The Otztal Valley is a beautiful Alpine resort in the Western Austrian state of Tirol, with three major ski resorts that all guarantee excellent snow sport holidays.
The Ötztal Valley is a true winter wonderland where you’ll find wonderful Tirolian hospitality, delicious restaurants, top quality skiing, cozy accommodations, and incredible scenery up and down the mountain.
The Hochgurgl-Obergurgl area is known as the ‘Diamond of the Alps’ – with wide-open runs, state-of-the-art lifts, great restaurants, and a superb panoramic view all around.
Sölden is famous for being one of the most recognisable filming locations for the James Bond film Spectre, and when you get there and see the beauty of this place you will understand why the film crew chose it.
With James Bond-themed attractions to experience, such as the grand opening of 007 Elements and Glacier Skiing, visitors are placed right into the glamour and adventure of the world’s most famous spy.
The winter ski season starts in October and lasts until May, so there are plenty of opportunities to book ski holidays at more affordable times in the season if you’re on a budget.
While other tourists might be planning their summer vacation, fans of winter and snow adventure are living it up in the style of James Bond himself – leaving powder tracks in the glacier snow.
Here is your winter guide to Sölden and Hochgurgl-Obergurgl
Getting to The Otztal Valley
The most convenient airport for the Ötztal Valley is Innsbruck – located in the heart of Tirol and offering stunning views as you come in to land. Transfer time to Sölden is just over one hour. Alternatively, you can use Zürich or Munich airport and hire a rental car to reach the resort.
Skiing and Snowboarding
Ötztal Valley is very popular for skiing in autumn, as well as in spring.
This makes your ski season last a bit longer, and you can start training while other ski resorts are still closed. In Spring you can enjoy sunshine on one of the very popular sun terraces to be found around this beautiful valley and soak up some mountain rays.
Ski and snowboard on one of Austria’s largest glacier areas. The Rettenbach and Tiefenbach glaciers feature perfectly groomed slopes surrounded by stunning Alpine scenery.
The glacier ski areas are easily accessible by bus or car, following the trail of the highest panoramic road within the entire Eastern Alps. Both glaciers are also connected to each other by the scenic Glacier Road Tunnel, making for a pretty exciting drive through.
The panorama road and the tunnel were also film locations in the James Bond movie Spectre.
Maybe you can start your own chase on skis here, or you can just spy on the film locations by yourself.
Skiers can take advantage of the outstanding Ski Tunnel (situated at 3,240 m above sea level) that guarantees a quick and easy change from Rettenbach Glacier to Tiefenbach Glaciergletscher.
Obergurgl – Top quality skiing
Obergurgl is truly skiing at its finest, and winter holidays at their very best. The Diamond of the Alps not only has wide open ski runs and state-of-the-art mountain lifts (and not many queues either) – but also excellent culinary spots in superb panoramic settings.
The art of fine skiing is celebrated daily here, but the season itself runs from mid-November to late April.
Obergurgl is a highly renowned and exclusive winter sports resort with a strong international reputation.
Take your pick from a five-star hotel, more than twenty four-star accommodations, top guesthouses and deluxe apartments. This ski resort offers a peaceful and relaxing atmosphere by day and by night.
Hochgurgl – On top in style
Doorstep skiing right at your hotel’s terrace? Why not! Hit the slopes without losing any time getting up the mountain – in Hochgurgl that’s just how it’s done. Ski out from your hotel and ski right back in again.
Choose from six hotels, all of them a popular meeting place for people looking for a bit of extra glamour on top of the Ötztal Alps. Hochgurgl offers genuine hospitality and charm combined with outstanding luxury – all in an exclusive setting.
Lift passes: introducing the Powder Card
Opting for the Powder Card means you get two powerful ski areas together all in one pass. Ötztal’s popular multi-resort skipass gives you access to all the lifts in Sölden & Obergurgl-Hochgurgl, meaning you get your pick of the pistes throughout your stay.
The Powder Card gives you access to hundreds of kilometres of slopes with the finest powder snow, over 50 modern ski lifts, and more than 40 cosy ski huts. With the purchase of a minimum 3-day ski pass, the Powder Card is valid for both ski resorts. The pistes on offer are varied enough to cater for winter sports enthusiasts, adventurous freeriders, or fans of a gentler après-ski day on the slopes. The Sölden and Hochgurgl-Obergurgl cable cars will take you wherever you need to go to explore these beautiful resorts.
The Powder Card has the advantage of giving you a guarantee of snow in both regions, or at least one of them if snow is light on the ground. At the end of the Ötztal valley you are pretty much guaranteed snow before and after the peak season too.
Fun facts about the Ötztal Valley slopes
- 144 km of slopes
- 32 mountain lifts
Sölden has ski slopes that stretch to the permanent ice 3,340 m above sea level, as well as some exciting events. Winter guests can follow the footsteps of Daniel Craig’s James Bond and visit the “Spectre-cular” movie shooting locations.
Other attractions you want to have a look at is the new Giggijoch mountain gondola, and the completely free Adrenalin Cup challenge.
- 110 km of slopes
- 24 mountain lifts
Both Hochgurgl and Obergurgl boast an exceptional cocktail of high altitude snow-heavy terrain, a compact but very varied lift network, friendly ski schools and kindergartens, fine dining at excellent gourmet restaurants and hotels, and a vibrant but sophisticated après-ski atmosphere.
With no fewer than 22 four-star hotels, and two five-star hotels – all with spa facilities – along with doorstep skiing, both resorts manage to be lively and stylish at the same time.
There’s certainly plenty of skiing (very high level, if you’ll forgive the pun) on piste. There are very nearly 110 kilometers of slopes served by 24 state-of-the-art mountain lifts.
Food and culinary options
ice Q – culinary summit spot
More than 3,000 metres above sea level. Surrounded by over 250 superb three-thousand metre mountains.
One of the spectacular shooting locations for the James Bond Spectre movie.
ere innovative architecture meets futuristic design, ice Q has some very sophisticated gourmet delights served with fine wines and dreamy panoramic views. Choose between the ice Q Bistro and the ice Q gourmet restaurant, which has its own panoramic terrace that gives you a view as sensational as the food.
Summit Dinner is held every Wednesday from January to March and a Reservation is required.
Homely rooms, a fully stocked wine cellar and a convivial bar with an open fireplace generate a beautiful ambience to relax and feel comfortable. Other than the culinary delights and local specialities, you can enjoy the stunning view from their panorama lounge or from the convenient canvas chairs on their sun terrace. Another place with unmissable views!
You can also visit the Nature Park Exhibition at the Hohe Mut Hut in Obergurgl – “Glacier – Climate – High Alpine Research”. Experience the exhibition with a great view of the glaciers of Gurgl. You will learn about life in and on the glacier, about the alpine flora and fauna, about the fascinating variety of Obergurgl stones with some fascinating multi-media interactive exhibitions.
Top Mountain Star
The Top Mountain Star is a delight that any foodie cannot afford to miss on a holiday in Hochgurgl-Obergurgl. At over 3,000m high, this restaurant is a bit of an architectural masterpiece, and is perched on a narrow ridge of the Wurmkogel.
The mountain restaurant is a successful combination of a high up platform (with more of the amazing views you will have come to expect from this region) and a summit bar. In addition to your culinary experience, you can also enjoy a phenomenal view of the Ötz valley Alps right up to the Dolomites from here, as the continuous glass face allows a 360° view.
For a traditional Tirolian setting, be sure to try out S’ Pfandl. This charming restaurant is located in Sölden, in a real Austrian house set in the valley. The service staff dress in traditional national costume, as well as play live local music on the weekends.
Expect all the classic Austrian dishes to be served up here, and I’d highly recommend the Grillteler which is an Austrian mixed grill with a wide selection of different game meats from the local area. Be sure to sample some of the home made Schnapps to finish off your visit and wash it all down.
Other activities in the region
007 Elements – A new James Bond cinematic installation
The name 007 Elements was chosen to reflect the visitor’s journey through a series of galleries, each showcasing the signature elements that define a James Bond film. This installation focuses on Spectre, which was shot in Sölden and will go on to feature other titles in the long-running 24 film Bond franchise.
007 Elements results in an immersive, interactive, and educational experience that places visitors inside the world of 007, with some fascinating insights and facts about what goes on during filming to make the world of the British spy come to life.
This experience is an ultra-modern, emotive and engaging way to learn about the rich history of this seminal franchise. And at 3,050 meters above sea level the views of the Tirolean valleys add a majestic beauty all of their own.
Currently the installation is still under construction – but from the middle of 2018 it will be a visitor’s highlight and absolute must-see for Sölden.
Top Mountain Motorcycle Museum
The Top Mountain Motorcycle Museum’s architecture is remarkable just by itself. The exhibition is also truly beautiful and is very popular with the tourists who visit, even if they’re not motorcyclists themselves.
Taking up over 3,000 square meters, you can look at over 230 historic motorcycles from more than 100 different manufacturers, as well as some automotive rarities from around the world.
Night skiing and ski show in Sölden
The Night Ski Show on the Gaislachkogel in Sölden enchants audiences (every Wednesday evening from January until March) with ski acrobatics, live performances, and a big fireworks show with amazing music. You can go night skiing on the floodlit 4 km long No. 10 run from the middle station of the Gaislochkogl lift down to the valley until 21:30.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this useful winter guide to the Ötztal Valley and looking forward to your next adventure soon on the slopes of Sölden, Obergurgl and Hochgurgl in Tirol, Austria.
Travel tip shared by traveldaveuk for Travel Dudes.