The splendid walled town of Kitzbuhel, with its exquisite medieval architecture, cobbled streets and pastel-painted houses, has just about everything going for it excluding altitude and - besides the fearsome Streif downhill course on the Hahnenkamm - anything with serious challenges. Neither its altitude (troublesome) nor its spectacular center (which is sensational) is going to change, and aficionados endure one to enjoy the other. Lately, having drastically extended its snowmaking facilities, 'Kitz' has done nicely with its snow cover. There's now plenty good intermediate skiing with terrific ambience.
The main attraction, which most visitors are likely to try out at leastonce during their stay, is the notable 'Safari' route to Pass Thurn, the highest part of the ski area, which usually guarantees good snow. Like most major ski circuits, there's an Achilles' heel. In Kitzbuhel's case, there are two: you have to take a taxi for a short distance to arrive at Jochberg, and you should get a bus - usually cramped - home from Pass Thurn. The safari is definitely worth doing, though in one's decision to get to Pass Thurn, good runs are ignored along the way. It is worth noting these for future outings. Most, if not all, of the Streif run will be open to the public, depending on conditions. Most of it is rather easy, but you will encounter short, phenomenally steep sections that call for expert skills just to stay upright.
For easy access, the Hochkitzbuhel, awaitress-service restaurant, is within walking distance on top of the Hahnenkammbahn gondola, but a bit pricey. There's an umbrella bar, a sun terrace, and also a cable-car museum inside the complex. The Bergrestaurant Pengelstein is likewise recommended. If you do the Safari, you would like something fast, simple and good just to refuel: Your alternatives increase as you get to the last stages. Skiers and boarders will find a conflict of interests here: they'll be in a hurry to get to the finish and find seats on the bus, but likewise tired and in need of a break. Seven restaurants can be found in the last stretch between Barenbadkogel and Pass Thurn. The most spectacular views are provided from Panorama-Aim, having two 'snow-bars' on the shoulder of Zweitausender, at 2,004m the highest lift-served point in Kitzbuhel's ski area.
© 2012 Athena Goodlight
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