You don’t come to Seefeld just to ski. This cute little town is the place for an all-round snowy experience – followed by good long soak in an upmarket spa. Day-trips into Innsbruck are a must, too.
Top lift: 2064m
Ski area: 35km of piste
Adult lift pass: €238-268 for six days
Official Site | Ski Map | Webcam
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We like Seefeld. Not so much for skiing – although there are 35km of pistes here, rolling down the slopes of the Seefelder Joch, the Harmelekopf and the Gschwandtkopf. What this place really excels at is the laid-back, winter-wonderland experience: mixing some fun on the curling sheets, a dash of cross-country skiing, and the odd snowy walk, with lots and lots of lots of lounging about with your feet up. That could be in a plush hotel lounge, or in the chill-out room of a spa, or beneath the hands of an masseuse. Truth is, you’re bound to do all three on a holiday here – along with some new ways of relaxing you never knew existed.
You’re going to need a healthy holiday budget to get the best of it – and an appetite for experimentation. But if you’ve ever longed for a taste of winter that isn’t just about bombing about on the slopes, then put Seefeld at the top of your hit list.
Stay in the middle of the village if you can
Yes, it’s possible to do Seefeld on the cheap. After all, you don’t have to be staying in a four or five-star hotel to enjoy cross-country skiing, or tobogganing, or sleigh rides through snowy forests. What’s more, in Seefeld these activities don’t feel like add-ons to the essential downhill skiing experience. Set on snowy plateau, above the Inn valley, the terrain is perfect for the gentler kind of winter sports – and here for once they are the main event, rather than an afterthought.
But you won’t get the full effect unless you stay in one of the posh hotels in the middle of town. That’s where the atmosphere is after dark – as well as quick access to almost all the outdoor activities, with the exception of downhill skiing.
A Short Guide to the Skiing in Seefeld
Downhill skiing in Seefeld is concentrated in three main sectors – the Geigenbühel nursery slopes; an area of easy blues on the north face of the 1500m Gschwandtkopf; and the slightly tougher west-facing pistes beneath the Seefelder Joch (known as the Rosshütte). There are also some big backcountry routes, off the back of the Seefelder Joch, but essentially this is not a big off-piste skiing destination.
Some individual pistes are good, especially the top-to-bottom run on the Seefelder Joch. But all the same, this is not a resort for keen skiers, unless they’re checking in for a quick weekend break. With just 48km of piste on offer, there’s not enough to keep them busy here for a proper holiday, and the low altitude means that snow quality can be iffy too. If you are considering a visit, you need to ski it in late December, January or early February for the best chance of good snow.
So – a complete right off for downhillers? Actually, no. Seefeld suits three types of skier really well: beginners, small children and easy-going intermediates (especially those who have partners who want to try cross-country skiing). They don’t need hundreds of kilometres of skiing, and they’ll love the gentle pitch of many of the slopes. They’ll also welcome the fact that they’ve got the mountains more or less to themselves. In many resorts first timers feel like second-class citizens, completely overshadowed by all the Gore Tex-clad experts, weaving round them like they’re slalom poles. Not in Seefeld.
This promotional video gives you a sense of how big cross-country is here. But I can’t help wondering why everyone is so serious. Curling, skiing, biathlon, cakes, spas…Seefeld is great fun, as well as being eye-wateringly pretty when it’s dusted with fresh snow.
Just remember downhill skiing isn’t the main attraction here
The host town of the 2019 FIS Nordic World Ski Championships is much more of a cross-country ski destination than a downhill one. It offers a much-envied network of 280km of trails and plenty of good instructors too, courtesy of the Martin Tauber Academy. If you want to shake things up a little you can also try modern biathlon, which mixes cross-country skiing with target shooting with an air rifle. It’s a modern, sanitized version of a reindeer hunt, and it’s a hoot.
Don’t forget, by the way, that cross-country skiing gives you a fantastic all-over body workout. Once you get moving, you use every major muscle group, and burn far more calories than when you’re bombing about on a downhill piste.
Where to Stay in Seefeld
For many of Seefeld’s guests, where they stay is just as important as what they do. This is as much a place for spa treatments as winter sports, and if you want to get the most of your stay here, you should target a hotel which takes its pampering seriously.
(The alternative for spa-addicts is to book budget digs and then buy one-day spa memberships at key hotels – such as the Klosterbrau or the Krumers Post. Or to make use of the town’s Olympiabad swimming pool and sauna complex.)
One of the best is the Krumers Post. Its decor is a soothing mix of richly-textured wood and pale, unfussy walls, and its four-storey, state-of-the-art spa offers just about every treatment under the sun. A two-hour stone pine massage costs €135, and uses essential oils from a tree whose scent will lower your heart rate.
One of the Krumers Post’s other virtues is that it’s set in the middle of the village – and we’d suggest everyone picks their hotel here, on either side of the resorts Olympic Sport and Congress Centre, where you’ll find the ice rink, the curling courts and the Martin Tauber cross-country ski school. It’s also handy for the 40-minute train ride down into the bustling city of Innsbruck. You don’t want to be stuck out in the suburbs, riding the shuttle bus every time you want to try a winter sport or wander round the shops.
A town-centre location is one of the many attractions of the historic five-star Klosterbraeu which is set in a former monastery and has a vast, 2500sq metre spa. It’s home to a 500 year-old wine cellar (used to store coal and potatoes in the Second World War), its own micro-brewery and Tirolean tapas bar, and a gastronomic restaurant whose six-course menus are included in your half-board package. You’ll have to put a lot of work in on the cross-country tracks to compensate…
At a slightly less exalted level, the family-run four-star Central hotel has an enviable reputation for its warm welcome and good service, as well as apartments for families and a wellness area (but no pool).
Meanwhile, ski beginners might like to consider the popular, four-star Larchenhof, which is next to the nursery slopes, but less convenient for other activities.
Ski Schools in Seefeld
There are four ski schools in the resort. For a full listing, visit the official Seefeld website.
For downhill skiing, the Schischule Seefeld is the place to go – it runs a big, child-friendly operation at on the nursery slopes at Geigenbühel. Prices for both adults and children tend to be a little higher than the Alpine norm – reflecting the healthy holiday budgets of many of the resort’s guests.
Where to Eat in Seefeld
On the Seefeld pistes, the lunch scene isn’t nearly as well developed as you’ll find in the bigger resorts – and no wonder, because there’s less traffic on the slopes.
However, the lunch time scene was improved considerably at the start of the 2018-9 ski season with the opening of the Edelhütte Restaurant & Lodge at the top of the intermediate-friendly Gschwandtkopf sector. The focus is firmly on Tirolean specialities – and there’s no “twist”; what matters here is provenance, freshness and seasonality. Meanwhile, in the Rosshütte sector, the Rosshütte restaurant is a giant, and rather hard-edged place, with seating for 500. You might prefer skiing down to the more traditional Skialm instead.
In the evening, most people eat in their hotels. But if you’re in the market for a big gastronomic blowout, the Astoria Resort is the place to go. It has 14 Gault Millau points and a coveted chef’s toque. Meanwhile, the five-star Klosterbrau has moved away from formal gastronomic dining to more informal sharing, with home-brewed beer and Tirolean tapas at the Bräukeller & Grill.
You should also try one of Seefeld’s Tirloean-flavoured restaurants while you’re in town. Being served “local specialities” by Dirndl-wearing waitresses in a traditional Tirolean dining room sounds as hackneyed as hell – but actually, they’re very good. The food is more inventive and the atmosphere more welcoming and gemütlich than in their Savoyard equivalents in the French Alps. The Kracherlemoos and the Südtirolerstube are the most inviting. But if you visit only one, make it the eye-wateringly pretty Kracherlemoos – set in a 440 year-old barn.
Apres-Ski in Seefeld
The Murmelebau’s Umbrella Bar and sun terrace are the traditional rallying points for a drink at the end of the day – at the bottom of the Rosshütte sector. If you’re holidaying in March, watch out for the Winter Party open-air concert too (it resumes in 2020 after a break in 2019).
That said, you don’t come the Austrian capital of Wellness and cross-country skiing to dance on tables. If you’re flying into Innsbruck, and want to party hard, then target Ischgl, St Anton, Solden or Mayrhofen instead.
These days, however, there’s a lot more to apres-ski than drinking. As the sun sets, Seefeld is the place for curling on the town-centre rinks, floodlit cross-country skiing, spa treatments, coffee and cakes in a tearoom, or a dip in your hotel’s swimming-pool (or the Olympiabad). Oh yes – and if you don’t think your winter holiday is costing you enough money, you can lose your shirt in the Seefeld Casino.
Visit the Seefeld website for a full list of non-skiing activities – winter walks, sleigh rides, curling, skating, and toboganning are all on offer. We rate curling most highly amongst the gentler winter sports. Here, it’s played outdoors in a pretty spot close to an onion-domed church, and it takes about a minute to learn the rules. There are no brooms to polish the ice, as they do in the Winter Olympics. But if you’ve got the right group of fun-loving friends and/or family you can have a very happy couple of hours.
Fancy a drink afterwards? Head to the Klosterbrau’s brewpub, the wine bar at the Planger delicatessen, or for a proper, smoky Austrian bar, Café Putzi. Meanwhile at the bar of the four-star Alpenpark Resort there’s live music three times a week. Late nights usually finish at Buffalo & Jeep – a nightclub on Olympiastrasse near the town centre.