9 adults (including 1 pregnant lady), 1 baby, 1 toddler + 1 dog. How (Where) do you accommodate all that? 😀 For our joint winter trip to Gastein Valley in the province of Salzburg, my family and I chose a centrally located holiday apartment with several separate units, the so-called Ferienhaus Schiwiese in Bad Hofgastein. I can definitely recommend it as your base for exploring the Gasteinertal alpine valley: The booking includes free daily admission to the Alpentherme Gastein Spa Centre, and this also on the days of arrival and departure. By contrast, the official local Gastein Card “only” gets you reduced admission fees to the spa.
Another bonus of the holiday apartment “Ferienhaus Schiwiese” is that you can ski directly over a short slope to the valley station of the Schlossalmbahn in Bad Hofgastein. Watching the skiers in my group with a little jealous sting, the kicking baby in my belly reminds me: “Come on, mummy. Let’s do something else!”
Angertal Ski Centre: Other than skiing, you can hike, choose a cross-country ski trail or take a sled (and toddler!) with you.
The snowfall that started early on the first morning of our stay prompted my mum to join my son Liam and me instead of spending a ski day of her own. From the Angertal Ski Centre, we follow a little trail towards the Waldgasthof hut, which is about 300 metres away along a nice winter walking trail. It doesn’t sound like much, but it is a “long walk” when you are but two years old (or highly pregnant 😉 ). Liam just loved looking at the “wild skiers” passing by, the rattling snow vehicles, the snowcats and other interesting figures (a short part of the path is also the end of a ski slope).
Sportgastein Ski Centre: Again, other than skiing, try the sweet vanilla sauce dumplings at the Valeriehaus hut!
High up in Sportgastein, a small ski resort “hidden” behind numerous tunnels and gorges at around 1600 metres above sea level, you will find truly wild winter scenery. The entrance to the Hohe Tauern National Park offers a view of seemingly untouched mountain landscapes. We manage a few steps along cross-country ski trails, winter walking paths, as well as the “Husky Trail” where dog sledding is offered. This time, it’s my dad who joins us, pulling Liam on his sled!
Kötschachtal + Himmelwand Hut: Alpacas & horses along a lovely little hiking trail off Bad Gastein.
The short hike (about one and a half kilometres) from the car park on the Kötschachtal road to the Himmelwand hut in the quiet forest is just magic. A pure winter wonderland, as the snow continues to fall. The feeling intensifies as we leave the last houses behind and immerse ourselves in the silence of the quietly falling snow, the open valley floor and the forest. Every now and then, other people greet us along the way. Alpacas, too, continue to fascinate Liam!
Tip: If the path to the Himmelwand hut seems too short, you can walk past it much further into the valley and through the forest. Put the toddler on the sled, place the baby in the carrier, and take the dog on a leash: Off you go!
Take a sleigh ride through Maierhofen, Dorfgastein & Luggau.
DO IT! I am deliberately writing this in capital letters, as our horse-drawn sleigh ride was such a wonderful highlight at the end of our family trip. Sleigh rides like these are offered several times throughout the Gastein Valley; we chose the Berger family for it, who charge € 15 per person for a one-hour sleigh ride. We were eight adults, plus my brother’s baby and Liam in the spacious, comfortable sleigh with blankets. It was wonderful. The panorama, all the snowfall from the day before, the midday sun and the white Gastein Valley … need I say anything else? 🙂
Finally, if you are tempted to travel to Gastein Valley, I can also share some tips for the summer season: Foodie Travel Tips from Gastein Valley in Salzburg, Austria. Safe travels and enjoy your stay here!