The Glungezer ski resort above the Inn Valley in Austria is a best-kept secret of the locals. It’s a good thing I’m one of those locals. This insider’s guide will show you why you should consider Glungezer for a nostalgic ski day or days on the slopes.
Glungezer at a glance
Glungezer is a charming little ski resort in the Mittelgebirge (middle mountains) near Innsbruck where the old-school ski culture lives on. If you like skiing in beautiful terrain with hardly any lift lines, versatile skiing, and a quaint Alpine village atmosphere, you are at the right place.
|THE GLUNGEZER BASICS|
|Runs/slopes||7 km blue, 15.5 km red, 0.5 km black|
|Lifts||2 chairlifts, 3 t-bar lifts, 1 button lift, 1 magic carpet|
|Price for 1-day ski pass||€29,50|
|Operating times||08:30 to 16:30|
|Restaurants||3 with direct access to the slopes|
|Public transport||Bus 4134 from Innsbruck and Hall in Tirol|
|Check out the interactive ski map here|
The Glungezerbahn (which means Glungezer cable car or lift system) is mainly undiscovered outside of Austria and Germany although we do hear Dutch and English on occasion. You may ask why this is if it has all the elements for a great day on the slopes?
The reason is the only minor drawback of the Glungezerbahn – the antiquated lift system. It’s impossible to avoid taking at least one lengthy drag lift if you want to get to the good runs.
Fortunately, there are plans in place to upgrade the lifts, with the first big improvement scheduled to be completed in time for the 2018/2019 winter season.
The locals who grew up on the slopes aren’t all keen on the new developments which are aimed at attracting more visitors. However, I believe it’s necessary to make the ski area more beginner and family friendly. The beautiful wide slopes already are. It only makes sense that the lifts should live up to the same standards.
|Disclaimer: If it’s not obvious by now, I think this is the right place to declare my bias. Glungezer really is our local ski resort and within walking distance from our home. It’s also where we learned to ski after settling in Austria in 2010. Even so, I’m not blind to the shortcomings of the Glungezerbahn. Therefore, I’m trying to be as objective as possible in my review.|
8 reasons to ski at Glungezer
- What Glungezer lacks in size it packs in character, tucked away in an undeveloped natural area high above the Inn Valley.
- Even on a busy day, the slopes are uncrowded.
- The Glungezerbahn is included in the OlympiaWorld Skipass which covers 9 ski resorts near Innsbruck.
- Winter sports enthusiasts love the natural snow throughout the entire ski area. Snow cannons are only used in the Halsmarter area when the snow conditions are really bad.
- On average, Glungezer boasts with 72 sunny days per ski season. The current season is 116 days long, which means the resort is under the 10 sunniest in the region.
- When the snow conditions are good, the 15 km descent from Schartenkogel to Tulfes is one of the longest ski runs in Tyrol.
- If you’re a ski tourer who doesn’t rely on lifts, Glungezer offers some of the best ski touring facilities in Tirol. You can go all the way to the Glungezer summit at 2,677 m before taking a break or sleeping over in the Glungezerhütte at 2,610.
- Tulfes is home to a unique winter sport called Klumpern. A Klumper is a “sled on a ski”. Your chances of seeing someone in action on one of these are exceptionally well at the Glungezer ski resort.
The Glungezerbahn lifts and ski runs
The valley station of the Glungezerbahn is just above the centre of Tulfes at 950 m. Be ready to hop on the double chairlift when it comes around because it doesn’t really slow down!
Sit back and relax after closing the safety bar, because you’re going to be on it for quite some time. See if you can spot a deer or other animals through the trees!
You have enough warning to get ready to disembark when the Halsmarter middle station comes into view. The snow bank is quite high just before you ski off, so make sure your skis point up and are lifted high enough. Exit to the left!
Note: You must get off here, as the lift goes no further. However, it’s also possible to travel on this lift without your skis on. Just stay put until you get to the cable car station a few metres on where there are always two assistants to help you get off.
Now you have 2 choices. You can either go straight down to ski the blue Halsmarter slope or take the slipway to your left that leads to the t-bar lift taking you further up the mountain.
Easy Halsmarter Run (no. 1)
This is where we took our first terrifying ski steps almost 8 years ago. Our efforts were so disastrous that the hill leading to the official start of the blue run has subsequently been named “wipeout hill”.
If you manage to get down wipeout hill (a walk in the park, actually) the Halsmarter run lies in front of you. It’s 2 km long, wide, and with no dramatic difference in elevation. There’s a magic carpet used by the ski schools near the top which is perfect for first-timers.
There are only two steeper (but short) hills on the blue run. The first is followed by a long, level stretch for which you need speed to get across. So, instead of making your beginner turns until you get to the bottom, put those skis together and go straight when you’re about halfway down the hill.
Where the slope forks, keep left unless you want to stop at the Tulferhütte mountain hut (in which case you stay right before turning left to the hut).
Do not continue straight past the Tulferhütte unless you want to end up back at the valley station in Tulfes.
It certainly is possible to ski down to the parking lot during a good season. But even though it’s classified as a blue slope (called the Familienabfahrt or family downhill run), the conditions can be icy and it’s not well marked. You must also cross a road along the way.
If you really want to give it a go at the end of the day, rather ask a local skier to accompany you on your first try. I’ve tried it once and said never again. M and C do it all the time when there is enough snow and love it. Naturally, they get home long before I do!
Keeping left past the Tulferhütte takes you down the last little hill to the Halsmarter t-bar lift. If there are no other people around, the operator may be sitting in his hut. Call him if you need assistance to get the bar under your bum.
This lift is SLOW – a fact we didn’t complain about when we started out. When you get to the top and you’re ready to try the intermediate red run, there is a short button lift on the other side of the slope to take you up the hill to the Alpengasthof Halsmarter. Watch our video to see how it’s done (M) and not done (me). Yes, the laughter is real 😆
The area where you get off is not level, so immediately turn your skis diagonally if you don’t want to go reversing down the hill again.
From here, you can either go to the restaurant or ski down to the t-bar lift behind the main Halsmarter cable car station. The good news is that, although longer, this lift is much faster than the bottom one. And it rewards you with the most magnificent views over the Nordkette mountain range and the Inn Valley when you get to the top.
Intermediate FIS Standard Run (no. 2)
A lovely wide 5 km long slope that even an “advanced beginner” like myself can manage. FIS is the International Ski Federation, so I guess this run lives up to its standards.
To get on it, turn left after exiting the drag lift. (If you go right, you’ll enter the Kalte Kuchl ski area below the Glungezer summit.)
The first bit of this slope is quite level and narrower before it gets steeper and wider. However, it evens out every now and again to give beginner legs a break.
|TIP FOR FAMILIES
Kids love to explore the forest paths branching off to the right of this slope.
Before going down the very last hill of this slope, you have 3 choices: go right to go to the Halsmarter restaurant or down the blue run again, stay in the middle to take the cable car back to the valley, or go left to take the t-bar lift back up the mountain.
The Kalte Kuchl and Schartenkogel runs
When exiting the t-bar lift to your right, an easy run (no. 3) takes you past the Tulfein Alm (on your left) before it joins up with the runs coming from the Schartenkogel.
Take the slipway through trees on your left shortly after passing the Tulfein Alm if you want to avoid going down a steep hill. It just means you will join up with the top runs a bit earlier.
The first lift station on your right is the Schartenkogel double-chairlift. Continuing straight past will take you to the Tulfein Alm t-bar lift. C & M often take this lift which takes you to the bottom of the Schartenkogel run. Once again, I stick to the chairlift.
There are a number of interweaving runs between the bottom and the top of the Schartenkogel lift, with lots of opportunity for off-piste skiing in between.
The runs are all relatively easy red ones with one short black run branching off to your right just after the Schäferhütte. The latter is a small mountain hut near the Schartenkogel. It’s run by local Tulfer Stefan Mumelter who keeps beer and Schnapps handy for those who care to stop by for a chat. Watch the video to see how we cheers or “Prost” in Tyrol!
If you’re done skiing in this area, take the no. 6 Schartenkogel run until it joins up with the no. 2 FIS standard run to get you back to Halsmarter.
Eating and drinking
We love stopping here for 2 reasons – the magnificent views from the terrace and the very friendly hostess called Heidi. And did I mention the best Kaspressknödel (pressed cheese dumplings) in Tirol?
Expect to find traditional Austrian food like Schnitzel, dumplings, and sausages on the menu. And remember they are high up on a mountain without road access in the winter, which means it’s hard to get extra hands to help on busy days. When it gets very crowded on the terrace over weekends, you must queue inside to order your own food and drink. The drinks are served straight away for you to take back to your table while a waiter brings your food to your table once its ready. However, if you manage to get a table inside you will be served at your table.
- This guide about ski food in Austria will give your more of an idea of what to expect from ski resort kitchens.
Alpengasthof Halsmarter is the biggest of the three restaurants with direct access to the slopes in the Glungezer ski resort. Its menu is varied, with really good pizza with a super thin crust.
Unfortunately, people are still allowed to smoke inside Alpengasthof Halsmarter. Even when the local school had their prizegiving here after the annual ski week, people smoked away unperturbed in the company of the children. Of course, our clothes and hair also smelled terrible when we got home.
It’s a pity about the smoking because the Alpengasthof Halsmarter is an otherwise lovely restaurant conveniently situated at the bottom of the FIS Standard run.
Read more: Take a break from skiing to do some sightseeing around Innsbruck
Perhaps the most charming of all the Glungezer restaurants, the Tulferhütte is back on my favourites list after placing a ban on smoking inside. Its cozy wooden interior with old ski artifacts adds to the Glungezer ski resort’s nostalgic charm. And the food isn’t bad either. It makes the trip with the t-bar lift back to Halsmarter totally worth it.
Technically not on the slopes but below the parking area of the valley station, perfect for having a drink or early dinner before going home. The menu isn’t big but there are great daily specials worth a try. The Lärchenhittl gets another thumbs up from us for banning smoking inside.
Where to stay near the Glungezer ski resort
The only accommodation directly on the slopes is in the Tulfein Alm. It’s basic with a shared bathroom but Heidi is sure to make your stay worthwhile.
In Tulfes, there are a quite a number of holiday apartments and guesthouses. Two of them can probably pass as small hotels.
This traditional Tyrolean house offers three well-equipped upmarket holiday apartments only one bus stop away from the Glungezerbahn. You can even walk if you want to. There is a one-bedroom apartment that sleeps three people, a two-bedroom apartment sleeping five people, and a three-bedroom apartment that sleeps seven people. All have fully equipped kitchens. There is also adequate free parking on the premises.
B & B Appartements Glungezer
Perhaps closest to the slopes in Tulfes, the B&B Appartements Glungezer are just 300 m down the road from the Glungezerbahn. It is also conveniently located next to the local supermarket and bank. B & B Apartments Glungezer offer different-sized self-catering apartments. However, as the name says, they also serve a great breakfast buffet. Prices start at €84 for a double room.
Next to the village church, this small hotel/guesthouse has its own restaurant. There is a bus stop only a few metres from the door, with the next stop being the one at the Glungezerbahn. Technically, it’s also walking distance if you don’t want to wait for the bus. The price for a single room starts at €45 Euro.
A charming country hotel halfway between the villages of Rinn and Tulfes. There is a bus stop in front, but the hotel also runs a shuttle service to the Glungezerbahn. This is the only hotel close to Glungezer which also offers attractive half-board options. Winter prices start at €74 per person per night. As a bonus, there is a sauna and a jacuzzi.
Ski rental and ski schools
There are two ski schools who also rent equipment conveniently located at the valley station of the Glungezerbahn. Both offer private as well as group lessons. They can arrange English speaking instructors if you let them know in advance. Just be aware that they may require a minimum number of participants for group lessons. The longer you learn or rent, the cheaper it generally gets.
Schischule Glungezer — Adult courses start at €96 for two hours a day for 5 days, and you can rent skis and poles from €21 per day. Find all the details and the pricelists here. The Schischule Glungezer is in the traditional looking hut to the right of the Glungezerbahn building if you face the mountain.
Skischule Total — To the left of the cable car station, the Skischule Total offers group lessons (minimum 3 people) from €105 for 2,5 hours a day over 3 days. Skirental starts at €25 per day for adults. Find all the details here.
Getting to Glungezer
By car – From the Inn Valley, take the Hall Mitte exit on the A12 highway. Tulfes is about 6 km from Hall in Tirol. There is a big free parking area below the Glungezerbahn valley station. On very busy Saturdays or Sundays parking is also created in some of the adjacent fields. Watch out if you park here because the chances of stepping in cow poop are good 😯 .
By bus – Bus 4134 (link to schedule in the table at the top) from both Innsbruck and Hall in Tirol stops in front of the Glungezerbahn. Travelling on the bus is free with ski gear.
Special bus – For residents and tourists staying in the villages of Wattens, Fritzens, and Volders, there is a special free ski bus over weekends and holidays.
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