The Austrian Alps: my ski trip in photos

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Sandie Kestell, Lonely Planet’s destination editor for Central and Eastern Europe, recently returned from Obergurgl in the Austrian Alps. Here, she highlights the destination’s best places to ski, eat and sleep in – and what you shouldn’t miss.

I’ve just returned from the Gurgl in Tyrol’s Ötztal Valley, deep in the Austrian Alp. I made the trip over a long weekend in mid-November for the opening of the 2022–23 ski season. Having never skied this early in the season, I was keen to check out snow conditions, get some practice after the long off-season and have a short wintry adventure in what’s known as the Diamond of the Alps.

Map of Gurgl, Austrian Alps

The highlight was undoubtedly the skiing. The high altitude (between 1800 and 3080m/5905ft and 10,105ft) here ensures a blanket of snow from mid-November to late April – and it’s the first ski area in Tyrol to kick off the season (if you don’t count the glaciers). We crisscrossed between Obergurgl and Hochgurgl, chasing the sunshine, exploring the slopes and stopping into cozy mountain huts to sample the local cuisine.

In Gurgl, you must try…

Kaiserschmarrn: sweet Austrian chopped pancakes with a sprinkling of icing sugar on top and applesauce on the side. After a day of skiing between mountain huts and trying out the best local dishes, we took off our boots and climbed aboard the Hohe Mut Bahn I gondola and headed to the Nederhütte ski hut for our last stop of the day. In high season, this family-run hut is the place for après-ski, and although it was quieter on the Sunday night we visited, the après music still played in the background, offering a chill atmosphere.

We settled at a cozy table in the corner to…

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