Uncovered: Little-Known Ski Resorts

Rauris, Austria

Rauris is the main central resort in the Raurisertal Valley, located directly in Hohe Tauern National Park, and rather than going for the more usual mass tourism effect, Rauris has managed to maintain its traditional way of life and local culture. The national park is a good place for a bit of wildlife spotting while you’re there – keep a lookout for bearded vultures and marmots.

Sport and pleasure skiing in Rauris has a tradition of over a hundred years. This teeny resort with about 30km of skiing is small and intimate, is good for beginners but still has a few black runs and some well-established off-piste routes for those who want something a bit more challenging. Over half the runs are blue, with the rest mostly red with 2km of blacks. Overall, Rauris is accepted as being good for beginners and families and for a relaxing time on the slopes – it’s a place to get away from the crowds and experience what a true Austrian Alpine village is still like. If you want to expand your horizons, Kaprun, Zell Am See and Bad Gastein are all nearby and easily accessible.

Nightlife is quiet in Rauris – again, this is not a place you come to for the crowds. There are a few bars about though – try the Grimming Cellar Bar or Shakesbeer (see what they did there?).

To get to Rauris it’s a one hour drive from Salzburg Mozart Airport or a two hour drive from Innsbruck Airport. Alternatively, take bus no. 2 from Salzburg airport to Salzburg’s main train station and get a train to Taxenbach, 6km from Rauris, and get a taxi the rest of the way.

Saas Fee, Switzerland

Saas Fee, sometimes considered a “Little Zermatt”, is nevertheless one of the most important ski resorts in Switzerland, because it still offers a summer skiing area – and one of the five largest in Europe, at that. The resort is also car-free and very tranquil, and stakes its claim to fame on its feature in Wham!’s music video for their song Last Christmas.

Saas Fee, Switzerland

Foto: Photopress AG / ® Saas Fee

The glacier skiing on nearby glaciers Dom and Allalinhorn, the latter of which has a snowpark, extends throughout the summer, and you’ll find 20km of piste up there. For the rest of the year, you’ll find tons of blue runs and a vaguely equal number of reds and greens – but sadly not much in the way of blacks. On the plus side, because many of the runs are at such high altitude, Saas Fee is more or less snowsure. If you want to extend your skiing area to include something a little harder, get the lift pass that covers Saas Fee, Saas Almagell and Saas Grund, or Zermatt is just about accessible from here as well.

For a small resort, Saas Fee has some decent apres-ski and nightlife. Try the Black Bull, straight off the slopes, a souped-up garden shed which pumps out the Europop. Later, try Nesti’s bar under Hotel Cristiana and Metro Bar, and for much later try Popcorn or Poison.

The most convenient way to reach Saas Fee by plane is to fly into Geneva and get the train from there to Visp (approx 2 hours), where you’ll find the hourly Post Bus running up to Saas Fee (50 minutes) – last bus runs at about 7pm, and taxis are expensive, so time your flights.

Val di Fiemme, Italy

Val di Fiemme is a valley in the Trentino province, known as the “Doorway to the Dolomites”, and covers six ski resorts in the Dolomiti SuperSki area. Predazzo and Cavalese are two of the most popular, and there is good transport between resorts throughout the valley.

There’s over 100km of skiing in Val di Fiemme, and you can get the Obereggen/Val di Fiemme ski pass which allows access to many ski areas. The runs are about 50% intermediate and 15% advanced, and the area is good for family skiing because the slopes are comparatively quiet but there are options for everyone. Be aware that most of the ski areas are quite scattered, requiring bus travel between them. However, what Val di Fiemme has in particular is plenty of cross-country skiing – about 150km – which, while perhaps not as heart-racing as downhill, is extremely scenic, peaceful and lovely. Good exercise, too.

The nightlife might not be the biggest and the best, but there’s still some good bars about. In the cobbled town of Cavalese you’ll find Disco Club Mardok, Pub Polansky and Birreria Excelsior in the Hotel Excelsior, and each resort has its own nightlife.

Val di Fiemme is a two hour drive from Verona airport (or longer for a train/bus combo), or a regular one hour bus transfer from Bolzano airport.

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This post was submitted by EuropeMountains.com – the self-drive ski holiday specialist.

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Robert Stewart

Ski Editor at Snow.Guide

Rob has extensive knowledge and experience of winter sports and has been qualified to instruct and teach Alpine Skiing for over 25 years. He is also an experienced off-piste and backcountry skier and has competed in freestyle and freeride events around the world. Now a full-time ski writer and Director of Ski Press, Rob is Snow.Guide’s Ski Editor and contributes to many other snowsports, national and lifestyle publications.

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