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  • News

TRAVEL: All’s good in Bad Gastein

Saturday, 17th February, 2018 10:00am

Story by Neil Fetherstonhaugh
TRAVEL: All’s good in Bad Gastein
TRAVEL: All’s good in Bad GasteinView More Images

There’s something in the waters of Bad Gastein. That’s not just an expression. There actually is something in the water of this famed Austrian resort town.

Located in the heart of the Hohe Tauern mountain range, the town has been a famous destination for centuries as visitors flocked to its various hot spas, seeking out what is considered the magical healing properties of its radon-rich waters and healing mines located in cliffs high above town.

Even today locals still encourage visitors to drink the water straight from the tap in their hotel room, usually a big no-no when traveling, but sure enough, it was as refreshing and tasty as they promised when I tried it out of curiosity after checking into our centrally located and pleasant 3 star Hotel Krone.

Unlike some other ski resorts that are often purpose-built to accommodate the hordes that descend every year seeking their thrills and spills on the slopes, Bad Gastein is an authentic Austrian city with its own life going on in the quaint cobbled streets at the bottom of the slopes.

There is air of faded elegance, a sense that this alpine gem has seen better days but revival is in the air and the enterprising locals have worked hard to transform former rundown buildings and give them a new lease of life.

One of them is a power station that is now a cool bar while another is Bad Gastein’s impressive waterfall that sends its tumbling icy cold waters ripping right through the centre of town.

Under clear blue skies and icy white mountains and surrounded by fresh mineral water and hot springs, the sprightly residents here enjoy a healthy, outdoor existence.

It was with some awe that I watched a group of older locals engaged in an energetic game of curling outside the restaurant where we were dining on our first evening in town.

In their version of this local entertainment, the player hurls a large stone that has a longer stick attached, down along a stretch of icy road in a bid to get it as close as possible to the target ball.

It was played with much gusto and even though I couldn’t understand what they were saying there was no doubt that a good bit of slagging and one-upmanship accompanied each throw as they each competed to win a round.

Believe me, it was a lot easier than it looked, and even after several awkward pitches I was no closer to getting the hurl to travel with the same level of marksmanship as these robust men of the mountains achieved on every throw.

It was great fun, and well worth the punt, if you excuse the pun, and it helped work off the hearty lunch we had enjoyed earlier in the Eisschützenstüberl Familie Lanzelin right next door. 

Even though Bad Gastein competes for a share of the lucrative alpine market it can easily hold its own in the whole skiing stakes, but given the competitive nature of the industry and with some heavy-hitting competitors right on their doorstep, Bad Gastein is not resting on its laurels.

Work is already underway on a massive construction project that will see the transformation of a 20-hectare area of pistes in the Schlossalm ski area.

My first experience of the new ski season was as you’d expect in Austria. We were in and out of Sport Schober, located near the main Stubnerkogel lift station in minutes as the efficient staff had us suited and booted and ready to go, and from there it was a quick ride up to the top of the 2,251 metre Stubnerkogal.

The nice red slopes gently segued into significantly more challenging fast blacks but such was the relaxed pace we were travelling at; it didn’t require too much effort to make the adjustment.

On our first morning a heavy snowfall at the top of the mountain did lead to a slight disorientating white out as we descended.

It took some concentration to keep our bearings but as I gradually managed to regain my ski legs the snow stopped the adrenalin kicked in.

Soon we were picking up the pace and after a stop off for lunch, we were back out and by the afternoon were flying.

Our ski guide Alex took us up and over various different runs that all offered slightly different challenges but as a mediocre skier I was well able to take them on at my own pace.

We even stopped off to check out the cool 140m long suspension bridge that ever so slightly swings in the breeze, offering heart-stopping views out over the Gastein valley from a spine-tingling 28 metres above the snow.

On the next ridge a panorama platform, the Glocknerblic observation post looked like a set from Star Wars in the distance

And all around us rose the mesmerising Hohe Tauern mountain chain that gives this part of the world its unique identity

While the skiing was fantastic it would have been amiss to leave Bad Gastein without at least trying out the hot spas for which the town is equally famous and a night time visit to the Felsentherme Spa, located just a couple of doors from our hotel, provided a welcome relief for weary bones.

Floating gently around the indoor 32°C pool was pure bliss although I enjoyed the outdoor ‘relaxation zone’ where you could get out of the water and dive into the surrounding snow before plunging back into the heated waters.

Talk about a thrill to the senses!


• We flew with Ryanair to Salzburg. See for flight details and prices – with flights every Saturday during the winter ski season. Salzburg is one hour from the Gastein Valley, and one hour 15 minutes from the town of Bad Gastein.

• Bad Gastein is part of the Gastein Valley, with over 220kms of accessible skiing and marked pistes. Other activities include cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, ice-climbing, ice skating, curling, husky-dog sledding, winter hiking trails, night tobogganing, full moon ski touring, and a choice of thermal spas as well as the healing caves of the Gaisteiner Heilstollen.

• There’s a Stars & Movie Walk, free of charge through the local tourist office.

• Don’t miss seeing the wonderful unique feature that is the waterfall which runs through the centre of town. 

• We stayed at the Hotel Krone, a 3-star hotel with direct access to the main gondola of Bad Gastein, as well as the Felsentherme Spa, and all shops and bars in the town. Double rooms start at €33 pps while the dorms are €20pps. All rates include breakfast and free WiFi.  

• The Felsentherme Spa in Bad Gastein ( consists of

family spa, panorama wellness area and massage, outdoor spa, and fitness suites.  Cost for three hours is €22.50 with a Gastein Card. 

• We recommend taking Ski School, or Ski Guiding, and of course that is essential for beginners. The Ski School itself is excellent, with English speaking instructors.  Schober is an excellent place for ski and boot hire, and is conveniently located beside the Gondola Station at Bad Gastein with excellent and free storage.  See for more.

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