In the Tirol’s largest side valley Zillertal, it's not just the flowers that are in full bloom when visiting during the warmer summer months. In this pristine area, where countless 3,000m peaks tower over dreamy landscapes you'll feel yourself well nurtured by the wonders of nature.
From striding out on peaceful hikes, exploring the Nature Park Zillertal Alps or getting whisked up to the impressive three-thousander peaks via one of the ten summer cable cars, Zillertal has your holiday wishes covered. Action and seclusion. Culinary and alpine delights. Adventures for kids and adults. You can even go summer skiing on the Hintertux Glacier! You name it, Zillertal has it.
Where is Zillertal?
Located in the heart of the Austrian Alps' most highly-glaciated section, Zillertal is located in the west of Austria and is the widest of the side valleys on the south side of the Inntal Valley, running more or less north to south. It is also the home of the popular winter ski resort of Mayrhofen. About 40km east from Innsbruck, the Zillertal is easily accessible with good road and rail links. Nearest airports are Innsbruck (45 mins), and Salzburg (1hr 30mins).
Highlights of Zillertal
With 1,400km of hiking trails and 1,300km of bike routes, summer holidays in Zillertal are all about outdoor activities, about getting out and making the most of nature. Here, your days will be filled making memories on foot, on two wheels, on a raft or in a canoe, with leisurely lunch breaks and relaxing dinners best enjoyed at one of over 150 mountain huts, sampling some of the typical Tirolean delights.
Plus, the views are unbeatable. One sight in particular not to be missed is the view from the Instagram famous suspension bridge over lake Schlegeis, which is on the Olpererhütte hiking route.
With ten modern cable car links, you'll want to enjoy the panoramic views of the 3,000m peaks that surround the valley - and maybe even venture onto the glacier slopes where you can ski 365 days a year! If skiing's not your thing, Luis' Gletscherflohpark at 3,250m and the Flohpark Sommerberg at 2,100m are attractive adventure playgrounds for families with children - fun activities include tubing, playgrounds, and you can even have a summer snowball fight!
Watersports too figure prominently in Zillertal's roster of summer activities. For adrenaline junkies white water rafting offers the opportunity to experience the unique natural landscape of the Zillertal from the river, while gorge hiking, better known as canyoning, offers lots of fun, scrambling over waterfalls and rocks and plunging into crystal clear water and natural whirlpools.
Paragliding tandem flights are another way to experience the magnificent panoramas and mountain views, while caving takes visitors to the other extreme! Rock climbing and via ferrata is another hugely popular summer pursuit here.
Zillertal is a leading family destination in the Austrian Alps, offering adventure, recreation and relaxation for all ages and is particularly loved for its great selection of fun and exciting family experiences, such as special hiking and biking trails for children.
The whole family will love the Zillertalradweg Cycling Path, a 31km mostly flat bike trail that follows the Ziller River downstream from Mayrhofen to the small village of Strass, with opportunities to jump into the Schlitterer See bathing lake, play mini-golf and explore the adventure playgrounds before catching the train back to your starting point. There are altogether 50 adventure playgrounds, 6 outdoor swimming pools and 7 adventure lakes in Zillertal.
And to help you make the most of all the highlights, the Zillertal Activcard includes public transport, one return cable car trip per day, plus numerous discounts on a wide range of attractions.
On foot - hiking in Zillertal
Zillertal is an extremely diverse hiking destination, with a network of marked and signed hiking routes for all abilities, from a short walk to a high-intensity trek, at three general altitude levels from the warm valley floor to mountain lakes and the rugged summits of the 3,000m peaks. The cable cars help hikers navigate these levels, and the 150 mountain huts provide welcome refreshment with original Zillertal home-cooked delicacies. For families there are themed walks that offer encounters with marmots, birds of prey and other alpine animals.
Highlight hikes include the Gedrechter to Hochalm hiking route, a 7.9km moderately difficult 3hr circular walk which offers wonderful views over the Zillertal, the glistening waters of the Drisslkopf reservoir, and the peaks of the Zillertal Alps in the distance. The route passes through lush alpine meadows and a delightful marmot enclosure!
A second wonderful trek is a mountain tour on the magnificent Gerlossteinwand - a 5km, moderately difficult circular walk. You will be hiking in the shade in the morning and, on the flatter descent in the afternoon, you can enjoy the fantastic view of the Brandberger Kolm in the sun. Once you have reached the summit of Gerlossteinwand, allow the stunning panoramic views of the Zillertal Alps, the Tux foothills, the Kitzbühel Alps and the Rofangruppe to work their magic!
For more information about the fantastic hiking routes in Zillertal, go to zillertal.at
By bike - cycling in Zillertal
From leisurely rides with the family, to challenging mountain bike trails or zippy rides, the 1,300km of bike routes offer something to delight all cycling enthusiasts, with nearly 70 itineraries to choose from, ranging from short, easy cruises to hard all-day bike treks. In addition, MTB specialists will want to explore the many singletrack trails.
One great mountain biking route is the Panoramic Bike Route. This 4.5 hour, 41km circular tour starts from the Europahaus in Mayrhofen, heads up the mountain to the Penken top station and runs on gravel paths. It includes a very challenging descent into the Horbergtal valley which leads over Schwendberg to Mayrhofen.
Route 476 is also a fantastic choice for experiencing the wonders of Zillertal on two wheels. The circular route, which starts at the Penken top station, takes you around hairpin bends, follows lush forest paths and includes plenty of altitude loss and gain to give your muscles a workout. This 9km itinerary gives riders a taste of everything from challenging climbs to gentle trails that let you appreciate the spectacular mountain surroundings. One not to be missed!
For more information about the cycling terrain in Zillertal, go to zillertal.at
Unmissible experiences in Zillertal
It's not all about the hiking and biking in this varied region. No trip to Zillertal is complete without giving these experiences a go:
Winter sports in the summer on the Hintertux Glacier
The Zillertal is one of the most enjoyable and varied skiing areas in Austria - and the fun doesn't stop when winter is over! The Hintertux Glacier is Austria's only year-round ski resort and offers winter sports enthusiasts perfectly groomed, snowsure runs 365 days of the year, great food and a fascinating experience of nature at altitudes of up to 3,250m.
Especially in autumn, the Hintertux Glacier attracts skiers and snowboarders who can't wait until the winter arrives.
The glacier also has a fascinating system of ice caves, called Nature's Ice Palace, which is well worth a visit. Step inside a frozen world full of sparkling walls, icy stalactites, a glacial lake and even frozen waterfalls.
Go to zillertal.at for more information about visiting the Hintertux Glacier in the Summer.
Tour some of Zillertal's superb mountain huts
In rustic inns and fine gourmet restaurants alike, Zillertal has plenty of regional dishes to tempt visitors. But for those who enjoy active holidays here with hikes or bike rides, there are more than 150 mountain huts waiting to welcome visitors with local delicacies.
For example at Platzalm, a cosy inn right next to the Zillertaler Höhenstraße, you can sample Tirolean dishes on the sunny panorama terrace, at Wiesenalm, at 1,309m, you can enjoy sustainable, seasonal in-house creations on their 180° sun terrace with breathtaking sunset views over the Zillertal.
The Granatalm, high on the sunny plateau of the Penkenjoch at 2,095m, serves up a wide range of delights from mountain breakfasts to spicy delicacies and home-made cakes, and is easily accessible from the Finkenberger Almbahnen top station, and Helmut's Fischer Hut is a must for fish lovers, with daily fresh smoked trout from the lake just outside the hut at 1,782m on the Schlegeisspeicher.
Find more information about Zillertal's mountain huts at zillertal.at
Enjoy some of the fantastic family-friendly activities in Zillertal
On the Rosenalm high above Zell am Ziller there is a place of fantasy that kids will adore - Fichtenschloss Castle playground. The four walk-in towers, made entirely of wood, allow small (and bigger) visitors to the Zillertal Arena to let off steam while scrambling on the climbing tower, sliding in the slide tower or tinkering in the crane tower.
The magnificent view of the surrounding mountains is best enjoyed from the 18m high observation tower, or from the treetop path. There's also the chance to cool off by renting a boat to play around on the Fichtensee bathing and boating lake.
Another must-visit for groups with children is the adventure area at the Spieljoch mountain station. Kids will enjoy endless hours of fun here with a waterpark, Flying Fox zipwire, high ropes course, playground with trampolines and climbing frames, and even a small mine where kids can search for crystals.
But a highlight of the area is the Barefoot Trail - a gentle walking route that is designed to be walked without shoes, so that you can feel the nature around you through your bare feet, from the smooth stepping stones to soft bark underfoot.
The Ahornsee lake and Ahornbachl stream high on the Ahorn plateau also offer a great way to relax as a family. The shallow waters provide a safe place to play and appreciate the breath-taking surrounding landscapes.
For something a little different, try the Wasserwelt themed hike in Tux. This themed hiking route teaches children all about the wonders of water in Zillertal, with a spinning water wheel, waterfall swing, rainbows, a floating water tap and a chance to admire the quiet beauty of waterfalls and streams.
To experience the #realAustria and to find out more about summer in Zillertal, go to austria.info
This year has also seen the introduction of brand new flights to Innsbruck from the UK to make getting to the Tirol even easier.
Jet2 flies you to Innsbruck from:
- Birmingham every Saturday
- Bristol every Saturday
- Manchester every Wednesday and Saturday
easyJet takes you to Innsbruck from London Gatwick:
- 19 April - 25 June 2022 on Tue | Thu | Sat
- 26 June - 3 September 2022 on Tue | Wed | Thu | Sat
- 4 - 30 September 2022 on Tue | Thu | Sat