Resort Guides

Adventure Destination Guide | Zillertal in Tirol

A handy guide to one of Europe's favourite playgrounds

Above: Wolly Nyvelt boosting | PC: Matt Georges

Years of intense research has led us to the conclusion that that bigger *is* in fact better. See: floaty backcountry kickers versus piste-side ankle biters; big chilled post-shred steins versus a hurried stubby; John Candy in Uncle Buck. With that in mind, who are we to argue against Zillertal in Tirol – the world’s largest skiable valley, home to heavy hitters like Mayrhofen and the year-round gem Hintertux – staking a genuine claim as the greatest pow playground on the planet? Anyway, here, in a nutshell, is what you need to know about this area of Austria.

Getting There

Those who prefer flying will be pleased to hear that the Zillertal Valley is served by three airports. Munich (170km), Salzburg (150km) and Innsbruck (50km) all have regular European flights, and are super easy to sort transfer from. A short bus ride leads you to Innsbruck train station, and you can be from plane to train in about 20 minutes! What’s more, from Munich, just two trains and as little as €20 stand in the way of you and the snow.

Mayrhofen Bergbahn | PC: Andre Schoenherr

Why Go There?

Easy! The Zillertal Valley really does have something for everyone. The four main areas in the Zillertal are Hochzillertal – Hochfügen – SpieljochZillertal ArenaMayrhofner Bergbahnen and Ski & Gletscherwelt Zillertal 3000. The local train is free with your ski pass and stops along the valley, allowing you to ride a new resort each day if you pick up a six-day Zillertal Superskipass, that covers every inch of the valley, and costs a super reasonable €266.50.

With an enormous 535km of world-beating terrain and 180 lifts to hit, it strings together Hintertux, Austria’s only 365-days-a-year skiable glacier that’s stood right at the end of the Zillertal Valley; Hochfügen, a backcountry heaven that is so serious about getting you out there that it offers its own transceiver checkpoints to ensure your transmitter is ready to roll; the cruisy and Insta-perfect Hochzillertal for lazy Sunday lines; and finally the park and party behemoth that is Mayrhofen.

Where To Stay

There’s upwards of 50,000 beds spanning the valley, and depending on your preferences you can pick which area to stay in accordingly. Those on the hunt for the freestyle mecca and parties galore would do well to post up in Mayrhofen. More aprés than you can shake a Jager bottle at, and home to the world famous Penken Park.

“More aprés than you can shake a Jager bottle at”

Looking for a little more peace and quiet? Just 5km from Mayrhofen you’ll find Hippach, home of Alpenhotel Stefanie, a 10-minute walk from the Horbergbahn gondola, and where stag antlers loom over comfy beds and the achingly awesome ‘panoramazimmer’ rooms aren’t much dearer than a normal 4-star double in the main resorts.

Those looking for some glitz and glam can’t ignore Kristallhütte (The Crystal Hut) in Hochzillertal. Awarded ‘Ski Chalet of the Year’ several years running, this cool cozy and luxurious hotel-spa-igloo isn’t the cheapest but it does offer you a stay that’s only reachable on skis in the winter and promises early birds the freshest of corduroy in the morning.

For more information on Zillertal’s accommodation options, head here.

PC: Thomas Straub

Eating and Drinking

Here’s a thing you’ll find out quite quickly in the Zillertal Valley – pronouncing the names of the Tirol’s most famous dishes is often just as much fun as eating them. Take the loaded Tiroler Speckknödel – plump boiled bread dumplings with bacon and sauerkraut – Kasspatzln – which translates as ‘little cheese sparrows’, are cheesy little noodle things – and Moosbeernocken – wild blueberry pancakes. You can’t have a visit to the valley without trying some of their speciality dish Zillertaller Krapfen, a delicious cheesy treat. For this kind of epic grub, make tracks to the more traditional domain of Hochzillertal, where local eateries Platzlalm and Larmachalm will keep you knee-deep in carbs.

“Pronouncing the names of the Tirol’s most famous dishes is often just as much fun as eating them”

Up for a more modern feed? Flash forward to the 2019/2020 season, and Zillertal is welcoming eight new restaurants and mountain huts to the valley this year, from beechwood BBQs and veggie must-hits, to high-end cocktails and panorama bars for much-needed beer stops. Beer wise you’ll want to stick to the local brew- Zillertal Bier or many of the bars serve Stiegl Brau. Those who aren’t fans of Gods Nectar can cool down after a day on the hill with a refreshing Radler.

For more information on places to eat in Zillertal, head here.

Aprés Action

For those who’re trying to sniff out a good party Mayrhofen is undoubtedly the place to be. Pilz Bar is situated at the top of the Penkenbahn Gondola and is where most revellers start their post shred oompah. Heading down the gondola you’ll find Ice Bar directly underneath, this place is drowning in Europop and Jagermeister by 4pm, its famous dancing polar bear setting the tone nicely for the rest of the night.

Head up the street to Bruck’n Stadl if you fancy a bit more space to boogie, but not forgetting to stop by the Imbiss for a kebab. Scotland Yard is always flooded with locals and seasonaires and they do live music a couple of nights a week. If you fancy something a little more sophisticated you can’t go wrong in Harakiri Bar.

“Music festivals in the mountains don’t come much better”

Don’t forget about Snowbombing either. Described as “The World’s Greatest Show On Snow,” if you’re all about the Après… be sure to check it out. Music festivals in the mountains don’t come much better.

Hit This Run…

For the dare devils among us, it doesn’t get much more hair raising than the infamous Harakiri Run. With a whacking great 78% incline, Mayrhofen’s Harakari Slope at the top of the Knorren lift is the steepest piste in Austria. “If you fall on this you’re probably not going to stop until you get to the bottom,” reckons ex-Olympic skier and Ski Sunday presenter Graham Bell. Do this and literally get the t-shirt once you’re back down in the town, and your pulse has dropped below 7000bpm.

For more information on Zillertal, visit the area’s official website.

For more information on Austria, head here.

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