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As we tumble along, I catch sight of several onlookers waving and shouting to us on the banks and bridges, and one kid tries, and fails, to keep up with us on his bike.

Rudi encourages us to jump into the swirling water and hang on to the raft to be swept downstream before being pulled back in, spluttering, with racing hearts.

The next two days take me on a cross-country segway tour, along a high-rope garden, swinging in the treetops of Tyrol’s ‘lake village’ of Kramsach, and hiking on the steep, rocky outcrops of the 2127m-high Wiedersbergerhorn.

Speaking to local Markus Kofler, resplendent in his lederhosen, it seems I’ve only touched the surface of what the Tyrol has to offer. After I recount my adventures, he tells me that there are still hundreds of kilometres of mountain biking and hiking trails to explore.

The rivers offer not only rafting, but kayaking, canoeing and canyoning; the skies can be paraglided; and under our feet, cavers are delving deep into the mountain rock. It seems there’s no part of this verdant landscape that can’t be used for some active purpose.

My suspicions are confirmed upon my return to the hotel, where I get chatting to 25-year-old receptionist Helen.

“I came here for the winter season, because I love skiing,” she tells me. “But I stayed because I realised it’s fun all year round. So I’m still here – five years later!”

More on Austrian Tyrol at

Celia was hosted by Crystal Summer, which can organise all the activities described here, plus many more.

Celia also stayed at Hotel Alpbacherhof in Alpbach – one week costs from £545 per person on a half-board basis (including flights from Gatwick and transfer from Innsbruck)
Direct flights to Innsbruck are available twice weekly with easyJet starting from £45.49 one way

Eat, Drink, Sleep


Budget The cheapest option in Mayrhofen is to pop into Gasser, the local butcher, for a meaty snack on the go, for as little as a couple of euros. There are also tables outside if you have time to linger. 

Midrange After a nerve-jangling climb up the Hunteraner’s via ferratas, you’ll be ready for a traditional weiner schnitzel and beer at the Zimmereben Gasthaus. The delicious kaiserschmarrn (a sort of light, caramelised pancake split into bits) are a tempting treat. From about £4.50.

Luxury Just a few miles away in nearby Hippach is the gourmet restaurant of Hotel Sieghard. Chef Sieghard Eder prepares both regional and international dishes to an excellent standard, and there is a great view of the mountains to enjoy while eating. Expect to pay about £80 per head.


Budget Enjoy a few ‘medicinal’ schnapps at the cosy cellar bar, Apropos. Their Happy Hour generously runs from 8.30pm to 10pm and the bar is open until 4am. Drinks from £2.35.

Midrange A fun, friendly place with a modern, easy-going atmosphere is Coup and More. There’s an outside sun terrace, too. Drinks from about £3.

Luxury Named after Mayrhofen’s suicidal skiing slope, Harakiri is a neon-lit bar/ nightclub that keeps punters happy until 2am, with a good range of cocktails from £4.75.


Budget Gasthof Zillertal is housed in an old lodge, on the banks of the River Ziller, a short walk from the town centre. Choose from dormitory, double room or spacious apartment accommodation from £8.55pn.

Midrange Take a dip in the pool, then lie back on a lounger in Hotel Strass’s grassy grounds and watch the bright- yellow cable cars leisurely make their way up Penken, just metres away. From £525pppw on a half-board basis (including flights from Gatwick and transfer from Innsbruck).

Luxury The only five-star hotel in the Zillertal Valley is the Elisabeth, a charming, friendly establishment. It may be a little dated, but most rooms boast a four-poster bed and a balcony with great views up to the Hintertux glacier. From £130pn for a double room. 



Photos: Celia Topping,  Danny North, Austrian Tourist Board,

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Make it schnappy: Short break to the Austrian mountains
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