Nestled deep in Austria’s Tyrolean Alps, Mayrhofen probably should be your next ski destination.
At the head of Austria’s Zillertal valley, Mayrhofen is the main town amongst a cluster of great slopes. This town has a rep as a bit of a party central with some excellent mountain pistes to boot. If you’ve seen our review of the best budget ski resorts you know we rate Austria as an affordable Alpine destination packed full of fun. Read on for our review of Mayrhofen…
Skiing & Boarding
You’ll find something for everyone, although the majority of the ski runs are ideally suited to intermediates with lots of reds. Saying that, the Harakiri is the steepest run in the Alps with a 78% gradient. As the name suggests, this black run might be only for the brave… Or stupid.
However, the rest of the ski runs around the town are either fun tree lined reds or wide open blues. We spent a lot of time on the Penken (the mountain directly above the town, accessed by the Penkenbahn gondola) and the Rastkogel, the mountain accessed via the Tux lift.
Both of these were great for a 5 day scrape around the mountain, but if you’re looking to really get stuck in you’ve got the whole valley to explore. There’s also the Hintertux glacier which is open year round. Your Zillertal pass covers a lot of terrain so a week is going to offer a lot of variety. If you’re in the area for more than a few days check out Zell-am-Zimmer or Kaltenbach which both have an extensive piste network and are just a bus ride away.
Around Mayrhofen and the Penken we found plenty to keep us occupied for 5 days. Most runs were nice and wide and a pleasure to glide down taking in the view, a few runs were tree lined but mostly just wide open spaces. There is also a chance for those who want to go off piste to get some powder action, although we stuck to the roads. Traffic wise we never found Mayrhofen too crowded, although the evening rush back to the Penken gondola did mean there was a bit of rush hour traffic. Saying that, we often took the back door down to Finkenberg, a small town slightly further up the valley with a quieter gondola and much less traffic.
In general though, the reds were friendly enough that a brave beginner could tackle them but long and challenging enough that an experienced rider would be happy to slide down them a few times. In fact our party had a good mix of beginner through to adventure sports nut and all were happy with the offerings in the area.
For absolute beginners, best head to the Ahorn which is mostly blue runs and a nice long red run back to town (which gets shaded in the afternoons, so watch out for ice). This is geared towards the kids and beginners and still has some great views – but you’ll want to get across to Penken asap.
There are regular bus services along the valley which are covered under your lift pass and can take you further afield.
Anyone who has been to Austria before knows they like to party. Expect raucous bars playing German pop, lots of smoke (they still smoke indoors!) and schnapps until you can’t take any more. And this is from around 2pm!
In town there are plenty of bars to keep you up til the early hours. The Ice Bar sites right next to the Penkenbahn gondola and is usually full from 4:30 (as soon as they slopes close).
On the main drag you’ll also find the Harakiri Bar (bit more refined than the Ice Bar) which goes until late at night and for the hardcore there is Brück’n Stadl, a big club which starts with oompah bands and ends with thumping house.
Other bars include Funky’s and Scotland Yard which are more pub/bar set ups but still pack a solid party until the early morning.
By Alpine standards we found Austria to be very affordable – beers around €5 and a gluwein (mulled wine type thing) around €3-5.
Food & Drink
Standard fare around these parts is the ubiquitous wiener schnitzel (veal steak, flattened, breaded and fried) and currywurst (big sausage in curry sauce). You’ll find these on pretty much every cafe on the mountains and all over town.
Directly opposite the Penken gondola you’ll find Hans Gasser butchers (Hauptstraße 475, 6290), a delicatessen and must visit which serves up hearty portions of meat and chips with dollops of mayo, mustard and ketchup. You’ll spot the queue as you come off the gondola from the mountain. Grab a rack of ribs or slab of ham and chow down before you start drinking at the neighbouring Ice Bar.
You’ll find most bars do a decent selection of burgers, pastas and the afore mentioned Austrian specialties.
For more refined dining head to Hotel Edelweiss (Brandbergstraße 352, 6290) for a more relaxed restaurant atmosphere and some of the best food in town. The Gasthof Neue Post (Hauptstraße 400, 6290) is another good option for refined dining including some decent vegetarian options.
The closest airport is Innsbruck, around 1hr in a taxi. We split a transfer taxi between us for around €20 each (about €100-120 from the airport to our hotel in Mayrhofen). You can also take a train which takes around 1hr 30 and is a great scenic ride down the valley, this costs around €15 and carrying sports equipment is pretty much par for the course.
Alternative airports are Salzberg (2-3 hrs drive) or Munich in Germany (1hr 45 by car).
There are some great deals on Sunweb for packages including ski hire, hotels and lift pass from £249 – so if you’re thinking of going to Mayrhofen check them out. We stayed at Gasthof Hochsteg which was a great budget stay close to the ski bus and with excellent local food laid on every night. Highly recommended.
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