snowshoers walk through a clearing in the wood
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10 Activities Beyond the Ski Slopes in Tirol

Don’t get us wrong – Austria’s Tirol region is one of the world’s best ski areas, which is hardly surprising considering it’s home to 500 peaks with summits that reach 3,000 metres and over. But this epic winter playground has plenty to offer off the slopes too. And we’re not just talking about the après-ski – there are endless ways to experience the great outdoors here, making it a brilliant destination for visitors keen to try a wide range of activities, many of which provide fantastic insights into this beautiful region.

Here’s a taster of what you can enjoy this winter and beyond…

two snowshoers walk through a snowy valley next to a river
Snowshoe in the Zillertal | © Thomas Pfister, Zillertal Tourismus GmbH

1. Snowshoeing

The Tirol is known for its majestic scenery, and snowshoeing provides a brilliant way to explore its dramatic peaks and picturesque valleys through the simple act of walking; unlike skiing or snowboarding, snowshoeing doesn’t require training or prior experience – if you can walk, you can snowshoe.

In Zillertal, a 68-kilometre network of trails surrounds the pretty town of Tux, while snowshoers in St Anton am Arlberg have 80 kilometres of trails on their doorstep. For an unbeatable insight into the Tirolean way of life, sign up for the guided snowshoe hikes that depart from Alpbach’s tourist office – you’ll learn about the Tirol region while topping up energy levels with local delicacies (Kaspressknödel, anyone?). It’s also worth pointing out that snowshoeing is a great way to spot the Tirol’s wildlife, including its rare bearded vultures.

2. Winter Hiking

The Tirol’s vast network of hiking trails provides brilliant access to areas you’d likely miss on skis, whether it’s the thick swathes of pine trees (Kitzbühel’s Brixental Valley is particularly well known for its forest trails) or lush alpine pastures. One of the most popular spots for winter hikers is the Zillertal area, which has 450 kilometres of winter hiking trails.

Winter hiking also offers great value for money – in the SkiWelt Wilder Kaiser – Brixental area for example, hikers typically purchase a single ticket that provides access to 13 mountain railways (because, let’s face it, there will always be moments when it’s best to let the train take the strain).

Meanwhile, in the Ski Juwel Alpbachtal Wildschönau, winter hiking guides are included with the Alpbachtal and Wildschönau guest cards. Embark on the mellow 2.5 kilometre-long circular trail and at the top station of the Reiterkogelbahn and you’ll be rewarded with a magnificent view of the Grossglockner, the highest mountain in Austria (3,798 metres).

a snowy valley with a cross-country track running through, two skiers on the move
Langlaufen in Galtür | © Stolle Frank, Tirol Werbung

3. Cross-Country Skiing

Fancy trying activities other than downhill skiing but can’t face going cold turkey? A cross- country skiing session might be the solution – you’ll get to explore the Tirol’s landscapes at a slower pace, following well-groomed, dedicated trails that take in the region’s best bits. There are trails for all skill levels, although some of the best ones for beginners are in Kitzbühel, where the diversity of the routes means those with a natural knack for the sport can quickly progress to more challenging trails.

The same goes for in the SkiWelt, where gently rolling landscapes make for ideal cross-country skiing terrain (the 2.2 kilometre Hochbrixen trail is worth visiting just for its beautiful setting).

Got a head for heights? Consider Ötztal, which has some of the region’s highest cross-country skiing routes, while Seefeld has a staggering 245 kilometres of trails.

4. Dog Sledding

Nothing beats the thrill of flying through the mountains, swaddled in blankets in a sleigh pulled by huskies. Many of the Tirol’s resorts, including Kühtai and St Anton, offer husky sledding experiences, and there are plenty of opportunities for wannabe mushers to take the reins – many resorts offer visitors hands-on experiences for people who want to take charge of their very own team of huskies.

woman smiles pulled on a husky sled
© Patrick Bätz, TVB St Anton am Arlberg

5. Tobogganing

First things first – tobogganing in the Tirol is taken pretty seriously, with the region’s resorts competing to see who can come up with the longest, fastest and most serpentine courses. Unlike in other regions, many toboggan courses open during the day (not just at night), and tight turns and banked corners ramp up the thrill factor.

The Ötztal Valley has 12 downhill runs with a total length of 40 kilometres (all of which are easily accessible – simply hike to the start or hop on the cable car), while the Zillertal’s 15 runs cover 48 kilometres. The majority are illuminated, making them a great option for night-time sledging. In Ischgl, speed freaks can whiz down a seven-kilometre floodlit course, which includes a total descent of 950 metres.

If you fancy a hike up the mountain, you’ll be rewarded with a great view of Wilder Kaiser from the top of the Bacheralm natural toboggan run in the town of Gasteig in Kirchdorf in Tirol. Or, if you’d rather save your legs, there’s always the option of a tractor ride to the top!

6. Ice Skating

Trust us – your local bog-standard artificial ice rink will look rather plain after a visit to the Tirol. A skate across these frozen lakes, with their backdrops of snow-dusted peaks, is a brilliant stress-buster, but beginners who don’t know their pivot from their press spins don’t need to worry – almost all of the region’s rinks are perfect for novices, too. Special shout-outs should go to Mayrhofen‘s ice rink, surrounded by quaint chalets and huts selling hot drinks and snacks, as well as the enormous indoor ice rink at Kitzbühel Sports Park, perfect for days when the weather takes a turn for the worse. Or for anyone looking for a spot of romance, you can enjoy a skate under the stars in St Johann in Tirol.

horse drawn sled in the snow
Traditional sledding in the Tirol

7. Torchlight Walking & Hiking

We’ve all watched the torchlit parades led by ski instructors who somehow manage to ski down the mountain at night-time while carrying a flaming torch, and many of the Tirol’s resorts now offer a slightly easier version of this activity – a torchlit walk through its stunning landscapes.

Popular with couples, kids and anyone who fancies gaining a different perspective on the Tirol’s landscapes, they’re led by local guides who hand out flaming torches and provide fascinating insights into the region during these night-time meanders. The torchlit hike in Brixen is one of our favourites – during these walks, which are free for anyone with a guest card, you’ll spend an hour wandering along the footpaths that fan out through the town, which dates back to medieval times. Alternatively, consider the torchlit guided walk in Alpbach – the finishing point is the Gasthof Jakober, where you’ll warm up a glass of mulled wine.

8. Horse-Drawn Sleigh Rides

Yes, we’ve raved around the fun of dashing through the snow in a sled pulled by huskies, but to ramp up the comfort factor even more, consider a ride in a horse-drawn sleigh. Almost all ski resorts in the Tirol offer this activity, and options range from short jaunts to longer excursions into the snowy wilds surrounding the region’s larger resorts. These leisurely explorations are great ways to check out the smaller villages that might not be on your radar – in the Wilder Kaiser region, for example, you can sign up for horse-drawn sleigh rides that take in the villages of Scheffau and Söll, while the sleigh rides offered by Mayrhofen-based Finkenberger Sattel meander through the snowy meadows and over a babbling brook. Glorious!

an outside spa, with steaming waters, in a snowy mountain valley
Aqua Dome, Tirol

9. Snow & Spa

The Tirol is quickly establishing itself as a world-class wellbeing destination. The region’s most spectacular spas include the AQUA DOME at Längenfeld, which has the Tirol’s largest spa – more specifically one with 12 pools, seven saunas and a large number of treatment rooms designed for both couples and solos, while visitors to Sölden’s Das Central can soak in an infinity pool or snap a selfie in the swinging chairs dangling by the floor-to-ceiling windows. For pure luxury, it’s got to be Kitzbühel’s Kempinski Hotel Das Tirol, where treatments include the decadent Alpine Restorative Journey, guaranteed to boost energy levels, whether you’re aching after a day on the slopes or have simply been overdoing the après-ski.

10. Build or Visit an Igloo

A big hit with visitors of all ages, you’ll see igloos on nursery slopes, next to slopeside restaurants and in far-flung corners of ski areas.

Fancy creating your own piece of ice architecture? Head to Kühtai, where visitors can grab a shovel and build their very own igloo.

Meanwhile, some of the best igloos can be found at the ALPENIGLU in the SkiWelt, where 18 igloos make up a charming ‘igloo village’ next to the Hochbrixen mountain station. Head inside to discover various surprises, including an ice art exhibition, before toasting the Tirol with a cocktail served in an ice glass. Prost!

Click for more information on these destinations in Tirol

igloos on the slopes
Piste-side igloos | ©SkiWelt

Headline image © Alpbachtal Tourismus,

About the author

Nicola Iseard

Nicola caught the skiing bug aged four. Having raced internationally as a teenager, she qualified as a BASI instructor, taught skiing in Switzerland, went on to become a ski journalist, and moved to the Portes du Soleil, where she currently lives with her equally ski-mad husband and sons. As well being an Editor for, she is the Publisher and Editor of Fall Line ski magazine, and also the Editor of Ski+board magazine.

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