The Stubai glacier is one of the best family ski resorts in Austria. And this is not just us saying so. The big German ski resort review site Ski Info placed it third on its list of top 10 family-friendly ski resorts in Austria in 2017.
Stubai glacier ski area at a glance
Being a family-friendly ski resort automatically qualifies the Stubai glacier as being kind to beginner skiers too. The irony is that in our family our 9-year old son falls in the advanced skier category while his mom will forever remain a beginner. That’s why skiing on the Stubai glacier is perfect for us – there is enough variety to keep every member of the family happy.
|Ski period||October to June|
|Number of ski runs||35|
|Total km of runs||43|
|No of cable cars and lifts||26|
|Off-piste freeride runs||13|
|Altitude||1,695 m to 3,210 m|
|Distance from Innsbruck||45 mins by car|
Our family reviews of the Stubai glacier
Linda’s beginner review
The first two things I want to know about a ski area is how many blue (beginner) slopes there are and what the lifts look like. I’m not very fond of T-bar lifts that keep you on your feet, and I break out in a cold sweat at the thought of going down an unknown red (intermediate) slope.
Fortunately, the Stubai glacier boasts 12 blue slopes totalling 24 ski kilometres. Also, most of them can be reached by either a chairlift or a gondola.
On your first visit to the Stubai gletscher, as it’s referred to in Austria, my advice would be to start skiing at Gamsgarten. As the hub of the Stubai glacier ski resort, it is surrounded by easy practice and beginner’s slopes.
You can’t miss the covered magic carpet tunnels opposite the Gamsgarten restaurant complex. This is where the ski schools start their lessons, but anyone can use the magic carpet on the far left. When you exit the tunnel you can either turn right to go down the very easy beginner’s slope or turn left to go down a little longer and steeper one to the bottom of the Kitzlift.
This is a button lift, which means you are pulled up the slope by means of a round plastic “seat” or button between your legs. Although the lift requires a bit of skill, there is an assistant to help you get the button between your legs and send you on your way.
The Kitzlift slope is the perfect gradient and distance to practice your beginner skills or get back into the swing of things if you haven’t skied for a while.
Murmelebahn and Grubenschuss Run (no 12)
The Murmelebahn is a chair lift just below Gamsgarten and easy to reach from the main building or the Kitzlift. It gives you access to the short Grubenschuss beginner slope, the natural next step after “conquering” the Kitzlift run.
Getting on and off the chairlift is very easy (even so, I did bring it to a standstill once when my poles got stuck in the frame!). Being a lift for beginners, the Murmelebahn is not the fastest on the Stubai gletscher. So, sit back and enjoy the impressive views of the surrounding landscape while you wait to reach the top.
Grubenschuss is a wide slope with an even gradient except for a short, steeper part near the end. It can get quite busy if the ski schools bring their learners here, but you can easily ski around them. If I could, I would stay here all day.
Rotadlkopfbahn and Daunferner Run (no 7)
Once you’ve mastered Grubenschuss and feel like exploring more of the Stubai gletscher, the Daunferner is the obvious run to try next.
The Rotadlkopfbahn that takes you to the Daunferner run is easy to reach from the top of the Grubenschuss run when you get off the Murmelebahn. Simply ski across to join the adjacent slope that ends at Gamsgarten. Rotadlkopf is the first lift on your right. Otherwise, it is right in front of you across the snow when you exit the Gamsgarten gondola.
The Daunferner ski run is on your right when you get off the 8-seater Rotadlkopfbahn. It’s very wide with a gradual gradient for the most part. There is only one tricky bit (for me) near the end where it gets narrower while simultaneously sloping off to the left. We hit it once when no powder snow was left and only ice remained. I still don’t know how I got to the other side in one piece with my skis sliding toward the left edge and me having almost no control over them.
Schaufeljochbahn and the Eisjochferner run (no 1)
The idea of skiing from the top of the Stubai gletscher frightened me no end. What if I’m standing on top of the mountain and can’t get down? Until one bright February day in 2017 when Coenie and M convinced me I can do it. Before I could change my mind, I was sitting in a gondola of the Schaufeljochbahn.
From the Schaufeljoch lift station, a narrow (but mostly flat) ski path leads around the Schaufelspitze (3,333m) mountain peak. Just keep to your right all the time until you pass below the Eisjochbahn chairlift and a wide slope suddenly opens up before you. The Eisjochferner run is the one immediately left.
This run that I was so afraid of turns out to be my favourite. It’s a little steep at the start but so wide that you can easily make your turns. The last bit until you get to the Eisgrat complex is an absolute pleasure for a beginner.
Warning: You must turn right into the Eisgrat complex or cross over to the blue no 4 Access Fernau run if you don’t want to end on the red no. 1b Eisjoch run which takes you back to Gamsgarten. Coenie and M regularly ski this red run and have reported back that they “don’t think mommy will like it”.
Access Fernau and Falwesuna Runs (4 and 4a)
I manage quite well on the Access Fernau run but have a hard time getting down the Falwesuna run which starts out much steeper. If it wasn’t for its width and the good slope conditions I would easily classify it as a red slope.
Tip: If you’re a timid skier like me and want to skip the Falwesuna run, take the Schaufeljochbahn from Eisgrat to repeat the blue Eisjoch run or take the Eisgrat gondola to the Fernau middle station. From here, you can go back to Gamsgarten to continue your skiing on the Daunferner or Grubenschuss runs.
Read more: Don’t make the same mistakes I did! Read my 10 best skiing tips for beginners to spare you some embarrassment on the slopes.
Coenie’s intermediate review
Gaiskarferner Run (no 5)
This run goes past the Stubai Zoo snow park. Usually, I do the run while Mattheus has a go at some of the smaller jumps and obstacles. He thoroughly enjoys this more adventurous side of the Stubai Glacier. The run itself is quite relaxed, but it gets a bit more challenging if I attempt to do some of the jumps myself.
Windachferner Run (no 6)
The Windachferner is a short, steep but very wide run. It is the perfect run to attempt a steep slope and to gain more confidence. I found the slope a bit more forgiving as I practiced my turns. It is also the run to the Wildspitz chairlift.
Wildspitzbahn and first part of Daunenhang Run (no 9) with Daunferner
With a short hop, the Wildspitzbahn connected me to the steep and narrow red 9 Daunenhang run. I found it a bit intimidating with all the skiers joining the run down. As usual, Mattheus magically whisked his way down while I took some calculated turns. This short run then connects with the 7 blue Daunferner run that Linda already reviewed.
M’s expert review
I don’t like waiting for mommy to catch up with us. The best is to ski with daddy on the long blue and red slopes. I don’t mind lots of people because they make bumps on the slopes which I can jump over. I like skiing backward and practicing tricks. That’s why it’s nice to go to the Stubai Zoo where I can watch other skiers making awesome backflips and other tricks.
Note: The DC Stubai Zoo is on the sunny, south-facing Gaisskarferner slope. The easy, medium and pro lines attract novices as well as some of the best on the international freeski and snowboard scene who also come here to train. Apart from the Gaiskarr T-bar lift, there is also a separate rope lift to speed things up.
More slopes at a glance
A number of red slopes not mentioned above are dotted all over the Stubai glacier. The three longest ones are the Fernau (no 2), Gamsgarten (no 3) and Pfaffenscheid (no 11) runs.
For the real experts and adventurous skiers, Stubai offers 3 black slopes of which the Daunjoch (no 22) is the longest and steepest with a maximum gradient of 60%. The Wildspitzschütze (no 7b) is very short with the Daunscharte (no 21) a little longer.
If there is enough snow (more likely in January, February, and March) it is possible to ski all the way to the valley stations on the red Fernau (no 26) or Wilde Grub’n (no14) ski paths. In fact, if you start on the Daunferner ski run, and continue onto the Wilde Grub’n and lastly the blue Mutterweg ski path to the Eisgrat valley station, you will complete the longest run of 10 km on the Stubai gletscher.
Read more: Why the Schlick 2000 ski resort down the road is also perfect for families and beginners
When you want to take a break from skiing
Top of Tyrol
Not everyone likes skiing from opening until closing time. Fortunately, the Stubai gletscher has a few surprises up its sleeve that doesn’t only involve eating, drinking or sitting on a deck chair. The Top of Tyrol viewing platform at 3,210 m is one of them. The best part is that you can reach it with the Eisgrat and Schaufeljoch gondolas even if you don’t ski.
The stairs leading to the Top of Tyrol is immediately outside the Schaufeljoch gondola station. It’s not necessarily an easy climb with ski shoes on but so worth it when you reach the top. From here you have a spectacular 360° view over the Stubai Alps. If it was possible to count them, you would see 109 mountain peaks of over 3,000 m.
A fascinating insight into the world of snow and ice awaits you in the ice cave near the Eisgrat mountain station on the Stubai gletscher. The ice tunnels totalling 200 m is 30 m below the ski slopes. The ice cave is both entertaining as well as educational, with a nice photo opportunity on the ice throne near the end of the tour. The temperature inside remains constant at around 0°C.
|OPENING TIMES WINTER 2017/18|
|Dates||16 Dec 2017 to 6 May 2018|
|Hours||Daily from 11:30 to 15:30|
|Youth from 10 to 18 years||€3|
|Children under 10||Free in company of paying parent|
Read more: Why Hopfgarten is another great resort for a family ski holiday
Eating and Drinking on the Stubai gletscher
Skiing makes hungry. Fortunately, there is lots of opportunity on the Stubai gletscher to still your hunger pains and quench your thirst.
Although ski resort food generally is nothing to write home about, traditional Austrian meals like Schnitzel, Knödelsuppe (dumpling soup), sausages and Kaiserschmarrn (thick pancakes with fruit puree) are sure to give you enough fuel to continue your day on the slopes.
Many of the restaurants and bars accept credit and debit cards but take some cash for some of the smaller facilities. Also, bear in mind that ski resort food and drinks are more expensive than the average restaurant. The Stubai gletscher is no different.
There are 2 options for buying food at the Gamsgarten complex, a popular meeting point for groups and families who don’t ski together.
The Marktrestaurant (Market Restaurant) is the biggest self-service restaurant on the glacier and on the bottom floor of the Gamsgarten complex. It has a large indoor (500 seats) and outdoor (1,100 seats) area and is connected to the Kinder Restaurant (children’s restaurant) with an additional 300 seats. There is also a small play area with a jungle gym in the children’s restaurant.
An overview of some of the popular dishes and their prices.
|Wiener Schnitzel without side dish||€8,80|
|Slices of roast pork||€8,80|
|Boiled potatoes or potatoe salad||€3,90|
|Tyrolean dumpling soup||€4,60|
|Fresh fruit salad||€5,60|
|400 ml soft drink||€4,10|
|500 ml beer||€4,30|
How it works: Find an open table and leave your helmets or jackets on the seats to reserve your spot while you get food. Grab a tray at one of the turnstiles where you enter the central food area and have a look at the menu displays. For some dishes, you may have to queue for a chef to dish up for you. Once your tray is laden with your food and drinks, take it to a cashier to pay, and Bon Appetit! In case you forgot, cutlery is available after the pay points.
Opening times: Daily from 09:00 to 16:15
Zur Goldenen Gams Restaurant
Directly above the Gamsgarten Market Restaurant, the Zur Goldenen Gams Restaurant has waiters serving you at your table. For this privilege, you pay a Euro or two extra for your food although the drinks prices are about the same as downstairs. Also, keep in mind that waiting times can be long over busy periods.
A quick overview of popular dishes and drinks:
|Wiener Schnitzel with French fries||€14,50|
|Beef goulash with 2 bread dumplings||€12,00|
|Small Americana pizza||€9,10|
|500 ml beer||€4,30|
|400 ml soft drink||€4,20|
Tip: Most Austrians and Germans are very serious about having lunch at 12:00. Therefore, you will struggle to find a table between 12:00 and 13:00 on busy days. If you can wait, it’s best to go after 13:00. As a bonus, the slopes are quieter if you ski during the peak lunch hour.
Eisgrat Market Restaurant
Very similar to the Market Restaurant at Gamsgarten but smaller (400 seats) and with a twist. The twist is its very own pasta factory where “pasta shows” are held every Tuesday and Thursday from 9:30 to 10:30. It basically means you can watch the chefs make the different kinds of pasta that are served in the restaurant.
At almost 3,000 m the Schaufelspitz Restaurant calls itself the highest gourmet restaurant in the world. The Chef de cuisine David Kostner and his team were awarded 15 points by Gault Millau in 2016. With only 55 seats inside, it is recommended to book a table if you want to eat here. Send an email to [email protected]
Naturally, the Schaufelspitz Restaurant’s prices don’t really fall in the family holiday category. But who knows, you might want to go for a drink only or treat yourselves when the kids are in ski school. You can download the full menu here. The restaurant is open daily from 09:00 to 16:15 from mid-October until early May.
For lunch with a view, the Jochdohle self-service restaurant on top of the Stubai gletscher claims to be the highest lying restaurant in Tyrol at 3,150 m. The 400-seat restaurant specializes in giant Schnitzel and glacier burgers. If you come early enough, you can grab a free deckchair from where to enjoy the views.
Jochdohle is easily reached downhill from the Schaufeljoch gondola station or across Gaiskarjoch from the top of the Eisjoch lift. It’s open daily from 09:00 to 16:00.
Read more: Consider the Glungezer ski resort near Innsbruck for some old-culture nostalgic skiing
Stubai gletscher ski pass options and prices
A variety of ski passes and price options are available to skiers on the Stubai glacier. The best news for families visiting the Stubai Glacier ski resort is that children under 10 pay nothing when accompanied by a parent. All ski passes include free parking and free transport on the Stubai Valley ski bus.
Stubai Gletscher Pass
The prices below are for skiers with a Stubai Guest Card, which means they are staying in tourist accommodation in the valley. People without this card pay 10 % more. Get the full list of prices here.
|Duration||Adults||Children 10-14||Youth 15-18|
|Full day||€ 47,00||€ 23,50||€ 30,60|
|2 days||€ 92,00||€ 46,00||€ 59,80|
|5 days||€198,00||€ 99,00||€128,00|
|3 in 6 days||€140,00||€ 70,00||€ 91,00|
|5 in 7 days||€215,00||€107,50||€139,00|
** Ski passes are in the form of KeyCards for which a deposit of €2 is charged. You will get the €2 back if you return the card undamaged to any point of sale or ticket return machine.
Stubai Super Ski Pass
The Stubai Super Ski Pass gives you access to all four ski areas in the Stubai Valley – the Stubai gletscher, Schlick 2000, the 11er Lift, and the Serlesbahnen. Additionally, you can visit the indoor swimming pool in Neustift once a day while the ski pass is valid. Pass holders also get one 4-hour ticket for the StuBay indoor swimming complex.
The pass is available between 2 December 2017 and 8 April 2018. Non-holders of the Stubai Guest Card pay 10% more. Get the full list of prices here.
|Duration||Adults||Children 10-14||Youth 15-18|
|2 days||€104,00||€ 52,00||€ 72,80|
|3 days||€144,00||€ 72,00||€100,80|
|3 in 6 days||€156,00||€ 78,00||€109,20|
|5 in 7 days||€235,00||€117,50||€164,50|
|7 in 10 days||€296,00||€148,00||€207,20|
Other ski pass options
- An annual Stubai gletscher ski pass is available but only recommended if you live close-by and this is the only resort you will be skiing at. The cost is €505 for adults, €252,50 for children between 10 and 14, and €328 for youth.
- The Olympia World ski pass includes 9 ski resorts in the greater Innsbruck area. They are the Stubai gletscher, Nordkette, Patscherkofel, Axamer Lizum, Muttereralmpark, Schlick 2000, Glungezer, Kühtai, and Rangger Köpfl. Prices start at €136 for adults for 3 days. Find detailed information here.
- People living in Tyrol who ski often may benefit from the Freizeitticket Tirol or the Tirol Snow Card. The Stubai gletscher is included in both. We certainly make good use of the Freizeitticket Tirol in winter and in summer.
Stubai glacier ski rental and storage
No-one likes dragging ski equipment across countries and even continents. You can rent the latest equipment from the Intersport shops at Gamsgarten and Eisgrat on the Stubai gletscher.
If you make your booking online before you arrive, you have the option to select your equipment after 14:00 on the day of your arrival. This way, you will be ready to hit the slopes on your first official day of skiing. The afternoon trip up and down the mountain to select your skis is free if you also buy a ski pass for at least two days.
Check out the full list of products and prices here.
For even more convenience, you can store your ski equipment in the “comfort centres” at the valley stations of the Gamsgarten and Eisgrat gondolas. You can choose between only storing your skis to storing your boots (with drying and disinfection service) or renting a “comfort box” which takes 2 pairs each of skis or snowboards, boots, gloves, and 2 helmets.
Storage prices range from €2,50 per day just for skis to €9 for a “comfort box”. Find the full list here.
Ski schools on the Stubai gletscher
Four ski schools offer lessons and courses on the Stubai Glacier. On some days, there are over 100 ski and snowboard instructors on the slopes. The ski schools are:
Ski School Neustift
They are the ones responsible for the Big Family Children and Teens Ski Camp at Gamsgarten. The Skischule Neustift offers bilingual (German and English) group lessons and multilingual private lessons.
The group courses for children and adults are generally 4 hours per day. This is broken up into a 2-hour session from 10:00 to 12:00 with another 2-hour session from 13:00 to 15:00. A 3-day Alpine skiing course from Friday to Sunday starts at €155 per person. Check their website for a full list of prices and dates.
Alpin Ski School Neustift
The Alpinschischule Neustift was the first in the Stubai valley to limit the number of kids in a ski course group to 7. They have an office at Gamsgarten and also offer the full range of courses for young and old. You can book a 40-hour family session with them starting from €215. Their group courses are not necessarily available in the low season, so check the website for precise information.
Die Neustift Schilehrer
This is a smaller ski school consisting of a group of ski instructors who all grew up in the Stubai Valley and know the glacier like the palm of their hand. I’m not too sure how good their English is. You can enquire on their website or at their office in Neustift.
Ski and Snowboard School Neustift Olympia
The Ski School Neustift Olympia is based in Neustift, where you can also rent all your ski equipment. At first glance, their prices seem to be slightly cheaper than that of the other big ski schools. They also have a variety of special offers.
Childcare on the Stubai gletscher
There is a Kindergarten at Gamsgarten where children from 3 years old are looked after between 09:00 and 16:00. A half-day stay in the Kindergarten costs €28 and a full day €38.
From 4 years and older, there is an option to combine a 2-hour ski course with the rest of the day in the Kindergarten.
Getting to the Stubai gletscher
The Stubai gletscher is right at the end of the 35 km long Stubai Valley. The valley is easily accessible via the A13 Brenner motorway between Austria and Italy. The Schönberg exit which takes you down the valley is only a 10-minute drive from Innsbruck, the capital of Tyrol. Keep in mind a toll fee of €3 is charged when you exit the motorway. Coming from Italy, the full Brenner Pass toll fee is €9,50. Keep your receipt to show at the Schönberg toll booth to avoid paying double.
Parking is free at both the Gamsgarten and Eisgrat valley stations of the Stubai glacier.
All public buses in the Stubai valley (between Schönberg and the glacier ski resort) are free for skiers and other winter sports enthusiasts between October and May.
From Innsbruck, Bus 590 leaves the main train station (Innsbruck Hbf) from bus stop A every half hour at 5 and 35 past the hour. Return tickets cost €7,20 for people wearing winter sports clothes between October and May.
The stops to get off at are either Neustift i. St. 3S Eisgratbahn or Neustift i. St. Mutterbergalm. Find a connection here. Enter Innsbruck Hauptbahnhof next to start and Stubaier Gletscher next to destination.
There are a number of scheduled and chartered flights between Innsbruck and the rest of Europe in the skiing season. From the airport, you can either take public transport or use a private airport transfer company to get to your hotel or the Stubai gletscher.
|Flights to Innsbruck from||Frequency|
|Manchester||Tuesday, Saturday, Sunday|
|Bristol||Friday, Saturday, Sunday|
Regular trains from Germany, Italy, and Switzerland stop at the Innsbruck main train station. The most popular connections are from Munich, Bozen, and Zurich. Within Austria, there are frequent trains from Vienna and Salzburg. Bus 590 to the Stubai valley conveniently leaves from bus stop A right outside the Innsbruck station building.
Where to stay in the Stubai Valley
Because of its location in a protected nature area, there are only two accommodation options within walking distance of the Stubai glacier lifts. They are the Dresdner Hut near the Fernau middle station and the Alpensporthotel Mutterberg at the Gamsgarten valley station. The Dresdner Hut provides basic but affordable accommodation while the Alpensporthotel Mutterberg is a 4-start hotel with all amenities including an indoor swimming pool.
Fortunately, the Stubai hotel and other accommodation options further down in the valley are plenty and varied. While we normally do a day trip to the Stubai glacier ski resort, we had the luxury of staying at the Hotel Serles in Mieders on our last visit. What a difference to stay close to the slopes!
The benefits of staying in a Stubai Hotel are:
- You hit the slopes fuelled by a big and satisfying breakfast.
- You come back to rest and relaxation, especially if your Stubai hotel has an indoor swimming pool, sauna, jacuzzi and the likes to soothe sore muscles.
- You go to bed satisfied after enjoying the best of the local cuisine.
- You have a distance advantage to get to the slopes early the next day.
More useful facts and tips for skiing on the Stubai gletscher
- The new S3 Eisgratbahn is the longest and most modern tricableway in the Alps. It has the capacity to take 3,000 people an hour from 1,695 m to 2,900 metres above sea level.
- If you lose something on the slopes, you can ask at the ticket offices of the two valley stations in case someone turned it in. Likewise, this is where to take stuff lying around that doesn’t belong to you.
Don’t like the thought of skiing at all? Don’t worry. There are many more fun things to do in Austria in winter. Read all about them here.
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