I paid a visit to Seefeld in Tyrol last winter and found a lovely landscape complete dressed in white, wonderful winter sports and an idyllic alpine town – where visitors feel very welcome.
What a change from when my college Arnold was here in the summer of 2017 (see the article Family fun in Seefeld). One of the snowiest winters in Austria in a long time had laid a thick white blanket, not just over Seefeld, but over the entire Tyrol. It did not take long from getting off the train from Innsbruck until I was with skis on snow. Unpacking my luggage in the hotel room just had to wait.
First-time cross-country skiing
I had been looking forward to this – my first time on cross-country skis. Nonetheless, let me fill you in about why this is a cross-country mecca. Just outside Seefeld, you find 256 kilometres of cross-country trails. Starting at the old ski stadium (the new ski stadium has moved 300 meters further away) where the FIS Nordic Ski World Championship took place in 1985. Seefeld is simply a mecca for cross-country enthusiasts. This is not just for the pros, as visitors can have a go at this fascinating sport with the help of professional instructors. My instructor was none other than the Norwegian cross-country Olympic medallist Anette Bøe. I consider myself a pretty good alpine skier, but skiing on flat ground, in tracks, was more difficult than I thought. Nonetheless, Anette taught me the basics and off I went into the forest. Maybe not with style, but at least with persuasion.
< Click on the images to enlarge >
Winter sports in all forms and shapes
Beyond skiing, you can of course go ice skating. You find a huge ice-skating rink at the sports and congress centre, right next to Seekirchl. Furthermore, as winter hiking is becoming more and more popular you find lots of marked hiking trails around Seefeld. It is also possible to hike in the terrain using snowshoes, both on their own and on guided tours. Family-friendly Seefeld also has several toboggan runs, where you can rent a sledge and speed downhill. Another way to slide down a snow-covered mountain is snow tubing. This involves sitting on a giant inflatable rubber tyre and whizzing down a specially-prepared track with barriers on both sides. Furthermore, if you are up to multitasking while doing winter sports, you should try biathlon, a combination of cross-country skiing and target shooting. Instructors will help you handle the small-calibre rifles and try to hit a tiny target with a high pulse. Not for my wobble cross-country skill. Thus, I headed up to the mountains for some downhill skiing instead.
Rosshütte Ski Area
Although Seefeld is primarily a Nordic ski resort, you will of course also find a couple of alpine slopes in the area. On the eastern side of the town, you find the Rosshütte ski area which offers 20 kilometres of slopes. Not only skiers, but anyone can go up to Rosshütte with a funicular train. In a few minutes, you travel comfortably from the valley station at 1200 m and up to 1762 m with Rosshütte Bergbahnen. At Rosshütte, which is not exactly a “mountain cottage” anymore but a proper full-service mountain resort. Here you will find several eateries, ski hire and most of your needs for a day on the slopes. Furthermore, you can choose between 14 lifts, that take you to different slopes from 1200 to 2064 m. You will also find a smaller ski area on the west side of Seefeld, Gschwandtkopf / Seewald, with slopes running from 1200 to 1500 metres above sea level. I also used the opportunity to go night skiing. It’s great to be up in the mountain enjoying a beautiful sunset before heading down the lit slopes. It has a completely different atmosphere than during the day, so don’t miss this!
The Idyllic Olympiaregion Seefeld
Seefeld and its surroundings are exactly the “postcard pretty” Austria that you have in your mind. The small town Seefeld with 3000 inhabitants is Tyrol at its best. An idyllic alpine town surrounded by high mountains and spectacular scenery. Moreover, Seefeld has a cosy and relaxed atmosphere. Sure, there are plenty of after-ski bars, but it’s not as hectic as other ski resorts. You will find a good selection of eateries, serving everything from Wienerschnitzel and knödel to pizza. If you want even more laid-back try the villages Leutasch, Mösern-Buchen, Reith and Scharnitz not far from Seefeld. Where you can find a broad variety of accommodation and activities as well. In addition to good road connections not only with the rest of Tyrol but also with Germany just a few kilometres further north, you can easily reach Seefeld by train. The train station in the city centre is within walking distance of many hotels. I arrived by express train from Vienna to Innsbruck, where I changed to the regional train to Seefeld. The name of the Olympic region was given to Seefeld after the Winter Olympics in 1964 and 1976. Although Innsbruck was the organizer city, the Nordic ski events were held in Seefeld. The town is still an important stop-over on the FIS Nordic Ski World Cup tour and will host the 2019 FIS Nordic Ski World Championship.