Ten years ago the name of Sölden was renowned in Austria as a loud and brash ski resort catering for hard-partying après-ski and impoverished snowboarders.
But the ski resort has changed over the last decade. A major investment in the lift system has alleviated much of the previous overcrowding on the slopes and the resort centre has undergone something of a facelift.
Sölden now - and justifiably so - likes to promote itself as a resort interested in the full mountain experience and, while remnants of a wilder past are still visible, the concentration is now on a more upmarket and family-oriented clientele.
Elevation: 1377 metres
Location: 6450 Sölden - Tyrol - Austria
Sölden is the largest ski resort in the ötz valley, the longest side valley off the main Inn valley in the Tyrol. Originally the inhabitants of the upper valley settled the area from Italy over the mountains into Austria but, in the wintertime at least, the only way to the area is up the long and winding alpine road.
The nearest airport in Innsbruck is recommended as a destination
for air travellers because of the unavoidable long travel on main roads rather than motorway. Rail service is available to Ötztal Bahnhof at the end of the valley but from then on travel is via road.
More information about travel to Sölden
Despite the high mountains around it (the ski area boasts three peaks over 3,000 metres - or 10,000 feet) the village is set in a sunny location at just under 1400 metres in altitude.
The ski slopes above the town are split into two and are reached by two separate sets of lifts. The Giggijoch cable car at the entrance to the village passes over the higher suburb of Hochsölden, which can also be reached by road (winter equipment essential).
The crowning glory of the skiing however is the link that has now been
made to the Rettenbach and Tiefenbach ski areas on the former summer skiing
areas at the end of the glacier road. Now all skiers in wintertime can access
the high runs and marvel at the fabulous views out over some of the most spectacular
alpine scenery in Austria.
More information about the Sölden ski area
Most of the village sprawls between the main road and the river and access to the ski slopes is available from different points along the road. Those who are looking for a ski-in ski-out experience - rare in Austria - might like to consider the hamlet of Hochsölden in the middle of the slopes:
More information about Sölden hotels & other accommodation