Ski holidays are fast becoming my favourite type of holiday! So far I’ve been to Val-d’Isère in France and El Pas de la Casa in Andorra. For my third ski trip, Edel and I went with a group of friends from home to the picturesque town of St. Johann in Tirol, Austria. Below is a quick synopsis of our time there, the things we got up to and some travel advice for anyone looking to go!
We flew into Salzburg which is definitely the easiest and most direct route. From the airport, we took a mini-cab which brought all ten of us to our destination. The journey from the airport to the town took us an hour. Buses are available but I would definitely recommend a taxi. It was quick, convenient and our driver was very helpful with our luggage and even gave us a little history of the countryside as we drove through it.
Where to stay
For a small village St. Johann has plenty of accommodation. Where you want to stay depends really on your price range. The closer you stay to the main ski-lift the more you will pay. That said, the town is small enough that you’re never more than a ten-minute walk to anywhere. We stayed at the Panorama Hotel. The rooms were spacious, warm and breakfast was included. Located just a 5 mins walk to the main lift it was the perfect balance between price and accessibility for us.
Should I book ski gear?
Yes, Definitely! Booking ski gear always guarantees the cheapest rates. We booked our gear from a store just beside the hotel. In doing so we saved almost 70 euro each vs. renting the gear upon arrival. There are several stores to choose from with regards renting gear. They vary in price depending on their distance to the main slope: the closer to the slopes, the higher the price.
With regards to ski school, it can be a bit of luck. There are two main ski schools, the red one and the blue one (literally). Both offer almost identical rates. That being said, the best value deal is to book ski school in conjunction with your ski rental. Both ski schools offer a significant discount if you book the schools and gear together.
For beginners, ski school is an absolute must. It is not a skill you can learn on your own. Even the most experienced skiers take lessons to hone their skills. A word of caution, ski school is expensive, no matter where you are. Just bite the bullet and do them, you’ll thank me later.
Where to eat and drink
There are plenty of restaurants dotted across the slopes. We ate in a different restaurant every day, each beautifully decorated with wooden walls covered in various paintings and taxidermy. The local cuisine is delicious and the pork knuckle or ‘grostl’ meals are a must-try for any particularly hungry skiers.
St. Johann has several bars and nightclubs as well. Yellow bar, which is located half way down the main piste is a great meeting point for groups that get separated over the day. There are a few different local beers which are as delicious as they are cheap. Huber Brau is a restaurant in the heart of the town which brews its own beer and also has some stunning views of the surrounding area from the top of its tower restaurant. For the serious party goers, Max’s bar at the foot of the main slope is a must. The après-ski kicks off around 5 pm and continues long into the night. Make sure to watch out for the siren, when it goes off concoctions of schnapps, vodka and Stroh (local rum) pours from the ceiling!
Thirsty work skiing, have to stay hydrated!
St. Johann itself is a relatively small town. The buildings are pretty and there are several shops to wander through on a day off. One of the best things to do in the town outside of skiing/partying is to visit the local aquatic centre. There is a 30m pool to swim in as well as a kid play pool. There are two giant water slides for adults and kids alike but best of all is the adjoining outdoor pool. The outdoor pool is heated and links directly to the indoors so you don’t have to brave the cold to reach it. We spent several evenings relaxing in the warmth of the outdoor pool, swapping stories from our days skiing as the Jacuzzi jets massaged our aching muscles.
St. Johann – my final verdict
As a ski resort, St. Johann has plenty to offer. There is a good mix of slopes to choose from however the piste itself is quite small. After two days we had covered almost all the slopes. That being said, some of the runs are really good so we were happy to repeat them. If you want more slopes then there are other pistes in the nearby towns you can access via a shuttle bus. Just make sure your ski pass covers you for these. The après-ski is excellent and Max’s bar is one of the best bars I’ve been to on a ski holiday. St. Johann is very affordable, accommodation, ski hire and daily costs are reasonable.
Overall experience: 7/10
Thanks for reading
What are your experiences of St. Johann? Have any other ski trips worth mentioning? Leave a comment below.