Family-friendly but still lively enough for the younger crowd, Mayrhofen is a low-lying ski resort with high extensive ski slopes by Austrian standards. It’s also connected by bus to the other Zillertal Valley ski resorts, including the snowsure glacier at Hintertux, forming a combined ski area called Zillertal 3000.
Just an hour or so from Innsbruck airport, with an almost traffic-free centre, and a solid track record as one of Austria’s key teaching resorts, Mayrhofen is a firm favourite for family-oriented ski trips. But it is a bit of a Jekyll and Hyde character, because when its excellent ski schools and creche facilities are closing down, it’s lively alcohol-fuelled après ski is just getting started, and some of the clubs stay open virtually all night. But it’s quite a big resort with a wide range of accommodation so on the whole these contrasting lifestyles co-exist pretty well together, and can even offer an ideal winter holiday solution for mixed groups with large age ranges.
And everyone can enjoy Mayrhofen’s skiing. There are no runs back to the resort itself, which at 630m is too low, but much improved lifts whizz skiers up to and down from the surrounding Ahorn and Penken-Horberg sectors from where they can ski onto Rastkogel and Egalm. This ski area is high enough (the top lift reaches 2500m) large enough (139 km of pistes) and steep enough (red runs predominate but it is home to Austria’s steepest piste – Harakiri) to satisfy most skiers, particularly if they are long-lunchers or late-risers who want a holiday above all else.
But their keener companions need not get frustrated, because Mayrhofen is connected by bus to three other ski areas in the Zillertal valley. At its head is Hintertux, a glacier resort with interesting slopes as well as guaranteed snow. As Hintertux is only a 15 minute bus ride from the edge of the Mayrhofen ski domain, it’s easy to ski in both resorts, and the combined ski areas now even have a joint name: Zillertal 3000. And there are two further ski areas down the valley: the unpronounceable “Hochzillertal-Hochfugen-Spieljoch” and the more snappily named “Zillertal Arena” which consists of Zell am Ziller, Gerlos, Königsleiten, Wald und Krimml/Hochkrimml. And if that sounds like a lot of skiing, that is entirely correct because the Zillertal valley has more pistes than any other valley in the world (580km in total), and you can ski it all on a Zillertal Superskipass, but it will take you much longer than a week.
Mayrhofen Pros & Cons
+ Local ski area is big enough for most
+ More skiing in other bus-linked Zillertal resorts
+ High slopes and a snowsure glacier up the valley
+ Vibrant après ski & nightlife
+ Excellent ski schools
+ Attractive traffic free resort centre
– Resort is rather strung-out
– Too much time spent on buses
– Resort itself is too low for ski-in, ski-out.