Austria is known for its alpine charm and big mountain skiing, whether you are skiing the Arlberg or the Salzburg region. The storybook ski town of Maria Alm is about 70-kilometers south of Salzburg, and one of three mountain villages, along with Hintermoos and Hinterthal, in the Salzburgerland region. Here you are engulfed by the mighty limestone Steinernes Meer mountains to the north, and the gently rolling Grasberge hills to the south. Above all the chalet rooftops is the pinnacle 3,000-meter Hochkönig Mountain.
For skiers, Maria Alm is part of the vast Hochkönig´s Winter Kingdom, a downhiller’s dream whether you ski or board, with 39-lifts and 150-kilometers of groomed runs. Maria Alm’s slopes are a good mix of blue, red and black trail levels, with an eight-passenger gondola that elevates you to the scenic summit in four minutes (leaving plenty of time for photos and a leisure ski back down). The ski resort recently installed cushy high-capacity lifts including a six-pack chairlift that feels more like a flying sette, and snowmaking cannons to assure quality conditions all season long. Maria Alm is also part of the expansive Ski Amadé territory that includes the resorts of Aberg, Hintermoos, Hinterthal, Dienten and Mühlbach am Hochkönig, and totals over 860-kilometers of pistes and 270 lifts – that should keep your skis humming and your head spinning.
The other captivating aspect of the alpine enclave of Maria Alm, it that it lacks swarms of skiers. Its quiet, with just enough authentic Austrian après ski bars and cafes (plus a disco if you haven’t skied your legs out) for a wonderful winter week. In the evening, splash in the warm indoor pool, or sled on illuminated tracks. Better yet, take your sweetie to a 5-course candlelight dinner by romantic horse-drawn sleigh, or just wander the snowy footpaths till you hear ski-boot thumping Austrian music and dancing emanating from a classic snowcapped chalet.
Skip a day of carving the ski slopes to go count castles and caves, Werfen (43-kilometers from Maria Alm) is home to the beautiful Burg Hohenwerfen Castle. Then go underground for a guided tour of the network of natural Ice Caves – chilling and thrilling all at once. Maria Alm is also a train ride away from Munich, Vienna and Milan if you aren’t gob smacked by all this Austrian alpine abundance.