I’ve dreamt of the Alps my entire life. As a child I’d gaze at photos of my dad’s climbing adventures through the mountains of France, Germany, Switzerland, and Italy. Last year I even wrote down on a list of goals “Plan a trip to ski the Alps!” It seemed far fetched but, with a stroke of luck, I was recently able to join forces with Lufthansa German Airlines for a snow trip through Austria and Germany!!! Between the beautiful ancient towns, the unforgettable meals, and the overwhelming mystique of the mountain range, my journey in the Alps is a memory that I will carry forever.
Thank you Dennis Skyum and Sander Fennema for contributing photos to this post
I couldn’t believe it. It only takes one direct flight to Munich and a swift Lufthansa Heli ride to land right smack in the middle of the Austrian Alps. My impression was that I’d need 2 connecting flights, a 5 hours bus ride, a taxi, and then maybe a donkey ride (just kidding) to arrive at an Austrian ski lodge. International flights are usually terrible for me because I can’t sleep sitting upright. But with a seat that stretched out into a bed, I was able to get a solid 6 hours of sleep, squeeze in two really good movies, and enjoy the yummy gourmet meals. I arrived in Europe feeling well-rested and ready to explore!
You might think I’m crazy…but the travel experience on Lufthansa business class was so enjoyable that I even extended my time at the airport to hang out and eat breakfast in the Munich Lufthansa lounge. There was dinner, an espresso bar, beer on tap, and champagne on ice. That’s pretty much all you need, right? ;)
I joined up with a team of talented photographers and skiers, and we were whisked away in a helicopter to Kitzbuhel, Austria. I watched the valleys turn into hills and endless snowy peaks appear below us. We arrived in town and then hopped on the gondola to arrive at our private ski-in-ski-out accommodation, the Hahnenkamm Lodge.
Kitzbuhel is the location of the famous annual Hahnenkamm ski race – one of the most challenging downhill ski courses in the world. The town is very posh and well-known for it’s extravagant apres-ski party scene. However, we stayed cozied up in our lodge where we could end our ski days with a glass of wine by the fireplace and a dreamy view of the Alps. You’ll see in the photos below, but the Hahnenkamm Lodge was honestly the most beautiful, stylish, and cozy place I’ve ever set foot. I never wanted to leave.
We wrapped up our stay in Kitzbuhel by paragliding off the mountain and then sharing our first round of schnapps (…first of many throughout the trip). We hopped in the van and drove an hour to Brixental, the home of Skiwelt ski resort.
This area is beautiful because it’s nestled under the impressive Wilder Kaiser mountain range (pronounced vilderkaiser) in the region of Tyrol. The traditional culture of this area is really strong and it’s amazing to see the historic buildings! The meals in the ski lodges here are unforgettable. I tried schnitzle and gluhvine for my first time :) Love at first taste!
Zillertal Resort, Austria
Our next stop was Zillertal Resort, and this was by far my favorite place to ski!! It was the largest resort with the biggest freeski influence. Europe has an extremely different ski culture than the U.S. There’s a huge focus on groomed ski runs and people rarely ski “off-piste” (aka off the groomed runs) at resorts. This is largely because the mountains are so big – ski patrol is not able to bomb the avalanches to make certain areas safe like they can in the States. But Zillertal hosts some beautiful off-piste terrain that is safe and accessible! We were incredibly lucky because it snowed for 2 days before we arrived and we got to ski untracked powder until 4pm!
Our last ski destination of the trip was Garmisch, Germany. The mountains are much more steep and rocky in this region, which makes the view INCREDIBLE! You can take the tram to the top of Garmisch and walk out on a viewing-deck that stands thousands of feet above the valley!! We were here during the womens’ downhill World Cup so I got to watch Lindsey Vonn take the gold!
Of course I couldn’t leave Europe without getting a glimpse of Munich. My flight home departed in the evening, so I spent a day walking around the historic city center. FYI everything is closed on Sunday…but it’s still beautiful to walk around. I can’t believe the history of the buildings!!! And I also can’t believe how shockingly scary the Gargoyles are. Why did people make them?! They’re terrifying!!
I was happy to settle in at the Lufthansa Lounge before my flight and reflect on all the magical places I got to see. I hope I conveyed a bit of that magic to you :) Thanks so much for reading this post! If you have any questions or advice about traveling in Austria and Germany, please write in the comments below!