If you want no more than a gulash soup to warm you up and some pasta and pizza to refuel after a day skiing or snowboarding in Zell am See, then you’ll be satisfied with the town’s smattering of pan-Italian eateries.

Aside from a few other empty restaurants we spotted, the only other alternative seems to be hotel restaurants with Austrian and international menus and buffets for all-inclusive guests. But who wants to have to go to eat in a hotel when you’re staying in a holiday rental? We certainly don’t. All the more reason to go shopping and cook at home!

There are two supermarkets in the centre of Zell am See, a well-stocked Spar supermarket (Bruckner Bundestrasse 4) and a couple of blocks away in the pedestrianised heart of the town, a smaller but better Billa (Stadtplatz 2).

The Spar is where we’d head to stock up on basic essentials – tea, sugar, pasta, etc – and the Billa is where we’d go for finer quality products, including loads of delicious cheeses and cold cuts. It also has better quality fruit and vegetables. Spar has the larger wine section and a wide range of Austrian and German beers if, like Terence, you like to do your own personal beer tastings.

Zell am See is like no other ski resort we’ve been to and we’re not sure why. In Cortina d’Ampezzo, in Italy, for instance, shops stay open a little later than usual during the ski season and the streets are lively in the early evenings with skiers doing a quick shop after a day on the slopes, and locals fill the bars for drinks. Later in the evening, in Cortina, all the restaurants in town are full with locals and foreigners out eating.

In Zell am See, the streets would be practically deserted after dark, shops would close as soon as they could – the supermarkets would even close early (we missed them on three occasions; thankfully, there is a petrol station on Bruckner Bundestrasse with a tiny Billa) – and all but a few restaurants were fairly empty, though we could see that the hotel buffets were keeping busy. A sign of the economic times we’re living in? Or was it because we were there fairly early in the season? Or is it just the nature of this particular resort? Regardless, it was a good excuse to cook and eat in.

Supermarket prices in Zell am See were on the high side compared to other European cities we’ve stayed in this year – even higher than Paris and Venice – but were slightly cheaper than the US cities. But that’s to be expected of ski resorts anywhere.

We’ve also been buying good quality products – Terence likes good butter and olive oil for cooking, we always buy free-range eggs, and if we’ve got no choice but to buy supermarket wine, we’ll go for the higher-priced bottles, say, 6 euros instead of 2 euros!

You could probably save quite a lot by buying Spar’s branded products, the factory-chicken eggs, and buying the perfectly quaffable cheaper plonk. Had we have done that, we could have reduced the total above by 15 euros, making it a much more affordable destination, and a great value ski resort compared to some.

We’ll release a full comparative list of Price Check totals when our grand tour finishes at the end of January, so you can see how places compare when it comes to self-catering. We’ll also provide tips on how to shop more cheaply than we did in those destinations.

1 litre water €0.60 £0.51 US$0.82
1 litre milk €0.75 £0.64 US$1.02
Bottle of local wine €5.00 £4.27 US$6.82
330ml beer €1.20 £1.03 US$1.64
100g Nescafe €5.50 £4.70 US$7.51
250g coffee beans €3.40 £2.91 US$4.64
50 tea bags €4.90 £4.19 US$6.69
1 kg sugar €0.95 £0.81 US$1.30
Jar of jam €1.95 £1.67 US$2.66
1 loaf of bread €2.15 £1.84 US$2.93
250g quality butter €1.45 £1.24 US$1.98
200g cheese €2.55 £2.18 US$3.48
500 ml oil €6.40 £5.47 US$8.73
1 doz organic eggs €4.00 £3.42 US$5.46
1 kilo tomatoes €2.90 £2.48 US$3.96
1 kilo onions €2.00 £1.71 US$2.73
1 kilo apples €3.00 £2.56 US$4.09
250 g pistachios €5.50 £4.70 US$7.51
Local honey €4.50 £3.85 US$6.14
Total: €58.70 £50.18 US$80.11
End of Article

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