Zillertal Alps

Key information: Zillertal Alps

  • A huge selection of great walks in this magnificent area of peaks and glacial beauty by the Austro-Italian border.

Walkopedia rating

  • Walkopedia rating88.5
  • Beauty34
  • Natural interest16.5
  • Human interest4
  • Charisma34
  • Negative points0
  • Total rating88.5

Vital Statistics

  • Length: Your choice
  • Maximum Altitude: 3,000+
  • Level of Difficulty: Variable

This walk description page is at an early stage of development, and will be expanded over time. Your comments on this walk, your experiences and tips, and your photos are very welcome.

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WALK SUMMARY

The Zillertal Alps are a huge area of peaks and glacial drama by the Austrian-Italian border, draining through numerous valleys into the deep, wide Ziller valley. Each of these tributary valleys is gorgeous and gives access to walking bliss.

Bits of the Zillertal are spoilt by its skiing popularity, but, while there are areas to avoid, there are areas of pristine landscape, and good summer lift-access to the high ground!

The Zillertal area is well loved, and well walked, so the more popular walks won’t generally feel that remote, although you can get away.

Its mountain huts are one of Austria’s glories, and there are plenty of them in this area, usually in superb or at the least very pretty and charming locations. Note, though, that you do need to book ahead. The contact details of huts in a number of the best areas are in the Cicerone books or can be found locally.

There are a plethora of great walks here, from short explorations to multi-dayers. You can spend a varied week day-walking here.

Multi-dayers

There are two main multi-day walks here:

Höhenweg (Zillertaler Rund Tour/ Rucksack Route/Berliner Höhenweg): one of Austria’s great walks: a marvellous 9 day (up to 80km) horseshoe around the high mountains, climbing for two days up the main eastern ridge to the high border mountains, where it traverses westward for four days below the high peaks, crossing three high passes, before descending the main western ridge for three days. It is a hut-to-hut walk, so heavy loads don’t need to be carried, but still a demanding walk.

Zillertal South Tyrol Tour: another gorgeous walk in the high mountains, most of which is actually in Italy, on the southern flanks of the range. 8 days (55km) or less, if you start at an intermediate roadhead.  It is, again, a hut-to-hut walk, so heavy loads don’t need to be carried. Relatively unknown, so expect fewer people.

There are other multi-dayers and, with the good huts, you can devise your own, to suit you and your tastes and capacities. Just look at maps and guidebooks and salivate.

Day walks

Great day walks abound.

Zillergrund: this eastern tributary has a tempting selection in the great bowl at its head, surrounded by 3,000m peaks, several of them nestling glaciers. The 1.5hr 500m climb to the superbly sited Plauener Hut at 2,364m looks like a joy.

Zemmgrund: this valley leads to another great circle of peaks and glaciers on the Italian border. Its lower reaches are forested, then, beyond a section of gorges, you are in immaculate highlands of perfect meadows below huge, serene peaks. The climb to the wonderfully positioned Berliner Hut is the day walk Walkopedia covets. Even better, you could overnight in the hut and explore the high slopes the next day – the hut is at the beginning of the Berliner Hohenweg and at the heart of the Hohenweg/Rucksack Route.

The Zamsergrund: another beautiful valley leading to the high peaks of the border ridge – and the 2,275m Pfitscher Joch pass into Italy. The 2hr walk to the hut on the pass is well known and loved. There are plenty of other good walks in the area.

In the northern end of the Ziller valley, above Mayrhofen, you can walk the eastern ridge via Laberg; and explore the western Reanken Niedermoor area beyond the ski scarring.

This can be tough walking in remote mountains with uncertain weather. Come fully prepared,

Have a look at TripAdvisor –  you should get good, current views on the area.

Walking in Austria  – Kev Reynolds for Cicerone: more than 100 walks in the Austrian Alps, including 9 in this area. Trekking in the Zillertal Alps – Allan Hartley for Cicerone is the book for the Hohenweg and the South Tyrol Tour. As usual, inspiring books (indeed, Walkopedia was alerted to some of these walks by them), packed with valuable information, including good detail on the routes. As Austrian maps are good, Walking in Austria has less on each walk than some other Cicerones, but that is fine. Recommended. Find relevant books on Amazon.

Other accounts: share your experiences

Your comments on this walk, your experiences and suggestions, and your photos are very welcome. Where appropriate, you will be credited for your contribution.

PRACTICAL INFORMATION

See also expedition planning, including our universal expedition checklist. Walkopedia encourages responsible travel.

Books and Maps

Suggest books and maps

Walkopedia loves Cicerone, probably the world’s best collection of walking guides. Find these and other books on Amazon.

Books on this walk (support us: find these and many more using our Amazon search box) 

Walking in Austria  – Kev Reynolds for Cicerone: more than 100 walks in the Austrian Alps, including nine in this area. As usual, an inspiring book (indeed Walkopedia was alerted to many of these walks by the Cicerone), packed with valuable information, including good detail on the routes. As Austrian maps are good, it has less on each walk that some other Cicerones, but that is fine. Recommended.

Trekking in the Zillertal Alps – Allan Hartly for Cicerone. Excellent book on the Höhenweg and the Zillertal South Tyrol Tour.

Find these and other books on Amazon.

Other books (support us: find books using our Amazon search box)

Find these and other books on Amazon.

Maps

Alpenvereinkart – Walking/Ski Maps. Easily bought locally.

Stanfords: A good online specialist source of worldwide maps (it is also good for guidebooks). Also try Maps Worldwide.

Best times to walk/weather

Best times to walk

May/June to September/October, depending on how high you want to walk. That said, Spring and Autumn are good times to walk, as they avoid the busy high summer months of July and August.

Weather

Generally fine in season, but come prepared for unpredictable mountain weather (wet fronts can last for days) and cold nights.

For detailed weather information, have a look at: www.worldweather.org or www.bbc.co.uk/weather/world/country-guides .  

Getting there/transport/permits/fees

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Munich is the nearest main airport. You can then head on by train (right up to Mayrhofen) or bus, or hire a car and drive. Skyscanner is an excellent (relatively new) site for finding the flights you need; or look at what’s available on TripAdvisor.

Public transport is generally excellent – and integrated, with [trains between the cities and plentiful buses, so it is viable to get to most places this way.

Car hire is reasonably easy.

Local taxi services generally exist in the towns, can (eg) take to or pick you up from a roadhead, or transport luggage.

Possible problems, health, other warnings

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  • Altitude: Likely to affect you a bit on the higher ground.
  • Mountain weather: snow, rain, severe cold and wind are possible at any time of year and the weather can change rapidly. Come prepared.
  • Heat and strong sun. Carry enough water and protect yourself.
  • Heights: can be dangerous; not for those who have difficulties with heights.
  • This can be remote country: help can be hard to get if things go wrong.

See also the websites in our useful links page for more detailed, and up-to-date, information.

Safety and problems: All walks have inherent risks and problems can arise on any walk. Many of the walks featured on this website involve significant risks and possible problems. This website cannot, and does not purport to, identify all actual or potential risks, dangers and problems that may relate to a walk or a country. Any person who is considering undertaking this walk should do careful research and make their own assessment of the risks, dangers and possible problems involved. They should also go to “Important information” for further important information.

Make sure you have appropriate insurance.

Guided or independent?

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Independent

You can walk here independently, but you will need to be self-sufficient, so come fully prepared.

Guided/supported

Some people form or join organised/supported expeditions, particularly to do multi-day walks. This can have advantages – the firm will have chosen the best routes, will book you into huts etc. And, they can arrange “slackpacking” – ie, having your bags carried from one night stop to the next, and walking with a day pack only, although this can limit the selection of walks you can do, or you can need to carry night kit for some sections if you want to get remote.

Walking here with a knowledgeable guide has advantages. If hiring a guide locally, meet him/her and get comfortable before committing. Make sure all requirements are understood and agreed – including the sort of routes you want to take, any overnight arrangements, and, of course, remuneration!

Expedition organisers include:

http://www.mayrhofen.at/en/summer-vacation-family/berlin-high-walking-trail/

Check TripAdvisor for some reviews of this walk and walk organisers which may prove helpful.

PLEASE HELP Walkopedia by recommending any reputable tour organizers that you know of – local or otherwise. 

Accommodation

Mayrhofen and other towns/villages in the area make excellent bases.

The area has an excellent selection of accommodation, from comfortable hotels, to guesthouses, to flats and rooms to let, to camping. There are various local  accommodation websites. See Useful Websites below.

There are plenty of mountain huts in the area, usually in superb or at the least very pretty and charming locations. They provide good food as well as comfortable sleeping, from dormitories to double or family rooms. Most require you to bring a sleeping bag liner, although some a sleeping bag too. You do, though, need to book ahead. The contact details of huts in a number of the best areas are in the Cicerone books as well as in local websites.

With the mountain hut network so good, there is less desire to wild camp in Austria than in many countries, and there isn’t much clear information on the rules.  It appears to be discouraged, but, as long as you're sensible and low-key, there shouldn't be an issue. (Please let us know if this can be clarified further!)

See what the commentary on TripAdvisor is on possible places to stay – although do take their reviews with a pinch of salt, as they can be “interested”.

A good range of hotels can be found on the unimaginatively named but effective Hotels.com.

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Other information and tips

www.aacuk.org.uk   The Austrian Alpine Club (UK) is inexpensive to join, members benefit from reduced rates at alpine huts and full insurance cover.

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Useful websites and information

There are many websites with relevant information. Here are some that we think are useful or have been recommended to us.

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Other things to do in the area

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Other walks

Austria has a huge variety of great walks. There is likely to be a good walk within range wherever you may be. The various books have a multitude of ideas.

Other activities

Klettersteigs (via ferratas); climbing; mountain biking; some white water rafting; nature, including birdwatching; lake and river swimming.

Culture, history and people watching. Healthy ingredients turned into delicious if not necessarily healthy food!

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Safety and problems: All walks have inherent risks and potential problems, and many of the walks featured on this website involve significant risks, dangers and problems. Problems of any sort can arise on any walk. This website does not purport to identify any (or all) actual or potential risks, dangers and problems that may relate to any particular walk.

Any person who is considering undertaking this walk should do careful research and make their own assessment of the risks, dangers and possible problems involved. They should also go to “Important information” for further important information.

OTHER ACCOUNTS
share your experiences

Add your experiences, suggestions and photos. We would be delighted to receive your writing and ideas (which will be attributed appropriately where published).

Anyone planning an expedition to this place should see further important information about this walk.

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