Skiing in Zell am See

Country: Austria

In a nutshell: A gorgeous lakeside town with great intermediate skiing and a glacier for guaranteed snow

We like:

  • The lakeside location is magical, especially in mid-winter when the lake is frozen over
  • Zell is a decent sized town, so there’s lots on offer in addition to the skiing.
  • The skiing is varied and suited skiers of all abilities, especially intermediates
  • Kaprun’s excellent Kitzsteinhorn glacier is on the same lift pass for high altitude skiing

We don’t like:

  • The skiing in Zell am See is at a low altitude, and so snow can be variable outside of mid-winter
  • Many of the hotels are a bus ride away from the lifts


  • Resort altitude: 750m
  • Highest lift: 3,030m
  • Lowest piste: 750m
  • Transfer time from most convenient airport:
    • Salzburg: 1h15m
    • Innsbruck: 2h10m
    • Munich: 2h30m
  • Number of lifts: 49
  • Number of runs: 
      • Blue: 22
      • Red: 24
      • Black: 13
  • Ski area size: Moderate – 138km of piste


  • Apres ski
  • Family friendly
  • High altitude
  • Traditional charm
  • Great for beginners
  • Great for intermediates
  • Great for snowboarders
  • Great for foodies
  • Great for non-skiers


Zell am See is a medieval town sat on the shores of one of Austria’s most beautiful lakes. The stunning location is matched by the town itself, the pedestrianised town centre is really lovely, with lots of shops, bars and restaurants. It’s a decent sized town with a lot to offer both skiers and non-skiers alike.

Most of the skiing takes place on the Schmittenhohe, a horseshoe shapes mountain that rises above Zell. It offers mainly intermediate cruising both above and below the treeline, with some beginner-friendly blues and more challenging black runs thrown in for good measure. The mountain is dotted with cosy restaurants to eat in, most of which serve great food at very reasonable prices.

Ten minutes up the road is Kaprun, which can be accessed by the regular bus. Kaprun is a traditional alpine village with high altitude skiing on the Kitzsteinhorn glacier – one of Europe’s best glaciers for skiing. The two resorts are very different, so on a Zell am See ski holiday you can have two very different holiday experiences in one.

Zell am See is a good choice for beginners, providing they don’t mind a bit of faff getting to and from the ski lifts. There are good nursery slopes (although snow quality on them can be an issue from March onwards), and nice gentle runs to progress to higher up the mountain.

Intermediates will get the most out of the ski area. There’s some fantastic blue and red cruising to be had, along with some easy black runs for the more adventurous. Together with Kaprun the area is big enough to keep most happy for a week, especially given the variety of the skiing.

With the exception of the odd black run, there’s not a great deal to keep advanced skiers happy on piste. There is some fantastic off-piste skiing on the Kitzsteinhorn (a guide is essential), and Kaprun also has one of Austria’s best snowparks for freestylers.