For sports enthusiasts, no trip to Austria in the winter would be complete without a day spent skiing in the Alps. The Hinterstoder ski resort combines gorgeous scenery with good skiing – and their lift tickets are very affordable!
It’s worth noting that having grown up in the Midwestern US, most of us had never skied a real mountain before. The resort we spent most of our ski time at boasts a whopping 300 foot vertical drop. That’s basically the bunny hill at a real ski mountain like Hinterstoder Hoss. Skiing in the Alps had always been a dream, but not something I ever thought I’d get to do. We were very rusty and slightly overmatched, but after getting comfortable we did pretty well. And I didn’t fall down at all, so I consider it a victory.
Note: This post was not sponsored and we paid for the full cost of our skis and lift tickets.
Ski rental at Hinterstoder
If you own skis and are able to bring them, I’d highly recommend doing so. Renting skis at Hinterstoder was the most expensive part of our day. I’ve owned my own skis since high school, and I’d forgotten how much time going through the rental process can take. By brother who lives in Austria was able to provide two sets of skis, but the rest of us needed to acquire some for the day before we could head up the mountain.
We parked in the main lot and headed inside the ski rental building to get fitted. You can reserve your rentals online ahead of time on the Hinterstoder website, and it would’ve saved us lots of time. We had to fill out our rental information on a slow, hard-to-type-on computer at the rental store, which we could’ve done 10x faster on a laptop or our phones.
Hinterstoder lift tickets
Once we were geared up, we headed over to the main lift to buy our lift tickets. It’s not super far from the parking lot, but ski boots are not made for walking, so it felt like it took an eternity to get there.
Before we bought our lift tickets, we realized that waiting an extra ten minutes would save us 10 euros each. It was 12:50 and at 1 pm, the discounted afternoon rate took effect, making our lift tickets a very affordable 33 euros/each. For comparison, we routinely pay $50+ for lift tickets at the previously mentioned 300 foot tall hills in Michigan and the lift tickets I looked at near Lake Tahoe were over $100/person. We hung around the ticket booth for a few minutes and took the opportunity to use the bathroom before getting in line.
My mom doesn’t ski, but she was able to buy a much cheaper ticket that only got her up the main lift to the restaurants and warming houses. She was still able to enjoy the beautiful scenery and take some pictures of us skiing without it costing a fortune.
Skiing at Hinterstoder
When we got to the top of the main lift, we headed straight for the bunny hill. We had one brand new skier in our group, and most of the rest of us hadn’t skied in a couple of years, so we needed a nice, easy hill to warm up on. My only complaint is that the bunny hill is serviced by incredibly slow belts instead of the tow ropes I’m used to so riding back to the top felt like it took an eternity.
After a few runs, my dad and I were ready to hit some bigger hills. My brother, who had skied Hinterstoder before, recommended taking one of the t-bars up a smaller slope while he tried to teach our newbie skiers some techniques. We skied over and stood at the bottom of the slope looking up for a minute before agreeing that it was way too steep for either one of us to have as a first run.
We decided to meet up with my mom in the warming house and have some drinks while the rest of the group redid the bunny hill. Just when we were getting ready to hit the slopes, my brother showed up and decided that he wanted a beer too. I was annoyed and tired of waiting to ski, so I headed back out to find a slope to hit.
I ended up back at the same steep one my dad and I had passed on an hour earlier and in my aggravated state decided that yes, I should definitely do that one. I hopped on the t-bar lift and headed up. The higher I went, the steeper it seemed to get and all I could think about was how bad of an idea this had been. I briefly considered bailing on the t-bar so I only had to navigate the bottom half of the mountain, but decided that that might be frowned upon.
It was definitely not my greatest idea, and a perfect example of why making decisions while angry is usually not a very good choice, but I made it down in one piece without falling. I didn’t look pretty doing it, but slowly and surely I worked my way down to the bottom. The timing was perfect, as my dad and brothers had just set out for the lift to head to the top of the mountain and I was able to finally join up with them.
Skiing the Alps at last
The long lift we rode took us almost all the way to the top of the mountain. We wanted to go up the final one that went all the way up, but they had closed it already in an effort to push people toward the exit. The view from the top was amazing, even though with my mediocre ski skills, I wasn’t entirely convinced that we were going to survive the trip down. I remember saying, “Well, at least if we die, it’ll be pretty.” I’ve never skied in such pretty scenery, and a ski trip to Hinterstoder is worth it just for the view of the snow-covered Alps all around you.
The slopes higher up the mountain are actually less steep than the one I’d started on and made for nice, easy ski runs as we headed back toward the main area. I got out my GoPro camera and my brothers helped me take some really cool footage of our trip down.
As luck would have it, our route meant re-conquering the steep hill I’d started on, but I felt a lot better on it the second time around.
By the time we worked our way down to the main area, the first lift we’d come up on had closed, so we had to ski all the way down to the parking lot. Not that we were disappointed – it would’ve been a shame to only get one real run out of our trip to ski in the Alps.
We set off down the winding runs down the bottom half of the mountain, curving under the lift and through thick pine forests. I went slowly enough that everyone else passed us, so we were the last ones down off of the mountain that day.
The bottom half of the Hinterstoder slopes was quite enjoyable – until the final run. That one was pretty steep for me and very icy. I stumbled and almost fell about 95% of the way down, but caught myself and finished the day without falling once, which I considered a bit of an accomplishment.
The ski run ended right at the Hinterstoder parking lot where we’d left our van, so we didn’t have to repeat the long walk we’d made at the beginning. We were a few minutes late to return our skis (no one had mentioned that they were closing early that day – oops), so we shed our gear as fast as possible and then swapped stories with the rest of the family in the parking lot while we cooled off.
Hinterstoder Hoss is a great ski resort for advanced and moderate skiers, but I’m not sure I’d recommend it for beginners. The bunny hill was just a little too small to use to build skills, and there weren’t any super easy runs to start out on.
Basic info for skiing at Hinterstoder Hoss
If I’ve convinced you to do some skiing at Hinterstoder, here is everything you need to know to plan your dream trip.
Getting to Hinterstoder
Hinterstoder is in central Austria, about a 1.5 hour drive from Salzburg and an hour drive from Linz. This would be the perfect day trip from Salzburg. Parking was free at the ski rental lot. There are also train routes to Hinterstoder if you don’t have a vehicle.
Hinterstoder Hoss lift tickets
At the time of this writing, adult lift tickets were 43.5 euros for one day. Youths under 16 were 35 euros, and children aged 6-15 were 24 euros. We saved 10 euros by getting an afternoon only pass. Lift ticket prices can also vary by season. Multi-day tickets are also available. Check out the Hinterstoder website for sales. Non-skiers can also buy lift tickets up the main lift for 18 euros for adults.
Lift tickets are controlled by RFID cards that you keep in your pocket. I’d recommend putting yours in your hip pocket on your left side for maximum effectiveness.
Hinterstoder ski rental
There are three ski rental locations at Hinterstoder. Two are in town, and one is at the halfway house above the main lift. You can make equipment reservations online in advance here, which I would highly recommend.
Prices for a full set of skis, boots, poles, and a helmet start at 48 euros, and increase if you want higher quality equipment. Lockers are also available for rental.
Hinterstoder hours of operation
Lifts are open at Hinterstoder from December-early April. The main gondola lift runs from 8:30-4:30 daily, with the lifts further up the mountain closing at 4pm.
Looking for more great things to do in Europe? Check these out.
- Fortress Hohensalzburg: Salzburg’s Top Attraction
- The Leonardo da Vinci Museum in Venice
- Exploring the Wieliczka Salt Mine