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Ski Guide: Kitzbühel, Austria: One of Europe's Most Popular Winter Destinations

Filed Under: Austria, Skiing
Less than 2 hours from Munich, tucked away in the Austrian state of Tyrol, is Kitzbühel, one of the first international ski resorts and the #1 holiday resort in Austria. The town itself dates back almost 800 years, and skiing there is a century-old tradition. Its cobbled roads and quaint buildings, bustling with restaurants, cafes, bars and lounges, are as popular as the skiing. Kitzbühel is unmatched when it comes to Tyrolean charm—and it’s also home to some of the meanest courses in the World Cup circuit.

Only at Kitzbühel
The town of Kitzbühel sits surrounded by 3 major ski areas: the Jochberg Pass Turn, the Kitzbüheler Horn and the Hahnenkamm, the namesake of a premier World Cup downhill course. Hahnenkamm is steep, slick and demanding—a challenge to professional skiers and adventurous vacationers.

Best-Kept Secret
The 8 local ski schools are as legendary as the town, with an international reputation for excellence. The long, gentle slopes provide a perfect backdrop for progress, whether you’re improving your alpine, cross-country, telemark or snowboarding skills. Intermediates enjoy the vast slopes conjoined by an efficient link system. Experts can test their skills on the Streif downhill course, recognized by professional skiers as one of the world’s most spectacular ski runs. It’s open to the public throughout the season, with the exception of the Hahnenkamm race weekend.

Where to Sleep
Kitzbühel is home to a wide array of lodging options, but those seeking to soak in the Tyrolean experience should consider 2 slightly upscale options: the Romantik Hotel Tennerhof or the Hotel Schloss Lebenberg. Once a 17th-century farmhouse, Romantik Hotel Tennerhof is located less than half a mile west of Kitzbühel center. The small chalet (48 units) is furnished in the Tyrolean style and painstakingly cared for by the Pasquali family, who feed guests with wholesome dishes featuring vegetables and herbs grown in their garden.

The heart of Hotel Schloss Lebenberg is a medieval castle that sits on a hill overlooking Kitzbühel village. The Gothic-style castle rooms are the most popular, but a modern extension adds rooms of varying sizes (and prices), some with private patios or balconies.

Kitzbühel’s proximity to Munich, Salzberg and Innsbruck make it a popular weekend destination. Therefore, reservations are necessary for all lodging during winter months, particularly in the high season (Christmas—February).

Where to Eat
Many of the noteworthy restaurants in Kitzbühel are affiliated with hotels. The restaurant inside the Romantik Hotel Tennerhof is a favorite among locals, vacationers and reviewers. It boasts huge windows that provide breathtaking views between palate-pleasing courses. The menu features local cuisine, like rabbit bouillon and saddle of lamb with polenta, and reservations are required. Other popular hotel restaurants include the Dining Rooms in the Schloss Lebenberg and Hotel Restaurant Zur Tenne.

One of the town’s most famous pastry shops is Café Praxmair. Before dinner, order hot chocolate and a Florentine cookie. The café is open daily until 1 a.m. but there is also a cellar bar that is open until dawn.

Lunch options include mountain huts and slope-side eateries for skiers and snowboarders. Click here to view a full list of these casual restaurants.

Where to Shop
A shopping circuit surrounding the resort’s center boasts retailers like Lacoste, Prada, Gucci, Louis Vuitton and Dolce & Gabbana. In addition to these familiar couture names, traditional Austrian clothing and handcrafted artifacts are available at stores like Jochbergerstrasse and Sportalm. Click here for a quick guide to shopping in Kitzbühel.

For the Non-Skier
Ski mountaineering (extreme mountain hiking), cross-country skiing, hiking, ice-skating and curling are just some of the other winter sports in Kitzbühel. In summer, the resort’s athletic center bursts with activity. Hiking is the favored sport amongst summer visitors, but the mountain also offers cycling, swimming, golf, tennis archery and horseback-riding. Additionally, if you’re visiting Kitzbühel during the summer months, contact the tourist offices (+43 (0)5356 66660, info@kitzbuehel.com) for the Kitzbühel Guest Card, entitling you to discounts and freebies.

Biggest Bang for Your Buck
Thanks to its convenient location and legendary skiing, Kitzbühel is one of Europe’s most popular winter destinations. Stretch your dollar by going at off-peak times, namely before Christmas or during March. While you are there, consider investing in the Kitzbühel Alps All-Star Card, providing access to Kitzbühel and 9 other surrounding ski areas.

Travel Channel Tip
Because so many of Kitzbühel’s best restaurants are affiliated with a hotel, we recommend staying on a half-board plan, which allows guests to personalize what meals they would like included with their stay. Ask your hotel about their half-board policies (sometimes called MAPs, or Modified American Plans).

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