Eight exhilarating winter sports in Zell am See-Kaprun, Austria

Try your hand at a new active adventure this winter season, in Zell am See-Kaprun. The Austrian alpine village has options for new thrill seekers and seasoned adventurers alike.

A winter view over Zell am See-Kaprun from the nearby town of Mittenburg.

Photograph by Zell am See Kaprun Tourismus
By Abigail Butcher
Published 19 Jan 2023, 16:45 GMT

At the edge of the Hohe Tauern National Park, framed by the Kitzsteinhorn, sits Zell am See-Kaprun. It’s the only glacier ski resort in SalzburgerLand, with one of the longest winter seasons in the Alps. The winter here is magical. With a thick layer of powder sticking to the glacial ice, winter sports are possible here for a far longer season than elsewhere in the mountains. Skiing is guaranteed from October, but it’s just one of many exhilarating ways to enjoy the mountains.

Explore the mountains, glaciers, and lakes of Zell am See-Kaprun with skis in tow. 

Exploring the mountains, glaciers and lakes of Zell am See-Kaprun with skis in tow.

Photograph by Zell am See-Kaprun Tourismus

1. Skiing

With the help of a Ski Alpin card, which offers access to multi-day passes across the resort, 250 miles of pistes are available to skiers of all abilities. These include slopes in Kitzsteinhorn, Schmittenhöhe, Skicircus Saalbach, Hinterglemm, Leogang and Fieberbrunn. For those hungry to notch up the distances, the 7.5-mile lift network is the longest, fastest and highest in the Eastern Alps, with new panorama cabins from Maiskogel to the Glacier Kitzsteinhorn.

2. Freeriding

Due to the glacier, powder snow is exceptional at altitude. Experienced freeriders can hire a mountain guide, but intermediates can hone their skills, too, with the weekly ‘Freeride Monday’ training sessions. On the Kitzsteinhorn, five well-signposted, lift-served freeride routes include intermediate runs. You’ll also find an information base at the Alpincentre providing data about the weather, snow and current avalanche-warning level. You can also test your avalanche equipment here.

3. Weekly winter programme

Zell am See-Kaprun hosts an array of weekly activities for travellers, introducing them to experiences ranging from invigorating freerides to tours of the local winter markets. Opt for an icy yoga session, warmed by the glow of an Alpine sunrise, or strap on your snowshoes and follow an experienced mountain guide along a snow-laden trail.

A glacier-top viewing spot on the Kitzsteinhorn, above Salzburg.

A glacier-top viewing spot on the Kitzsteinhorn, above Salzburg.

Photograph by Zell am See-Kaprun Tourismus

4. Winter hiking

This is ideal winter-hiking territory, with 25 miles of trails marked on Zell am See-Kaprun’s interactive hiking map. Routes range from easy to difficult, stretching from about 0.25 miles to 17.5 miles. And from December to March, you can take a torchlit hiking tour. Families can enjoy the Kitzsteinhorn Explorer Tour through four climate zones.

5. Cross-country skiing

Crossing open meadows and snow-covered forests, fitness fans seeking a new skill can tackle Zell am See-Kaprun’s scenic cross-country ski tracks. For the experienced and daring skier, the area’s 66 miles of tracks include high-altitude routes on glacier ice. Five schools teach cross-country skating, or classic as well as biathlon. Equipment rental is easily available, too.

6. Ski touring

There are dedicated ski touring routes on the Kitzsteinhorn and Maiskogel pistes. You’ll even find marked routes on the Ronachkopf, a 1.3-mile, 1,640ft ascent — with magnificent views of Lake Zell — up to the cosy Enzianhütte at the top. Experienced skiers can hire a mountain guide and explore the wilds that stretch between glaciers, mountains and Lake Zell.

Catching fresh powder in the morning on the Schmittenhöhe

Catching fresh powder in the morning on the Schmittenhöhe.

Photograph by Zell am See-Kaprun Tourismus

7. Snowshoeing

Explore the quiet side of the mountains by picking up hiking poles and strapping on snowshoes. Follow the marked hiking routes on your own or join a guided hike. One popular hike is the Höhenpromenade, where travellers can take in panoramic views of Lake Zell. Alternatively, try the Ice Camp Trail on the Kitzsteinhorn, if for no other reason than the chance to survey the expanse of the Austrian Alps from its viewing platform at the top.

8. Snow parks

In Zell am See-Kaprun’s snow parks, you’ll have the chance to show off your best freestyle tricks. You can start on the dedicated kickers, rails and boxes, designed for the creative shredder. For the daring, there’s the 492ft superpipe on the Kitzsteinhorn, frequented by top international athletes and host to annual freestyle competitions. There are five snow parks on the Kitzsteinhorn glacier and one on the Schmittenhöhe, suited to all skill levels, from beginner to advanced. 

Plan your trip

Regular flights link the UK to Munich (105 miles) and Salzburg (52 miles). Zell am See’s central station has regular services from around Austria, Germany and Switzerland, and direct trains from Denmark, Sweden and the Netherlands. To plan your winter adventure, the free Zell am See-Kaprun app is useful as it includes real-time weather, lift and piste information, as well as ski touring and hiking routes — and much more.


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