Ischgl Ski Verdict
Ischgl lives up to its boast of being one of the top ski areas in Austria and the stunning scenery and the access to the Swiss enclave of Samnaun do make up for the high season crowds and overloaded lifts reminiscent of the worst of France. However, a day with good snow in the quieter periods of January and March will convince you that this is a paradise for intermediate and advanced skiers.
Silvretta Arena Ski Area
Cable Cars: 7
Draglifts and moving carpets: 13
A six-day Silvretta Ski Magic VIP adult ski pass during the high 2020-2021 winter season will cost 270 Euros. (This only covers Ischgl and Samnaun and is valid for holders of an Ischgl guest card.)
Guests from outside Ischgl must buy a Ski Magic Silvretta ski pass which covers all resorts in the Paznaun valley and costs 316,50 Euros for six days.
Five days of group ski instruction will cost 217 Euros at one of the Ischgl ski schools in winter 2020-2021. A single day (4.5 hours) of private ski instruction will cost 305 Euros for one person.
Standard skis and boots rented at one of Ischgl's ski hire shops would cost 188 Euros for six days in winter 2020-2021.
Much of Ischgl’s ski area is hidden away behind the mountains to the south of the town, with the vast panorama only opening up at the end of a long gondola or cable car ride.
The method used to get into the ski area will depend on where accommodation is located in the town: residents in the eastern end will tend to use the Pardatschgratbahn (which rises the highest) or the Fimbabahn, and those nearer the centre will opt for the Silvrettabahn.
Whichever choice is made the skier will end up in the Idalp area – Ischgl’s main meeting point. It’s here that the extensive and fenced children’s ski school area is located and that most of the beginner classes take place.
In fact, on a busy day the Idalp can be a little bit intimidating for those of a nervous disposition, with crowds of skiers descending from all directions and lifts heading out to the points of the compass from the central area.
However a deep breath and a quick survey of the slopes will reveal order in the confusing picture.
The long chairlifts heading to the south – the Velillbahn, the Flimjochbahn and the Idjochbahn – access sweeping and comfortable long groomed red and blue runs. Access to the Alp Trida area (covered later) is also available from the top of the Idjochbahn and the Flimjochbahn, while the Velillbahn also offers the chance to return to the village on the lengthy and spectacular red route through the Velill valley (skiers choosing this way down should be comfortable on red runs).
A little lower than the Idalp one notices another collection of chairlifts. The longest – the Höllkarbahn – leads up the Höllenkar valley and, via the chairlifts up the side of the Palinkopf, offers access to the skiing down to Samnaun.
An alternate route to Samnaun and the access to the less frequented area up the Fimba valley is provided by the short and easily-overlooked Sassgalunbahn. From the top, access is available to the Höllspitzbahn and the Gampenbahn chairlifts with their red and black runs and some of the finest off-piste skiing in the Ischgl area.
The routes from the top of the Palinkopf down into the duty-free enclave of Samnaun are red runs but easily within the capabilities of the intermediate skier and provide a memorable “alpine experience” for those who are unused to the higher peaks.
Samnaun itself is an attractive collection of hamlets filled with shops and restaurants (note that there is a customs post on crossing back into Austria and that passports should be carried on this route).
The route back into the main ski area is via the striking double-decker cable car from Samnaun which rises to the Alp Trida saddle. From the top, there is a panorama of the somewhat confusing collection of intercrossing lifts and pistes in this intermediates' paradise. It should be noted that this area is still in Switzerland and that there is no direct return to Ischgl from here without using a lift.
The sunny bowl of the Alp Trida and the undemanding nature of the skiing attract many skiers from Ischgl who make this their main destination for the day. The easiest route back to Austria is via the Flimsattelbahn chairlift which rises to the Idjoch and the top of red or blue runs back down to the Idalp. Alternate routes are available by taking the Viderjochbahn 1 and 2 chairlifts or by ascending the Greitspitz.
The runs back down to Ischgl are all red and can be crowded and icy at certain times of the day and year.
Ischgl is definitely not the ideal resort for those who are just starting out on skis. There are relatively gentle slopes at the Idalp area at the top of the ski resort gondolas, but that involves buying a lift pass for the entire duration. There are better resorts - especially the other villages in the Paznaun valley such as Galtür and Kappl - for those looking for a beginner ski holiday.
Ischgl is a great resort for intermediate skiers with plenty of wide-open cruising ski runs and an opportunity to cross the border into Switzerland and ski down to the duty-free village of Samnaun.
Ischgl belongs near the top of the options in Austria for expert skiers. It is located at a decent altitude, so there are options for fresh snow and there are some tougher runs than is usual in many other Austrian resorts. But those heading over from the harder resorts in France and some of Switzerland will lament the constant grooming away of bumps that happens in Austria. Galtür is also a good option for a day out up the valley.
The live webcam stream below is taken from the main Idalp area above Ischgl. There are a number of other webcams available by clicking the middle button above the webcam stream.