A view a piste and the mountains beyond in Ischgl, with a snowboarder and skier using the run
Photo by philip2  –  Link

Ischgl

Austria

Between boozy brunches, outdoor concerts and all night parties, there's a reason the village of Ischgl, in southwest Austria, came to be known as the 'Ibiza of the Alps'. As famous for its apres ski scene as its snow, it's the holy grail for those who want to rip up the slopes and the dance floor in the same day. But does this Tyrolean town have more to offer than just schnapps and sore heads? We definitely think so.

A snow sports paradise

In many ways, Ischgl is a dream resort; over 200km of runs, the majority of them blue or red, make it a great place to improve your technique, and thanks to its high altitude, the resort enjoys favourable snow conditions for most of the season. Add in the fact that the lifts are seriously state of the art and scenery is stunning, and you're in for a treat. Snowboarders will also be glad to hear that the surface lifts are relatively few and far between, flat patches are a rarity and the snowpark is enormous. Sounds pretty perfect, hey?

The lift pass for Ischgl also covers the area of Samnaun, which is just across the Swiss border and a duty-free zone. The number 80 red run goes right down between the two villages, so you can ski or board to the shops, then bring your boozy bargains back into Austria. A word of caution, this area is patrolled by customs officers - there's a little customs hut at the top of the cable car - so technically you need take your passport although they're rarely checked. While it's unlikely you will be stopped, the fines if you go over the duty-free allowance and are caught can be hefty.

The apres ski

Having beaten rivals such as Verbier and Val d'Isere to take the de facto crown as King of the Apres, Ischgl attracts a young and fun - if slightly rowdy - crowd. Unsurprisingly, the clubs and bars are set up to cater to them, so expect loud music, live DJs, drinking games and all day parties, as well as a number of table dancing bars. There's even an Alpine version of Ibiza's most famous club, Pacha. The town's closing parties are even more legendary, with two Top of the Mountain concerts seeing the season out; in previous years these have included performances from the likes of Elton John, Tina Turner, Katy Perry and Muse.

As you might have guessed, and despite its efforts to attract a wider audience in recent years, Ischgl still isn't known for being the most family friendly of destinations. Nonetheless, there are some more chilled out spots, and in general even the merriest of revellers do tend to be quite well behaved.

The village

Owing to its stellar reputation for snow coverage and insane parties, being out and about in Ischgl can be pricey, however, that doesn't mean there aren't some more affordable options to be found. For a decent pizza that won't break the bank head over to La Nona restaurant, while committed carnivores will want to try Kitzloch, which dishes up meaty favourites in a cosy setting.

For those who need a night off from the Ischgl apres machine, there are plenty of other activities to get involved in, including a five mile long toboggan track, ice skating, curling, bowling and a spa. In the summer, the area also attracts hikers wishing to take on the Idalp Adventure Hiking Trail, which features two enormous suspension bridges.

Need to know

  • Base: 1377
  • Summit: 2872
  • Ski area: 238km
  • Longest run: 11km
  • Cable cars and gondolas: 7
  • Chair lifts: 25
  • Surface lifts: 12