If the only things you think of when you imagine the Alps in Austria are skiing, snowboarding and, of course, a wild après-ski scene, then you might be surprised to find out that there’s as much going on here in the spring as there is in the winter. Once the snow and ice has melted, the mountains offer a range of spring/summer activities which will get your pulse racing as quickly as a downhill skier!
The cable car ride up to the top of these peaks is adrenaline-pumping so take a bit of a timeout when you get there to just relax and enjoy the breathtaking views.
For the ultimate panorama explore Austria’s longest ropeway to the plateau at the summit of Ahorn. At around 2,000m above sea level you’ll be able to stop off at various viewing platforms along the way. Make sure one of your stops is at the bird centre, the Ahorn Eagle’s Stage, where buzzards and eagles swoop overhead displaying their majesty until their handlers bring them back to rest on their waiting arms. A phenomenal display of the birds native to this area.
For a little more fast-paced fun head up to Penken with its network of hiking and bike trails. Stop off at the Funsportstation at the reservoir and try out the Funballz – giant inflatable balls which you get inside and roll across the water without even getting wet. Race your friends or play a game of boules with yourselves as the balls, in stunning surroundings – a truly surreal experience. Also at the Funsportstation is the opportunity to rent Mountain Scooters, a fast and fun-filled way to make your way back down to the valley. There are three Scooter trails depending on just how brave you are.
Forget about comfy hotels and wellbeing spas, on a spring holiday to Mayrhofen wellbeing is promoted by being out in the open air and all you need for accommodation is a mountain hut. ‘Hutting’ is a common practice for long-distance hikers in the region, who spend their days walking from remote hut to remote hut.
Take the Peter Habeler Trail, named after the famous Austrian mountaineer who came from the Zillertal region, and you can walk the 60km trail stopping off at any one of six welcoming refuge huts. The walk will take you past stunning Alpine meadows, lakes and glaciers as you hike through this high-altitude landscape. Don’t panic, despite being called ‘huts’ the refuges are actually comfortable hostels serving refreshing (and extremely welcome) food and drink, as well as offering a bed for the night.
The stunning conservation area of Zillertal Nature Park in Austria’s Tirol is a natural playground for anyone who enjoys outdoor activities like hiking, mountain biking and climbing. There are no motorised vehicles allowed in the 422km-square park (and that includes helicopters and cars) so a hiking trip up here really does feel like escaping to another world.
Take to Two Wheels
There are a breathtaking 800km of cycling trails crossing the Zillertal region, making this the ideal place for a mountain or road-biking holiday. Despite the terrain, you don’t need to be Bradley Wiggins to take on these beautiful trails as there are routes marked for all levels of expertise and fitness. The scenery will blow you away as you cycle past mountain streams, deep valleys and through Alpine forests. If, however, what you are looking for is fast-paced, adrenaline-pumping action then grab yourself a mountain bike and take on some of the landscape’s most perilous terrain with its most advanced cross-country trails.
Definitely not for the feint hearted, climbing at this altitude in the stunning scenery of the Zillertal is always going to be a thrilling experience. So whether you choose the dizzying heights of the region’s Via Ferrate trails, the challenge of rock climbing or the freedom of bouldering you’re going to need nerves of steel.
If you’ve never tried this before then brace yourself: rock climbing for beginners this may be but that doesn’t make it any less terrifying. Via Ferrata is a climbing trail that has been built into the sides of mountains with fixed anchors, steel cable and a network of ladders. There are a number of different trails across the region which range from child and family-friendly routes to those which would challenge even the most hardened climbers. A thrilling experience if you’ve go the nerve.
There are three dedicated climbing areas in the Nature Park which are open during the spring to autumn season. The areas have grapple hooks already imbedded in the rock to make for a slightly easier climb but the routes can vary from beginner to advanced so do your research before you set out.
Bouldering is freestyle climbing without ropes or harnesses and is becoming increasingly popular in the region. There are a selection of freestyle climbing areas in the Zillertal Valley including: Ginzling Forest, Kaseler Alm and Schettla’s Boulder Hall.
How to Get to Mayrhofen
A range of airlines fly regularly to Innsbruck throughout the spring and summer months, with flight times averaging around two hours. Without the winter ski shuttles, your best way of getting from the airport to the resort is by booking an airport transfer with Shuttle Direct before you leave home. If you’re travelling with a group of friends, a shared group transfer is a great way to save a bit of cash.
About Shuttle Direct
Shuttle Direct is the leading provider of airport transfers across Europe and northern Africa, offering a wide range of economy services from private car to shared group transfers and low cost scheduled coaches.