One of the biggest interconnected ski areas in Austria can be found in the Paznaun Valley in Tyrol. The old farming village of Ischgl is situated right on the base of this massive ski resort. Ischgl is sometimes called the Ibiza of the Alps and is not only well-known for its huge ski area. It gained a lot of popularity over the years by hosting huge concenrt on top of the mountain, with big names like Rihanna, Beyonce, Elton John, Katy Perry. Whether you come for the skiing or the après ski, Ischgl will never get boring!
Pros and Cons of Ischgl
The skiing is obviously fantastic as there is loads of terrain to explore. The state-of-the-art lifts make your journey uphill comfortable and fast so you can enjoy the 240km groomed runs to the max. The resort is definitely suited for snowboarders as they host a huge Snow Park where its possible to take up to 11 jumps in one run and enjoy the massive bag jump to try out your new tricks.
Ischgl has a lively après ski scene and there are loads of places where the party starts right after you completed the valley run at the end of the day. Actually it is hard to choose where to party since you see so many bars full of people celebrating a day on the mountain. Especially around 4pm the town is booming with hundreds of people roaming the streets looking for a place to have a drink. You think you feel to old for this? Then take a look around, Ischgl does not attract the typical après ski crowd! People that come to Ischgl tend to be at least 10 year older than some of the popular resorts in for example the Zillertal. It creates a much relaxing vibe. Though sometimes Ischgl can be over the top, with champagne bottles of +€5,000 on the drink menu. This old farming town changed rapidly over the years and became a sophisticated tourist hub in the Alps. Nowadays the town hosts now over 11,000 beds. Book ahead, cause they book out rapidly and there are weeks there are hardly any beds available for a decent price.
As said before Ischgl is more than shredding down the mountain. There are numerous events on the calendar. Apart from the big opening and closing concerts there is a Harly Davidson Weekend, where motorbikes try to ride uphill as far as they can. Furthermore there are catwalk shows, culinary events, a spring festival and many more on their event calendar.
Obviously something that is popular is not cheap either! The main issue about Ischgl is its price level. Accommodation can be outrageously expensive and budget options are hard to find, drinks can cost up to 50% more than in other resorts and food is not cheap either. That said Ischgl is made to generate money, especially on the mountain. The traditional Tyrolean ambiance is hard to find and huts are converted in massive restaurants asking hefty prices. Beach chairs to enjoy the sun cost €8 where everywhere else in Tyrol they are for free!
Skiing in Ischgl
The Silvretta Arena is connected with the ski resort of Samnaun across the border in Switzerland. Skiing into another country adds that little bit extra to the resort. Samnaun in Switserland is even a tax-free paradise, so some product like alcohol, cigarettes and perfume are a price grabbers. Be careful though, they might check your backpack on top of the lift.
The area is vast and with almost 240km of groomed runs there is suitable terrain for all levels. Since the are so big there are hardly any queues at the lifts and with the opening of a new gondola in November 2014 even in the peak hours going uphill is smooth.
Beginners will stay around Idalp where wide easy runs all guide you back to a central point of the mountain where many lifts converge. This is also the area where you can find the Funpark and where the concerts will be held. Experts will head out to the more challenging runs of Höllboden or Gampen. In and between the tracks there is loads of terrain available for freeriders. Especially the area around Gampen offers amazing powder runs. Snowboarders will love this area, as there is no climbing needed and guiding back to the lift is easy. Freeriding options in Ischgl are plenty; you just have to be lucky with the weather!
Because of its location high up in the valley the run down to the village of Ischgl is always open, even at the end of the season its possible to ride all the way down. The valley run is also part of the longest run in the area, which is according to the trail map 11km and takes you from the highest point 2,872m to the après ski bars in town on 1,377m. Though according to my ski tracker its only 8,8km!
Riding the Ischgl Snowpark
With so many other attractions you wouldn’t think that Ischgl would invest a lot in a Funpark. Though the XL park is well known for its massive opportunities. The huge advantage of this park is that it is long and one lap in the park is almost 2km! The Ischgl Funpark is definitely among my favorites as there are plenty of jumps to take from top to bottom. Up to 11 kickers can be taken in one run, which gives you loads of opportunities to practice on your jumps. You can easily take up to 200 kickers a day, which is insane! So if you want to improve your jumps, then this Snowpark will be one of your favorites for sure!
Alongside the kickers there are obstacles to ride, though not as many like in the Vans Off The Wall Snowpark in Mayrhofen. Big plus is the huge air bag, where you can practice your new tricks without thinking about the landing!
Where to après ski in Ischgl
It is hard to say where is the best place to go for partying after a great day on the mountain. There are loads of places to go to and all of them involve music and alcohol. Though there can be made a distinction. For partying on the mountain itself definitely head to the Paznauner Taya around 2pm. I believe it’s the only hut on the mountain that hosts an open-air party if the weather permits. They stop at around 4pm though since the ride down to the village is still a couple kilometers. For typical après ski music head to the Kuhstall, located in center of town on the main square, which becomes a centralized place for party people with the Fire & Ice just across the square.
Also on this side of the town there is the Trofana Alm, where to party goes through the roof, but be early it can get extremely busy. Next door is the Champagne Hütte, a smaller version of the Trofana Alm. All of the just mentioned bars party until early in the morning. On the other side of town you will find the Schatzi Bar, with a ski-in entrance! Lovely girls dressed in sexy clothing will dance on the tables and people from all ages dance to the tunes of electronic music. Completely different is the Nikki Stadl, only a couple meters away which only plays German Schlagers sang by the owner himself: Nikki. The average age of party people is 40-50 and the ambiance is fantastic after a couple beers! You just gotta give it a try!