Adventure Destination Guide | Zillertal in Tirol

It’s (really) big, it’s (extremely) beautiful, and now it’s got even more epic après on offer…

Featured Image Copyright: Zillertal Tourismus

Years of intense Mpora research has conclusively deduced 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 huge 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.

How To Get There

With three airports within a ninety-minute drive, the Zillertal Valley is a big win for those of us who prefer a stress-free start to a ski holiday. So, that’s like, all of us then. Munich (170km), Salzburg (150km) and Innsbruck (50km) all take regular euro flights. What’s more, from Munich, just two trains and as little as €20 stand in the way of you and the snow.

Credit: Andre Schoenherr

Why Go

The Zillertal Valley is very much the five-star buffet dinner of world skiing, with a little bit of everything you love to load up on your plate and far more than you could ever chew through in a week. The four main areas in the Zillertal are Hochzillertal – Hochfügen – SpieljochZillertal ArenaMayrhofner Bergbahnen and Ski & Gletscherwelt Zillertal 3000. They’re all amazing in their own right. 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.

“The Zillertal Valley is very much the five-star buffet dinner of world skiing”

If carving up the same piste every day ain’t your thing, Zillertal is well worth a sniff, especially when next season’s six-day Zillertal Superskipass, that covers every inch of the valley, will cost a super reasonable €266.50.

Where To Stay

All that skiable terrain means there’s a whole lot of hotel beds to choose from across Zillertal’s four domains – upwards of 50,000 to be more precise. If you’re chasing freestyle and nightlife, you’d need a ski pole lodged in your brain not to station yourself in Mayrhofen, where the four-star Hotel Strass will have you right in the epicentre of the après action. 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.

“Bucket list stuff, for sure”

Oh, and you 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. Bucket list stuff, for sure. For more information on Zillertal’s accommodation options, head here.

Credit: 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.

“Zillertal is welcoming eight new restaurants and mountain huts to the valley this year”

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. 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. Talking of which, drinking anything but crisp cold Zillertal Bier whilst you’re in this local brewery’s backyard is a sin punishable by seven years of snow-down-your-pants. For more information on places to eat in Zillertal, head here.

Après Action

As we’ve already mentioned, Mayrhofen is where you’re dropping your crosshairs if it’s a late night Zillertal action you’re after. Graciously, the resort hasn’t totally sacrificed its rustic, timber-heavy alpine charm for 24/7 rage stations, but will absolutely manage to service the bar crawlers amongst us, too. All good ‘Hofen nights start by loosening your boots and your bolts with an on-piste post-ride tipple at the Pilzbar at the top of the Penkenbahn gondola, where you’ll dance on the decks and plan your upcoming evening assault on the town.

“Don’t forget about Snowbombing”

At the bottom of the very same gondola is Ice Bar – and that, friends, is where the madness begins. 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. A night that should see you indulge in the bonkers Austrian delights of The Scotland Yard, Harakiri Bar, Brück’n Stadl and finally the Arena Night Club, for sure. 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

With a whacking great 39-degree gradient, Mayrhofen’s short but infamous Harakari 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.

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

For more information on Austria, head here.

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