The Skicircus Saalbach Hinterglemm Leogang Fieberbrunn lies about an hour away from Salzburg, in Austria. Touted as the ‘most laid back ski area in Austria’, it has a funky vibe, with bright orange chairlifts, ice-cool bars, and slopes to suit all levels. Our family spent just under a week there at Easter, staying at the new Hotel Puradies in Saalfelden Leogang.
Large ski area
The Skicircus’ long name comes from all the areas that are linked up into one ski zone. From any of the connected towns and villages, skiiers can access 270 km of slopes, making it one of the largest ski resorts in Austria. There’s something for all levels: 20 km of black slopes, 110 km of red trails and 140 km of blue slopes. Leogang’s Nitro Park offers a range of obstacles to snowboarders who want to improve their skills, and its 150 km of Nordic ski trails make the Skicircus a centre of excellence for the sport.
The ski season begins in December, and officially goes on until mid-April. When we visited Saalfelden Leogang at the beginning of April the snow was quite slushy by the afternoon, and it had completely melted in the valley, but conditions were better further up the mountains.
By all accounts the place is a twinkly Winter wonderland if you travel there mid-Winter, and a new reservoir with a 74,000 cubic metre capacity helps keep the place snow-sure. But there are some advantages to going later in the ski season. Travellers that do choose to take their holiday in Spring, as we did, can enjoy both the skiing in the mountains, and the opportunities for hikes in the valley, past flower-strewn meadows, waterfalls and brooks.
70 lifts and cable cars whizz around the Skicircus. We were impressed by how modern and well-kept they all seemed. The Asitzbahn and Steinbergbahn mountain station was wheelchair accessible, with designated wheelchair-friendly lifts. We saw a good number of people up there with buggies, taking their babies for lunch on the mountain. The cable cars displayed the names of frequent visitors to the ski area (we always seemed to end up in the car that ‘belonged’ to the Smith family, from Liverpool).
The lifts aren’t the only snazzy thing at the Skicircus. At Asitz, adrenalin junkies can hurtle down the valley at 130 km/h on the 1.6 km long Flying Fox XXL zip wire. For the skiiers, a personal ‘ski line’ shows the altitude difference covered on a day’s skiing. You just need to enter your ski pass number, and you’ll receive an altitude metre profile.
The Sport Mitterer shop at Leogang rents out the latest in ski technology. No battered ski poles were in sight when we loaned our gear. It’s even possible to hire equipment online, from home, so it’s ready and waiting when you arrive.
Ski instruction and childcare
On our ski trip, two guides from the Altenberger ski school put us through our paces. Atu taught our children, who were five and seven at the time, and both complete beginners. They spent their mornings of instruction at Leo’s Kinderland, where five ‘magic carpet’ conveyors took them up to mini-slopes of varying difficulty. A creche, Villa Kunterbunt, ran next to Leo’s Kinderland. Parents of children aged 2-6 could leave their children to play there, as an alternative to ski lessons.
Our ski guide was Roli, a good-humoured long-term Leogang resident. He taught me on the intermediate slopes, including Leo’s Snow Trail, a first-base slope on the mountain for adults and children who had graduated out of Kinderland. Roli also guided D across to the challenging black runs, giving him tips on how to improve his technique.
As well as private lessons, Altenberger ran group ski lessons for youngsters and adults – with very jolly-looking staff, judging by what we saw.
Restaurants and cafés
There are plenty of restaurants and bars in the towns and villages at the foot of the Skicircus. The restaurant in Hotel Puradies, in Leogang where we stayed, served exquisite food. Much of it had an Austrian/Thai fusion theme, which worked surprisingly well.
The other two eateries we tried offered more traditional menus. Both of these were at the Asitzbahn and Steinbergbahn mountain station. Hendl fischerei was our favourite. Its views were enough to tempt you into sacking off the skiing, to spend the afternoon gazing out at the mountains. Its basic, rustic menu was in keeping with its ‘mountain hut’ theme. Half a chicken was served with a simple chunk of hearty bread. But after a morning’s skiing, the grilled meat was just the right thing. D is vegetarian, and there was only one main dish on the menu that he could eat: salad. But what a salad. Figs, plump cherry tomatoes, soft avocado slices…it was a vitamin injection on a plate.
We also ate at Die Alte Schmiede, a more traditionally styled establishment. It served a wide range of warming Alpine favourites, like goulash (meat and vegetable soup – €6), schnitzel with chips (a battered cut of pork – €13.90) and sacher torte (chocolate cake – €4). Die Alte Schmiede was much bigger than Hendl fischerei, and the waiting staff all seemed extremely busy. Lots of hungry skiiers and snowboarders to keep happy.
Here’s a video we made about the Skicircus:
The nearest airport to the Skicircus is Salzburg. Innsbruck and Munich are also close by. There are more details about getting to the Skicircus here.
You can read more about our trip to Skicircus Saalbach Hinterglemm Leogang Fieberbrunn here:
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