Obergurgl was made famous by the emergency landing of a hot air balloon in 1931 when Professor Picard, a Swiss explorer, made the first ascent into the stratosphere. In the past 70 years tourism has boomed as a result but development has been tightly controlled by the families of the original farmers. This resort offers a unique alpine charm where traditional reigns supreme and for all the positive points in its favour no visitor should expect a raging party scene, a Macdonalds or eateries specialising in foods from all four corners of the globe. Nightlife is quiet by Austrian standards as the resort markets itself to families, and party animals will prefer the more lively pubs and clubs of nearby Solden, 15 minutes below Obergurgl in the Otztal valley. If staying in Obergurgl or nearby Hochgurgl you are more likely to hear accordion music rather than banging dance tunes! The liveliest venues tend to be the ‘Ski Huts’ and even these tend to start and finish early, leaving an air of placid tranquillity in the streets as visitors retire to their hotels.
The half-board hotel package dominates the holiday market in Obergurgl and so it is no surprise that most restaurants are attached to hotels. There are however 28 restaurants in resort, a good selection for such a small high-altitude alpine village. The Otztal valley is the largest side-valley of the Inn Valley and has its own unique culinary traditions, still distinctly Tyrolean but with a slight Italian influence evident in a lot of the meals. This is no surprise given that the border is so close and a short drive over the Timmeljoch Pass takes one into the Italian region of Bolzano.
Mountain restaurants play a big part in the eating and drinking scene of Obergurgl, with 3 staying open into the night to help supplement the small selection of bars in the village. Food tends to be hearty, freshly cooked and very good value and there isn’t a self-service motorway style restaurant to be found anywhere. The cheery local staff tend to always be dressed in Lederhosen and other traditional garments and most mountain restaurants offer panorama terraces with uninterrupted views over the glaciers of this phenomenally high ski area. Look out for the floodlit skiing on the events programme as this is a great evening to chill out in a mountain restaurant before skiing back to your door.