Top Lift: 2500m
Ski area: 159km of piste
Adult lift pass: 224€ for six days
In a Nutshell
It’s a long way from being the most convenient resort in the world – but Mayrhofen’s top-notch terrain park, varied pistes and throbbing nightlife ensure a loyal following. There’s an mind-boggling amount of skiing on offer in the neighbouring resorts of the Zillertal, too.
Essential advice for the perfect trip
At first sight, the popularity of Mayrhofen is baffling. Here’s a resort town set below the normal winter snowline whose ski area is split – unequally – between two separate mountains. You can’t ski between them and you can only ski back down into town on a single piste.
Offering 159km of pistes, the local ski area is modest in size, too. Compared to the size and the ski-in, ski-out convenience of the Three Valleys, Espace Killy and Paradiski in France, it’s not exactly a compelling package.
But for years now Mayrhofen has been honeypot for British and Dutch skiers and its star shows no sign of waning. Here’s why:
The town is bustling, friendly and relaxed
Unlike many purpose-built resorts in France, Mayrhofen feels like a proper town. It’s not as cute as the likes of Alpbach or Westendorf, but the backdrop of mountains and cliffs is stunning and it’s friendly and relaxed. It also buzzes at night.
It’s easy to get to
It’s an hour and a quarter by coach from Innsbruck airport to Mayrhofen. That’s quick by Alpine standards, although there is always the risk that Innsbruck airport will be closed by snow or low cloud (in which case you’ll probably fly to Verona or Munich and the transfer will take three to four hours).
A lot of things are cheaper than in its French rivals
Package holidays to Mayrhofen are cheaper than in France. In mid-January 2012 a week-long package holiday in a four-star hotel in the middle of Mayrhofen cost about £780pp, half-board. In Tignes, France, it cost about £1,000pp. Over half-term in February the difference in price grew to about £500pp. What’s more, in mid-January you can often get some cracking discounts on Mayrhofen ski holidays, too: we’ve seen last-minute packages from the UK going for £250pp, B&B, including flights and transfers.
Mayrhofen’s mountain restaurants are cheaper too. In 2012 you could get a plate of spag bol for €7 and some excellent burritos for €8.60. Okay, so it’s not exactly haute cuisine, but then neither is a plate of chips. And in La Plagne in France that on its own would have set you back €7. Ski school is cheaper too.
Mayrhofen’s 159km is more than enough for many skiers
Mayrhofen’s mid-sized ski area is packed with variety. It’s particularly good for beginners, freestylers, and anyone who likes their pistes steep. After fresh snow, the off-piste skiing here is excellent too, though it’s also very avalanche prone. Hiring a guide is strongly recommended.
Yes, it’s only a quarter of the size of the Three Valleys in France, but for many skiers – who come for the nightlife as much as the snow, or book a week with ski school – that’s more than enough.
Bear in mind that the slopes immediately above Mayrhofen are just a fraction of what’s on offer in the valley in which it’s set (the Zillertal). There are 668km of pistes to be skied in all, and oodles of off-piste in between. Together they amount to one of the most varied and exciting ski regions in the Alps.