Zell am See ski resort is a charming and lively lakeside town close to Austria's Hohe Tauern National Park; it's a popular year-round resort and has plenty of amenities and attractions for winter-sports visitors of all ages and abilities, with a local ski area that rises from the edge of town.
Zell am See's local ski hill is the Schmittenhohe, a densely forested horseshoe-shaped mountain that rises directly behind the town and up from the lakeshore, its slopes sweeping down to a base area just a couple of streets away from the heart of the old town at one end and the railway station at the other.
The CityXpress gondola provides the prime uplift from this area closest to town, linking with an onward chairlift at mid-altitude above, but the main base area is set deeper into the short Schmitten Valley to the west of Zell am See, in the lap of the surrounding mountain. This main base area at Schmitten has a small valley-level beginners' zone plus three key lift terminals serving the core ski area above; further access is available via the three-stage Areitbahn gondola from Schuttdorf to the south.
The views from the upper slopes are fantastic, stretching over Lake Zell and the Saalach Valley and taking in more than thirty 3,000m high peaks in the surrounding region; and there are plenty of mountain bars and restaurants at altitude with panoramic terraces from which to enjoy the vistas. The Schmittenhohe ski area is relatively limited, yet adequate enough for undemanding intermediates, offering a nice mix of runs: long tree-lined blue and red home-runs to Zell am See and Schuttdorf, a fair selection of shorter blue and red-classified slopes at altitude, plus a number of tough fall-line black runs and interesting ungroomed 'ski route' variants.
The short Hahnkopf spur off to the west, behind the summit sector, houses a small snowpark; and there's a halfpipe and a children's zone in the southern Glocknerbahn area. Most visitors of good intermediate ability and above will be able to tick off all the slopes here within a day or two, but the full area lift pass also includes the nearby non-linked ski areas of Maiskogel and Kitzsteinhorn above the resort village of Kaprun, the latter on the virtually year-round ski slopes of the sizeable Schmiedingerkees and Maurerkees glaciers.