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Skiing in Kitzbühel: Everything You Should Know!

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Kitzbühel

I love skiing and I especially love west coast skiing.

But, everyone always talks about skiing in Europe so I was curious to try a European ski resort this season.

Luckily, the Ikon pass includes a couple mountains in Italy, Switzerland, France and Austria… so after a quick scan of the included resorts, my friends and I settled on Kitzbuhel for a girl’s ski trip.

 

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Kitzbuhel is a cute medieval town nestled in the mountains of western Austria.

It’s most famous for the Hahnenkamm race – an annual downhill slalom course full of snaking turns and blind steep drops where the world’s best ski racers regularly reach speeds of 100 mph.

But mostly we picked it because it hit the trifecta of great skiing, beautiful views and convenient to get to.

We spent a week in the Austrian alps and had a great time! I can see why people rave about skiing in Europe.

Here’s everything to know about planning a ski trip to Kitzbuhel, Austria.

 

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Kitzbühel, Austria

Kitzbuhel is one of the most famous ski resorts in Austria, if not all of Europe.

The quaint Alpine town is located in the Austrian province of Tyrol, east of Innsbruck, and still retains its charming medieval center.

It’s quite famous and fashionable – in fact, every European I met on my surf camp raised their eyebrows when they heard I was going to Kitzbuhel.

So if you’re coming to ski here, I wouldn’t quite expect the ‘inexpensive European ski’ vibes that people popularize on social media.

If anything, Kitzbuhel is ritzy, with some of the most expensive real estate in Austria.

I had fun browsing all the window listings of the countless real estate brokerages in town.

I also had fun window shopping at all the stores in the historic downtown. Moncler, Bogner, Dior, Louis Vuitton, Rolex… it was quite funny to see the limited range of shops in town.

 

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How to Get to Kitzbuhel

The nice thing about visiting Kitzbuhel as an American is it’s quite convenient to get to and car free (if you wish). 

 

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Flying to Kitzbühel

The three closest airports are Munich (MUC), Salzburg (SZG) and Innsbruck (INN).

Innsbruck is the regional capital, but flight options might be slim. Salzburg is the closest airport, but has limited train options to get to Kitzbuhel.

 

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For most international travelers, Munich will be the most convenient as it’s an international airport and a major transit hub. 

I flew nonstop on Lufthansa from Newark (EWR) and somehow had the entire row to myself for the 8 hour flight!

Note: Highly recommend Lufthansa over United. They’re codeshare, but United charges for even a carry on while Lufthansa included a checked bag and gives free wine at meal times.

Also, definitely set a flight alert as prices fluctuate.

Check flights and set fare alerts for Kitzbuhel here.

 

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Driving to Kitzbühel

From Munich airport, it’s about a two hour drive to Kitzbuhel.

The airport has lots of car rental options, including Sixt and Hertz

I typically use AutoEurope to compare car rental rates. They aggregate pricing from every available option to easily show you the cheapest price.

For ski trips, I always recommend renting a hatchback or SUV so the car has room for all your ski and snowboard gear.

 

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Also, make sure to select a rental car with AWD or 4WD – you want the car to have enough power and control when it snows!

The roads are salted and plowed often, but as an extra safety precaution, buy snow chains for your trip. 

I recommend renting a car if you have a large group or plan to stay outside of Kitzbuhel town, in one of the nearby villages.

Accommodation outside of Kitzbuhel is much cheaper so what you’ll spend on renting a car, you’d more than likely save in accommodation and train tickets.

Check here for rental cars for your dates.

 

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Munich to Kitzbühel by Train

If you don’t want to drive, you can get to Kitzbuhel from Munich airport by train.

The process involves a couple of transfers, but it’s doable and takes ~2.5 hours.

From Munich airport, you’ll want to hop on the S8 subway to get to the train station Munchen Ost, then hop on the train to reach the city of Wörgl.

From Wörgl, you switch to a local train to arrive at Kitzbuhel.

It sounds complicated, but is pretty straightforward and easy – even with luggage.

The trains are comfy, have sections for large luggage storage, and the stations have elevators to get to the platforms.

Book train tickets here.

 

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The train journey is very affordable, but you’ll want to book tickets in advance as prices rise over time.

I also looked at buying an earlier train ticket the day of, since my flight arrived very early, and the fares were 3x the price.

So definitely book your train tickets in advance!

I recommend using Omio for the cheapest fares.

 

Tip: Also download the DB Navigator app to use during the journey – it has a better user interface that makes it easier to navigate the train stations. 

 

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Finally, it helps to know a bit of German!

I have to be honest – I was a little surprised by the (lack of) helpful signage throughout Austria and Germany. There was definitely a slight language barrier, ha.

Luckily, one of my friends is fluent in German so she did most of the navigation for us.

In hindsight, I should have brushed up on some basic German words, like:

  • flughafen – airport
  • Munchen Ost – Munich East
  • U-Bahn – subway (designated by an S symbol in Munich airport, for Stadtschnellbahn or S-bahn or urban rapid rail)

 

And if you have a large group and want to skip all that, you can book a private transfer.

Depending on your group size, it can be the same price as taking the train. 

Book a private shuttle here.

 

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Kitzbühel in Winter

Lastly, be sure to visit Kitzbuhel with travel insurance.

Whether your flight is delayed, you get injured and need to be hospitalized, or your phone gets stolen, travel insurance will help when you need it most!

We ran into an issue on the way from Munich to Kitzbuhel (some police activity closed down the subway and trains) so we ended up taking a very expensive uber to make it to Kitzbuhel in time.

Get a quote for your trip here.

 

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Where to Stay in Kitzbühel

Accommodation during the winter ski season gets booked up quickly, so make sure to book in advance.

We waited until the last minute and really regretted that, ha. Not only was there very limited availability (we got the last room at our hotel), it was also very expensive.

As for where to stay, Kitzbuhel has a couple main areas:

If it’s your first time visiting Kitzbuhel, I recommend staying in the town of Kitzbuhel!

 

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Kitzbühel Downtown

Downtown Kitzbuhel is really cute, and where I would recommend first timers to stay.

There’s the pedestrian-only center, with medieval buildings and cute shops, and the main Hannenkahm lift is about a 5-15 minute walk, depending on where you stay. 

Plus if you stay here, you won’t need a car.

Lodging wise, it’s predominantly hotels and many of them are ‘half-board’, meaning the rate also includes breakfast and dinner (usually a multi-course fine-dining style dinner).

Here are some of the most popular hotels:

 

Hotel Goldener Greif

Hotel Goldener Greif has a great location in downtown Kitzbuhel, right behind the main street. (It’s also connected to the casino).

The 4-star, family-run hotel is one of the historic buildings in the city’s medieval center. Rooms are decorated in Tyrolian style and have lots of space.

Free breakfast, family friendly and stunning views of Hahnenkamm mountain – what more could you want!

Check rates: Booking.com | Read reviews: TripAdvisor

 

 

Hotel Kaiserhof Kitzbühel

The closest hotel to the mountain (directly across from hahnenkamm lift), you can’t get any more convenient than this luxurious mountain hotel!

Hotel Kaiserhof has large spacious rooms, friendly staff and breakfast and dinner are included. 

Check rates: Booking.com, Hotels.com | Read reviews: TripAdvisor

 

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Kirchberg

You can also stay a little farther away in Kirchberg.

It has a quieter, smaller ‘village’ atmosphere and is roughly a 10 minute drive. There are lots of hotels, apartments and local restaurants offering traditional food and drink with gorgeous views of the mountains.

For groups and families, Kirchberg is a more affordable option.

Browse accommodation in Kirchberg: Booking.com and VRBO.

 

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naturally, we booked a hotel with a pool and sauna. the only surprise was.. German saunas are ‘textile free’ aka naked (and mixed gender!!)

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Jochberg

Similarly, Jochberg is another village in the Kitzski area.

If you have a group, you can find more airbnb and guesthouse style options 30 minutes away at Jochberg. Most of the accommodation here consists of apartments and mountain homes.

It’s a quieter and less crowded area, and still close enough to ski or head into town!

Browse homes in Jochberg: Booking.com and VRBO.

 

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What to Wear

Ski season gets shorter and shorter every year, so we visited Kitzbuhel at peak time and got lucky – it snowed during our trip.

Surprisingly, Kitzbuhel was pretty warm, with temperatures around 40 – 50°F in town and 20°F on the mountain.

I wore just my base layers underneath ski jacket and was still hot.

Still, definitely pack ski gloves and ski socks.

And of course, some waterproof ski clothes so that you have a great time on the mountain!

I have tons of ski clothing reviews if you want some recommendations.

 

 Read more:  The Best Ski Clothing Brands

 

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Things to Do in Kitzbühel

The primary reason to visit Kitzbuhel is to ski (in winter) or hike (in summer).

I wouldn’t say there’s all that much to do outside of skiing, apres, shopping and dining. But for any non skiers in your group, there are some options for off-mountain activities. 

There’s Casino Kitzbühel, right in the town center, with a variety of slot machines, American roulette and Black Jack.

History aficionados can wander through Museum Kitzbühel, which covers the town’s history and has lots of artwork and exhibitions on skiing and winter sports. There’s also a great view overlooking the town.

Sound of Music lovers should visit nearby Salzburg.

It’s a 50 minute drive (or an inconvenient 2.5 hour series of trains) but you can book a day tour to see the highlights.

Browse Salzburg tours here.

 

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Kitzbühel Ski Resort Overview

 

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At a Glance

  • Base Elevation: 800 feet
  • Summit Elevation: 2,000 feet
  • Vertical Drop: 1,200 feet
  • Lifts: 57
  • Runs: 68
  • Skiable Acres: 179 km
  • Terrain:
    • 0% beginner
    • 43% intermediate
    • 40% advanced
    • 18% expert

 

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KitzSki

KitzSki is roughly divided into 8 mountain peaks:

I mostly skied the runs around Hahnenkamm, Pengelstein, Wurzhohe and Resterkogel.

 

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Hahnenkamm

Most people know of Kitzbuhel for the Hahnenkamm race, a harrowing downhill ski race composed of unforgiving steeps and tight twisty turns.

But what they may not know is Hahnenkamm is the name of the mountain, not the actual run (that’s called the Streif, or Stripe).

Hahnenkamm mean’s Rooster’s Comb by the way… why, I have no idea.

Most people will first enter KitzSki through Hahnenkamm base area, where the A1 gondola, aptly named Hahnenkammbahn, takes you on a long cable car ride up to the first base area of the resort.

 

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There’s a small learner’s area and lively bar and restaurant here, and anyone who doesn’t ski can simply buy a gondola ticket to reach this first base section.

If you want to try your skill at skiing the Strief, try run 21.

The red run guides you through the ‘family friendly’ portion of the race course, bypassing the slick steep downhill section nicknamed the Mausefalle jump (or Mousetrap).

 

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Pengelstein

From Hahnenkamm, most of the crowd rides B4 and D5 lifts up to reach Pengelstein mountain.

At the peak here, there are tons of great runs to ski as well as multiple huts and lodges to take a break.

Most of the mountain is marked blue and red, but personally I saw little difference between the designations. Instead, I felt like the majority of the mountain was solidly intermediate, with little to no beginner terrain outside of the learning areas.

It was also a relatively warm winter, with soft slushy snow.

So most runs had lots of bumps unless it was just after a fresh snow storm.

At Pengelstein, you can catch a ride on the 3S-Umlaufbahn to cross over to the left side of the Kitzski area, to reach Wurzhöhe mountain. The tri-cable gondola is one of the most spectacular lift rides in the world.

It is a little slow moving (and a little annoying, as you’ll remove your skis), but the ride itself is magnificent.

It crosses over the Saukaser Valley, a 2.5 km wide, 400 meter deep valley below.

 

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Wurzhohe and Resterkogel.

After I got the hang of the gigantic resort layout, I mostly spent my time skiing around these mountain peaks.

There are tons of long, empty runs here and some truly spectacular views up near Resterkogel.

I also saw tons of people heading to the backcountry areas around the G9 and G1 lifts. It seems quite popular for locals to ski off-piste through the powdery deep snow off trail (and endless opportunities for it)!

 

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Best Runs at Kitzbühel

 

Beginner

In Europe, beginner runs are designated blue.

Two of my friends are beginners and had a bit of a hard time, so I probably wouldn’t say Kitzbuhel is the most beginner friendly mountain.

It could depend on time of year. When we visited, a lot of the blue runs were filled with bumps (due to low elevation, warm temperatures, slushy snow and tons of people skiing).

 

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Still, some fun beginner-friendly runs to try include:

  • 36
  • 18
  • 28
  • 29 and 29a
  • 16
  • 67
  • 64
  • 72

Avoid 76 – the extremely long trail is basically one long cat walk and empties out into an uphill (!!) tiny section by G2 lift.

In general, I felt like most of the runs at Kitzbuhel were a little boring.. long trails with small sections of vertical.

 

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Intermediate

Intermediate runs in Europe are designated red.

I personally didn’t see much of a difference between the blues and reds at Kitzski (they both had some steep sections with moguls), so if you can ski the blues comfortably, you can definitely ski the reds.

I preferred the runs around Pengelstein mountain, mainly for the views. In particular

Again, most of the runs are simply long with small sections of vertical drop. So you’ll want to head to the highest peak to get runs with some steepness and consistency.

 

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Advanced

Since I was skiing the more difficult terrain solo, I wasn’t as daring ha.

I mostly tried short black runs here and there. The naming convention at KitzSki was all number based, with the lifts also numbered, but clustered around letters.

So, some runs would have an ‘a’ offshoot where you could try a slightly more difficult section, ex. 75 and 75a or 16 and 16b.

There are a cluster of black runs off C1 lift, that I didn’t try, but wanted to!

 

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Skiing at Kitzbühel

Overall, Kitzbuhel was my first exposure to European style skiing and I had a great time!

There are definitely distinct differences between North American and European skiing, but I’ll leave that to you to discover.

 

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What I was most amazed by was simply how big the ski resort was.

Called KitzSki, the resort spans 7 districts and incorporates multiple towns across two federal states (Tirol and Salzburg).

The resort was so big that when I would stop to take pics, the lifts looked like ants. Forget about the people – you couldn’t even see them in a photo.

Perhaps because the skiable area is so vast, there aren’t that many actual runs.

Each lift had about 2-3 runs, but the runs themselves are long and leisurely.

I had a really fun time skiing here. The views were impeccable, the lodges and huts dotted all over the mountain tops were cozy and delicious, and the lack of crowds was heaven!

 

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The Confusing Lift System..

I recommend picking up a paper map of Kitzbuhel when you’re in town (available at the ticket window and most hotels).

There’s a KitzSki app which you can download to your phone, but I didn’t find it very helpful.

Becaues Kitzbuhel is such a huge ski area, the map is actually a bit confusing. At most resorts, all the lifts go up.

At Kitzbuhel, some of the lifts don’t go in the direction you’d think they go from reading the app. But the paper map has little arrows that show the direction.

 

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Signage

Also I felt like signage at Kitzbuhel was a little lackluster. 

Most North American resorts will have huge signs telling you the easiest way down, with maps everywhere and sometimes even on-mountain guides to offer run advice or point you in the right direction.

It frequently took me much longer to get down the mountain at the end of the day, and I took the wrong lift / run a couple times, ha.

It could be my poor sense of direction, but honestly I heard lots of other skiers complaining about the same thing lol. 

But my friend who regularly skies in Europe thought the signage was incredibly well marked in comparison to mountains in Norway. So I suppose it depends on what you’re used to!

 

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KitzSki App

In the KitzSki app, there’s also a ‘track my runs’ option.

I found it a little basic. It created a Google Maps-esque picture of my activity, but you couldn’t actually see anything.

It also only works if you have cell service.

Most of the lifts offer free wifi though!

Also, the ski resort typically opens at 9am, but around late February, the lifts start an hour earlier at 8am.

 

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Ikon Pass

Kitzburg is on the Ikon Pass. No reservations were required in 2024, and you can use your existing Ikon card.

But if you haven’t yet picked up your Ikon card, head to the ticket counter window at Hahnenkamm gondola. They’ll look up your name, take a 2 euro deposit and give you a Kitzski card.

At the end of your trip, return the card to get your deposit back. 

Annoyingly though, they give you back a 2 euro coin.

 

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Rentals

We rented our gear at Intersport, a popular chain.

It’s conveniently located right inside the base station of Hahnenkamm gondola and rates are very reasonable. If you book online in advance, you save 10%.

They also allow you to rent clothing.

The one thing you can’t rent is goggles, so make sure to buy your own before the trip. It’ll be much cheaper than buying them at the store.

I love my Smith goggles (they have various sizes for different faces, including an asian fit option) and they’ve served me well for the last couple of years!

Intersportz also has lockers for rent, where we stored our skis and boots overnight. It was so convenient to not have to lug gear to/from the lifts!

 

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Parking at Kitzbühel

There’s parking at every gondola base area. The main parking by Hahnenkamm gondola is paid, but I’ve heard some of the outlying lots are free. 

Some hotels offer free shuttles to take you back and forth, and there’s also the local bus system. 

 

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Après-Ski in Kitzbühel

KitzSki has a fantastic apres scenes. There are 74 huts and restaurants dotted all across the mountains. 

I think they’re all independently owned, so they all offer different food and drink.

Just be sure to bring some cash – lots of the huts are cash only. Or, ones that do accept card will pressure you into paying with cash.

 

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Kitzbühel Ski Trip VLOG

Here’s a ski vlog of our trip to Kitzbühel! Watch the video on Youtube here.

 

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Is Kitzbühel worth the trip?

Yes! If you love skiing, it’s worth adding Kitzbuhel to your ski bucket list.

The vibrant apres culture, charming medieval town and huge range of terrain make it quite unique.

 

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Is Kitzbuhel expensive?

Yes – Kitzbuhel is one of the most expensive regions in Austria, with some of the highest priced real estate in the country.

The downtown area is filled with luxury shops and gourmet restaurants.

Day passes for the resort cost ~70 euros per day. Discounts are available for longer term passes.

If you were looking to ski in Europe because you heard it was cheaper, it’s not the case for Kitzbuhel.

Hotel accommodation here is also quite pricey, so book in advance to save!

 

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How many days do you need in Kitzbühel?

Kitzbuhel is a huge resort – you could easily ski for 4 or 5 days and still feel like there’s more terrain to explore!

And, part of the fun is relaxing at one of the mountain lodges and enjoying the apres experience.

I would recommend about a week to fully enjoy the Austrian alps.

 

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Is Kitzbuhel good for beginners?

I think it depends how beginner you are.

Many of the blue runs do have steep sections and bumps, simply due to the warm weather conditions, low mountain elevation and crowds of people skiing.

If you are very new to skiing, you can stick to just the learning area – and the bunny slopes are free! No need to buy a full ski ticket for the day.

 

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Ski Wear Haul

I posted a couple try-on hauls of all the ski wear brands that I’ve tried. You can check them out on my Youtube channel here.

 

 

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 Read More:  in our ski style series:

 

Ski Trip Packing Essentials

What to Wear Skiing: Packing List Must Have’s

The Best Ski Pants for Women (Stylish & Functional)

The Best Men’s Ski Pants

I Found the CUTEST Women’s Ski Pants (Video)

Are Designer Ski Pants Worth It? (Try-On Haul)

The Best Ski Sweaters for Apres-Ski 

 

Planning the Perfect Ski Trip

What to Know Before Skiing in Vermont for the First Time

 

Ski Trip Recaps + Mountain Guides

Lake Tahoe, California: Heavenly, Kirkwood & Northstar

Montana: Big Sky

Vermont: Stowe

Catskills, New York: Belleayre Mountain

Quebec, Canada: Mont Tremblant

+ More Ski Vlogs on Youtube

 

Follow me @Sher She Goes on

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