Bad Gastein

Bad Gastein is not only a premier Austrian spa town, it is also one of the country's best winter sports playgrounds. The beautiful Gastein Valley in the state of Salzburg is where you can find this divine destination, and when it comes down to it, the views alone are reason enough to visit. Clinging to steep hillsides is the attractive spa town, and rising up all around are some of the tallest peaks in the Austrian Alps. The village itself is situated at an altitude of almost 3,300 feet, and it is full of lovely Belle Epoque buildings that hearken back to its past. In the nineteenth century, Bad Gastein started attracting the rich and famous, and this is evidenced in the architecture. As for the skiing in the Gastein Valley, no fewer than four different ski areas cater to the needs of skiers and snowboarders alike with their excellent mix of trails and terrain.

The four ski areas that comprise the larger Bad Gastein Ski Area include Schlossalm-Angertal-Stubnerkogel, Sportgastein, Graukogel, and Dorfgastein. Between these ski areas, you will find runs to fit all levels, with the highest starting points being found at about 8,850 feet above sea level. More than 120 total miles of slopes call the Gastein Valley home, and the majority are of the intermediate level. Adding to the possibilities is the relatively new snowpark, or terrain park. A variety of jumps are mostly what you will find at the Gastein Snowpark, and plans are in the works to expand it. To get to the snowpark, you can take the Stubnerkogel lift in Bad Gastein or take the Angertal lift at Bad Hofgastein. If you prefer skiing long runs instead of flying off of jumps in terrain parks, the longest run in the valley is approximately five miles long. This extended trail is intended for advanced skiers and snowboarders and is found at the Schlossalm-Angertal-Stubnerkogel Ski Area.

Plenty of gentle hills that are ideal for families with small kids and anyone who just wants to take it easy while skiing or snowboarding are also in the Bad Gastein area. Other runs cater to visitors who like to do a lot of carving, and you can dip into a field of moguls if that's what you prefer. The snow is relatively reliable in the Gastein Valley, and when needed, the different resorts can cover some of their terrain with manmade snow. In general, the snow conditions are reliable from late November to late April. This gives prospective visitors plenty of time to drop by for some winter fun. Other activities beyond skiing or snowboarding on your trip to Bad Gastein include cross-country skiing, tobogganing down a hillside, snowshoeing, and ice climbing.

When Bad Gastein visitors aren't skiing and enjoying other winter sports, they often find themselves at one of the village's health centers or day spas. This is one of the finest spa towns in all of Europe, and it is worth mentioning that tantalizing spa packages that include a stay at a Bad Gastein hotel and some soothing spa treatments are usually available. Bad Gastein features some of the best hotels in the state of Salzburg, meaning you should have little trouble finding a comfortable room that offers proximity to the slopes, the spas, and everything else that the town and the surrounding area have to offer.

The Gastein Valley village is only 60 miles south of Salzburg, and this beautiful city serves at the main gateway. Bad Gastein is found along a major European rail line that also includes a stop in Salzburg, and this helps to make it relatively easy to reach. If you don't want to lug all your skiing or snowboarding equipment with you while traveling to Bad Gastein, rental equipment is available in good supply. The Gastein Valley ski areas also offer lessons in case you need some help when it comes to getting going.

If you haven't already booked a stay at a Bad Gastein hotel before arriving, you might drop by the tourist office in the center of town. You can get hotel tips at the tourist center, as well as tips for things to do and where to eat, among other things. As is true of most Austrian ski resorts, Bad Gastein offers an impressive number of good hotels. Among the best places to call home while in town are the Hotel Gruner Baum and the Hotel Elisabethpark.

These lodging gems certainly aren't the only hotels worth keeping in mind when visiting the Bad Gastein area, however. Other standouts include Hotel Weismayr, the Mondi-Holiday Bellevue Hotel, and the Haus Hirt Hotel & Spa, all of which are relatively luxurious themselves. Should spending less on a Bad Gastein hotel be the aim, then cheaper hotels such as the Hotel Mozart, the Hotel Alpenblick, and the Hotel Rader should be a better fit. Suffice it to say that this beautiful spa town has hotels to fit most tastes and budgets.

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