Ischgl in Austria has a great reputation for live entertainment and lively après ski. But as Sean King recently discovered, it’s also a family ski holiday favourite, and with good reason.
Pretty Ischgl rocks family ski holidays this winter
The picture postcard ski resort of Ischgl in the heart of Austrian Tyrol remains a firm favourite with British ski-loving families, drawn by the pretty much guaranteed snow, long season from November to May, and the relatively short transfer time from Innsbruck.
Ischgl also prides itself on providing some of the best live entertainment in the Alps. This year’s season was opened by American singer/songwriter Demi Lavato, and previous headliners have included big names like Elton John, Lenny Kravitz, Robbie Williams and Mariah Carey.
In fact they take entertainment seriously all-round here. This season’s closing concert headliner will be none other than The Black Eyed Peas, which is sure to be one of the highlights of the year: the concert is taking place on the last Saturday of the season, 4 May 2024.
Every ski resort should have a Silvretta spa, and a rooftop pool
That said, the powers that be in this town have been working equally hard to build the resort’s reputation as a family-friendly destination, and much more than just a great place for après. So they’re understandably super proud of the brand new state-of-the-art spa, the Silvretta Therme, which boasts a professional 25 metre swimming pool, outdoor pool with bar, as well as a gym, treatment and relaxation rooms, saunas, and a physio.
There are also tons of non-skiing activities on offer as well as a cuisine to suit every taste and budget.
Enjoy one of the world’s largest ski areas from Ischgl this winter
Then, of course, there’s the skiing itself. Ischgl is located on the Austrian side of one of the world’s largest ski areas. And, thanks to its connection with Samnaun in Switzerland, features a total of 238km in pistes and 45 mechanical lifts including cable cars and gondolas.
Many of the lifts converge at Idalp, a great meeting point as it’s where the ski school is also located: more of that soon. Plus it offers a range of nice, wide and easy pistes as well as a snow park.
More advanced skiers can head over towards Paznauner Thaya, where there are plenty of red runs along with some more challenging blacks: with a 70% gradient, the black run at Höllboden is the resort’s steepest.
All under 10s receive free ski passes and ski equipment rental
For families with younger children Ski Kindergarten at Idalp is run by the ski school and provides all-day care, and tuition, for children from three to five years old, and no booking is required.
There’s also a creche on the mountain for children from two years old, this one must be booked in advance. And it’s worth bearing in mind that some Ischgl hotels – notably the Seiblishof – offer their own childcare programmes as well.
Group ski lessons on the main pistes are available for children from six years old. However, probably the most family-friendly touch is the resort providing free ski passes and ski equipment rental for all children under 10 years old. This is a great bonus, as regular family skiers will know costs can really add up over a week in the mountains. In other good news, adult passes are also a reasonable £197 for six days.
Ischgl is an ideal resort for beginners and learners
The Idalp, and its numerous blue runs and practice areas around the four practice lifts, offers a fantastic area for children and beginners to gain some confidence on two skis. And the “Schneesport Akademie” – Ischgl’s largest ski school with around 100 trained instructors – is based directly beside the Idalp Restaurant.
Of course, on family holidays not everyone wants to be on the first and last runs of the day, so you’ll be pleased to learn that Ischgl offers lots of fabulous non-ski activities too. As well as a natural ice-skating rink and horse-drawn sleigh rides, there’s also floodlit tobogganing after-dark. Although young daredevils will probably be most impressed by the Ischgl Sky-Fly: a two kilometre long zipline which runs from top to bottom of the mountain in three stages.
Don’t miss a visit to Galtur for a quick change of scene
When you feel like a change of scene, just a 20 minute bus ride from Ischgl, you’ll find Galtur: a high-alpine village which seems to have been specially designed to cater to families with younger skiers and boarders.
There are six sections of Silvapark here, from the child-friendly Bambiniland right through to Adventureland, plus a huge practice area with six challenging slopes.
Older kids will like the Action Park, with its faster runs and moguls to contend with. And for the more adventurous still, there’s ‘Siggi’s freeride Route’, where the ski school gives youngsters their first taste of back country skiing, and teaches them off-piste techniques, as well as how to use all-essential safety equipment.
How to plan a ski holiday in Ischgl
How to get there
Direct UK flights to Innsbruck from 1 hour, 58 minutes
Innsbruck to Ischgl by road, 1 hour and 14 minutes
Hourly train services take from 1 hour, 48 minutes
Where to stay
Hotel Zalwonder from £2,985 for a family of four (2 adults, 2 children) sharing, includes gourmet breakfast, evening buffet and the use of the Silvretta Therme outdoor rooftop pool, sauna and spa.