The smuggler’s circuit in Ischgl The smuggler’s circuit in Ischgl

In the tracks of the smugglers in Ischgl and Samnaun

The smuggler’s circuit in Ischgl

Current facility status

nr.: 3 - GOLD smuggler’s circuit
nr.: 2 - SILVER smuggler’s circuit
nr.: 1 - BRONZE smuggler’s circuit
Last update:

A highlight during your ski holiday

The Ischgl smuggler’s tour

Since the 2016/17 winter season, the smuggler’s circuit in the top ski resort Ischgl – Samnaun has fascinated countless winter sports athletes.

GOLD, SILVER or BRONZE – which tour are you going to decide on? 

What do nylon stockings, coffee and tobacco all have in common? Not much at first glance, but there is one thing indeed: they were popular goods smuggled between the Austrian town Ischgl and the Swiss town Samnaun. Of course, that was a long time ago.

Nowadays, the route between the Tyrolean town Ischgl and Switzerland is not used for smuggling anymore – instead, people ski on it! During the 2016/17 winter season, the smuggler’s circuit at the Silvretta Arena was opened and has become one of the most popular ski circuits amongst winter athletes.

Depending on skill level – you can choose between the GOLD, SILVER or BRONZE route. 

To each his own smuggler’s tour

The Silvretta Arena impresses with its diversity already. But to top it all off, there is a total of three smuggler’s circuits in what might very well be the most exclusive ski resort of the Alps. Which tour in Ischgl are you going to conquer? Gold, silver or bronze?

The smuggler’s circuits in Ischgl in numbers: 

The gold smuggler’s circuit  
one of the longest ski circuits worldwide:
61.8 kilometres, 13,740 metres of difference in altitude (incl. cable cars and lifts);
duration approx. 4 hours
More information about the gold run

The silver smuggler’s circuit
perfect for seasoned skiers:
41.4 kilometres, 9,530 metres of difference in altitude (incl. cable cars and lifts);
duration approx. 3,5 hours
More information about the silver run

The bronze smuggler’s circuit
perfect for lovers of blue (and, hence, easy) slopes:
40,2 kilometres, 8,282 metres of difference in altitude (incl. cable cars and lifts);
duration approx. 4 hours
More information about the bronze run

One of the most beautiful scenic viewpoints of every route is at the Palinkopf in Ischgl – at 2,864 metres above sea level. For an amazing holiday snapshot, have your smartphone or camera ready!


Smuggle and win

Of course, that doesn’t mean smuggling goods across the border but skiing and tracking (via smartphone) one of the three smuggler’s circuits in Ischgl – Samnaun. As an additional incentive, you have a chance to win a number of great prizes! And who knows: Maybe you’ll make first place in the smuggler’s circuit ranking . 

Fun fact about the latest ski circuit ranking for the 2017/18 winter season: The current frontrunner has completed – believe it or not – a total of 69 smuggler’s circuits in Ischgl: 19 times the gold one, 23 times the silver one and 27 times the bronze one. 



That’s how it works:

  • download our free “iSki Ischgl” app  and sign up for the raffle
  • Track Gold, Silver or Bronze circuit with the iSki Ischgl App
  • important: You can only participate in the competition if you sign in with the app and pass all checkpoints of one circuit in the correct order and within one day. You can see all checkpoints at a glance within the app. A notification, sound and vibration indicate that you have passed a checkpoint. 
  • start and finish line are at the valley station of the Fimbabahn (A3) cable car in Ischgl and at the Twinliner (L1) cable car in Samnaun.
  • upload your checkpoints until 5 pm of the same day and you get a chance at winning great prizes! 


Good to know:

  • a folder with a description of the route is available at all ski pass offices in Ischgl and Samnaun as well as at your accommodation 
  • you can be tracked even if your phone is in offline mode (via GPS).
    Important: the current EU roaming regulations do not apply to Switzerland! 
  • as soon as you hit “finish and send ”, you automatically take part in the raffle
  • speed is not a ranking factor for the competition
  • there is free WiFi access at all restaurants in the ski resort Ischgl – Samnaun

Prizes, prizes, prizes ...

That’s what you can win:

  • once a day: 1 voucher, Ischgl SKYFLY (Zipline)
  • once a week: a smuggler’s rucksack
  • once per season: 3 nights for 2 people at a 4-star hotel (incl. half board), 4-day ski passes and tickets for the “Top of the mountain concert” in Ischgl 

The history of the smuggler’s circuit in Ischgl

Especially during times of need and in the post-war years, valuable contraband was smuggled across almost all borders. It’s no surprise, that the border region of the Paznaun was particularly popular with smugglers. From Ischgl to Samnaun, valuable Austrian goods, like butter, cheese and furs were smuggled into Switzerland. On the way back from Samnaun, everything which was in demand at the time, like American coffee, nylon stockings, tobacco, rice or flour was then brought into Austria.

That was everything but an easy task for the smugglers, which included many living in the Paznaun. A fully packed rucksack could weigh up to 40 kg and the walking time from Ischgl to Samnaun and back was about six to seven hours. To escape the tollkeepers, they also took the journey primarily during times of bad weather. Owing to the tollkeepers’ poor skiing skills and lack of knowledge of the region, hardly any smugglers got caught. And if they did, there were no other consequences aside from the confiscation of their contraband. 

The increased tourism of the 1950s finally put an end to contraband trade between Austria and Switzerland. The rise in employment opportunities in and around Ischgl resulted in making the smuggling tours unprofitable. 

Did you know … that the first ski lift in Ischgl was built in 1952 and was partially financed by the profits that were made from contraband trade? 


Duty-free shopping in Switzerland

Today the Swiss town Samnaun is incredibly popular for bargain hunters and shopping enthusiasts. Isn’t it great that it can be reached from Ischgl – quickly and easily on skis? Nowadays, you can buy as many souvenirs and presents for your loved ones at home as you please – legally, of course! 

More information about duty-free shopping in Ischgl and the current customs regulations

Smuggling like they do in the movies

Many, many years ago Emil Zangerl was one of the numerous smugglers in Ischgl. In the video, he explains interesting facts about smuggling and tells funny anecdotes from the life of the smugglers. 

You should definitely ski the smuggler circuits in Ischgl if …

  • … you’ve always wanted to feel like a smuggler but don't want to pay the penalty. 
  • … you want to combine the history of the Paznaun with stunning views, perfectly groomed slopes and amazing descents. 
  • … you are a winner and want to get your hands on the tickets for the “Top of the Mountain Closing”.
  • … you want to impress your friends back home with amazing stories about your smuggler’s adventures
  • … you want to get to know the ins and outs of the Silvretta Arena in Ischgl and enjoy the breathtaking scenic view from the Palinkopf. 

So which one of the three smuggler’s circuits did you decide on? Capture your experiences, track your tour and get a chance to win several great prizes! Look for and book an accommodation in Ischgl right away: the next ski adventure during your winter holiday in Austria already awaits you! 

Download our free „iSki Ischgl“-App now and make the registration for the competition! 


Silvrettaseilbahn AG

Silvrettaplatz 2
6561 Ischgl
ATU Nr.: 31779705