Ischgl

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Ischgl is hard to pronounce and amazing to ski. This humongous ski resort in Austria has mind-blowing lifts, all high-capacity, high-speed, and highly scenic. Ischgl offers vast steep terrain in all directions… north facing, east, west, and south into neighboring Samnaun Switzerland. This huge alpine plateau soars to The Greitspitz at 2,872 meters, 9,422′, so its high elevation for good snow. Ischgl is impressive, and popular, so expect crowds on weekends and holidays at this mega-ski-resort.

Ischgl’s historic yet cosmopolitan ski town sits at the base, with two ultra modern trams whisking skiers up the dramatic canyon to the high alpine. From Ischgl’s Idalp midmountain, lifts shoot off in every direction, you can even ski over the border into Switzerland and the ski resort of Samnaun – which is included in your Ischgl ski ticket, all part of the Paznaun ski region.

Ischgl’s ski trails are quite challenging except for the Idalp area – where the gondolas and trams arrive from the village. Here you find a hub of lifts and snow parks, Kinderland and ski school with learning terrain, and less pitched, well-groomed slopes. This is also where Ischgl hosts its huge music concerts on a big outdoor stage at the End of the Season Top of The Mountain concert, featuring legendary rock star performers like Black Eyed Peas, Lenny Krazitv, Rihanna, Elton John.

Hire a ski guide from SkiSchul Ischgl to explore the vast off-piste free ride terrain safely. Its so worth it! We loved our ski day with Stefan who grew up in Ischgl and found us great fresh snow and fun lines.

The Swiss side from Ischgl is easily reached in two lifts. Samnaun’s terrain is less steep, with wider sunny boulevards, a great place to ski in the morning on softer snow. Samnaun is the eastern end of Switzerland’s Graubunden region, not far from Lenzerheide, St Moritz, and Davos. As you ski Trial 80 to the Swiss base, you are assaulted by Duty Free Shop signs. You can ski into Swiss jewelry shops, or ski down to Samnaun’s double decker tram to get back up the mountain.

Samnaun’s pleasant ski slopes emanate from mid mountain Alp Trida where five ski lifts converge and flank this beautiful ski bowl. Samnaun has a few cool lodges for dining, like the Sattel Panorama, and the very modern Salaas circular glass lodge, plus more traditional Swiss chalets – Alp Bella and Alp Trida. We liked dining at Les Marmottes upstairs from Alp Trida and the popular Heaven’s Gate bar. How fun to ski from Austria to Switzerland for lunch!

Ischgl has more modern chalets and lodges for on-mountain dining like the beautiful glass modern gondola station Pandorama serving swanky cuisine. We loved the rustic Paznauner Thaya – a fascinating chalet and bar, with several venues. They serve great food in the cozy lodge or out the sun deck, and from 2-4pm the outside terrace turns into Après Ski central with a DJ and dancing and a lot of beer and schnapps served. Note: you still have to ski down from here.

Ischgl’s Smugglers Ski Circuit is a fun ski tour crossing the border three times from Austria to Switzerland, a great way to see the vast terrain of both Ischgl and Samnaun (no passport required).  It’s one of the longest ski circuits in the world – like Italy’s Sella Ronda in the Dolomites. We easily achieved Smugglers Gold (the longest circuit) with extra laps on a few of our favorite lifts. Gold level requires you ride 14 ski lifts, and descend 59 kilometers of skiing. There’s also a Silver and Bronze level with a few less lifts and trails, download Ischgl’s app to track your route or follow the trail map. The history of Smuggling here dates back to 1892 – Austrians bringing cheese, butter and fur into Samnaun Switzerland, in trade for imported coffee, spices, and tobacco. Times have changed, now as you cross into the Swiss ski side, billboards promote duty-free Swiss chocolate, watches, perfume and still cigarettes.

Apres ski in the chic mountain town of Ischgl is among the best in The Alps. Its a daily party starting on the slopes at Paznauer Thaya, and continuing in the village steps from the Silvretta Tram at Kuhstall – literally the “cowstall”, and the Hexen  (witch bar) next door, also the swankier Fire & Ice –  its like aprés ski row with a bunch of lively bars along vibrant pedestrian streets, and ski-boot partiers into the evening. Just strolling the pedestrian streets, passing upscale boutiques and bistros, and people watching is Ischgl entertainment!

Ischgl’s cool ski lifts aren’t limited to the ski mountain, Ischgl village has pedestrian elevators and underground moving walkways that make everything within easy reach to the slopes, shops and village proper.

Ischgl’s chalet lodges and more modern 4 to 5-star hotels, like the Hotel Post, Fliana, Schlosshotel, and Therme have fancy spas for those that don’t ski and just came to be pampered, to be seen and to aprés ski.

Ischgl has great restaurants from cozy chalets serving fondue and rösti like Loba, delicious pasta and pizza at the charming Barafalla in the five-star Silvretta Hotel, to swank pricey dining spots like Stiar and Sunnalm.

Word of caution, the slopes descending into Ischgl at ski day’s end get busy with bumps, skiers and partiers who have over-imbibed and are out-of-control. Put your pride aside and download on the beautiful cable cars for a safer return to the village if you’re not up for the “Run to the Valley” on Trail #1. Also, Ischgl is crowded on holidays, with so many high-capacity high-speed lift. Our April visit, we loved having the mountain more to ourselves, with still great snow, lively aprés ski and a more local atmosphere.

A ski holiday in Ischgl is non-stop fun, their slogan “Relax. If you can,” funny but true, there is much to ski and do. Ischgl is not ideal for young families given the steeper terrain and sheer size of the mountain resort with so many lifts, never mind Ischgl’s party scene. Ischgl is best saved for when your kids are young adults – then they will love you for taking them to Ischgl.

Ischgl Stats:
Elevation 1,400–2,875 m (4,593–9,432’)
239 km (148 mi) of slopes
46 ski lifts and cable cars in Ischgl and Samnaun combined
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The entire Paznaun ski region has 78 ski lifts including Ischgl and nearby ski areas of Galtür, Kappl and See, all part of the Silvretta ski region. Ischgl’s website