The Arlberg, Austria

Best Ski Resorts in Europe
Europe's Mega Resorts
European "resorts" are really entire regions rather than a single resort with a base lodge as we know it in the States. For instance, Trois Vallées in France, with its 180 lifts spread across six resorts, would be comparable in size to all of the resorts in Utah's Wasatch Mountains (Alta, Snowbird, Solitude, Brighton, Park City, The Canyons, Deer Valley), if those resorts happened to be linked by chairlifts and a single ski pass would allow you to roam freely between them. Check out individual reviews of's ski resorts in France  here.

"The Arlberg" is the name given to a mountain massif containing five picturesque towns in western Austria and the 82 lifts and scores of runs that link them.

St. Anton (, one of the most famous resorts in the world, is the biggest of the bunch. Lying deep in a valley along the main east-west rail and highway route across Austria, it now has a pleasant pedestrian center, with lifts rising directly from the outskirts and chalets perched on steep slopes. St. Anton is popular with young, energetic, and aggressive skiers and snowboarders.

The Valluga, a spiky summit, boasts the Arlberg's most challenging terrain—and, some would say, its most aggressive nightlife, too. High above St. Anton is St. Christoph, a tiny, tranquil hamlet built around a 14th-century hospice originally run for wayfarers trekking across the pass. Arlberg itself is a small and relatively isolated resort that offers doorstep skiing on both sides of the high valley—with the Valluga-Galzig area on one side and the Albona on the other.

Stuben is a small village in a side valley below St. Christoph. It has a more authentic atmosphere and lower lodging prices than elsewhere in the Arlberg, but it is definitely out of the mainstream. In addition to marked runs, the St. Anton-St. Christoph-Stuben section offers virtually limitless off-piste (translation: unmarked and ungroomed) runs.

Lech and Zürs are connected with the other resorts, but they seem a world apart. They are achingly beautiful, with classic chalets nestled high in the Arlberg. Zürs sits astride  5,816-foot Flexen Pass, while Lech lies four kilometers farther at the end of the road in a side valley. Both communities are known for five-star hotels that combine luxury, congeniality, and high Alpine style. The mountains closest to these villages (Madloch, Trittkopf, and Kriegerhorn) offer slopes for all abilities. An excellent bet for families is Oberlech, a satellite resort perched about 600 vertical feet above Lech.


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