Saalbach has a good claim to be the best ski resort in Salzburg.
While the famous resorts in the Tyrol to the west tend to get the column inches in the newspapers and magazines, the ski area above the village deserves to be ranked in the Austrian top 10.
While Saalbach and its smaller neighbour Hinterglemm don't have the upper-crust attractions of a Kitzbühel or a Lech or the notoriety of the party resorts like Sölden and Ischgl, the Glemm valley can boast an attractive blend of lively village charm, combined with a ski area that can match many of its western neighbours.
Saalbach has its own group of regular visitors - skiers who will wax lyrical about the traditional mountain huts or the après ski possibilities coming off the slopes at the end of the day. But for some reason, it has always seemed to play second fiddle to the nearby centre of Zell am See, even though the ski area is far bigger, the villages are higher and the mountain setting is just as attractive.
Rumours continue to abound about a further extension of the ski area, despite the recent link up to Fieberbrunn - a link to Zell am See in one direction is going through the discussions at a local government level and a game-changer would be, eventually, creating a massive ski area via a link into the Kitzbühel valley.
Saalbach is the principal village covered here but skiers can also choose from Hinterglemm up the valley, Vorderglemm down the valley or Leogang over the other side of the Asitz mountain. (See the Hotels and Travel tabs above for details about booking your own accommodation and making your own way to the resort).
Location: Saalbach is situated in the Glemm valley in between the towns of Zell am See and Saalfelden and not too far from Salzburg.
Access: The village can be reached by bus from the main valley, which is also where the nearest train station is located.
Saalbach Ski Positives
- good ski area with circuit linking four villages
- lively village centre with a deserved reputation for après ski
- generally good snow record and altitude
- long runs
Saalbach Ski Negatives
- connections often mean skiing all the way into the valley, which means a lot of lift usage
- altitude of top lifts not particularly high
- slopes and lifts can get crowded
- access, while not difficult, is not the best if planning on using public transport
Saalbach Ski Information
Saalbach's ski area consists of long runs on both sides of dead-end valley with a link over to Leogang in the next valley over.
Both Saalbach and Hinterglemm cross over from one side to another, but many visitors like to ski the valley circuit in one direction or another, or else to take a day excursion over to the Leogang side.
The skiing is mainly at an intermediate level and a feature of the area is that many of the connections involve skiing from the top stations of the lifts to the valley floor. Those who enjoy getting plenty of kilometres under their skis will relish this style of skiing, but it does mean that it is necessary to descend into mushy snow in poor conditions.
What is especially unusual about many of these long runs is that they are blue runs, meaning that skiers at a lower intermediate level or those who are a little nervous about getting stuck on something too hard have an opportunity here to stretch their legs and really cover some ground.
The runs from the Schattberg down to Vorderglemm and the one from the Seidl Alm down to Viehhofen are examples of this type of run.Intermediate level skiers who are a little bit more confident will find that this ski area is perfect for them, with those long blue runs augmented by a collection of interesting reds dotted all over the various mountains.
Those who are looking for something a little bit more testing will find some easyish black runs off the Zwölferkogel in the Hinterglemm area as well as the run directly down from the Schattberg into Saalbach.
One last plus point that Saalbach skiing offers is a high number of traditional-style mountain huts for stops along the way and a party atmosphere in the some of the lower ones at the end of the day.
The whole ski area has 55 lifts and covers around 200km of terrain. (From 2015-16 the ski area has been linked via new lifts to the nearby Fieberbrunn area in the Tyrol and - at a jump - has become one of the largest areas in Austria.)
Ski Pass Prices 2018/2019
A day pass for the Saalbach ski area will cost 55 Euros and a six-day pass will cost 263 Euros. There are reductions for the pre-Christmas period, in January and from mid-March.
Ski Slope Verdict
- Saalbach is not bad for beginner skiers. The slopes to the north of village offer a practice area for those just learning, while up on the Kohlmaiskopf and Bründlkopf there are networks of undemanding blue runs.
- Saalbach is a deserved favourite of intermediate skiers. The loop around the end of the valley at Hinterglemm or the run over to Leogang are examples of the many options available.
- Advanced skiers will find some challenges here. The black runs are not all that black, though, and the best re is plenty of space to find powder stashes after good snow and there are some fun black runs dotted around the area. And, of course, there is the chance to try the black sections of the Streif ski race run on the Hahnenkamm...
How To Get To Saalbach
Distance to Salzburg Airport (AT): 85km
Distance to Innsbruck Airport (AT): 160km
Distance to Munich Airport (DE): 220km
Nearest railway station to Saalbach: Maishofen - 14km
Salzburg is the closest of the principal airports used for winter holidays in Austria and offers a good range of charter and scheduled flights. Public transport is best by bus, with a service going from the airport through to Maishofen and another connecting route then heading up the Glemm valley.
Innsbruck and Munich are both considerably less convenient for those arriving by air and relying on public transport. There is a train service from Innsbruck's main station through to Saalfelden (passing through Leogang, which is also connected to the Saalbach ski area) or to Zell am See but nonetheless the journey is likely to take two or three changes.
Likewise transport from Munich is likely to involve at least three changes and take around five hours.
Car hire is available from all airports - links to rental car availability in the different countries are listed below and open in a new window:
Car drivers arriving from Salzburg and the east should head over the German border past the airport in the direction of Unken and the town of Lofer. From here a main road leads south to Saalfelden and Maishofen before heading into the Glemm valley.
Drivers coming from Germany have a few options - all of which should end up at Saalfelden eventually. Drivers can come off the motorway at Oberaudorf (then via Kössen and Lofer), at Kufstein or at Wörgl (then via St Johann and Leogang).
Those arriving from Innsbruck and the west will be taking the Inn valley motorway through to Wörgl and then the route mentioned in the previous paragraph.
Town Altitude: 1000m
The ski season for the main ski area opens for winter 2018/2019 at the beginning of December and runs through to 07 April. (Some lifts will remain open until 22 April depending on snow conditions.)
Saalbach Tourist Office: www.saalbach.com
Saalbach Weather Forecast: www.weatheraustria.net
Saalbach Ski School: www.skischule-saalbach.at
Austrian Railways (includes public bus services): www.oebb.at