In 1893, Franz Reisch became the first person to complete a high Alpine downhill ski run in Austria. He tamed the Kitzbüheler Horn, laying the foundations for the legend that still surrounds Kitzbühel to this day. Nowadays, Kitzbühel is the mountain lifestyle resort in Tyrol, with a ski area which encompasses some 170 kilometres of slopes and stages the world-famous Hahnenkamm ski race.
Kitzbühel ski area extends over 460 hectares, connecting seven municipalities across two Austrian states. 53 lifts carry winter sports fanatics to 60 perfectly groomed pistes. Thanks to the 3S-Bahn, which has connected the Pengelstein and Wurzhöhe peaks since 2005, skiers can now navigate all the way from Kirchberg to Hollersbach. The best way to explore the resort is via the “Elefanten Runde Ski Safari” route. Linking Kirchberg to Resterhöhe, this trail is 35 kilometres in length and encompasses a total vertical drop of some 6,000 meters.
Kitzbühel is world renowned for its Hahnenkamm downhill race. Every year, the world’s best skiers test their mettle on the legendary Streif course (trail no. 21). During the rest of the season, amateurs can also try their hand at this challenging trail which starts at the summit station of the Hahnenkamm-Bahn. However, only confident skiers or snowboarders are recommended to take the original course, as key points such as the “Mausefalle” and “Hausbergkante” are often very icy and demanding. Luckily, it is possible to circumnavigate these tricky parts via the Familienstreif route. Here, skiers also come together for another Kitzbühel highlight: the Ganslernhang. This run is known as one of the last classical slalom slopes, encompassing very varied terrain. In the rest of the ski area, advanced skiers will also find plenty of other black trails (24 kilometres in total). And if these types of slopes are your thing, you will probably feel right at home in the area surrounding the Steinbergkogel with its high-speed descents and moguls.
If you’re still learning, the valley is probably good place to start. There, the learners’ lifts can even be used free of charge. Once you’ve learnt to carve your first turns successfully, the Ehrenbachhöhe is an excellent starting point for beginners and families, and it is easy to reach from Kirchberg.
Kitzbühel also offers plenty of long runs which lead through gentle meadow landscapes, while the ten trails leading down into the valley all take picturesque routes through forested terrain. Intermediate skiers are also well catered for with almost 80 kilometres of red trails to explore. For skiers and snowboarders more interested in the park than the piste, the Mercedes-Benz Snowpark on the Hanglalm or the Snowpark Horn on the Kitzbüheler Horn are most definitely the places to be. Freestyle skiers and snowboarders can look forward to 35 features for all levels of ability on the Hanglalm, while the Kitzbüheler Horn park offers boxes, rails and small to medium-sized jumps for honing your skills.
In addition to this wide range of well-prepared trails, Kitzbühel has also made a name for itself among freeride fans. The ski area offers some 32 kilometres of freeride ski routes. Thanks to the positioning of the lifts, the backcountry on the Kitzbüheler Horn is easily accessible and offers up plenty of variety with tree runs, cliffs and chutes. Freeriders can even hitch a ride in a snow groomer up to the many untouched slopes in the Bichlalm area, which is very popular among ski touring fans. Due to its favourable north-west orientation, Kitzbühel is usually blessed with plenty of powder.