In late January, the area hosts Hahnenkamm Race week, one of Austria’s premier downhill slalom events where travelers can watch competitors fly by at an average of 64 mph. Kitzbuhel is also close enough to Innsbruck (60 miles) and Salzburg (50 miles) that visitors can easily explore these other Austrian towns. Innsbruck is a charming alpine town with a city center that is over 800 years old, while Salzburg is the birthplace of two musical legacies: Mozart and The Sound of Music.
• Queenstown, New Zealand. While you’ll have to wait about six months to hit these slopes, multiple VirtualTourist members report that Queenstown is a great spot for skiing, as well as a variety of other adrenaline sports. Once a tiny gold-mining settlement, this town has evolved into a world-class sport mecca. As long as visitors aren’t afraid of heights, you’ll have plenty of activities to keep you busy outside skiing and snow sports.
After taking the Skyline Gondola to the top of Bob’s Peak, you can luge down concrete tracks, hike the mountain-top trails, or jump from the Ledge Urban Bungy, which has a “runway” so you can gain a bit of speed as well as a unique harness that allows jumpers to do flips, twists and other such stunts. Queenstown is also home to another famous bungy jump, the Nevis Highwire Bungy. The Nevis drops 440 feet straight into a riverbed, so it’s not for the faint of heart. In addition to getting your heart pumping, Queenstown is home to Lake Wakatipu, where visitors can go boating or simply enjoy a picnic.
• Kranjska Gora, Slovenia. Bordering Austria and Italy, Northern Slovenia and the Julian Alps are a growing skiing destination, but also a great destination for those who simply appreciate unspoiled nature. Triglav National Park, home to Mount Triglav, Slovenia’s highest mountain, is also Slovenia’s only national park and one of the oldest protected parks in Europe. Hiking is a popular way to explore the park and see Lake Bohinj, Slovenia’s largest glacial lake.
To the north of Mount Triglav, Kranjska Gora provides opportunities for skiing, hiking and night tobogganing. In addition to the physical activities, it also has a casino and hot springs for when visitors want to relax. VirtualTourist members also recommend an excursion to the country’s capital, Ljubljana, with a walk around the Old Town and a visit to the Ljubljana Castle. Since the country has historically been controlled by Italy, the Austrian empire and was also part of Yugoslavia, the culture and cuisine are an interesting mix of Central Europe, Balkan and Mediterranean traditions.
• Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy. Few destinations can say they are both a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a former Olympic host city, but high in the Dolomite Alps, Cortina d’Ampezzo earns this rare distinction. While serious skiers will be thrilled to stay on the Dolomiti Superski, the circuit of resorts in the Dolomites, there are plenty of activities for non-skiers.
In summer, Cortina has become a mountain biking mecca, and this continues in winter with the K-Track, a special kit that can transform any mountain bike into a snowbike. Cortina has multiple schools that teach novices how to “snowkite,”or use the K-track, during their visit. In tradition with most Italian destinations, there is also tons of culture to experience. In January, the city hosts Ice Art, the International Festival of Snow Sculpture, where artists transform huge blocks of ice into sculptures along Corso Italia.