final gondola to arrive just below the 2,811m summit of the Valluga, from where there are off-piste routes down to the resort of Zurs in the neighbouring valley.
St Anton’s other local ski area is the Rendl area on the opposite side of the valley from the main sectors, but directly accessible by gondola from close to the village centre. This smaller area is often less busy and offers St Anton’s most intermediate-friendly slopes, as well as a compact but well-constructed snowpark, and has a long home-run red through a forest back to the gondola base.
The other ski areas covered on the Ski Arlberg area lift pass are: the Lech-Zurs and Warth-Schrocken ski domains on the far side of the Flexen Pass; the Sonnenkopf ski area at Klosterle beyond Stuben; plus the compact Pettneu ski hill just down the valley from St Anton.
St Anton is very much a winter sports resort, yet has many off-slope attractions too. The pedestrianised central quarters of the village are attractive and atmospheric, with many shops, restaurants, cafæcopy;s and bars, in which to while away a few hours.
The resort’s Ski Museum is also well worth a visit, in the elegant Arlberg-Kandahar House which featured in the 2011 film Chalet Girl, and which now also houses a romantic restaurant. Another romantic idea is to take a horse-drawn sleigh ride in the evening to the old hunters’ inn, in the forest.
Several of the mountain restaurants are also accessible to pedestrians, via the gondolas and cable cars, and there are a number of marked walks and bus routes which enable non-skiers to get out and about into the surrounding scenery. Day trips away to Innsbruck or Zurich by train from St Anton’s railway station are also a good option.
The resort has two very impressive sports & leisure centres. The ‘arl.rock’ centre has a massive array of climbing and bouldering walls, including an ice climb, plus indoor tennis courts, a squash court, and tenpin bowling alleys, whilst the stylish ‘Arlberg-well.com’ aqua-leisure centre is a fabulous facility with indoor and outdoor pools, steam room, hot tubs and saunas suite, it also runs the resort’s outdoor ice skating and curling rink.
Apres ski and nightlife are St Anton’s other big attractions, and the resort’s hugely popular big slope-side venues – the Krazy Kanguruh and the Mooserwirt being the most notorious – buzz with activity from early afternoon until well after the lifts close, with DJs, much dancing and live acts animating the action. Then after so much alcohol filled fun…you finally ski back to the bottom! The many bars down in the village also get very lively by teatime and continue to rock until the early hours, with lots of live music and late-night dancing, in hostelries such as the Underground.