Three skiers and two snowshoe hikers have died as heavy snow and avalanches hit Austria, isolating several areas of the mountainous country, authorities have said.

Two German skiers lost their lives in avalanches in the western region of Vorarlberg on Sunday, and a Slovenian died in the region of Salzburg, rescue services said.

The bodies of two missing snowshoe hikers were discovered yesterday as snow caused chaos in parts of the country, blocking roads and shuttering schools.

Two other hikers are still missing in the country's northeast.

Austria and southern Germany were affected with heavy snowfalls over the last weekend

Up to 1.5 metres of snow has fallen in central and north Austria since the middle of last week, with up to three metres accumulating in the mountains around Salzburg, Austria's meteorological service said.

Some 2,000 people, including tourists, were left stranded in villages in the Soelktal valley in the southeast.

Army helicopters used in avalanche control were grounded due to the bad weather.

In the Hochkar mountain range in Lower Austria, ski resorts were closed until further notice, with inhabitants and tourists requested to vacate the area.

More snow is expected this week, with up to 80 centimetres forecast from Tuesday. 

Rare snowfall in Athens

Meanwhile, the death toll from a cold front which has been battering Greece in the first days of the new year rose to three, local authorities said.

Firefighters retrieved the bodies of two men, aged 66 and 67, at the outskirts of Keratea, 30km southeast of Athens, according to a Fire Brigade announcement.

On Saturday, search squads also found the body of a 66-year-old woman, one of the victims' spouse.

They were all in a car when a heavy storm hit the area on Thursday.

A view of the Acropolis Hill amid the snowfall in Athens

As the cold front named 'Sophia', which was sweeping across Greece from Tuesday bringing snowfall and downpour in many parts of the country, receded on Sunday, Greece's national weather service warned that a new low pressure weather system was due to hit the country again.

'Telemachos', as meteorologists have named the new cold front, was forecast to bring snowfall in Athens and southern Greece, after Sophia caused travel disruptions in the northern and central regions of the country.

The lowest temperature of -19C was recorded on Sunday at Florina in northern Greece. 

A woman walks on a snowy Filippapou hill overlooking the ancient Acropolis in Athens