Gastein Valley with the family during winter

A few years ago, still without children of my own, I’ve already had the pleasure of visiting Gastein Valley, near the city of Salzburg several times. Meanwhile, I can add that the destination is also great for families. Read more about Liam learning how to ski at the Bad Hofgastein Ski School here. (Yes, even or especially three-year-olds will find perfect conditions and ski instructors at the Angertal Ski Centre).

Today, let’s talk a little more about what else we experienced beyond skiing or ski lessons.

Holidays with the whole family: In keeping with the photo motif, it has snowed heavily here on the Stubnerkogel in the Gastein Valley!

A winter trip with the family: Some heavy snowfall here on the Stubnerkogel mountain top in the Gastein Valley.


Horse-drawn sleigh ride with Heinz Gruber in the Kötschachtal valley

The Kötschachtal valley at the entrance to the Hohe Tauern National Park already cast its spell on us last year. This year, we had the pleasure of enjoying not only a winter hike there, but a horse-drawn sleigh ride! Heinz Gruber, our coachman, first introduced us to his two horses Susi and Schurli. He went on to share a lot of interesting facts about the Kötschachtal valley and the National Park along the way.

Heinz further made sure the horse-drawn sleigh ride perfectly suited our individual needs; for instance he drove for exactly as long as was possible with a four-year-old and a one-year-old in tow. Together, we also spent some time sharing tea and cake in the Himmelwand hut, all of us returning refreshed and in a good mood.

A great trip, and perfectly possible even with very young children!

Heinz Gruber zur Begrüßung mit seinen beiden Schlittenpferden Susi und Schurli.

Heinz Gruber and his horses Susi and Schurli.


Die Kutschenfahrt durch die stille Landschaft am Eingang ("Pufferzone") in den Nationalpark Hohe Tauern war einfach magisch.

Magic: Upon passing the National Park border, it all quiets down even more.


Rast bei der Rückfahrt: Blick auf die Himmelwandhütte im Kötschachtal.

On our way out, we stop at the Himmelwand hut for tea and refreshments.


Vier Erwachsene, zwei kleine Kinder: Schaffen unsere zwei PS locker!

Four adults, two little kids: No match (and not problem) for our two strong horse power!


Tips for skiing and food lovers at the Angertal Ski Centre

Despite all the nice alternatives to skiing, my husband and I ended up strapping on our own ski for one day. After dropping Liam off at his lessons, we made sure to explore the perfectly prepared slopes of the Angertal ski centre.

Hoch hinaus: Endlich schnuppern meine selbst gebauten Ski (und ich) wieder hochalpine Bergluft!

Let’s gooo: My ski and I enjoy another taste of the fresh mountain air!


Die Belohnung: Ein Vormittag Mitte Jänner außerhalb der Hauptferienzeit = nahezu leere Skipisten!

How rewarding it is to still travel outside of the main holiday season (no school kids yet)!


Danke für den schönen gemeinsamen Vormittag mein Schatz!

Thanks for the lovely ski morning, my dear!


Kulinarik-Tipp für Euch: Die Herzwies Hütte holt nach Einbruch der Dunkelheit Abendgäste mit dem Skitaxi ab: Für unsere Buben war es das Highlight des Abends!

Here’s a foodie tip for all those into seasonal local fare: The Herzwies Stubn mountain hut picks up its guests personally and offers wonderful meals after sunset. Be sure to book in advance!


Winter hikes at the Angertal Ski Centre

But the Angertal itself offers more than just foodie delights, or perfectly groomed slopes. Last year, my mum and I already pulled my then two-year-old son along a small stream on a sledge here; this year, we were able to go a bit further and discover real opportunities for extended winter hikes (with or without snowshoes).

Winterwanderung im Angertal ...

Winter hikes at the Angertal Ski Centre be like …


... vorbei an gemütlichen Hütten wie diesen ...

… typical mountain huts, such as this one …


... hat es auch schon unserem Jüngsten gefallen, die frische Bergluft mit uns zu genießen!

… even Levin, our youngest son, really enjoyed the fresh mountain air in his cosy carrier!


Guided winter hike with national park expert Hans Naglmayr

If you want to take winter hiking to another level and really immerse yourself in the snow-covered nature, off the beaten forest tracks, then you have to go with a local. One of them is the very friendly, very well-informed nature and national park guide Hans Naglmayr. I immediately connect with him and his shrewd Gastein humour. He does tell us many things (speaking both perfect English and fun local dialect!) that neither of us knew beforehand.

We learn, for example, that birds such as the local Fichtenkreuzschnabel already breed now, in the middle of winter, thanks to an abundance of spruce cones. It’s true: After a while, we notice the parent birds flitting about as it becomes quiet, well away from the ski circus, where only the white forest surrounds us.

A little later, when we spot tracks in the snow, Hans just says, “A fox ran past here two and a half hours ago.” Ahm.. well, sure! (To him at least). Fascinated, I stare at the tracks: first fox, then hare, then deer, … Hans seems to know them all personally.

Listening to all his stories, we trudge after him through the deep snow down the mountain.

Let's get started on the guided winter hike with Hans Naglmayr: from the middle station of the Schlossalm cable car we soon leave the ski slopes behind us ...

Let’s get started on our guided winter hike with Hans Naglmayr: After the Schlossalmbahn, we soon leave the ski slopes behind …


... tauchen wenig später tief ein in den winterlich verschneiten Wald ...

… enter the deep snow after some fresh snowfall …


... Again and again Hans points out interesting details from the nature surrounding us, such as these tree lichens, which indicate good air quality.

… and enjoy listening to Hans pointing out interesting details about the nature surrounding us, such as these tree lichens, which indicate good air quality.


Vielen Dank für die wirklich interessante Winterwanderung mit Dir, lieber Hans ...

Thank you for such an entertaining and informative winter hike through the Gastein Valley, dear Hans …


... mein Tipp für Euch lautet, einzig noch Stöcke mitzubringen damit der Abstieg durch den Wald und bis in den Talboden einfacher und angenehmer ist.

… my only advise to you is to bring walking sticks, as it makes for an easier descent through the snow-covered forest.


Stubnerkogel mountain top ski resort without ski

The Stubnerkogel, one of the highest mountain peaks and ski resorts in the Gastein Valley, can also be explored without ski. In addition to a modern summit restaurant with really good cuisine, it also offers a suspension bridge and a viewing platform over the surrounding mountains.

Liam is delighted when we “reward” him with a gondola ride up the Stubnerkogel on the fourth day of his ski lessons!

Hoch hinaus, mit den Gondeln der Senderbahn vom Skizentrum Angertal weg ...

As we make our way up the mountain from the Angertal Ski Centre …


... blicken wir hinab auf die bestens präparierten Pisten unter uns ...

… we take a look at the slopes beneath us …


... kommen oben bei dieser Aussicht an ...

… before arriving to the summit area …


... try the swingbridge!

… complete with a long suspension bridge: Would you dare walk it?


Afterwards you can dine well in the summit restaurant directly on the Stubnerkogel, which is also ideally suited for the little ones.

Stop to refresh at the summit restaurant right by the Stubnerkogel mountain top, also ideally suited for little ones.


A tour of the historic mountain town Bad Gastein

Last but not least, I would like to tell you about a guided tour through the history of Bad Gastein. This tour takes place every Wednesday afternoon in winter; we registered through the tourist office and only had to pay € 5 with our guest card.

The wintry atmosphere and the interesting explanations of the town guide made for an interesting journey of discovery. We briefly warmed up by the historic Elisabeth Hot Spring: Named after Austrian Empress Elisabeth, it is only one of many hot springs in the Gastein Valley.

In any case, the views of the town’s magnificent buildings are worth the trip, especially in winter.

Stadtansicht von Bad Gastein ...

A view of the town of Bad Gastein …


... und seinem berühmten Wasserfall im Winter Wonderland.

… with its large, icy waterfall thundering right through town!


Be sure to stay at the local apartment building “Ferienhaus Schiwiese”.

As in the previous year, our travel party (made up of a total of nine adults, three toddlers, and one dog) opted for the apartment building Ferienhaus Schiwiese. The family-run accommodation has the perfect location close to the mountain cable car Schlossalmbahn, as well as the Alpentherme Gastein Hot Springs. In the morning, you can strap on your skis right by the building and also enjoy daily admission to the Springs, already included in the price of your overnight stay. I also love that there’s fresh bread service each morning, fantastic views over Bad Hofgastein, and perfect space for large travel groups.

Ferienhaus Schiwiese

A view to the Ferienhaus Schiwiese apartment building from the nearby ski slope.


I would definitely stay there again. See you next time in Gastein Valley?


Disclaimer: We have been invited on the horse-drawn sleigh ride as well as the winter hike with Hans Naglmayr. All opinions are my own.

You may also like

Join the discussion

This website uses cookies to make your visit more efficient and to offer you more user-friendliness. By using this website, you consent to the use of cookies. Accept Read More

Cookies Policy