Lech is a charming village and excellent ski resort in the Arlberg ski area of Austria. It truly has something for everyone.
- The charm of the village, with its babbling river, covered bridges, horse-drawn carriages and traditional buildings.
- Lech is a sunny resort yet it holds the snow well.
- The vast terrain with lots of touring opportunities.
- It’s easy to do a day trip to ski St Anton (which is included on the ski pass).
- A lively après scene.
- The new gondola in 13/14 that connected Lech with Warth.
- Ski the 22km The White Ring circuit between the resorts
- The busy main street that runs through the village center erodes some charm.
- Oberlech is a great place for families to stay.
- Most hotels include dinner (half-board) and there are few restaurants outside hotels.
- Scout highly recommends using a guide to properly experience the extensive off-piste.
- Lech is one of the most expensive Austrian ski resorts and is popular with wealthier clientele.
Scout has such a soft spot for Lech that when we’re asked for advice on where to ski in Europe, it will almost always be on our list of recommendations. Whether you’re a family, a young couple on a romantic escape, an older couple looking for sophistication and dreamy skiing, or a group of friends wanting to party – Lech really does cater to everyone.
Scout first visited Lech as a lucky 14-year-old on a family vacation. It was magical and we’ll never forget an instructor telling us “pretend you have a $100 bill between ze knees”. While skiing styles have changed, the magic of Lech certainly hasn’t and on our recent Scouting trip during the 13/14 season we were once again spellbound by this wonderful resort situated high up in a valley. From the onion-domed church that stands tall in the center of the village, to the friendly locals, to the incredibly vast terrain, Lech really is a special place.
Like many European resorts that attract the rich and famous, Lech has some seriously luxurious and extravagant hotels. Yet it manages to maintain an authentic and relaxed feel – perhaps this stems from its past as a farming community.
There are several hamlets that extend the Lech experience, including car-free Oberlech which sits above the main village and is connected via a cable car, Zug and Zürs – though strictly speaking Zürs is a resort in its own right.
Lech is part of the gigantic Arlberg skiing region. It’s linked by ski runs and lifts with Zürs, Zug and more recently Warth – a new gondola now stretches across a valley to the Warth-Schröcken slopes that added 50 per cent more runs, including some decent off-piste. Add just a short bus ride and you can ski St Anton, St Christoph, Stuben and Klösterle on the same list pass (read the St Anton profile for more detail). The whole Arlberg region includes 94 lifts, 340km of ski runs and 200km of off-piste.
Apart from the slopes above the main village and around Oberlech, most of Lech’s ski terrain sits above the treeline. Skiers and boarders will enjoy wide-open runs, extensive grooming and a well-connected touring route. The White Ring or Der Weisse Ring is the area’s famous circuit (and annual race) that connects many of the resort’s runs and lifts. The course is 22km long and boasts 5500m of descent. While most people make a day of it (stopping at one of the many great on-mountain restaurants along the way), the course record is 44:35:07.
Lech is an intermediate skier’s paradise, since most of the groomed runs are designated red. There’s a ton of variety (some more difficult than others) and plenty of long runs that will get the thighs burning. For a challenge, intermediates will find some great mogul runs, and easier off-piste runs to try their hand at powder (when it’s around!).
More advanced skiers should hire a guide to discover some fantastic, and often quite challenging, off-piste terrain that doesn’t get skied out too quickly. Lech is also the only resort in Austria to offer heli-skiing. Heli trips are ideal in spring, when the snow has softened but it is only possible on weekdays.
And Lech doesn’t forget about beginners. There are several beginner slopes, most in Oberlech or on the Rüfikopf side. There are beginners’ tickets on a day, half-day or points system allowing you to avoid wasting money on lifts you won’t use.
Lech has a 3.6ha snowpark with rails, boxes, kickers and more, suitable for beginners, intermediates and pros.
Lech makes a fantastic choice for families. Not only is the village easy to get around (though some accommodations will require a shuttle bus to get to the center) but it has some excellent ski schools. Oberlech is a great choice since it is car free and it has some good nursery slopes. With its charming village, Lech will also provide that unique European ambience that many international families desire. The only thing lacking for families is a decent amount of self-catered accommodation options, since most are hotels offering half-board packages.
Lech has some of the most beautiful mountain hotels around. From big to small, modern to traditional, there’s a style to suit every taste, particularly at the more luxurious end of the spectrum. Most sell their rooms on a half-board basis (breakfast and dinner included) and some of the bigger hotels offer variety for dinner options since they have a choice of restaurants, either via sister hotels or within their own. The main village layout is stretched out along the valley and some hotels will involve a longer walk or shuttle bus ride to get to the ski lifts or village center. There are quite a few hotels in the village center, and a short distance to the south is the peaceful area of Omesberg with some excellent hotels across a range of budgets. Oberlech provides a car-free environment and is accessed via cable car from the village. A series of James Bond-style tunnels connect each of the hotels with the terminal making it relatively easy to get around (hotels will take care of your luggage).Search Hotels and Deals Get your
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Other activities abound in Lech, such as horse-drawn carriage rides, snowshoeing and winter hiking on a 40km network of trails, 27km of cross country trails, ice-skating, tobogganing and heli-skiing. Some more unique activities include a Mercedes-Benz off-road driving experience, game feeding and watching (wild red deer), tandem paragliding and a climbing wall.
Lech is also proving itself in the world of gastronomy with many excellent restaurants on and off the mountain. Each season Lech runs a series of “LoffelWeise” (“by the spoon”) gastronomic dinners with prized chefs from around the world serving up incredible degustation dinners matched with outstanding wines.
Although Lech lacks shop variety, a visit to the Strolz store, which is so big it’s almost a department store, is well worthwhile.
Getting to Lech is easy. Innsbruck is the closest airport - just 1 hour, 35 minutes away - while Zurich offers plenty of flight options and takes only 2 hours, 10 minutes. There are plenty of transfer options, including shuttle services, private transfer or train to Langen am Arlberg (and bus or taxi transfer). If you want to drive you can only access Lech from the south in winter, via Zürs. Our Lech Scout Field Guide has more details including price guides and contact numbers.
While most of the village activities and accommodations are within walking distance in regular shoes, there’s an efficient and free shuttle bus system that connects the more distant areas. The best way to get between the Arlberg resorts not connected via lifts is on the yellow Post Bus. Note that they can get busy during peak hours.
The whole Arlberg region opens for the season in early December and operates until the end of April. Given the area’s propensity for sunny weather, it can make for particularly enjoyable spring skiing in March and April.
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