With the snow being so amazing almost everywhere in the alps right now, sometimes it’s difficult deciding which resort to pick for your winter holiday, with numerous amazing ski destinations in the Alps, all offering something slightly different.
For those looking for a picturesque resort with unbeatable skiing, foot-stomping nightlife and some great lift systems and linked ski areas, Switzerland and Austria are good places to start.
So, get your boots at the ready and prepare to discover all you need to know about two resorts just across the border from each other, both with amazing skiing, but with very different cultures…
St. Anton vs. Engelberg: At a Glance
Located in Austria’s Arlberg region, St. Anton has 205 kilometres of pistes and 200 kilometres of off-piste skiing with 88 lifts. Now linked with Lech, St. Anton is found in one of Europe’s snowiest areas. St. Anton has lots of stylish hotels, chic chalets, and restaurants.
St. Anton is known for two things – being the birthplace of Joann Schneider, the “father of modern skiing,” and crazy après ski parties.
Across the border in Switzerland, Engelberg has a totally different vibe. Nestled on north facing slopes with reliable snow, Engelberg is high altitude skiing with a top lift going to 3,028 metres. Home to the FIS Ski Jumping World Cup Engelberg in December, the resort is just 90 minutes from Zurich and offers amazing off piste itineraries.
Austria vs. Switzerland
Often lumped together, many people love to compare Austria and Switzerland, but they are very different countries with very different ski resorts. Engelberg means “mountain of the angel” and is an intimate, quirky destination that is less commercial and a mecca for freeriders.
While you’ll need the Swiss Franc at Engelberg, it is surprisingly much cheaper than St. Anton. Engelberg has easy access from the international hub of Zurich and you can indulge in the local delicacy of cheese fondue.
Many of the ski resorts in Austria, including St. Anton have state of the art lifts and incredible off-piste skiing. Since Austria is on the Euro, your budget can often go further there. The local alpine culture is rich in many of the mountain villages and you’ll find no shortage of alpine “Gemuetlichkeit” and local, hearty cuisine.
For those who like a good night out of the town, Austria is home to a big après ski scene with lots of delicious beer. Prost!
Big Resort vs. Small Village
When it comes to ski resorts, size does matter. St. Anton’s Arlberg lift pass includes Lech and Zurs. The Flexenbahn cable car links to Zurs and Stuben/Rauz making it the largest contiguous ski area in Austria with over 340 kilometres of pistes. You’ll get your money’s worth of skiing here!
Popular with the Brits on holiday, St. Anton has a big après ski scene that lasts all hours of the night.
On the other hand, Engelberg is a little-known resort in Switzerland, but offers big skiing opportunities.
Engelberg hides in a valley in the middle of Switzerland, but is a destination resort for the Luzern set and is very popular with the Swedes. The ski village is a two-minute shuttle ride or 15 minutes’ walk to the nearest lift, but the mountain offers 82 kilometres of high altitude pistes with the longest downhill piste measuring 12 kilometres.
Advanced Skiers vs. Beginner Friendly
Engelberg is a freeride-skiing mecca, but it does have a good isolated beginner area in Gerschnialp, Trubsee, and Untertrubsee. With over 82 kilometres of pistes, it does have many enjoyable blue and red runs.
St. Anton is best for more advanced skiers and snowboarders. Most blue pistes in St. Anton would be red elsewhere in the Alps. With over 205 kilometres of pistes, 200 kilometres of off-piste terrain with over 88 lifts, St. Anton has some of the best skiing in all of Europe.
Since it is a large and well connected mountain resort, it does have lots of crowds, especially on the weekends and holidays.
You Can’t Go Wrong with the Off Piste Opportunities
Both St. Anton and Engelberg offer great off-piste skiing. Engelberg is high altitude and north facing so the slopes are almost always snow sure. The Laub and Galtiberg descents are not to be missed. The Laub runs over the town and has over 1,000 metres of vertical with a 30-40% degree pitch. The Sulz run has a “small, middle, and big” section of the piste. The middle is great for cliff jumping! You can reach the epic Steinberg from the Top of the Titlis Rotair at 3,020 metres.
Best for the more advanced skier and snowboarder, St. Anton has great off-piste skiing in the Valluga Bowl and Rendl Mountain. The Valluga north face descent into Paziel-Tal to Zurs is not for the faint of heart and tops many freeride skiers lists.
Small and Quiet vs. Big and Party
Founded in 1120 AD, the Benedictine Monastery of Engelberg has influenced the history of the alpine village Engelberg. In fact, Engelberg means “mountain of the angel.”
Engelberg has funky bars, cozy restaurants, and a relaxing vibe. Stay at the historic Hotel Terrace and receive a free ski pass deal. Engelberg is a short transfer from Zurich, which is an international hub for flights from all over Europe and the world.
St. Anton is everything that Engelberg is not. While St. Anton is a traditional alpine village with attractive pedestrian streets, it is known across Europe for its outrageous après ski scene. You’ll find plenty of parties on and off the mountain with the most famous at Mooserwirt. Every Wednesday you can enjoy the skiing through the ages firework display at the Nasserein.
The five-star Tannenhof Hotel has a fabulous spa to relax after a long day of skiing and partying.
Which Do I Choose?
Now it’s time to make a decision. Both ski resorts offer excellent skiing, but each one has its own vibe. Do you want a solid après ski scene? Or do you want little queues with snow-sure conditions? Do you want lots of pistes and mountain choices? We have skied both ski resort numerous times and while we won’t say which one is our favourite, we can help you choose which ski resort is right for your needs and tastes.
Get in touch today to let us help you choose the right ski holiday destination for you. If you’re not quite ready to book, but would like to learn about how to plan the perfect short ski break, sign up to our free email course.