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The attractive town of Bad Gastein offers access to a huge ski area, while the bustling centre and famous spas will delight non-skiers...
While gaining popularity as a ski resort, Bad Gastein is more famous for its thermal spas than its pistes. People have been coming to bathe in the town's “healing” waters since Roman times.
However, whether you are keen to try out the town's spas or not, you will not be disappointed by the size of the ski area you can access from Bad Gastein, which is part of the vast Ski Amadé ski alliance.
Resort height: 1,000m
This includes numerous ski areas, such as Schlossalm/Stubnerkogel, Dorfgastein, Graukogel and Sportgastein, which are well over 1,000m higher than the resort.The town of Bad Gastein might only be at 1,000m, but you can reach the heady heights of 2,686m by going to the top of the highest lift.
Reliable ski buses link the resorts. So as long as you don't mind taking the bus every so often, you need almost never take the same piste twice in a week (and if you head off-piste with a guide the area almost doubles again).
Intermediates in particular will love the large number of long, challenging red runs. And anyone used to dodging wobbly beginners and speeding snowboarders when skiing in the more famous Alpine resorts will also enjoy the quietness of the slopes. However, while intermediates are very well catered for, there is more limited fun to be had by both beginners and expert skiers or snowboarders.
There are also a lot of draglifts, which will make life harder for snowboarders - particularly those trying the sport for the first time.
It takes about 1.5 hours to drive from Salzburg airport to Bad Gastein...
However, the resort also has a train station, making it easily accessible by rail should you prefer not to fly.
The un-crowded pistes of Bad Gastein are best suited to skiers and snowboarders of an intermediate level...
Experts and beginners might find the ski area rather more limiting, though, while the time-consuming bus journeys can prove frustrating.
With a wealth of great restaurants, lively après-ski venues and fabulous spas, Bad Gastein is a fantastic choice for non-skiers...
Bad Gastein is a good choice for anyone who likes their ski holidays to come with lots of fun nights out, as well as days out on the slopes. There is a good choice of lively and cosmopolitan nightspots to choose from, many of which start getting busy as soon as skiers start coming off the pistes and keep going until the early hours. The kicking Silver Bullet, for example, is open from 3.30pm to 2am every day and has live music for après-ski most days of the week. And when you get hungry, the HexenHäusl pub and Chill Out bistro are definitely worth a try. There's even a casino where you can go to try your luck. But for those seeking a more relaxed vibe, the quaint, neighbouring resort of Bad Hofgastein is probably a better bet.
Non-skiers will certainly not get bored in Bad Gastein. The wealth of activites on offer for them range from ice skating and snow-shoeing to horse riding and curling. Excursions to Salzburg are also available, while the many stylish boutiques in Bad Gastein provide some great browsing and spending opportunities. And then, of course, there are the spas, with their spring-fed pools and wellness centres.
Take full advantage of the spas and the shops of Bad Gastein, and your holiday could end up costing you a fortune. However, you can live quite cheaply in Bad Gastein too. There are some low-cost hostels for anyone on a budget, while the prices for drinks and food in the town are very reasonable in comparison to lots of the more popular resorts - meaning you can have fun without breaking the bank if you want. Just don't go too mad in the casino!
Bad Gastein, with its grand “belle époque” buildings and flashy boutiques, is a far cry from the picture you might have in your head of a traditional Alpine ski resort. That's not to say it is without charm, though. Just don't expect a snow-covered village packed with cute wooden chalets.