Zell am See doesn’t conform to the stereotypical image of Austrian ski resorts, probably because it was already the hub of the Pinzgau region long before the arrival of winter sports, and the beautiful lakeside setting means that it is busy for all 4 seasons of the year. The diversity of activities and clientele has had the secondary effect of expanding the options when it comes to food and drink and skiers are now spoilt for choice with over 70 restaurants and 30 bars to choose from. In the pedestrianised medieval streets and around the lakeside you will find choices of eateries that range from McDonalds and Kebab joints to pizza, seafood and fine dining. Zell has the usual selection of restaurants offering traditional local fare, but it also has a whole lot more. If staying in the outlying areas don’t neglect whatever is on your doorstep. There are many charming eateries in villages such as Schuttdorf at the far end of the lake.
The après ski scene is equally varied as spit and sawdust inns sit comfortably alongside lounge bars and bistros. When night falls many people opt to stay in the cosy taverns and get slowly drunk as bustling barmaids in traditional costume persuade them to have one for the road. The more energetic may head to one of the three discos that offer international and alpine pop music until the sun comes up, but if a glass of champagne and late night flutter in a casino is more up your street you will be equally well-catered for.
Mountain restaurants lack the variety that the town offers but there are plenty of nice options for self-service snacks and traditional Austrian cuisine to warm your bones and challenge your commitment to getting back out on the slopes for the afternoon! It isn’t impossible to head in to the town centre for lunch but the access from Schmittenhohe is clumsy and time consuming for those who wish to get a good afternoon of skiing in.
In summary, eating and drinking in Zell can be as cheap or as expensive as you like. It may sound like a cliché but there really is something for everyone, and whilst the town centre is not what we would first imagine when thinking of Austrian ski resorts, it has a warm and welcoming buzz that can only be found in Austria. Many resorts in the rest of Europe could learn a lot from the hospitality industry in Zell. You won’t be disappointed!