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Here are all the things to do in St. Johann in Tirol in winter, a sanctuary in the Alps found within one of the biggest and best-known ski areas in Tirol and Austria.
St. Johann in Tirol (Sankt Johann in Tirol) is a nature haven snuggled between the impressive peak backdrops of the Kitzbüheler Horn and the Wilder Kaiser in the Kitzbühel Alps, in Austria’s western state of Tirol.
The region comprises four towns – Oberndorf, Kirchdorf, Erpfendorf and St. Johann in Tirol, the latter which you can spot by its landmark peak top Kitzbüheler Horn Transmitter.
In winter, it sits in the middle of one of the biggest and best-known ski areas in Tirol and Austria at the foot of the Kitzbüheler Horn at 1996m. On the other side is the ski resort of KitzSki, which connects to SkiWelt Wilder Kaiser Brixental – forming the second-largest connected ski area in Austria.
St. Johann in Tirol is the smaller, quieter half of the Kitzbühel Alps. The north side oasis. And it’s the perfect place for a more relaxed snowbound adventure. Here are all the things to do in winter in St. Johann in Tirol, basing yourself in the region’s namesake town and regional centre.
This article is in partnership with the Austrian National Tourist Office and Kitzbühler Alpen St.Johann in Tirol Tourism.
- Planning a Trip to St. Johann in Tirol
- Things to Do in St. Johann in Tirol in Winter
- Stroll St. Johann Town and Christmas Market
- Ski 40 kilometres of Exceptional Pistes
- Try Quality Seal Cross-country Skiing Routes
- Immerse in Nature On a Guided Winter Wellness Hike
- Relax at Angerer Alm – the Highest Farm in St. Johann
- Visit Harschbichlalm – the Highest Hut in St. Johann
- Soar to a Mountain Backdrop on a Winter Zipline
- Alpine Tandem Skydive Over St Johann in Tirol
- Further Information on Visiting St. Johann in Tirol
Planning a Trip to St. Johann in Tirol
Best Way to Get to St. Johann in Tirol
From Vienna (Wien Hauptbahnhof), I took a 5-hour highspeed ÖBB Railjet train west to St. Johann in Tirol town, changing at Wörgl Hauptbahnhof. Tickets cost from €39-€60 one-way. Look out for the advance, low-cost Sparschiene tickets for the best deal.
St. Johann in Tirol is also within the triangle of Salzburg, Innsbruck and Munich, accessible by car or train.
Where to Stay in St. Johann in Tirol
St Johann in Tirol hotels are plenty, with some 4,500 hotel beds, but in the winter season, it pays to have a ski-in-ski-out hotel option to maximise your time on the slopes.
I stayed at Sentido Alpenhotel Kaiserfels, a 20-minute walk from the centre of St. Johann in Tirol town. Modern rooms, a delicious and extensive buffet, and a wellness centre give you everything you need in one place. Still, the primary convenience of this hotel is that it is located directly at the Eichenhof Lift slope, with some of the 130 rooms overlooking the slopes.
If you are seeking historic accommodation within the town, the traditional Landhaus Schwarzinger is a local heirloom. It’s one of the oldest buildings at St. Johann, with wood-panelled alpine-style interiors and rustic rooms with classic, elegant furniture. It’s metres from the main square and next to one of the main cross-country ski trails.
Things to Do in St. Johann in Tirol in Winter
From the slopes to other high adrenalin activities to wellness hiking and relaxing in mountain huts, plenty of activities and attractions fill an itinerary when you base yourself in St. Johann in Tirol town.
Stroll St. Johann Town and Christmas Market
The pedestrianised zone in St. Johann in Tirol is perfect for strolling, a hub for shopping, mainly traditional and boutique clothing stores, and for its smattering of restaurants and cafés like trendy Krämerei café, with its candy and cake displays.
The town itself sparkles in winter magic, especially along Speckbacherstrase, which leads to Dechant-Wieshoferstrase and the Hauptplatz main square. An avenue of painted motif facades, lined with star lights and red bowed Christmas trees, reaching a court of colourful minty green and pastel pink alpine huts and the butter yellow baroque Mariä Himmelfahrt church.
/ The town square is also the setting for the St. Johann Christmas Market, open from Noon until 8 PM from late November to 24th December.
Ski 40 kilometres of Exceptional Pistes
The St. Johann in Tirol region website describes the ski scene as “a special kind of snow fun – relaxed, decelerated, family-friendly and at a high level.” While I’ve visited some of Austria’s largest ski areas, I’m glad I got to practice after a 3-year hiatus in a quieter, more compact space, perfect for carving beginner to intermediate skills.
Within 30 minutes, I’d sorted my ski rental and met my instructor from Schneesportschule Eichenhof next to my hotel, ready for a 10 AM start to practice on the Eichenhof slopes outside my hotel room.
Altogether, there are 10 ski lifts, 40 kilometres of pistes and plenty of epic viewpoints. Regardless of how you choose to do it according to your skill set, it’s all connected. If you look at the Kitzbüheler Horn from this side, the Eichenhof run is on the left, Harschbichl in the middle that ends in from of St. Johann town, and Oberndorf on the right is primed with Black runs for the daredevils.
Getting confident on blue runs, I had to go about my ski day expedition in two parts. After taking to the Eichenhof run and fuelling up with lunch at the Rockbar below, it was time to get higher. You can reach Harschbichl from Eichenhof via a Red run, and I wasn’t quite ready for that. Instead, we took a taxi to the Harschbichl gondola and glided to the top for a showstopping panorama of peaks best seen from the start of the slopes beneath the transmitter tower. Some Red and Black runs start here, so we took the gondola back down to the Mittelstation (middle station) and enjoyed the Blue course.
/ Ski passes cost from €44 for three hours to €53 for a full day.
Try Quality Seal Cross-country Skiing Routes
St. Johann in Tirol is known for its extensive network of perfectly groomed cross-country ski trails, from gentle valley paths to steeper, mountain-set inclines. You may see people walking up on pathways parallel to the trees as you ski down, as trails lead into the pockets of forest. So exemplary are the courses in this area that the state of Tyrol awarded the 250km of pistes and cross-country slopes a quality seal.
/ Access to all trails is free of charge.
Immerse in Nature On a Guided Winter Wellness Hike
A canvas of snow-covered rolling valley hills, sloping alpine meadows, and nothing but the sound of feet crunching in the snow. A winter hike isn’t about extreme exertion or high-altitude summits. My walk with Elisabeth Klöbl was about taking slow, mindful steps, a chance to think in peaceful surroundings without distraction, and breathing in the fresh mountain air.
Through her wellness walks at Balance am Berg (Balance on the Mountain), Elizabeth teaches you more about solace in nature and its therapeutic qualities, which can help us find a more conscious approach to everyday life.
There are plenty of marked hiking trails in the region – look for the ‘Green Hiking’ symbols for routes accessible without a car. East of St. Johann in Tirol town, we gently wound our way up from a quiet hamlet to the tiny woodland set Einsiedelei Kapelle Maria Blut (Weeping Mary Hermitage), This refuge, below the higher Gmail Kapelle, at the foot of the Niederkaiser, has been inhabited for over 300 years. This end of town has an impressive view of the Kitzbüheler Horn, a giant wall of mountain displaying the slopes I’d just skied on.
/ The hike is free of charge with the St. Johann Card or €10.00 without.
Relax at Angerer Alm – the Highest Farm in St. Johann
This area is known for its genuine Tyrolean hospitality, which can be found in its smattering of alpine huts. The highest farm in St. Johann in Tirol, Angerer Alm, nestled on the Kitzbüheler Horn mountain, a cosy 13-room Tyrolean inn hideaway at 1,300 metres in the middle of the ski resort. Peace out on the panoramic sun terrace or relax inside this rustic space, enjoying the mountain breakfast, gourmet restaurant and wine cellar offerings.
Visit Harschbichlalm – the Highest Hut in St. Johann
Harschbichlalm, the highest mountain inn in St. Johann in Tirol, is a summit of relaxation. Accessible from the top mountain station of the Harschbichlbahn, lounge at the sun terrace perched snugly at the highest point in the ski area, taking in every inch of the panorama of jagged peaks around you while sampling some homemade Tyrolean dishes.
Soar to a Mountain Backdrop on a Winter Zipline
In the summer, the Hornpark in St. Johann in Tirol is a high rope course whose wooden beams, rope bridges and climbing walls fill the biggest park in the Kitzbüheler Alpen to the backdrop of the Wilder Kaiser. I loved the Flying Fox zipline, which continues to thrill adrenalin junkies with its winter course, taking you on a whooshing flight of over 531 meters, surrounded by the snow-capped Kaiser range.
/ Accessible from the middle station of the Harschbichl gondola lift. Combination tickets for the gondola lift and the Hornpark cost €38.
Alpine Tandem Skydive Over St Johann in Tirol
An alpine tandem jump? Sign me up! The west of Austria has some of the best conditions for paragliding, but in St. Johann in Tirol, you can up the ante with a skydive. Best Skydiving is the only company offering this crazy-fun parachute drop experience year-round in Austria. See winter in the Kitzbühel Alps from a dizzying, different perspective.
/ The exclusive parachute jump site is located at St. Johann in Tirol’s airfield. A tandem jump is €259, and a package with video and photos from €359.
Further Information on Visiting St. Johann in Tirol
Here’s where to find free and discounted activity programmes and how to make the most of your stay in the region.
St. Johann in Tirol Card Benefits
You’ll receive your Region St. Johann in Tirol card in digital form once you have checked into your guesthouse in St. Johann in Tirol Oberndorf, Kirchdorf or Erpfendorf.
This card gives you free travel in the Kitzbühel Alps region on local buses, commuter trains, and ski buses for easy access to all the ski areas. It also includes a free programme of winter walks and discounts on cable car lift tickets, ski rental and activities, including cross-country skiing courses, skydiving, toboggan rental and museum entry.
More Winter Activities in St. Johann and Beyond
Have extra time and looking to explore more of Tirol’s St. Johann region outside of St. Johann town? From toboggan runs, segways and fat biking to horse-drawn carriage rides through the magical snowy hamlets and Schnapps tasting, there are plenty of activities here to enjoy aside from skiing, which I’ve put to the test over the years.
St. Johann in Tirol is also a mountainous base to explore two of Austria’s most beautiful cities, equidistant from it – Innsbruck to the west and Salzburg to the east. Both are a little over 1 hour away by car, and via train, the journey to Innsbruck takes 1.5 hours and to Salzburg, just over 2 hours.
Innsbruck Travel Guide – From Mountains to Modernity
Salzburg Travel Guide – The City Beyond Mozart & The Sound of Music