Do you think of a ski holiday as an amazing experience sandwiched between a tedious journey of airport queues and long transfers? If so, it doesn’t have to be this way, as many ski resorts
Located in the spectacular Ötztal Valley of Tyrol in Austria, Sölden (or Soelden) is a popular European ski resort with an impressive offering. It is host to two large glaciers: Rettenbach Glacier and Tiefenbach Glacier. The combination of these glaciers with the high altitude of much of the ski area makes it a wonderfully snow-sure ski resort. In fact, the snow is so reliable that keen skiers can hit the slopes as early as September in Sölden.
Sölden offers a large ski area with 144km of slopes, along with even more terrain in the nearby resorts of Obergurgl and Hochgurgl. Fast and modern mountain lifts mean minimal wait times, if any. The ski resort hosts the FIS Alpine Ski World Cup Opening, which is testament to Sölden’s prestige as an excellent place to ski. World Cups aside, Sölden has also made a name for itself when it appeared in the James Bond Spectre film.
The town of Sölden itself has a traditional Tyrolean look with its wooden buildings and iconic old church in the centre. Visitors will discover a lively hub of restaurants, bars and clubs to explore. It’s a fantastically social town that is fun and welcoming in equal parts.
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Sölden is easily accessible by plane. The closest airport is Innsbruck, which is only a one hour drive away from Sölden. As ski resort transfer times go, it’s one of the shorter times. Innsbruck is the largest international airport in Tyrol. The following airlines run regular flights to and from Innsbruck: Air Dolomiti, Austrian Airlines, British Airways, easyJet, Eurowings, Finnair, Jet2.com, Luxair, S7 Airlines, Scandinavian Airlines, Transavia, and TUI.
Alternative airports are Zürich in Switzerland and Munich in Germany. Both of which are a three hour drive away.
If arriving into Innsbruck, visitors can choose between a shuttle service or private taxi. The Ötztal Shuttle offers a convenient shuttle service from Innsbruck airport or train station to Sölden.
Another budget-friendly alternative is to get the train from Innsbruck to Ötztal and then catching the shuttle from Ötztal to Sölden.
For the ultimate comfort and speed, getting a private taxi is the best option. As the journey is relatively short in good conditions, a private taxi is a more viable option than in many other resorts.
There are several taxi companies to choose from, including AlpinBus, Suntransfers, Taxi Lenz, Arno’s Taxi, Taxi Sölden, Taxi Förg Sölden, and more. Get a few different quotes to find the best price. Note that weekday prices are usually lower than weekends.
Depending where you’re travelling from, driving to Sölden can take a long time. If travelling from the UK, it’s approximately a 13 hour drive (660 miles) from Calais – plus the time it takes to get to Calais from your start destination. Driving to Sölden is only really advisable if you live within a few hours’ drive, or if you plan on staying out for a long time and need the additional luggage space.
During the day, visitors can park at any of the following places completely free of charge:
However, nighttime parking is not allowed in Sölden. As a result, long-term parking is not encouraged in Sölden and you need a special ticket if staying for a few days. It’s therefore only a good idea to drive if your chalet or hotel has parking provisions in place.
Most of Sölden is very walkable, with all the restaurants, bars and shops easily accessible on foot within the town centre. For journeys outside of the centre, it’s best to make use of the free local bus.
There are several bus stops throughout the town and buses run regularly. The buses also take you to the nearby resorts of Obergurgl and Hochgurgl if you fancy a change of skiing scene.
Alternatively, taxis are readily available, especially outside the main gondola stations. They usually have room for skis and snowboards on the back too, in case you need transporting with all your snow equipment.
As with any popular ski resort in Europe, ski hire is readily available in the town of Sölden. These include the recognisable ski hire establishments like Skiset and Intersport. Although I’m a big advocate of having your own boots, the advantage of hiring skis and snowboards is that you can benefit from the season’s latest equipment.
You can usually get a better price if you book online in advance. It also means that your ski or snowboard hire will be ready and waiting for you to collect, saving you time once in the resort.
Sölden offers a diverse range of skiing for all skills and levels of ability. Skiers and snowboarders will love the high-speed lifts and long, linked runs. In fact, Sölden is home to two of the most powerful feeder mountain gondolas in the world.
The other benefit of skiing in Sölden is the excellent snow conditions throughout the whole season. This is due to its two glaciers, effective snow-making systems on 77% of the ski slopes, and the fact that most of the ski area sits above 2,000m. It’s the only ski resort with three peaks over 3,000m high! So make sure you pack your snow goggles!
If you want to explore these peaks, consider doing the Big 3 Rally. It’s a 50km tour encompassing viewpoints of Sölden’s three highest peaks.
There are a number of wide, gentle blue slopes which are suitable for beginners. But Sölden is definitely best suited for intermediate skiers, with its wide range of fun red runs and playful off-piste sections.
For the more experienced skiers, there are a handful of challenging blacks throughout the resort. Although advanced skiers and snowboarders may be better off exploring the off-piste opportunities when the snow conditions allow.
In terms of ski areas, there are two different types of lift pass pass:
The latter allows you to ski in Sölden, Gurgl, Hochötz-Kühtai, Vent, Niederthai, and Gries. Beginners will be fine with a Sölden-only ski pass, but intermediates and advanced should definitely consider the Ötztal Valley Area Pass.
Other than the different area passes, there are a range of different ski pass types on offer too. These include beginners’ tickets, day passes, multi-day passes, flexible passes, and season tickets
Depending on your length of stay and how much you wish to ski, it’s worth exploring the different available options.
Yes! Even if you only have a week, it’s worth spending a day or two in the Obergurgl-Hochgurgl ski area. Here you’ll discover some beautiful runs and excellent mountain restaurants.
Regular buses run between Sölden and the Gurgl ski area. It takes around 20 minutes to get to Hochgurgl and 25 minutes to get to Obergurgl. Gurgl is also one of the best ski resorts for beginners. Remember that you’ll need an area lift pass to ski in the Gurgl area.
Intermediates will love piste #11. It’s a long and wide red run which can be accessed from the top of the Silberbrünnel chairlift. It’s the perfect piste for getting those satisfying carving turns in.
Just watch out for other skiers, as it’s a popular run with all levels and abilities navigating it.
For unbroken skiing, you can ski from the highest point in the resort, Schwarze Schneide at 3,340m, all the way to the bottom of the resort. Most of the runs are blue, giving skiers and snowboarders the opportunity to take in the scenery as they glide down the mountain.
Due to its excellent snow record, Sölden is a popular European resort for ski touring and backcountry. Even better, much of Sölden’s best backcountry offerings are extremely accessible. All it takes is a short hike from the top of the lifts – and it’s time to shred!
Some of the best off-piste skiing in Sölden can be found in the Wasserkar bowl, which is situated underneath the Gaislachkogl lift. There’s also more to discover on the Rettenbach glacier from the top of the gondola down to Tiefenbach. From here, go left at the top of the T-bar and follow the ridge to find a deep bowl of powder.
Of course, remember that it’s always best to explore the backcountry with an experienced mountain guide. Be sure to have the appropriate avalanche equipment on you too.
Sölden is home to the AREA 47 Snow Park, which is easily accessible from the Hainbachkar and Silberbrünnel chairlifts at Giggijoch. There are a variety of jumps and obstacles on offer, with a range of elements for different abilities. These include kickers, rails, boxes, and wall rides.
As well as the various elements, the snow park benefits from being set against the backdrop of truly breathtaking views. Plus, it occupies a wonderfully sunny spot on the mountain. You know what this all means? The perfect photo and video opportunities!
Aside from the snow park itself, kids and adults alike will love the 60m long Fun Slope. Whizz through tunnels, turns and over jumps until your heart’s content.
Heli-skiing is only allowed in two locations in the whole of Austria: Schneetäli and Mehlsack in the Arlberg region. Therefore, if you’re keen to go heli-skiing then you’re better off heading to the ski resorts of Lech or St Anton. Nevertheless, it is still possible to charter a helicopter from Sölden. Although freeriders are probably better off exploring the resort’s backcountry via the lifts or ski touring.
Sölden is a reasonable ski resort for beginners, with a manageable slope offering and a beginner’s area. The Tiefenbach glacier provides a number of wide, gentle slopes for beginners to hone their skills on. Beginners can access plenty of easy blue slopes from the top of the Giggijoch lift. For those just starting out, a separate lift pass is available for beginners, so no money is wasted on a vast ski area that isn’t used.
Nearby Hochgurgl and Obergurgl offer some excellent slopes for beginners and are more suitable for beginners than Sölden. Both Sölden and Gurgl offer excellent ski schools with experienced, certified instructors.
Good to know: The Sölden resort run down to Giggijoch is quite steep (the last section is a black) and can get icy. There is an alternative route that ends a little further into town, right next to some lively après ski bars (don’t mind if we do!). It may be worth bearing this in mind when booking accommodation.
One of the big appeals of Sölden is that it was a key filming location in the James Bond Spectre film. To embrace its James Bond heritage, there is an impressive James Bond cinematic installation in Sölden called 007 Elements. It features interactive high-tech galleries and an immersive exhibition set against a stunning backdrop. Guaranteed to take your breath away and a must-visit for any James Bond fan.
The installation is perched on the side of the mountain at 3050m. You can ski to it or take the Gaislachkogl Mountain Gondolas up and down. For the whole experience, be sure to indulge in a fine dining meal at the Ice Q restaurant – another location used in the film.
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Not a skier, or simply fancy a day off from the slopes? There are a number of other things to do in Sölden, from rest and relaxation to other snow sports.
Sölden is home to a scenic ice rink, just a five minute walk from the base of the Gaislachkogl gondola. Go ice skating against the beautiful backdrop of alpine landscapes. You can also try your hand at ice curling or ice hockey, or take to the ice on skates in the evening for a magical atmosphere. Ice skates are available to rent at the ice rink.
Fun for adults and kids alike, take the toboggan run from the middle station of Gaislachkogl Gondola. Covering over 7km, it’s a thrilling ride down the slopes. The toboggan run is open from 09:00 – 16:15. For even more thrills, go night tobogganing in Sölden. Every Wednesday night, the toboggan run is floodlit and open from 17:30-21:00.
For the ultimate snowy hike, try snowshoeing in Sölden. Walk through the untouched snowy scenes while the snow crunches underneath your feet. Discover hidden alpine huts and breathtaking views. There are a number of snowshoe providers in Sölden, and you can decide between a solo or guided adventure. This activity is suitable for both adults and children.
Whether you’re after rest and relaxation or more fitness provisions, the Freizeit Arena in Sölden is a multi-functional leisure and recreation centre. A family-friendly place, the kids will love the adventure pool – while you can relax in the sauna. Or have a game of tennis, badminton, indoor ball, basketball or bowling.
For an adrenaline fuelled adventure, take to the air with a paraglider. Glide over the stunning Ötztal Alps and take in the spectacular alpine scenery of North Tyrol. You can enjoy a tandem paraglide, or experienced paragliders can take to the air solo. The launch points can be reached by mountain lift.
As mentioned, a visit to the 007 Elements exhibition is an absolute must. Even if you’re not a James Bond fan, it’s still an impressive cinematic installation complete with unforgettable vistas. If you’re feeling fancy, stop by the gorgeous Ice Q fine dining restaurant – treat yourself to the Chef’s Table for guaranteed views.
From weekly night ski shows to yearly festivals and shows, Sölden hosts a number of spectacular events in the ski resort.
NIGHT SKI SHOW
Every Wednesday evening, Sölden hosts a riveting ‘Night Ski Show’ alongside the night skiing and tobogganing.
Witness gravity defying ski acrobatics, live performances and a flashy fireworks show with music. It’s not to be missed!
Known as ‘the Alp’s most gigantic show’, the Glacier Spectacle HANNIBAL is a spectacular live show on the Rettenbach Glacier. In 2022, it will take place on 22nd April. The show involves precise choreography of dancers and avalanches, snow grooming machines, base jumpers, helicopters, aircrafts, skidoos, paragliders, and skiers. Count us in!
ELECTRIC MOUNTAIN FESTIVAL
The Electric Mountain Festival brings together world-renowned DJs from the electronic dance music scene for this two day festival in April.
Combining party music with après fun, experience a raucous party atmosphere in the heart of the Alps.
The town of Sölden itself is spread along the Ötztal Valley, meaning that a lot of hotels involve a short walk to the nearest lifts. The main hub of the town is a lively area and ideal if you love the aprés scene. This area is also the closest to the main lifts. There is a quieter end of Sölden for those who’d prefer to be away from any rowdiness, although they may be further from the lifts.
A boutique 5-star hotel located right next to the Zentrum-Shuttle Cable Car. Rooms feature modern design with natural materials for a homely, rustic edge. The rooftop Sky Spa offers an indoor pool, outdoor pool, hot tub, two saunas, relaxation areas, and a fitness room. Hotel Bergland was even recommended by Daniel Craig himself – that’s all we need to know!
For the ultimate luxury stay right in the heart of Sölden, book into Das Central. Rooms and suites are beautifully appointed, with each one offering a unique style. As you’d expect from a luxury five-star establishment, the cuisine is exquisite and award-winning. Let’s not forget the 1,500-square-metre, three-storey spa and wellness facilities – with an astounding 10 saunas!
Die Berge Lifestyle Hotel is a modern four-star hotel with clean, minimalist interiors. The highlight is its impressive spa on the top floor, with two saunas and a heated outdoor rooftop pool. Perfect for relaxing after a day on the slopes, the relaxation area boasts stunning views of the surrounding mountains. The breakfast offering is also wonderful.
A stylish four star hotel in the centre of Sölden, Hotel Alpina offers impeccable interior design and a luxury feel. The 300-square-metre spa area is the ideal place to rest post-ski muscles, with a hot tub, saunas and steam baths. It’s also the only adult-only hotel in Sölden, so it’s the best option for those seeking a child-free stay.
A family-run four-star hotel, Hotel Erhart is located right in the centre of Sölden. The rooms are bright and spacious, while the food has a well-deserved reputation of excellence. It feels a little bit like a home from home. Plus, the inviting spa area is complete with a hot tub, sauna, steam room, and infrared cabin.
Hotel Hochsölden is a comfortable hotel located right on the slopes in Sölden. Another family-run establishment, expect genuine hospitality and a warm welcome. There is a good wellness and wellbeing offering with an indoor pool, outdoor jacuzzi, two saunas, a steam bath, infrared cabin, a small fitness room, and various relaxation areas.
Sölden does not have a particularly wide range of chalets, especially for those after a more high-end option. For those seeking ultimate luxury, a stay in one of the beautiful five-star hotels in Sölden is likely to be a better option. There are a few 3- and 4- star chalets worth considering.
Part of the Chalet Sölden Resort, Zierbenchalet is ideal for four guests. With its wooden walls and furniture, it almost feels part of the scenery around it. The outdoor terrace features an inviting hot tub that looks out over the mountains. There are also two saunas and a wellness shower.
Another chalet from Chalet Sölden Resort, Lärchenchalet is best suited to six guests – although it can cater for up to eight. Built in the Canadian log home style, the chalet brings a sense of comfort and closeness to nature. The in-house spa is complete with bio and finnish saunas.
The final featured chalet from the Chalet Sölden Resort is the largest. Tannenchalet can cater for up to 10 guests, although it is most comfortable with six guests. Benefit from two separate balconies offering gorgeous Alpine views. This luxurious log house in Tyrol offers a cosy and comfortable stay.
Chalet Jessica is a fully catered chalet located opposite one of the main lifts, right in the heart of Sölden. It can sleep 10-12 people with six bedrooms. Three of the rooms have their own balcony – perfect for breathing in that fresh mountain air or for stargazing at night. The interiors offer authentic Alpine charm.
Beim Holzschnitzer is a renovated 300 year old chalet just outside of Sölden. The interiors are traditional and welcoming, if not a little dated – but that’s part of its charm. There is a large shared terrace offering panoramic views and a sunny south facing position.
The town of Sölden itself is bursting with restaurants, from casual diners through to more high-end offerings. On the mountain, there are plenty of traditional cosy mountain huts serving local delicacies like goulash and schnitzel.
Ice Q is the destination for fine dining in Sölden. Famous as a filming location for the James Bond Spectre film, it’s easy to see why it was chosen. Think breathtaking views, striking architecture, and exceptional cuisine.
An inviting and super cosy hut awaits you at Bratkartoffelhütte. Fuel up on Tyrolean specialities, perfectly cooked and executed by the chefs. This restaurant is ideal for that authentic Austrian mountain-hut experience.
Another cosy mountain hut offering a warm welcome and delicious, hearty food. This is also a place for wine lovers, as the restaurant offers an impressive assortment of Austrian wines. If the sun is shining, there’s a popular outdoor terrace.
Indulge in an array of Tyrolean specialties at Gampe Thaya, including Tiroler Gröstl, Kasspatzen, and Speckknödel. Depending on the weather, choose between the cosy indoor dining room or the sunny terrace.
Eugen’s Obstlerhütte is a rustic ski hut with table service and a varied menu. Indulge in classic Tyrolean dishes or opt for pasta, steak, salad, and more. This is also a great place for aprés ski parties in the afternoon.
Hearty food and traditional hut decor greet you at Gampe Alm. Its crowning jewel is the big outdoor terrace with an umbrella bar, offering spectacular views across the valley. The perfect spot for a beer or gluhwein and a bite to eat.
Gusto is an Italian pizzeria that looks relatively unassuming from the outside. Yet here you can enjoy truly delicious food and excellent service. Come with an empty stomach because the portions are epic!
For indulgent fine dining, book a table at Ötztlar Stube. Located in the five-star Das Central hotel, this award-winning gourmet restaurant offers impeccable flavours and the best local ingredients.
A friendly restaurant serving fresh sushi, as well as a selection of Chinese, Thai and Japanese plates. The food is beautifully presented and is extremely tasty, while the atmosphere is relaxed.
‘S Pfandl is the place to go for truly traditional Austrian cuisine. It serves up a range of Tyrolean specialities in a rustic setting, with charming hospitality. It’s located a little out of town but it’s worth the trip.
Situated underneath the Die Berge Lifestyle Hotel, Werkstatt is an American style restaurant with big portions and a lively atmosphere. It has a whole menu dedicated to ribs, along with an enticing cocktail menu.
VAYA BAR & GRILL
Part of the Vaya Hotel, this restaurant offers a diverse menu, from traditional cuisine to lighter bites and vegetarian options. Its speciality lies in freshly grilled steaks and burgers, as well as excellent wines.
Sölden offers a fantastic après scene, with a lively town that’s popular with young visitors. It doesn’t quite have the après reputation of St Anton, but it is a little cheaper and offers the next best thing in Austria. Discover the best ski resorts for après.
A famous après ski bar in Sölden that you can always rely on for a good time. Philipp combines friendly service and tasty food with a great atmosphere and beautiful views over town. It can be reached on the way home from the Gaislachkogl gondola.
You can almost ski straight into the terrace of this bar, being situated right at the bottom of the slopes. It’s a popular après ski bar in Sölden that gets very busy. A good atmosphere and golden oldies being played are guaranteed.
For lively après and classic Austrian hits, head to Halli Valli between 15:00-18:00. It is part of the Valentin hotel located next to the Gaislachkogl gondola. Later on in the evening, the vibe is more relaxed in the hotel’s Fireplace Bar.
A funky Austrian bar with a laid-back but lively vibe and friendly staff. Marco’s is in an ideal location on the main street and has a heated outdoor area. It’s also one for the sports fans, as they screen key sporting events on the TVs.
Mogul is a great place to party the afternoon, evening and night away! Starting at 15:00, a mix of lively music is played and dancing on tables ensues. Later in the evening it becomes a club that stays open until 03:00.
The largest club in Sölden, Katapult brings a whole spectacle to its nighttime programme. Think DJs, aerial dancers, and an ice bar. Note that you won’t be let in with ski clothes and it only gets busy from midnight onwards.
Sölden is a fantastic all round ski resort that brings excellent skiing with a lively atmosphere. The people are friendly, the ambience is social, and the snow conditions are unbeatable.
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