From the slopes to the spa – Bad Gastein
By Kathryn Quinn Bad Gastein has long been a favourite amongst winter sports fans in the know. With stunning 360 mountain panoramas, over 220 kilometres of ski slopes and worlds class thermal spa resorts it is obvious why so many people flock to the Gastein region year after year.Nestled in Salzburgerland, in the shadow of the Dachstein and Hochkönig mountain ranges the Gastein region is made up of Bad Gastein, Dorfgastein, Bad Hofgastein and Sport Gastein.Gastein caters for winter sports fans of all abilities, from novice to expert. With five different ski regions reaching as high as 2700m, 220 km of groomed pistes and excellent snow conditions there is always something new to see.The clever system of ski lifts and cable cars interlinking the various mountains with their numerous pistes allows for day-long ski tours in the stunning area. You can literally go up one mountain, run down the other side and get up the next one until you return to where you started.Hiring yourself a ski guide for the day is the best way to get to know the resort and get great insider tips about the best runs, the most breath-taking views and the mountain restaurants with the tastiest treats. A must see on your tour is the 140 metre glass suspension bridge which hangs over a 28 metre chasm and at 2400 metres above sea level is the highest such bridge in Europe. Both skiers and non skiers can take the lift up to the Stubnerkogler where the bridge is located and marvel at the views and test their nerves on the glass bridge.A hit in the region are the great variety of restaurants from mountain huts to à la carte eateries, serving local food and drink specialties. Gastein prides itself in offering foods and drinks from the local region. For a dinner with a difference you should try the Unterbergerwirt (www.unterbergerwirt.at) in Dorfgastein, a restaurant combining traditional Austrian cuisine prepared on the basis of the five Chinese elements, yet only using local organic ingredients. For hungry skiers there are a wealth of mountain huts offering hearty specialties to please every palate.Gastein is full of activities for everyone from winter walking tours though the snow covered nature trails to cross-country skiing, ice skating and tobogganing there is something to please everyone.Off-piste experts and freeriders will love Sportgastein, located at the far end of the Gastein area in high-alpine elevations. The Snowpark Gastein is a paradise for snowboarders who want to try their skills on numerous ramps, pipes and other obstacles.For those holiday makers who would rather sit back and take it easy, Gastein prides itself in being the spa capital of Austria. Austrias Emperor Franz Josef was a huge fan of the spa so it really is fit for a king. Gastein boasts 18 natural thermal springs.The healing effects of Gastein’s thermal spring waters are put to good use the in the regions various thermal spas. Sit back and relax in the warm waters of the Alpentherme (www.alpentherme.com) or the Felsentherme (www.felsentherme.com ) whilst surrounded by snow covered mountains and breathtaking views. The vast range of thermal pools, saunas and wellness areas offer something for all ages and tastes.Gastein is also well known as a location for recuperation and recovery. The Gastein Heilstollen (www.gasteiner-heilstollen.com) healing galleries are a popular stop-off for tired and weary winter sports fans who want to top up their energy for the next day’s skiing as well as for those looking for therapy for pain relief, regeneration or just pure relaxation.If you are interested in more information go to www.gastein.com here you will find lots of information about the resort and many accommodation offers. The area offers an abundance of luxury hotels at competitive prices as well as apartments and chalets to rent.The Gastein region in the Gastein valley is about an hours drive from Salzburg. Bad Gastein also has a centrally located railway station for those coming by train.