Mayrhofen in summer means waterfalls cascading down sheer cliffs, snow-peaked glaciers, meadows painted in a kaleidoscope of wildflowers and mesmerising mountain views stretching into forever. Welcome to Inghams Walking in Mayrhofen, Austria.
I’m just back from a few days exploring Mayrhofen and its surroundings and I absolutely loved every step, every lungful of fresh mountain air and every glorious view. And there are plenty of views.
Mayrhofen in summer is the perfect place for pulling on your boots, getting outdoors and connecting with nature whether you’re a seasoned hiker or a leisurely stroller. The food is impressive too – just as well we were walking it all off!
About Mayrhofen, Austria
Mayrhofen is a picturesque alpine village located in the Ziller valley or Zillertal (tal means valley) in the Tirol region of Austria. It’s the main village of the valley and sits around 40 km north east of Innsbruck.
The area is a popular year-round destination for outdoor lovers looking for adventure, breathtaking landscapes, and a taste of traditional Austrian charm. Mayrhofen is a great place for outdoor activities. In the summer months it’s a mecca for walkers and bikers with over 1400 km of trails to stretch the legs on.
In winter it transforms into a winter wonderland ski resort and the skiers and boarders move in to take advantage of the extensive ski area and piste trails via cable car. There’s easy access to the mountains from two ski lifts; the Penken gondola and the Ahorn. We loved Mayrhofen so much that we’re already thinking about heading back for a ski holiday this winter.
The Zillertal valley is made up of one 56 km central valley which separates into four smaller valleys at the Mayrhofen end. Three main mountain ranges surround the valley: the Kitzbühel Alps in the east, the Tux Alps in the west and the Zillertal Alps to the south so Mayrhofen is surrounded by mountains.
Many villages and hamlets are located along the valley and they can easily be reached by train or bus from Mayrhofen.
Walking in Mayrhofen
The scenery around the village of Mayrhofen is absolutely breathtaking. During a week-long walking holiday guests are offered two free guided walks from a range of options for all abilities. It’s a good way for people that are new to hiking to test the water.
Our first walk was the Steinerkogel and our second took in the beautiful Stilluptal. Other Inghams guided walks include Maxhutte, Hohenaualm (little Tibet), Bichlalm and Schleier waterfall. There are also dozens of self-guided walks to enjoy in the area and the Inghams reps on site will be able to advise on the best hikes for you.
There are also excursions to choose from including the Krimml Waterfalls, Rattenberg & Achensee and Tratzberg castle.
For train lovers it’s easy to take the train to Jenbach where the steam operated Achensee Cog Railway carries passengers up the mountain to pretty Achensee Lake.
We met our local guide, Sergio, and the other five people which made up our group, in the centre of town. Sergio pointed up to a mountain hut overlooking the top of the valley and as we craned our necks upwards he said that’s our first stop. I was beginning to wonder if we’d need climbing gear…
The Steinerkogel leads directly from Mayrhofen village and we set off through the forested single track pathway up to the top of the valley. Within minutes we saw a black squirrel acrobating from tree to tree. Tiny wild strawberries, bilberries and wild flowers lined the path and birdsong filled the air as we made our way ever upwards passing the tiniest of alpine chapels.
We reached Steinerkogel mountain hut within two hours for incredible panoramic views over Mayrhofen and mountains. The Steinkogl hut is closed on Mondays so after soaking up the view we walked ten minutes through flower-filled meadows to Gasthof Thanner for a delicious lunch of salad and spaghetti bolognese. This was accompanied by a glass of refreshing Radler, a traditional alpine drink made with pils and lemonade.
The walk was much easier than it looked from the village as the serpentine trail traversed up the side of the mountain. Some parts were steeper but we kept a relaxed pace and had plenty of water stops and the shade of the forest was lovely in the 31 degree heat.
There’s an option to take the bus back to Mayrhofen from here but we all wanted to complete the full 13 km loop on foot. Fully fueled we set off down the mountain through more shaded forest and then out into meadowland alongside the gushing Ziller river where more beautiful scenery ensued.
Our walk ended near the Ahornbahn (lift) and we stopped for a well-deserved beer at Stoaner’s Bienenhäusl. I can imagine this place heaving with skiers in the winter months and it was a gorgeous spot to sit and relax after our walk before heading back to Elisabeth Hotel for a refreshing dip in the pool.
The Stilluptal valley walk was my favourite of our two walks. It had everything you could ask of an alpine walk. A snow peaked glacier formed the backdrop to the Stillup valley far behind us, a gushing river flowed alongside us and waterfalls cascaded earthwards down the rock-sided valley.
As if this wasn’t beauty enough, the sparkling turquoise water of the Stillup reservoir glinted tantalisingly through the fir trees ahead and the gentle clang of cow bells filled the air. This was alpine heaven and I felt totally connected with nature during this 3-hour walk.
The hike included a stop at the Stilluperhaus for coffee and cake, or, in my case a Radler, my new favourite!
The Stilluptal walk is mainly on the flat so it’s a gentle walk suitable for all abilities. A new trail was constructed alongside the river last year making this one of the newest walks on the Ingham’s programme, it’s also one of the most popular.
The Stillup is a private valley owned by a group of local farmers and to get to the start of the hike it’s a 45-minute drive from Mayrhofen by private minibus which costs €15 return and is booked with your walk through Inghams.
If you do one walk during your holiday in Mayrhofen make it the Stilluptal valley walk, it’s absolutely glorious. The family we’d got chatting to on the Steinerkogl walk had done this walk the previous year and loved it so much they did it again.
There’s more to an Inghams holiday than walking
Inghams walking holidays are for people who love to holiday just as much as they love to walk. So what else did we get up to on our visit to Mayrhofen?
Hippach Schmankerl Festival
The day after we arrived in Mayrhofen there was a Schmankerl festival happening in the next village along from Mayrhofen. The railway station in Mayrhofen is just 5-minutes from our hotel so we took the train through beautiful alpine scenery to Hippach. We could hear the music as soon as we stepped off the train!
The tiny village was buzzing. A live band played, couples were dancing and traditional Austrian dress was worn by many. Think lederhosen, Tirolean hats complete with goat’s brush and dirndl dresses.
Tables with bright yellow parasols ran the length of the main street and food stalls were busy selling all kinds of schmankerl, sausages, local beers and wine. So, what’s a schmankerl? If we didn’t know before we arrived in Hippach we did by the time we left.
Schmankerl basically means ‘delicacy’ and these ranged from delicious pancakes served with a big dollop of jam, Kaiserschmarrn, Kiachl which is doughnut pastry filled with cranberry jam, fried and dusted with icing sugar. All so very naughty but incredibly delicious.
If you happen to visit, it’s worth dropping by Hippach’s red-steepled church to check out the beautiful frescoes before enjoying the hour-long walk back to Mayrhofen.
The Penkenbahn Lift
I couldn’t leave Mayrhofen without taking a ride in a cable car so we hopped into a gondola and took the 8-minute journey to the top of Penken mountain at 1790 metres above sea level.
The Penken is known as the active mountain due to all the activities available and we found mountain biking, walking trails, children’s playpark and a small lake with sun loungers and parasols.
It’s one of the best places for adrenalin lovers and the KnorrenNadel and Steinbock ViaFerrata climbing routes both start there plus two paragliding take-off sites. We watched the paragliders run off the hill and soar gracefully away over the valley.
I’d definitely have booked this up if we’d had more time but we enjoyed a drink in the sunshine and took in the beautiful views over the mountains and nearby valleys.
About Inghams Walking Holidays
Inghams Walking Holidays offer an ideal opportunity to immerse yourself into the captivating beauty of the Austrian Alps in and around Mayrhofen as well as many other beautiful locations in Europe.
Inghams walking holidays are for people who love to holiday as much as they love to walk so it isn’t just about walking. You’ll have time to explore the town and local area too so it’s the perfect balance of hiking and holidaying.
There’s no point-to-point hiking and you’ll head back to the same hotel after each walk which means there’s the chance to enjoy the local area, your hotel and spend time relaxing. It is a holiday after all!
During a week-long walking holiday guests are offered two free guided walks from a range of options. There are plenty of other guided walks which come at an additional cost and a wide range of self-guided hikes so you could walk every day of your trip if you wished.
It’s advisable to book your walks before you arrive at your destination because there are a limited number of places to keep group sizes to a manageable size.
Rob, Sophia and the other reps are on hand throughout the trip for practical advice, bookings and departure information either at the hotel or by messaging. Inghams reps are also on some of the walks so there’s always an opportunity to ask any questions and dip into their expertise and experience of the local area.
We had an hour’s orientation of the town with our reps early in our trip so we knew all the best spots to head to in the evenings.
Airport transfers are all taken care of. You’ll be met at the airport by the resort reps and transferred directly to your hotel and the same going home.
I asked a few people we met during our trip if they’d travelled with Inghams before and they all had so it’s good to know that guests travel with Inghams again and again.
The Zillertal Active Card
The Zillertal Active Card will help you get the most out of your stay in Mayrhofen. The card provides access to lifts, buses and trains, open-air swimming pools, and offers discounts on different attractions around the Zillertal.
The active card will give you:
• 1 ascent and 1 descent per day on 1 of the 10 summer lifts in the valley
• Free admission to all 6 outdoor swimming pools in the valley (1 per day)
• Free use of the buses and train (although not the steam train) note that small charges still apply on some bus routes due to road tolls
The card can be purchased at the ticket offices of the Penkenbahn and the Ahornbahn, the two main lifts in Mayrhofen, as well as at the train station. You’ll need photographic ID when purchasing. Round trips start at €23 without the card. We paid €28.50 each for a return trip to the top of the Penkenbahn.
Prices for the Zillertal Active card are:
3 days: € 78/adults, € 39/children
6 days: € 112/adults, € 56/children
If you return your card to the terminal at the end of your stay you’ll be refunded €2.
Where to stay in Mayrhofen
Inghams offer a superb variety of hotels in all their destinations with a range of budgets.
We stayed in the adults only 4* Elisabeth Hotel in the centre of Mayrhofen. The hotel opened in the 1950s and is run and owned by the Moigg family. It’s a beautiful hotel with a mix of traditional and modern and I would absolutely recommend it if you love the comfiest of beds, excellent food and superb facilities. The staff were incredibly friendly and helpful.
The hotel is just a 5-minute walk from the railway station and about 8-minutes walk from the centre of town and Inghams meeting points.
Of course, before any walking can be done you’ll need a good breakfast and the Elisabeth Hotel excelled.
From the extensive buffet to the egg station, where I had a beautifully cooked omelette every morning, to continental meats and cheeses, pastries and porridge, the breakfast set us up perfectly for a day of walking and exploring.
We were on a half-board basis and all the food was first class. There are 2-3 small dining rooms and we were in the same one each day at the same table so we got to know the other guests nearby.
The six course menu for dinner started with a visit to the salad bar followed by a starter, soup course, main course and dessert. The meal was finished nicely with a cheese buffet. There’s a choice of 3-4 dishes for each course including vegetarian options.
The choices were so good that it was sometimes a dilemma which to pick. The dishes weren’t too big given the number of courses and I enjoyed choosing between Zillertal regional dishes and international cuisine. The food was outstanding and beautifully presented. I’ll let you eat with your eyes.
Between 3-5pm a light buffet tea is served with tea, coffee, soft drinks, cakes, pastries and light snacks. Apple strudel anyone…?
The Elisabeth hotel has two ambiences which merge seamlessly. There’s traditional Austrian style in the main public areas and rooms in the original part of the hotel and a new contemporary wing which incorporates the wine cellar, spa area and the newer bedrooms.
We were in the new wing and we loved our spacious ‘Premium Charme’ room with its contemporary design and features. That gorgeous bathtub was pure bliss to come back to after a day’s activities.
Features included a huge comfortable bed, day bed, walk-in closet with safe, open plan bathroom with rain shower, separate toilet and bidet and spa bag with fluffy towelling robe and slippers and a large HD flat-screen TV. There’s free Wi-Fi throughout the hotel.
There are a range of facilities and services to make your stay truly memorable, including a gorgeous indoor pool and Jacuzzi which was wonderful to dip into after a day of activities.
There’s also a Finnish sauna and steam bath, a serenity room with water beds, relaxation lounge, fitness studio and exercise studio.
The Elisence Spa offers floating loungers, massages and cosmetic treatments. The outdoor area is a lovely place for relaxing on the sun terrace with loungers, ponds and a waterfall.
If you prefer to swim outdoors then Neuhaus, the Elisabeth’s sister hotel is just a few minute’s walk away. The Neuhaus romantic garden has a natural bathing pool set amid a large garden with flowers and apple trees.
To sum up our Inghams Walking Holiday
We spent four nights in Mayrhofen with Inghams Walking and only touched on some of the many things to do in the Zillertal arena.
I came away feeling refreshed and invigorated with a nature fix that has set me up for a few weeks with all the benefits of being surrounded by nature, active in the outdoors and breathing fresh mountain air.
The Inghams reps were friendly, helpful and incredibly knowledgeable about the area. The hotel was gorgeous and the food excellent. I’m not surprised that Inghams guests travel with them year on year. If you haven’t already guessed, we loved every minute of our visit to Mayrhofen.
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Thank you to Inghams Walking for inviting me to explore Mayrhofen. All thoughts, opinions and love of a good mountain hike are entirely my own and I retain full editorial rights to write whatever I please in this article.