Mayrhofen | Adventure Travel Guide
After an adventure with a truly unique atmosphere? Mayrhofen could well be the spot for you...
Sitting deep in the heart of Austria’s Ziller Valley, Mayrhofen also sits deep in the heart of many who visit. Unlike some ski resorts in Europe, Mayrhofen has a very real village feel to it, and all the charm you’d associate with that.
When traveling to Mayrhofen, many people fly to Munich Airport, which is a two hour drive away. Innsbruck airport is even closer, roughy 90 minutes by car, and accessible via two trains. And as Innsbruck is in a valley, you also get the thrill of literally landing right in the Alps.
Mayrhofen has an Alpine charm, with traditional, picture-postcard chalets and shops lining the streets. If that’s the first thing you notice when you arrive, the next will be the strange energy that you feel as you walk around.
There’s an indescribable buzz of excitement that seems to hang in the air in Mayrhofen. It’s an intoxicating feeling that’s part comfort, part adrenaline. Some say it’s because Mayrhofen sits where four points of water cross, which enriches the village with a natural joie de vivre. It could also, of course, be the fact that alcohol is relatively cheap there. Either way, you can’t fail to notice the wind in your sails.
Mayrhofen is best known as a ski and snowboard destination. The Penkenbahn chairlift in the middle of town has seen major redevelopment in recent years (it was once regarded as one of the most terrifying lifts in the world!). It can now take almost 4000 people an hour up to the mountains, where they can enjoy a combined 136km of pistes, ranging from easy blues, to challenging blacks.
Speaking of black runs, Mayrhofen is home to the infamous Harakiri piste. At a staggering 78 per cent gradient, the kilometre and a half run is a must, but only for the most experienced skiers and snowboarders (although why you’d want to try it on a snowboard is slightly mystifying).
If your adrenaline if spiked more by air than speed, Mayrhofen is also home to the world famous Vans Penken Park. It’s one of the best terrain parks in Europe - a fact attested by the many Pro skiers and snowboarders that ride there on a regular basis. There’s something for every level of rider at this sundrenched, south facing park, and the SunJet chairlift that serves it means you can get a tonne of laps in every day. The nearby beginner park also has its own lifts, if you’re new to getting airborne.
The Ahorn gondola at the south of the village (which will actually feel like the top of the village when you’re there) serves the mountains on the other side of the valley, and is an ideal place for beginners and intermediates alike, with a mix of blue and red runs.
In summer months, Mayrhofen remains an excellent adventure destination. Hiking and climbing are common activities, and mountain biking is becoming increasingly popular. There’s a skatepark with a good concrete bowl to the east of the village, next to the crazy golf, although with temperatures in the summer often exceeding 30°C, it’s maybe best avoided for a few hours either side of midday.
Missing the snow in the summer? The Hinterlux glacier is only a 30 minute bus ride from Mayrhofen. It’s one of the few places in Europe that offers skiing and snowboarding 365 days of the year, meaning you’ll never miss your fix.
Where To Stay
If luxury and convenience are within your budget, the Hotel Strass in the centre of Mayrhofen is an excellent option. Situated right next to the Penkenbahn lift, it offers a range of large, spacious rooms, along with a good restaurant, gym facilities, a spa, and wellness centre for recovering after a hard day of play on the mountains.
If you’re more interested in spending your hard earned on things other than accommodation, the Gasthof Zillertal is a good choice. Popular with a younger crowd, there are a selection of double rooms, dorms, and apartments to suit the tightest of budgets. It’s located just outside the centre of the village, about a 15 minute walk from the Penken lift.
Where To Eat
If you’re on the mountain and fancy a little bit of luxury, the Schneekar Hutte on the Penken mountain is only accessible via three chair lifts, but the reward for your effort is some of the finest traditional alpine food you’ll eat anywhere in Austria. This unique, pyramid shaped restaurant also serves an incredibly strong locally brewed beer called Gauder Steinbock that can make you a little too relaxed for your descent down the hill afterwards.
In the village itself, the Waldcafe is tucked away near the skatepark, but is well worth tracking down. It serves hearty portions of traditional Austrian food, prepared by people who seem to really care about what they do.
If you want something inexpensive, and in a hurry, Hans The Butcher is a Mayrhofen institution. Situated right opposite the Penkenbahn lift, it’s a good spot for a swift, carnivorous fix.
Where To Drink
In a village famed for its apres scene, Mayrhofen naturally boasts a number of good places to enjoy a beer or two after an exhaustive day, but our favourite is The Scotland Yard Pub. Known by locals and seasonaires alike simply as Scotty’s, it has the feel of a slightly scruffy living room, but the atmosphere of a rave.
Don’t let the fact it looks like a British theme pub from the outside put you off. The friendly staff serve a good selection of beers, and a lethal selection of cocktail shots. They regularly have bands and Dj’s playing live, but the music is always good, whenever you go. Ideal.
If you’re into a less riotous atmosphere, Mike’s Sports Bar has a more relaxed feel, with friendly staff who’ll stop and hang out when it’s quieter. As you can probably guess, they show a lot of sport on the big screens there, which is perfect if you can’t miss your weekly fix of Aston Villa capitulating at home to Ipswich Town.
What The Locals Say
“Whether you are a snowboarder or skier or just looking for a place to relax, Mayrhofen is an ideal location and I highly recommend people pay a visit. I’ve been based here for around 15 years and I still love it."
Tom Kingsnorth, owner of Transform Gloves, based in Mayrhofen.
For further information on visiting Mayrhofen, check out the official website.