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Without making generalisations, Maria Alm, located in the district of Pinzgau, really is the archetypal chocolate-box Austrian village. It’s small and charming with a towering church spire that points to the heavens, and surrounding it are the glorious peaks of the Hochkönig range. In winter, snow blankets the scene, hanging thickly from trees and gable ends, and lights twinkle out from homely huts. In summer, greenery, wildflowers and herbs spread through the mountain landscapes revealing trails through the forests.
Nearby by are better known resorts such as Skicircus Saalbach Hinterglemm Leogang Fieberbrunn, but we like to think of Maria Alm as our little secret. Part of the Hochkönig Ski Region, there are 125km of piste stretching up past Dienten to Mühlbach, plus plenty of off-piste to be discovered. Locals have been quietly enjoying this area for years, in fact the first ski lift opened here in Maria Alm in 1952, just two years after skiing officially started in the region. Natural beauty spot, Zell am See is just 20km drvie away.
Although the little village’s own history goes back much further to the 6th century when Bavarian tribes chose to reside in Maria Alm. The first church was built here in 1374, although Prince-Archbishop Count Leopold Anton von Firmian was responsible for rebuilding it in a baroque style with a sky-scraping spire, in fact one of the tallest around Salzburg.
Today it’s a relaxed place full of welcoming eateries to enjoy apple strudel and Pinzgauer Kasnockn (cheese and dumplings) and families have great fun tobogganing down the Ziachschlittenfahrn, which traditionally was used by farmers to bring down firewood and straw from the mountains. These days you can watch locals race each other down the toboggan track – watch or join in!