Seefeld in Austria: a winter sports guide

Winter sports in Seefeld

While I’ve done my fair share of downhill ski over the years, I was always a fair-weather skier. The lure of a sunny café terrace, sipping hot chocolate, always seemed more persuasive than hours pounding the black runs. My preference these days is to enjoy the mountains and fresh air of a resort like Seefeld in Austria, mixing in a range of activities such as cross-country ski and winter hiking, that leave you feeling fit and healthy, but with less danger of injury.

Winter sports in Seefeld

This year we chose Seefeld for our winter snow holiday, because of the variety of cross-country ski and winter hiking trails, as well as the excellent downhill pistes that are used for training by the Austrian ski team. We booked through Crystal Ski and also tried the cross-country trails that are offered by Headwater Holidays, which I’d seen a couple of years before, on my summer hiking trip. Over our week’s holiday we tried a variety of different snow-sports – here’s my guide to some of the activities we enjoyed in Seefeld.

Winter Hiking in Seefeld

For our first day in Seefeld, we wanted to have an easy start because … well we are on holiday! Our choice was winter hiking, so we didn’t have to worry about ski hire or lessons. We headed to Wildmoos, a plateau above Seefeld, as I’d been there two years before in summer with Headwater Holidays and remembered the great walking trails.

Winter hiking in Wildmoosalm

Winter hiking in Wildmoosalm

From Seefeld bus station we took the bus and were dropped off just by Wildmoos Alm restaurant, where we got chatting to a friendly Austrian lady about the different walking trails we might try.

Horse and carriage in Seefeld

Horse and carriage in Seefeld

She told us about a trail, leading within the hour to the luxurious InterAlpen Hotel, where we could stop for refreshments. With the promise of hot chocolate at the end of our walk, we didn’t need much persuasion! It was a pleasure to walk along broad trails, with separate cross-country ski pistes to one side and the occasional horse drawn carriage passing us with jingling bells like Father Christmas.

Interalpen hotel in Seefeld

Interalpen hotel in Seefeld

Although the hiking was flat and easy, the packed snow was slippery in places. We noticed that some walkers had studs attached to their boots and we later purchased some rubber soles with studs that we could stretch over our own boots, which really helped to steady us on later walks. We reached the InterAlpen Hotel which looked like a large apartment complex, and on entering found a luxurious lounge, where we relaxed over a coffee covered with whipped cream.

Nordic ski champions display in Seefeld

Nordic ski champions display in Seefeld

On my previous summer walking with Headwater Holidays I’d tried a ‘Mental Power’ walking trail and this time we came across another themed walk with information boards about the Olympic Nordic Ski championships that been held in Seefeld. Each of the cleverly displayed skis had a photo of their owner, with a top half that hinged back to show information about their competition event and winning time.  We were enjoying our walk so much that we decided not to take the bus on the return journey but walked a different path that brought us back into the centre of Seefeld.

If you go: Buses to Wildmoosalm from Seefeld bus station run every 30 mins and cost €2.60 one way. This bus is not covered by the Seefeld Guest Pass which includes most of the other town buses. Check out Headwater Holidays who offer both summer and winter hiking holidays in Seefeld.

Cross-country ski in Seefeld

At 9am the following day, I was rather regretting booking our cross-country ski lesson so early. Our lean and fit instructor Marcel took us through a series of exercises, designed to get us used to the narrow skis and develop our balance. After an hour, the beginner piste in front of the Seekirschl church was filling up for the 10am lessons, but we had mastered the basics and Marcel deemed us ready to try the cross-country trails on our own.

Cross-country ski lessons in Seefeld Austria Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Cross-country ski lessons in Seefeld Austria

Keeping our skis in the pre-made tracks, our weight forward and knees bent as we’d been taught, we set off on the trail that continued beyond the church and looped around, making a 40 minute circuit. Our legs shushed forward, with our arms keeping a marching rhythm, reaching in front as if to pick apples from an imaginary tree. Soon we got the hang of it and reached the end of the loop where we could have easily continued towards the village of Mosern, with many more trails.

Cross-country ski in Seefeld, Austria Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Cross-country ski in Seefeld, Austria

Not wanting to be quite so ambitious on our first day, we decided to stay near the beginner piste and do a few more loops of the trail to refine our technique. “Bob! Bob!” Guy shouted at me, reminding me of the up and down motion that helps to push you along, with toe attached to the ski and heel free to lift as you move along. After a few circuits, the balls of my feet were hurting and my waist and thigh muscles aching. Cross-country ski is certainly not as effortless as it looks, but as Guy kept telling me, “Langläufer leben langer” or “cross-country skiers live longer”, because of the all-over body work-out you get.

Apres-ski in Seefeld at Woods Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Apres-ski in Seefeld at Woods

By the afternoon we felt we’d had our exercise for the day and retreated to the cosy bar of Woods overlooking the beginner piste, to have a warming coffee and watch those still struggling to master their cross-country technique.

What it cost: Cross-country ski hire €15 for 1 day, 2 hr individual lesson €86 (shared between 3 people). Use of cross country pistes and ski buses for the week €15 on your hotel guest card. Check out Crystal Ski for similar holidays in Seefeld.

Mountain views for non-skiers at Seefeld Joch

If you wake up in Seefeld to clear blue skies and fresh powdery snow, as we did on Tuesday, that’s the day to take the cable car up to Rossehutte. There are plenty of advanced runs down from the top of the mountain, but we were there as non-skiers, just to enjoy the views over Seefeld. Joining the queue of skiers we took the Rossehutten express halfway up the mountain, then continued in the red cable car to the very top at Seefelder Joch.

Cable car up to Seefeld Joch Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Cable car up to Seefeld Joch

From the panorama point, we felt on top of the world with the toy-town of Seefeld in the valley below us and mountain views in all directions. I’d hiked along the ridge to the cross at Seefelder Spitz two years before on a trip with Headwater Holidays, but now it looked too precarious to attempt, although a lone tour skier was heading that way. We stayed for a while on the plateau, breathing in the clear cold air, with strands of cloud drifting below us at the level of the mountain tops.

Panorama point at Seefeld Joch Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Panorama point at Seefeld Joch

Taking the cable car down again, we reached the halfway station and bottom of the piste, where there was a large café and terrace. Skiers and non-skiers alike were taking a break, lying in deckchairs to soak up the sunshine and the views, with free chairs and blankets provided.

Deckchairs at Rossehutte in Seefeld

Deckchairs at Rossehutte in Seefeld

We sat on the terrace for lunch, with blackbirds swooped in on the left-over chips – amusing us at first until they dropped a poo in front of us on the table. A group of teenagers were joking around, climbing and playing in the snow, throwing snowballs. We decided that this was the very best way to enjoy the mountains – all the sunshine and views but no aching legs!

Heather at Rosshutte in Seefeld

Heather at Rosshutte in Seefeld

For a final mountain adventure, we took the second cable car across the piste to the Harmelekopf station, where there were hardly any people trying the steep ski-run back down to Seefeld. We passed over the sunbathers in their deckchairs and arrived at the station where the windsock was blowing, to guide the hang-gliders who take off from here in summer.

View from the cable car to Harmelekopf

View from the cable car to Harmelekopf

After a few photos we returned by the cable car, below us the tracks in the snow of snow-boarders and adventure skiers who had made it down the off-piste couloir that crossed the valley slopes.

View from Harmelekopf, Seefeld

View from Harmelekopf, Seefeld

What it cost: 1 day lift pass to Rosse Hutte, Seefelder Joch and Harmelekopf €26.50. Check Crystal Ski for similar holidays to Seefeld.

Winter hiking by the cross-country pistes

Back down in Seefeld we spent the rest of the afternoon hiking on a trail that took us past the Gschwandtkopf ski lifts and cross-country ski loop. We could see some of the Nordic-ski pros in training, using the graceful ‘skating’ style of cross-country ski, which uses different skis and technique from the ‘classic’ style we had tried. We passed two impressive ski-jumps, used in the Nordic ski-championships held in Seefeld and also for filming of the 2015 ‘Eddie the Eagle’ film.

Winter hiking in Seefeld Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Winter hiking in Seefeld

Our walk took us through corrugated iron tunnels under the road, framing the silhouettes of pine trees and mountains. Crossing the piste, we returned to Seefeld along a path through the forest, just as the sun was setting and the last skiers returning to leave the piste empty.

Sunset in Seefeld

Sunset in Seefeld

As dusk fell the town looked very pretty with the trees and buildings garlanded with fairy lights. We settled into the Park Café, a yurt that was run by the luxurious Hotel Klosterbrau nearby. Soon we were warmed by the sheepskin throws and hot orange punch, getting a little merry to a soundtrack of 1980s Austrian pop, before returning to our hotel for dinner.

Apres-ski in Seefeld, Austria

Apres-ski in Seefeld, Austria

We finally try the downhill ski

We could have easily spent our week in Seefeld on hiking and cross-country ski, but since this is where the Austrian ski champions come to train, we thought we’d better give the downhill ski a go. It was a few years since I’d last skied, so we started with the easy slopes that were just a 5 minute walk from our hotel. Once we’d hired all the gear, including helmet (why risk it?) I gingerly put on the skis and tested my ski legs on the bottom of a slope.

Seefeld Downhill ski area

Seefeld Downhill ski area

Using the drag lift on the baby slope, I tried a few runs down the piste so that my legs could remember how to ski again. I was hoping that it would be like riding a bike – once learned never forgotten? Soon I graduated from safe snowploughs to parallel ski, making long, cautious traverses across the slope. Once I’d remembered how to turn and stop, we ventured over the top into the Birkenlift area, where there were a few more easy runs.

Heather trying the downhill ski in Seefeld

Heather trying the downhill ski in Seefeld

This was a bigger piste which allowed me to swish down, practising my turns and avoiding the lines of little children snow ploughing their way down. Although Guy and I were skiing together we inevitably lost each other, so I had a few more runs hoping to find him. Finally at the bottom of the piste I caught sight of Guy’s distinctive blue and red striped jacket, halfway up the drag lift and finally caught him at the bottom of the piste again.

Tobogganing in Seefeld Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Tobogganing in Seefeld

Meanwhile our friend Robert, who was a complete novice, had a ski lesson, but after a while decided it was not for him so had some fun on a toboggan instead, with both traditional sledges and colourful tubes for hire. We shared a few cartons of chips and a hot chocolate for lunch before making a few more runs, but by mid-afternoon we’d run out of energy and handed back our skis.  We had booked a snow shoe adventure in the evening but it was cancelled, so we headed to the deli in the centre for delicious Austrian wine and cheese from Plangger Deli and wine bar.

What it cost: Ski hire for 1 day incl helmet €32 1 day lift pass for 20 points (1 lift is 1-3 points) €32.50. Check out Crystal Ski for similar holidays in Seefeld.

Austrian wine and cheese at Plangger

Austrian wine and cheese at Plangger

Cross-country pistes at Leutasch

With more blue skies forecasts, our final day took us by bus to Leutasch, one of the villages close to Seefeld, where I had stayed two years before in Hotel Xander with Headwater Holidays. Now I could see the hotel in both summer and winter and the field of freshly mown hay I had seen on my last visit was covered in a soft blanket of snow.

Hotel Xander in Leutasch Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Hotel Xander in Leutasch

Beside the hotel stood the church of Mary Magdalene, with its pretty onion dome and beyond it the cross-country ski trails. We had hired skis in Seefeld and remembering what our instructor had taught us, we clipped in our boots and set off in the grooves outside the church. The trails took us across the road into an area with plenty of different cross-country trails, although at points the trail sloped uphill. In the end I took off my skis and carried them up the slope rather than risk sliding backwards down the hill.

Cross-country ski at Leutasch

Cross-country ski at Leutasch

Skiing down the other side of the rise was equally nerve wracking, with a choice of either staying in the tracks and whizzing downhill, or trying to snow plough on skis that were very slippery with no bite to the edges. Finally we reached a piste that was ideal for beginners, making a long loop for both classic and skating skiers. It was joyous to swish along, stopping every so often for a photo, while remembering to step out of the tracks to let others pass. After a long loop we had lunch at a café and sat outside in the sun, eating a hearty bowl of gullesuppe. Call me a fair weather skier – I don’t care!

Cross country ski in Leutasch

Cross country ski in Leutasch

On the return to the bus stop we went slightly off piste in home-made tracks and instantly regretted it, as we struggled in the rough and slushy grooves. We had a little time to spare before our bus home, so sat outside in the sun on the cafe terrace of Hotel Xander until the bus arrived for the 20 minute ride back to Seefeld.

What it cost: Cross-country ski hire €15 per day. Use of cross-country pistes and ski buses for 1 week €15 on hotel guest card. Check out Headwater Holidays who offer similar holidays in Leutasch.

Our week in Seefeld seemed to have flown by and we even managed to fit in a day in Innsbruck, which I’ll be writing about separately. This Austrian ski resort was a pleasure to visit, both attractive and well organised with a wealth of activities to suit everyone, even the non-skier or half hearted skier like me. Visit Seefeld in Austria for gorgeous mountain scenery, great food and wine and fun in the snow, with activities that leave you feeling healthy and fit even if you decide the black runs aren’t for you.

Cross-country ski in Leutasch

Cross-country ski in Leutasch

Read about my summer trip to Seefeld

Hiking in Austria: the views from Seefelder Spitz
A high mountain walk and a tumble in the Gaistal valley
A rifleman’s parade and walk on the Mental Power trail
The Leutasch Gorge and picturesque Mittenwald

Plan your holiday in Seefeld

You can visit Seefeld with a number of companies such as Headwater Holidays and Crystal Ski. On this trip we booked at our own expense with Crystal Ski. The closest airport is Innsbruck, which is 30 minutes drive away and also accessible by train, so you can easily reach Seefeld if you choose to make your travel plans independently.

Crystal Ski, who we travelled with on this trip, offer a wide range of ski holidays to Austria including Seefeld where there are a variety of hotels to choose from according to your taste and budget. The ski package generally includes flights, transfer and half board hotel stay as well as the support of Crystal reps in resort. Ski hire, lessons and other extras can be booked through Crystal Ski or independently in resort. We found the Crystal Ski service to be excellent and would certainly use them in the future for ski packages. Book holidays with Crystal Ski Here.

If you are looking mainly for cross-country skiing or winter hiking, take a look at Headwater Holidays who offer holidays based at Hotel Xander in Leutasch, a welcoming 4 star hotel that’s in the heart of the Leutasch cross-country trails and a 20 minute bus ride from Seefeld town. I was in Leutasch a couple of years ago for a hiking holiday with Headwater and they provide excellent self-guided walking holidays in Austria and throughout Europe. Book holidays with Headwater Holidays here.

Hotels: If booking with Crystal Ski take a look at Hotel Veronica, a 4 star hotel where our friends had booked the year before and which they highly recommended. Hotel Xander is used by Headwater Holidays and is a comfortable and friendly 4 star hotel in the Leutasch area just outside Seefeld. Check more hotel options in Seefeld here.

You will find plenty more information to plan your visit to Seefeld on the Seefeld Tourism website and for more holidays in Austria visit the Austria Tourism Website.

Note: Some links in this article are affiliate links which will provide me with a small commission should you choose to book through them.

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This article is originally published at Heatheronhertravels.com – Read the original article here

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  • Reply
    March 4, 2017 at 1:27 pm

    Strong research – this is my kind of resort as I will never ski again! The walks, the cable car to the view – looks perfect for a non skier!
    Anna´s last blog post ..Hidden gems and holiday treasures

    • Reply
      Heather Cowper
      March 5, 2017 at 5:16 am

      @Anna Seefeld is definitely the place for non-skiers or those who prefer other winter sports

  • Reply
    Kathryn Burrington
    March 4, 2017 at 2:21 pm

    It all looks wonderful. I’m not much of a one for skiing but it’s a very long time since I tried. And I well remember how much I loved tobogganing as a child. Perhaps it’s time to give winter sports another go. Love the thought of hiking to a cup of hot chocolate!
    Kathryn Burrington´s last blog post ..Road Trip: Exploring L’Emporda in a Prius Plug-in Hybrid

    • Reply
      Heather Cowper
      March 5, 2017 at 5:15 am

      @Kathyn I’m like you – a bit half hearted on the ski-ing but will hike anywhere for coffee and cake!

  • Reply
    alison abbott
    March 6, 2017 at 3:03 am

    I love seeing so many opportunities to get outside and enjoy winter. There’s no escaping it here in New England, and all we usually get are windy, icy slopes.
    alison abbott´s last blog post ..Coolibar Sun Protection Clothing

  • Reply
    Taj mahal tour by train
    March 7, 2017 at 11:32 am

    Such a great place. I really like the beauty and nature of that place. You captured wonderful pics in your travel trip. Thank you so much for sharing it.

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