You may not have heard of it before, but that could just be because those who have discovered it don’t want to share the secret. Those who have stumbled upon its uncrowded slopes, vast ski area and wide range of snow-based activities may not want to share Gerlos, in Austria’s Tyrol region, with anyone else.
At the moment, skiers here enjoy uncongested slopes, lifts – which take them around the wonderful Zillertal Arena ski area – without massive queues, a free ski bus, and restaurants, cafés and hotels that are not bursting at the seams.
In addition to these perks, there’s a range of fun winter sports that families can enjoy on and off the piste. Once you’ve discovered this tranquil Alpine oasis, you might not want to share the knowledge with others, either!
So, at the risk of letting the cat out of the bag and making enemies with all of the happy families who come back year after year, here’s my guide to all of the great things on offer in Gerlos. Just don’t tell anyone else!
The Resort Itself
Stretching out along a valley floor at 1250m, Gerlos itself is a charming village with plenty of shops, cafés and restaurants to fill your off-piste hours. To get to the slopes, you’ll need to take the free ski bus to the gondola.
This is predominantly an intermediate resort, set in the centre of the Zillertal Arena. This ideal location gives you access to the area’s 160km of pistes. Snow conditions tend to be good from December through April, thanks to an impressive upper slope altitude of 2500m.
Because the skiing here is not too demanding, it tends to appeal to families, which is great if your children are interested in making friends and hanging out with people who are their own age. My kids loved the snow parks, in which they frequently scared the life out of me by showing off their jumps and tricks.
Activities on the Slopes
Like any modern ski resort, Gerlos has much more to offer than just skiing and snowboarding.
The resort prides itself on its extensive snow park area, which it describes as a “hot spot in the freestyle scene”. But if you and your family are looking for things to do with your skis off, then horseback riding and tobogganing are also available.
Snow Park Action
Set beside the central Vorkogel lift at 2020m, the snow park is a haven for young skiers who are looking to outdo each other with the latest tricks.
But don’t worry if you and your family are not quite at the competitive stage yet, the massive 30,000sqm park is divided into three sections: one for beginners, one with a medium kicker-line, and the more advanced Pro-line.
My kids loved mucking around in the beginner section before heading over to the more advanced sections to watch the freestylers show off their skills. There is also a great ‘Chill Out Zone’ here, where visitors can hang out and listen to music while enjoying a warm snack.
If your children ever get bored of the park (which they won’t), you can also check out the Funpark in Hochkrimml or the 100m half-pipe at Fussalm – both were great fun.
Western Riding through the Snow
The kids and I are all keen horse riders, so we couldn’t miss the chance to ride through the stunning countryside of the Zillertal on American and Argentinean horses. The guides were great, and were more than happy to give my partner – who is an absolute beginner – a quick training session before taking us all outside.
This was a gorgeous way to see some of the wilder parts of the countryside around the resort, taking us away from the groomed slopes of the ski runs. The stables run a two-day trek with a stopover in a mountain hut, which (although my kids weren’t keen) I still dream about doing one day.
Adrenaline-Pumping Toboggan Run
I have to admit that I love a good toboggan run. Nothing makes me feel more like I’m ten years old again than hurtling down a snowy slope, just on the brink of control! Luckily, my children share my enthusiasm, and we all loved the two toboggan runs in Gerlos.
We started with a floodlit evening decent down the 1.5km run down from the summit station in Krummbach, which was a fairly easy but still a hugely enjoyable run.
Then we decided that we’d try the 7km run from the Gerlosstein cable car down into Hainzenberg. Again, we did this at night as this run was also floodlit, which added to the exhilaration. It was so much fun the kids (and for me, too!) that they insisted that we return on the last night of our holiday to do it again.
How to Get to Gerlos
Getting to Gerlos couldn’t be easier, as there are regular flights from the UK to Innsbruck Airport with airlines including British Airways, Lufthansa and easyJet. The flight takes around two hours.
The quickest and most convenient way of getting from the airport to the resort is to book a Shuttle Direct airport transfer online before you leave home. Just let this leading transfer service know how many of you will be travelling and what ski equipment you’ll have with you, and a driver will meet you at the airport. And, unlike many other transfer companies, you won’t be charged extra for transporting your equipment. Needless to say, it’s a good deal!
Where to Stay
Gerlos Mountain Estate – For a great family accommodation, try the spacious and modern apartments at the Gerlos Mountain Estate. Set in the village itself, these apartments offer free Wi-Fi and easy access to the ski bus.
Aparthotel Anni Garni – For an authentic Alpine experience, try the family-run Aparthotel Anni Garni in Gerlos. The kids will love the games room and free Wi-Fi, while you’ll appreciate the onsite restaurant and sauna.
Appart Bergleben-Deluxe – The loft-style and elegant apartments at the Appart Bergleben-Deluxe offer the perfect space for a family holiday. They boast spacious seating areas, and some have terraces and balconies. There are lockers in the ski room and there’s free Wi-Fi throughout.
About Shuttle Direct
Shuttle Direct is the premier provider of airport transfers in Europe and North Africa, boasting years of experience in providing professional transfers to ski holiday destinations.
Take the stress out of getting to a ski resort by booking a Shuttle Direct transfer online before you leave home. Let them know what sports equipment you’ll be bringing with you, and they will take it to the resort for you free of charge.