Sölden is an early-opening resort with a lively party scene and excellent skiing.
It’s not a family-focused resort, mainly because of the open-air component of the local bars and the early start to the evening festivities. On the slopes, runs are high, long, and reliable.
Sölden is not well known among British holidaymakers, but that’s a good thing.
Get in there now, before the secret’s out, and enjoy a gem of the Austrian Alps without the massive crowds some other resorts have to deal with at popular holiday times.
Midway across the panhandle of West Austria, Sölden sits at the high end of the valley. The village runs alongside the main road for some distance, long and narrow, and the combination of traditional Tirolean architecture and stunning mountain backdrops make it the ski holiday setting many people dream of. Still sceptical? Parts of Spectre were filmed there – and if it’s cool enough for James Bond, who are we to argue?
The town of Sölden sits at only 1377m, much lower than the 3250m upper-reach of the pistes.
To get there by air, you’ll want to fly into Innsbruck, and it’s a 75 minute (85km) drive from there to the resort. By train you’ll arrive in Ötz, 30 minutes (30km) from the resort, and there is a regular shuttle running to make finding your way simple and easy.
Perhaps the key factor here, when it comes to snow, is the early opening date of Sölden: it opens around 3 October! Snow reliability in Sölden is high, and they take full advantage of it. That makes for a great opportunity to dust off the cobwebs of last year’s skiing and hone your skills for the coming year. The lower end is at a modest 1350m, but this stretches way up to 3340m, on more than one run too.
It’s not all about the snow; the terrain is well utilised too, boasting a 15km long run, many intermediate runs, and upgraded lift systems to keep you skiing more, and sitting less.
The resort is known for a wealth of clubs, bars and pubs, and plenty of people take advantage of them, so the party scene is pretty dynamic. There is a definite change in the town, starting as early as 3pm, and well established by about 7pm. The proliferation of open-air bars ensures that the atmosphere spills out into the streets.
There are more than thirty huts on the mountain that are open to stop and have a drink while skiing, take in the view, then hit the slopes again. If nearing the end of the skiing day, these are a great spot to stop and plan how you’ll start the evening’s fun. Eugen’s Obstlerhutte mountain hut is a popular first stop, especially on Friday afternoons, when they have live music on offer.
Among notable restaurants – and there are several – is Ice Q, perched 3000m up on the Gaislachkogl peak. It will not be your cheapest meal of the holiday, but the view is spectacular. For cheap and cheerful, the Goldegg Alm is good, or the Gampe Thaya – though it tends to be a bit more expensive.
The area has a leisure centre, complete with pools and waterslides, a dedicated children’s aquatic area, a waterfall, steam room and saunas. If something more dry is on your mind, you can bowl or go to the gym.
The nearby Aqua Dome Thermal Spa Centre has natural 36°C thermal springs with which it feeds the outdoor and indoor pools. There are pools for the children and several saunas and steam rooms of various kinds.