In my introductory post, I split the Zillertal Valley in 2, in this post I'm going to talk about the "Lower" Zillertal Valley.
Fugen - "Spieljoch" Ski area
Kaltenbach - "Hochzillertal" & "Hochfugen" ski areas
Zell am Ziller - "Zillertal arena" inc. Gerlos/Krimml/Wald-Konigsleiten splinter Valley
These are the key towns you're going to be looking at, each have different pros and cons.
The most important thing to ask yourself is - what kind of ski holiday am I looking for?
Is it all about the skiing, or do you want something out of your down time too?
Are you looking for something relaxing & quiet? Are you a social butterfly, do you want to go out every night?
Do you like variety?
Are you happy cooking yourself?
Visited: Kaltenbach and Zell am Ziller
Ski areas: Zillertal Arena + Hochzillertal/ Hochfugen
Ski area: 8/10
Apres vibes: 5/10
Aschau – Great access and Value
You can get to Kaltenbach in 6 min on the train and a 15min bus will take you all the way to the bottom of the Zillertal Arena access Gondolas in Zell am Ziller.
Access this from the Hochzillertal area via a Black run down, so no need to get the train back on the way home (if you can Ski/board Blacks, it’s not joking when it says Black) and if you just ended up here, there’s a Ski bus at the end of the run.
This is a very small town, very quaint traditional buildings, very quiet. You come here to ski, stay and relax because that’s literally all you can do and for that it’s amazing value. You have all you nee d to self cater, a supermarket, a bakery and butcher and a small café/ bar.
I stayed with the lovely Frau Magdelena in her B&B, my single room (that was in fact a double) was £350 on Christmas week, absolute bargain for a nice wood clad, clean and well kept room. I could even see the Snow Chickens that probably laid my breakfast.
Hochzillertal/Hochfügen Ski Area
Accessed from Kaltenbach, it connects to Hochfügen easily via chair (that’s very fresh with no cover on a high and exposed area, so wrap up your face)
Ski time for advanced: Probably 2 or 3 days
Nice area for beginners and intermediates, majority of runs are wide and I’d say mid-length, they’re a decent ski down. With more snow there’s some playful off piste to be had.
The real fun for more advanced or adventurous skiiers is over on the Hochfügen area. I loved the runs down, they were nice and long, challenging enough on piste to do a few times over. Here’s probably the best access to some decent vertical off piste. If I’d of had more time there I’d have certainly got a guide to take me out. However it’s not a huge area.
Snow was well maintained for early season. I went Christmas week, there had been a lot of early snow fall but none for nearly 10 days. It was a bit hard underfoot but otherwise no real icy sections.
This has the feel very much of a commuter ski area, the car park is huge and the town area closest to the lift has very little in the way of things to do or browse. Don’t come here expecting a vibe. The apres bars at the Gondola get decently busy and it’s nice after a day on the slopes but at night, you’re retiring to your own Hotel or apartment.
Hotel Post 4*
I was lucky to eat here with some guests and I can say hands down 10/10 some of the best food I’ve ever been served in a Hotel, even 5* establishments. As classically trained Chefs they were inclined to agree, it was every well executed and very high quality ingredients. The guest restaurant itself has also been recent refurbished and it’s high end without being pretentious.
Every evening is a 4 course meal, but the portions are manageable, and if you’re particularly hungry after a day on the slopes there’s a self serve salad, meat and bread course as well as a cheese board at the end.
If you want a relaxing ski holiday where you’re happy to go back to the hotel and settle there for the evening then I would highly recommend this. They’ve also got a great Wellness area with all the usual Sauna, steam rooms and jacuzzi as well as heated outdoor pool with inside access and inside pool as well. Once again all recently refitted to an extremely high standard (2021)
Plus, you can walk to the Gondola in about 3 min.
The bar could do with a few more staff but that’s likely a pandemic thing, also they couldn’t serve a Cosmopolitan because they could only do what was on the menu? I think they need a real barman or mixologist, but these are unprecedented times after all.
Zillertal Arena Ski Area
Again, mostly lovely wide pistes, well maintained with a good kids learning area right outside the from Gondola up from Zell am Ziller (Rosenalmbahn)
This is very much a journey area, you ski down and lift up along the adjacent valley, towards the towns of Gerlos and Konisleiten. There’s not a whole lot on the Zell am Ziller side. So if you’re not a fast skier or you’re not with fast skiers consider how far you venture or you might find yourself stuck down the valley and having a long wait for a bus back to Zell am Ziller if that’s where you’re based.
Otherwise, it’s about a 2 or 3 days of skiing at best on piste if you’re advanced, even better if you play around in the off piste.
There’s not a lot of challenge here for you on piste, that’s with the exception of…
The black run down to the Karspitzbahn Gondola is no joke, I loved it. The last bit surely has to be a HaraKiri rival, it was *steep* but the conditions were good so it was fine – I think the only reason I found the Harakiri worse was because it was in totally flat light so I no idea how steep it was or what I was skiing on. [Fun Fact: It was ice]
Zell am Ziller
I didn’t do a whole lot of exploring but this is a much bigger town than the other 2, if you plan of staying here make sure to check your transport options. Between the train station and the Rosenalmbahn it’s a 30min walk, so depending on where you stay, check ski bus stops. The restaurants are more concentrated around the train station and river, it gets a lot sparser as you go towards the lifts which are more on the outskirts.