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Das Zillertal in Österreich, Bild: anitasstudio / shutterstock

Zillertal – From Strass to Mayrhofen

The Zillertal belongs to the side valleys of the Inn Valley and is south of it. It is located in Austria, more precisely in the province of Tyrol, about 40 kilometers east of Innsbruck. The name refers to the river Ziller. This runs from south to north through almost the entire Zillertal and finally flows into the Inn.

The larger settlements in the Zillertal include Strass in the Zillertal, Zell am Ziller, Aschau in the Zillertal and Mayrhofen. Over the Gerlos Pass, you can reach Salzburg’s Oberpinzgau through the mountains. West of the Zillertal are the Tux Alps, to the east the Kitzbühel Alps and to the south the Zillertal Alps, which mark the border with South Tyrol / Italy . With this fantastic location – surrounded by mountains – it stands to reason that the Zillertal is a tourist attraction. Both in summer and in winter there are excellent opportunities for sporting leisure activities.

The history of the Zillertal

Already in the Middle Stone Age, the Zillertal with its passes and crossings in different directions was probably a central hub. The first permanent settlement in the Zillertal took place in the Late Bronze Age (in about 1,000 BC). Through the ages, the population groups living here changed several times. The Zillertal as such was first mentioned in a document in 889. The great tourist rise took place in the 19th century. when more and more shelters were built and alpine hiking enjoyed increasing popularity, as did winter sports.

The Zillertal from spring to autumn

Image: marako85 / shutterstock

Along the entire Zillertal the mountains beckon. Whether shorter, comfortable walks or multi-day mountain tours with overnight stays in the mountain huts – in the Zillertal you will find maintained and signposted trails in all levels of difficulty. Green, lush alpine meadows and steep peaks with fantastic views are just waiting to be visited. To get even easier, even higher, a total of ten summer mountain railways can be used. But the Zillertal also has a lot to offer away from the mountains. Numerous routes – both flat and off-road – can be explored by bike. Golf is also not neglected in the Zillertal. And of course, you can always take a trip to the large Zillertal Glacier in summer.

Even though the Zillertal basically offers everything your heart desires, day trips outside the valley can of course also be undertaken. On the one hand, a shopping trip to the provincial capital Innsbruck, which is only 40 km away, is certainly a good idea. On the other hand, a train journey could be made to Lake Achensee – first with the Zillertalbahn to Jenbach, where it then continues with the rustic Achensee Railway, which is still operated by steam locomotives.

The Zillertal in winter

Mayrhofen, Zillertal
Mayrhofen in the Zillertal, Image: Roman Babakin / shutterstock

Four large ski areas in the Zillertal attract visitors with over 500 kilometres of perfectly groomed slopes. More than 180 lifts ensure that even with the highest tourist occupancy, skiing can take place quickly and pleasantly. To guarantee variety, the Zillertal Super Ski Pass can be purchased, which is valid for all these lifts in the four ski areas.

Of course, numerous ski huts in the mountains are waiting for a visit, where both Zillertal specialties and modern and light cuisine can be enjoyed. In addition to skiing and snowboarding, other sports can of course also be enjoyed in the Zillertal in winter. For cross-country skiers, over 125 km of trails are prepared in various levels of difficulty. Tobogganers can choose from fourteen different routes with a total length of about 45 km. Hiking trails are also cleared for hikers even in heavy snowfall – from short walks to challenging day tours, everything is possible. And the list of possible activities is still not over. Whether ice skating, curling, horse-drawn sleigh rides, ice climbing or ski tours – the Zillertal offers endless variety.

Sights in the Zillertal

No matter what time of year the Zillertal is visited – there is always a wide range of possibilities for leisure activities. However, some sights stand out in particular that are always worth a visit:

  • The high mountain nature park in the Zillertal Alps is a large, protected and very natural area that invites you to hike and linger.
  • The Schlegeisspeicher is one of the largest reservoirs in Tyrol. In addition, the Zillergründl, the Stillupspeicher and the Gerlosstausee attract other reservoirs, which visually integrate perfectly into the landscape.
  • At 3509 metres, the Hochfeiler is the highest mountain in the Zillertal Alps and can now be reached relatively easily within a few hours.
  • Several waterfalls (Schlitters, Hart, Laimach, Talbach, etc.) as well as breathtaking bridges (e.g. the Devil’s Bridge near Finkenberg) can also be visited.
  • In terms of traffic, the Zillertaler Höhenstraße in particular, but also the nostalgic railway on the Zillertal railway line should be mentioned.
  • Finally, a bird nature trail has also been set up near Hart.