Skiing and snowboarding
Probably the best known alpine winter sport for which Tyrol is famous worldwide is skiing. But snowboarding has long since left behind its role as a fringe sport for young people and has become one of the most popular winter sports for all age groups.
Between the Arlberg in the far west and the ski areas around Kitzbühel, the venue of the legendary Hahnenkamm Race in the east, the Tyrol has more than 80 ski areas with a total of 3400 km of trails for all levels of proficiency. From challenging St. Anton and the huge interconnected ski arenas like Sölden, Obergurgl, Ischgl and the Kitzbühel area to small and attractive family ski areas, you have a varied choice that is probably unique in terms of quantity and quality. Another attraction is the high density of ski areas around Innsbruck. The ski areas of the Nordkettenbahn (“Seegube” or simply “Grube” to the locals), Patscherkofel, Axamer Lizum, Schlick 2000, Mutterer Alm and Rangger Köpfl are all in the immediate vicinity of the city and can be reached in a maximum of 20 minutes. And they are all served by frequent bus or tram services.
An interactive map offering a detailed overview of all the Tyrolean ski areas including prices, snow depth, opening hours and much else can be found here.
Back-country skiing and snow shoe walking
Back-country skiing goes with the Tyrolean identity like soup with bacon dumplings. This endurance sport is practiced by young and old, and offers an intensive, physically challenging experience of the mountain environment like no other. Since many routes are situated in open terrain away from the ski areas, it is essential that tours only be undertaken with the right equipment (ideally an avalanche transceiver, probe and shovel) and in full awareness of the hazards, so as to avoid endangering oneself and other skiers or rescue teams. Even experienced back-country skiers are often caught in avalanches. It is therefore advisable to attend a free avalanche course (SAAC: Snow and Alpine Awarness Camp) and consult the latest avalanche report. Information and dates for SAAC courses can be found here.
The private website Skitouren Tirol offers suggestions for off-piste skiing with useful information like duration, degree of difficulty and vertical metres and a description of the tours. Some popular ski tours listed by degree of difficulty and also multi-day ski tours plus wonderful photos can be found here.
For cross-country skiing, too, whether in the classic or skating style, there is a wide variety of trails for all ability levels throughout the Tyrol. An overview of the Tyrol’s cross-country skiing trails listed by style, location and degree of difficulty is available here.
A very special and also very traditional winter sport in the Tyrol is tobogganing. Every family in the Tyrol has its own favourite toboggan runs, and toboggan races followed by refreshments are often organised for birthdays in winter. Throughout the winter the locals share information about the most attractive runs and the snow conditions, including any ice patches. Tobogganing is also very popular at night. Some of the toboggan runs are illuminated, but otherwise head torches are attached to the helmets (!).
Detailed information about open toboggan runs and their condition can be found here and on the Winterrodeln website.