Solden Austria features three peaks over 10,000-feet, and skiing on two glaciers – the Rettenbach and Tiefenbach Glaciers.
Located in the beautiful Otztal valley of the Tirol, Solden is a big ski resort for a ski vacation, with 31 mostly modern lifts and gondolas, 150 kilometers of prepared (groomed) trails, the longest of which is 15 kilometers! Solden boasts a long season with glacier skiing from October to May. See Solden Ski Photos.
Solden has a wide variety of ski slopes, from gentle sunny slopes on the high alpine, on up to Rettenbach Glacier at 10,662-feet and Tiefenbach Glacier at 10,856-feet. There is also vast off-piste skiing but to be safe you really must hire a trained mountain guide to explore.
While Solden has family ski schools, and learn to ski, it’s a bit daunting and spread out for young families, and the village of Solden is more geared toward adults with après ski bars, shops, and a few strip clubs. Solden is not the classic pretty chalet-lined alpine ski village like St Anton or Kitzbuhel. Its claim to fame – the most ski shops per capita in the Alps.
Solden is so “cool” literally that the US Ski Team trains on the glacier annually in early fall. In fact, all World Cup racers train here. You can ski by the World Cup Stadium, and ski through an amazing ski tunnel carved into the mountain that connects the two glaciers.
Solden’s Gaislachkogl Summit is reached by two modern interconnected gondolas rising from Solden village. Solden’s 007 James Bond Elements exhibit is here. The interactive Bond “Spectre” movie experience requires a separate admission ticket. Reference to the Bond movie filmed in 2015 at Solden is everywhere around the resort, including Bond music on the gondi! Off the summit you will find one very long intermediate route. There are also 4 other chairlifts with a variety of ski terrain, and several mountain huts on the Gaislachkogl Mountain area.
To the right side of the trail map is Solden’s Giggijoch area with a high capacity gondola emanating from the north side of town up to a mid-mountain plateau where lots of high-capacity lifts serve mostly intermediate terrain. This is a very busy area and the hub for ski schools.
Connecting lifts from Giggijoch bring you to the glacier skiing. The Rettenbach Glacier, where the World Cup skiing venue is located, connects to the Tiffenbach Glacier by skiers’ tunnel. This higher terrain on the glaciers is often better snow quality due to the elevation, and spectacular when its sunny.
Solden is incredibly scenic, with glass viewing platforms, not for those who fear heights, part of the Big 3 – three panoramic summits all over 3000-meters.
Solden’s lift company, BBS – Berg Bahnen Solden, calls their mind-blowing lift system “people movers”. With so many overlapping lifts, it can be very busy on the trails, but your lift wait time is only about 5-10 minutes despite what appears to be a mega lift line. Austria is home to Dopplemayr lift company, and Solden has modern cable cars, trams and gondolas, six and eight-passenger bubble chairs, transporting 70,000 skiers per hour. Vail’s uphill capacity is 53,000 skiers per hour for comparison, so you can extrapolate that Solden handles the masses during holidays.
On mountain dining and drinks at Solden? Plenty! In addition to all this skiing and scenery, Solden has 30 magnificent on-mountain lodges (see our chalet lunch recommendations below) that serve traditional Austrian lunches. Schrimbars- umbrella bars – and sun terraces at old wood huts and modern glass lodges all fill with sun worshippers and partyers in the afternoon.
Solden even has night skiing on one long trail from Gaislachkogl’s middle station on certain evenings, typically Wednesday, when the Bond Elements display is also open, and you can dine at the modern gondola top station at Ice Q or the Falcon. The 7 km Rodel run is also lit up on these nights.
The village of Solden does not have the same alpine charm as Kitzbuhel or St Anton – there are hotels, cafes, plus modern ski shops, après ski discotheques, and dance clubs (even strip clubs open from 10pm to 6am). So Solden is a party town, but there are 2- to 5-star hotels with family ski vacation packages. If you have young children, we’d recommend Obergurgl Hochgurgl just up the valley or nearby Kuhtai for a more family-friendly ski trip.
Hochsolden is a romantic hillside village at the top of Giggijoch gondola with several hotels perched high above of Solden. Staying here would be quieter, pricier too, than downtown Solden, with great views and direct slope access.
Where to Stay in Solden:
Hotel Valentin is a full-service lodge, with half board – breakfast and dinner included, right next to the Gaislachkogl gondola. You can’t get closer to the lift or be more in center of town to the shops and après ski bars, and the hotel connects to the Interport shop so you can walk right into the rental and ski shop, then on to the gondola. Valentin also has its own après ski bar downstairs – the Halli Valli rocks from 4-7pm with live DJs.
Valentin Design Apartments is same ownership – a posh new condo-style building two blocks away with fully appointed modern chic apartments with kitchen, fireplace, and a rooftop spa for guests, plus underground parking and a ski and boot room. Stay here if you wish to cook in during your stay, and to have more living space versus a traditional hotel room. This luxury building is right at the base of the Rodel trail, and a very short walk to the gondola!
Hotel Bergland is a 4-star lifestyle hotel with modern alpine décor rooms, a rooftop Sky Spa, elegant dining and breakfast buffet, Lounge, Sun Deck, and ski shop with valet next to the Gondola and Solden slopes.
Solden On Mountain Dining:
Stabele Schirmbar – At the Stabele lift base off Trail 30, Chef Alex makes the best burger in Austria, pulled pork and ribs too, in an umbrella bar restaurant. Alex enjoyed cheeseburgers during his visit to the US, and returned to Otztal to make his Stabele burger in Solden, Texas BBQ style – only better. Try his housemade pine schnapps and tell him we say hi!
Gampe Thaya is located just off trail 11. Ski to this 300-year-old mountain farmhouse, and dine amid authentic cowbells and ski memorabilia. Soups, Rosti, Fondue and Austrian schnitzel are served in this historic cozy hut or outside on sunny days with sensation views of the Otztal valley.
Huhnersteign –Trail 30, ski to this Austrian chalet serving traditional spaetzle, soups, sausage and Weiner schnitzel in a typical music-filled atmosphere.
Solden Ski Stats: 10,985-feet summit, 6,135-feet vertical, 31 lifts, over 150 kilometers of ski trails plus extensive off-piste. Open October through May with glacier skiing, the official sponsor of the US Ski Team and host of World Cup ski races. Solden Ski Photos
A ski trip to Solden could be combined with skiing Obergurgl Hochgurgl just up the valley, or so many Austria ski resorts in the Tyrol or Osttirol – East Tyrol. With Munich or Innsbruck as your gateway, you can also ski the Zillertal Valley.