7 reasons why Austria's top ski destinations are even better in summer

Think Austria’s only good for polishing up your off-piste skills and sporting your best salopettes? Think again. Here’s why Austria triumphs in summer too

5 mins

1. Avoid the crowds

As one of Europe’s top skiing destinations, Austria’s resorts are flooded with UK travellers in the winter months. A peaceful lull in the country’s mountains sets in when the snow begins to melt and the temperature rises.

Hiking in Zell am See
Hiking in Zell am See

Visit in the peak summer months from late May to early September to get the most from your 'off-season' trip here – not only will it be comparatively deserted, the sun will be shining too. Perfect for hiking.

2. Uncover the magnificent scenery

Austria’s scenery in winter is undoubtedly striking, with dustings of white powder on the mountains and decorating the trees. The colder months are magical, but underneath all that snow lies a world of alpine pastures and lush vegetation. This plant life flourishes during summer even up in the ski areas, creating a gorgeous blend of jagged rock and blankets of green as far as the eye can see.

Kitzbüheler Alpen
Kitzbüheler Alpen

June, July and August are also the perfect time to wander around the pretty villages that are tucked away in the valleys. The beauty of the Austria’s log cabins comes out in the sunshine, with full flower boxes lining the exteriors instead of bundles of snow. 

3. Enjoy Austria’s hiking trails

Speaking of all that scenery, one of the best ways to connect with Austria in summer is by trekking along its hiking trails. Thousands of paths travel across this country’s landscape, delving through valleys and swooping over the tops of its highest peaks. The warm summer weather provides just the right climate for spending days exploring the hills.

Hiking in Kitzbüheler Alpen
Hiking in the Kitzbüheler Alpen

There are trails suitable for walkers of all abilities, from gentle strolls through meadows to steadily-ascending hill walks and high-altitude scrambles. With such a wide range, there are also plenty of treks suitable for children, a great way to get them outside enjoying nature. Go llama trekking in Zell am See-Kaprun or head to the Senns Wonder Walking Trail in St. Anton am Arlberg – both of these are packed with fun for kids.

4. Find better value accommodation

Prices for accommodation on the Austrian ski slopes plummet in summer, a refreshing change compared to rates being cranked up around the rest of Europe. The thought of a chalet might seem rather cosy in winter, but these cabins still retain their rustic charm in the summer – at half the price.

Trattlerhof Hotel
Trattlerhof Hotel

If you’re working to an even tighter budget, don’t forget that the warmer weather provides ample opportunity for camping, too. Sites (with varying levels of comfort) spring up all over the Alps in summer, some for under 10 euros per person per night.

5. Save money with summer cards

Many of Austria’s regions run promotions in the warmer months, mostly in the form of summer cards. These deals give you discounts on all sorts of things – from restaurant bills to transport and admission fees – so they’re highly recommended for your Austria summer holiday.

These cards run from around late-April to October. Check with your hotel before buying – quite a few come free when you book at participating accommodation.

Kärnten Card: free admission to over 100 of Carinthia’s sights and attractions, plus discounts at around 60 businesses in the area.

Wildschönau Card: Free rides on selected cable cars, admission to museums, and guided tours, plus discounts at many restaurants in the valley. Everyone staying here at the relevant time of year automatically gets a summer card free of charge.

Alpbachtal Seenland Card: Top deals in Alpbachtal include free entry to the summer cable-ways, into the Museum of Tyrolean Farmhouses in Kramsach, free use of swimming pools, free use of the regional bus-service, free hiking and active programme, several extra bonuses on different sightseeing spots and much more.

Nivea Familienfest in Alpbach (alpbachtal.at)
Nivea Familienfest in Alpbach (alpbachtal.at)

Kitz Alps Summer Card: The main incentive for this summer card in Kitzbühel is that it gives you free access to 29 lifts in the region, plus free guided walks (Mon-Fri). Rates start at €48 for adults, €24 for children for three days of travel (infants go free).

St Anton Summer Card: Free of charge on arrival at your hotel in St. Anton, this card gives you a guided hiking tour, one day of free cable car use, a free sports activity class such as archery or yoga, and more. Boost your benefits to a St. Anton Premium Card – prices start at €55 for adults, €28 for children.

Zell am See-Kaprun Summer Card: To enjoy free use of lidos and boat trips at Lake Zell, entrance into a wildlife park, and mining and transport museums, consider getting yourself a Zell am See-Kaprun Summer Card. These are only available at participating accommodation in the area, so choose your hotel wisely – they aren’t available anywhere else.

Kitzbühel Alps Summer Card: Giving you access to all 31 lifts in the Kitzbühel Alps, this card is worth it even if you only use it for the transport advantages. That said, this ticket also gives you access to the region’s mountain theme parks, and 10%, 25% or 50% discounts on dozens of activities in the area.

6. Discover Austria’s flora and fauna

As temperatures begin to warm up in Austria, the country’s plant life comes out to play and animals can be found grazing across its meadows. This makes a change from winter’s blizzards – in summer you can bask in all of Austria’s colourful glory. The green of the forests and pastures becomes vivid and bright, and flowers bloom. Look out for edelweiss, one of Austria’s iconic flowers.

Edelweiss (Shutterstock)
Edelweiss (Shutterstock)

During spring and summer many of the alpine farms open up, which means you’re never too far away from a cow (or a dairy selling delicious cheeses). A number of wildlife parks are dotted up in the hills of Austria, making great days out for children. Animals such as deer, lynx and marmots are commonly found in these parks.

7. Learn more about alpine culture

When you travel to Austria in winter, the extent of culture you connect with usually goes as far as mastering the art of après-ski. As you’re not focused on perfecting your slope skills, visiting in summer gives you more opportunity to discover what Austria is all about. The country’s alpine traditions stretch far beyond snow sports. 

Valley Festival Wildschönau
Valley Festival Wildschönau (wildschoenau.com)

Head to the mining and farming museums to learn more about culture in years gone by, discover alpine huts that are hundreds of years old, and travel across the trading routes that were used thousands of years ago to haul products to the Mediterranean. Austria is abundant with these fascinating stories, many of which are best explored when the sun is shining.

Main image: Hiking in Zell am See-Kaprun

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