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Why so many non-skiers are choosing to go on holiday to ski resorts

by Staff

Then, on sun-soaked days, we climbed to the hidden-away Eibensee through forests more snow-sparkled than Narnia. We wandered St Gilgen’s jolly Christmas market before following the pilgrim trail around Lake Wolfgang; we finished in Strobl as the sun set over the town’s chestnut roasters and trumpeting brass band. A higher hike, up the 5,000ft Faistenauer Schafberg, was a tougher ask, every third step sinking thigh-deep in powder. But the day was too fine, the views too big, the joy too great not to do it. In hindsight, hiring snowshoes – easy to do locally – might have been a good idea.

On another bright afternoon we took a bus up to Faistenau for something a little different – it was the closest we got to a pair of planks all week. Here, Karin Wieser-Linhart has set up the Nordic Fun cross-country ski school and we’d signed up for a private lesson. Karin enthused about its benefits as she took us through the warm up. For getting the body working and the blood pumping in the mountains, there’s no sport better, she assured. That is, if we could manage to stay on our feet.

All positivity and swinging pony-tail, Karin was an excellent teacher, and soon had us gliding, albeit inelegantly, across the groomed tracks. The movement, in the moments when I nailed it, was smooth, crisp and exhilaratingly addictive. And the views were tremendous: Faistenau sits in a bowl of hills and, as I slip-slid along, I watched the low sun cast everything from the tree-cloaked slopes to the onion-domed church tower a dreamy blush pink. Then I fell on my face. 

But no harm done. And nothing that couldn’t be fixed by another gentle winter stroll. Or a dip in Seerose’s lake-view indoor pool. Or a nice warming (and reasonably priced) glass of Austrian blaufränkisch. Now, that’s my kind of winter break. 

Essentials

Inntravel (01653 617000; inntravel.co.uk) offers seven nights at Hotel Seerose from £1,035, half board, including flights to Salzburg or from £1,520, including a return sleeper train. SUP Box (sup-box.at) offers guided winter SUP-ing from €290 (£248) for two, including all kit. Nordic Fun (nordic-fun.at) offers cross-country skiing lessons from €118 (£100) for two. For more information see austria.info

Sarah was a guest of Inntravel.


Three more top winter resorts for non-skiers

 

Jungfrau, Switzerland

Best for dizzy heights

You don’t need special skills, ski or otherwise, to reach the Top of Europe. Trains have chugged up to 11,000ft Jungfraujoch, Europe’s highest railway station, for over 100 years, offering the ultimate winter vista. Indeed, it’s the excellent transport that makes this area so good for exploratory non-skiers. Trains, mountain railways and cablecars link spots like Grindelwald, Lauterbrunnen, Interlaken and Wengen, from where you can access winter hiking and tobogganing routes – including Europe’s longest toboggan run.

Book it: Skiline (020 8313 3999; skiline.co.uk) offers seven nights at Grindelwald’s Sunstar Hotel from £1,349, half board, including flights and transfers.

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