In the heart of the second largest ski area in Austria
The second largest ski area in Austria, Skicircus calls itself the “Home of Lässig” (‘easy going’). The village of Saalbach is traditional and charming, it is central in the large and spread-out Skicircus domain. No shakey old lifts here in this ski resort, most of the chairlifts and gondolas are high speed and heated; the majority of chairlifts have protective covers. The ski area overall has something for everyone, although beginners should head to Hinterglemm; snowmaking covers around 90% of the pistes, there are plenty of rustic huts for lunch stops. Freeriders head for Fieberbrunn, which also hosts a section of the World Tour. Saalbach’s après-ski is lively. Accommodation is mainly hotels, some attractive chalets and apartments line the valley.
Property in Saalbach?
The property market in this region is certainly international, buyers come from all parts of Europe and Eastern Europe. New well-located and attractive developments in Saalbach and Fieberbrunn are well suited for non-resident buyers with good facilities, serviced options, lock and leave potential, and rental packages with good returns including the summer. However, there has been somewhat of a backlash to the rapid growth of the apart-hotel model (that is buy-to-rent out and personal-use) which is in direct competition with the hotels, they are not suitable for the locals to live in and may be too expensive. Since early 2023, the rules have been tightened and enforcement has been much stricter. Some developments cannot be used at all by the owners, in other words they are purely investment properties and worth less in the open market. Where this is happening depends on the area and even the specific development within an area. This means that existing developments that already have the permits are seeing good demand. Apartments and chalets with second home status can still be found, but they are rare, and not always in the best locations. Prices in are in the region of €10,000/m2 in Saalbach for a touristic use apartment close to the village and pistes. Fieberbrunn is quite spread out, a good base is near the skilifts - here prices are in the €10-12,000/m2 range for new development allowing personal use.
A guide to Saalbach
Saalbach, located in Austria’s Salzburgerland province, is a medium size ski village at the top of the Glemm valley. Neighbouring Hinterglemm is around 4km in the same valley. The village is attractive with traditional buildings, an onion-domed church and a river running through it. Saalbach has a lively après scene and plenty of friendly small-town charm, it attracts an international audience. The town centre is compact with a great selection of good, family-run hotels in the centre and close to the lifts, and apartments to rent in the centre and outside in the valley. Saalbach is central in the Skicircus ski area (also known as Saalbach Hinterglemm Leogang Fieberbrunn) a vast linked network created in 2015/16 with 270km of pistes to explore, served by one of the slickest lift systems in the world and continuously upgraded.
Activities for non-skiers or a day’s rest are considerable, they include snowshoe hiking, an adventure pool complex, a natural ice-skating rink, paragliding, sleigh rides, a designated toboggan run and bobsleigh track, horse-drawn sleigh rides, and an 80km cross-country loop. The valley is home to some excellent walking trails and groomed cross country routes. A floodlit half-pipe and floodlit tobogganing will keep you busy well into the evenings. For early season visitors, the annual Rave on Snow event is held in mid-December, with 70 DJs and live acts.
The closest airport is Salzburg and the transfer time is around 1h 30.
Saalbach ski area
Skicircus is the second biggest ski area in Austria and among the biggest in Europe. It is considered ideal for families. The lift system is superb, with nearly all lifts being modern gondolas or high-speed chairlifts. 90% of pistes in Skicircus have snowmaking. Good beginner areas are in both Saalbach and Hinterglemm. Around half of the Skicircus pistes are classified as blue. Intermediate skiers will find ample wide well-groomed red and blue runs. The area around Hochalm peak is considered perfect for smooth fast piste skiers. Some long steep black runs of around 1,000m vertical can be explored in the Hinterglemm sector. Leogang, in the next valley north of Saalbach, is worth exploring as the runs down to the village are north-facing, so they hold their snow well and are often quieter. Saalbach is hosting the Ski World Cup/Championships in 2024/2025.
Since the two sides of the valley are linked in a circuit, the popular circuit of Skicircus can be taken in either direction, at 65 km, taking 32 lifts and 12,400 metres in altitude it is a popular and fun challenge to complete in a day. Allow 7 hours, or longer if you plan to stop. The Saalbach, Leogang and Hinterglemm Circuits are shorter but still feature fabulous long runs for the sporty skier and can be completed in a morning or an afternoon in either direction.
Over in Fieberbrunn, one of the snowiest spots in Austria, there are some challenging pistes and you will find here one of the world’s leading snowboard centres which features Snowboard Masters World Cup as far back as 1997, and many more major events since. Each year It also hosts a stage of the Freeride World Tour extreme ski and snowboard competition. These are enviable credentials and attract as many spectators as competitors. The gem of Fieberbrunn is its extensive off-piste terrain with some beautiful off-piste lines off the Reckmoos and the Hochhörndl.
Now, Skicurcus is also linked to Zell am See by taking a very short bus ride. Skiing on the Schmittenhöhe mountain is another option to explore in this magnificent terrain.
Also, check out our blog - The Uniqueness of Skiing : Downhill race pistes you can ski..
Après ski in Saalbach
More than you need, quite possibly…. Saalbach has a well-justified reputation for its apres-ski scene which starts on the mountain with DJs and live bands from lunchtime onwards and continues down in the villages. Closer to Hinterglemm, Goaßstall is a rustic barn that rocks from mid‑afternoon until late. Berger Alm is a great place to party on a sunny day. Down in the village Bauers Schialm has no less than four bars for spontaneous ski boot dancing; Bobby’s Pub draws a young crowd, with bowling lanes, pool table, darts, table football. The Stamperl is one of the smallest bars in town but has great music. Zum Turm is a converted jail under the church tower with a DJ set up in an old gondola cabin. The biggest, glitziest nightclub is Castello. A well-kept secret is the local Bartl Enn Schnapps, distilled in Hinterglemm. With typical Austrian efficiency, the Nightliner bus service operates along the valley road between the two villages until late evening and until 2.30am on Saturday nights.
Eating out in Saalbach
More than 60 mountain restaurants and huts serving excellent food throughout the Skicircus area varying from proper restaurants and atmospheric mountain huts to the simplest of snack bars. Many around Saalbach and Hinterglemm become popular afternoon drinking spots. Locals say The Pfefferalm is always worth a visit, an ancient farmhouse above Hinterglemm. The popular Bäckstätt Stall is at the foot of the slopes
For the evening, most of the restaurants are in the hotels. Worth a mention are La Trattoria Italiana serving wood cooked pizzas in the the Alpenhotel; Thomsn-Rock Hotel bar is a great choice, with a mix of local and international dishes. Seppi’s in the Art & Ski-In Hotel Hinterhag, serves delicious cuisine
Summer in Saalbach
Saalbach is become a more popular summer destination every year, it is easy to see why.
For hikers around 400 km of marked hiking paths and trails pass over rough and smooth terrain, passing beautiful mountain lakes and breathtaking landscape such as the Pinzgau Grass Mountains on one side and the rugged edges of the Kitzbühel Alps on the other. Free hiking tours with certified guides are offered by the tourist office. One of the most challenging is the Seven Summits walk over 24km hike visiting all seven summits in the Saalbach-HInterglemm region, all over 2000m. The Saalbach Hiking Challenge takes in three long-distance hiking trails with a total of 64 kilometres (40 miles) and 3,800 metres of uphill elevation. The highest tree-top trail in Europe situated at the end of the valley is an ideal excursion for nature-lovers and families. The High Rope Park (or Hochseilpark) has over 8km of courses, 30 rope slides and 200 stations. The Flying Fox is the longest zip wire in Europe. The forest here is over 200 years old and has over 1,000 spruce trees, fill your lungs with fresh forest air.
Mountain bikers have more than 400 km of marked trails of every type imaginable here including countless single trails, downhill tracks and bike park elements for beginners and pros. There are many companies in town that offer bike hire, lessons, guides, group tours and much more. Over 70 km of lines & trails and 9 gondolas on 7 mountains make this Austria’s largest biking region for all levels of difficulty. Natural mountain paths, you will find them here, as well as a wide range of tricky single trails and shaped freeride routes. E-bikers will be pleased to see plenty of charging stations ready on the mountain.
During the summer months 40 mountain huts turn into peaceful lunchtime retreats with impressive views providing not only drinks and basic foods, but full restaurant menus with large indoor and outdoor areas. Almost every weekend in summer there seems to be a festival or event scheduled in Saalbach-Hinterglemm.
Other activities throughout the area include golf, mini golf, archery, rock climbing, paragliding, tennis, swimming pools, more playgrounds, a ski museum, horse riding and go-karting. With the free to use Joker Card, guests have access to many of the amenities around Saalbach Hinterglemm such as free use of the mountain lifts and buses, guided tours, and access to the cycling routes and themed hiking trails, the tennis courts and the outdoor pool.
For more details on Mountain Biking in Saalbach, check out our blog: Where to go Mountain Biking in the Alps
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