An expert guide for skiing holidays in Saalbach


Connected to three neighboring villages by a vast ski area, Austria’s second largest, Saalbach, located in the Austrian province of Salzburg, has 270km of pistes to explore, along with a lively après scene and small-town charm.

The succinctly named Skicircus Saalbach Hinterglemm Leogang Fieberbrunn ski area is more than big enough to please even the most avid piste traveler for a couple of weeks. And it’s served by one of the most elegant lifts in the world, with gondolas and high-speed chairlifts galore.

For more Saalbach inspiration, check out our guides to the resort’s best accommodation, restaurants and après ski.

Inside the resort

The centers of Saalbach and neighboring Hinterglemm are approximately 4 km away in the dead-end Glemm valley.

Saalbach is an attractive village with traditional buildings, an onion domed church and a river running through it. The main road is free of traffic and it is very pleasant to walk. Hinterglemm is also built in a traditional style with a traffic-free main road, but it feels less homely and friendly.

Saalbach is the largest and most party-oriented village and has a charming center with traditional cafes, lively bars and clubs, designer clothing boutiques and a number of elegant four-star hotels. The party here starts early in numerous trackside bars and ends late, ranging from sophisticated cocktails to dancing and live music from early afternoon until the wee hours to pole dance clubs.

The first ski lifts were built here shortly after the Second World War, and since then the two countries have shared a ski area that covers both sides of the valley and the ‘ski circus’ circuit that can be traveled in both directions – clockwise and anticlockwise – clockwise.

Leogang in the next valley has long been part of the ski area and when new lifts and slopes connected it to Fieberbrunn further down the valley for the winter 2015/16, Skicircus enjoyed a short stay as the largest ski area in the ‘Austria. Although the ski area is still quite large, its 270km were knocked off the podium the following season when St Anton was linked with Zürs, Lech and Warth to form the 305km Arlberg ski area.



However, Skicircus is still an Austrian heavyweight, with one of the most sophisticated lifts in the country, with major new lifts being added regularly. New for 2022/23, the eight-seater Asitzkogelbahn chairlift replaces the old six-seater Sportbahn in Leogang. The new chairlift has heated seats, bubbles, self-closing bars, and increases the chairlift’s capacity to 3,700 passengers per hour.

In 2020/21, the old Zwölferkogelbahn in Hinterglemm was replaced by a high-speed 10-person cable car which increased the climbing capacity from the end of the Hinterglemm valley to the 1,984m Zwölferkogel summit from 2,400 to over 3,500 people in ‘Now.

On the slopes

With 270 km of slopes, the Skicircus Saalbach Hinterglemm Leogang Fieberbrunn is the second largest ski area in Austria and among the largest in Europe. Hinterglemm is located in the same valley as Saalbach; Leogang and Fieberbrunn in the neighboring valley. The whole area is an in-between paradise, with red and blue run options from most of the lifts. There are also good beginner areas in both Saalbach and Hinterglemm.

Experts will find few challenging runs, but there are long, steep black runs of around 1,000 m in altitude on the north side under the Zwölferkogel and Schattberg gondolas, both in the Hinterglemm sector. A shorter black run for the World Cup is also served by the Zwölferkogelbahn, which for the winter of 2019/20 has been transformed from an old eight-seater gondola to a fast 10-person gondola lift. Saalbach will host the 2025 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships at the Zwölferkogel.

There is decent off-piste when conditions allow, including a very steep area that can be reached by hiking above the Hochhörndl chairlift above Fieberbrunn, where a stage of the extreme ski and snowboard competition of the Freeride World Tour takes place every year.



The entire lift system of the Skicircus is powerful, with almost all of the lifts being modern cable cars or high speed chairs. As for the slopes, the Saalbach territory is a two-sided story. The Saalbach Hinterglemm Valley runs east to west, so one side has mainly south-facing slopes, great in cold weather and for sun worshipers, but snow can get muddy and sparse over a prolonged warm period. The other side has mainly north-facing slopes and the snow remains in good condition.

The two sides of the valley are connected in a circuit that can be traveled both clockwise and anticlockwise. The counterclockwise circuit is longer, as a long blue run at one end of the north side descends to Vorderglemm to connect with a cable car on the south side, but there is no lift back to the north side, so this section is to be miss if you travel in the opposite direction.

Descending to Reiterkogel in the center of the south-facing slope leads to the more challenging intermediate runs of Fieberbrunn, while climbing over the ridge atop the south-facing slope at the Wildenkarkogel end of the ski area leads to some nice cruises to Leogang. Both areas have many north-facing slopes where snow is often abundant and powdery.

The ski area’s main park is the huge Snowpark in Hinterglemm which has easy, medium and pro lines. There are smaller parks in Saalbach, Leogang and Fieberbrunn, as well as snowcross and funslope runs throughout the area.

Who should go?

The runs here are best suited to intermediates, although there are a couple of excellent steep black runs, decent off-piste when conditions allow, and a good choice of easy options for even beginners. As Austria’s second largest ski area, those wishing to rack up miles won’t be bored, there is enough to keep them entertained for a week. The villages of Saalbach and neighboring Hinterglemm are renowned for their lively après. This starts in the mountains with DJs and live bands playing blaring from lunchtime onwards and continues in the villages until the early hours of the morning.

Know before you go

Essential information

British Embassy Vienna: (00 43 1 713 1575;, Jauresgasse 12, 1030 Vienna

Emergency services: Dial 112

Touristic office: See, the Saalbach Tourist Board website, for weather reports, ski lift status, webcams, traffic details and listings of local events. Collect maps, flyers and other information from the office on the main road as you enter the village.

The basics

Currency: EUR

Area code: Dial 00 43

Time difference: +1 hour

Local laws and etiquette

• Formal greetings are the norm when you meet someone and you will hear “Grüss Gott” (greeting the almighty) or the more mundane “Guten Morgen / Tag / Abend” practically wherever you go, and it is customary to return the greeting. Locals love their titles, so if you meet someone who has a degree, not only should you know this fact, but you should use the title while shaking hands, for example “Grüß Gott Herr Doktor”.

• Tips are not included, nor is it customary to leave them on the table. After the waiter gives you the bill, add about 10 percent and ask for it to be added to the total.

• A simple thank you is’Danke‘; ‘Cleats it means both “please” and “please”.

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