Tyrol in Winter: 9 Great Reasons to Visit Pillerseetal

Who I am
Valery Aloyants

wikipedia.org, lonelyplanet.com

Author and references

“Martina, come with me to the Pillerseetal”My friend Margherita told me in the first days of December.

Well, could I possibly say no? So at the beginning of January I went a few days in this valley, in the heart of the Austrian Tyrol, which is not only really beautiful, but where there are a lot of activities to do (even for non-skiers).

Discover with me 9 great reasons to visit Pillerseetal, the heart of Tyrol in winter!

The mountains around Waidring in Pillerseetal, Austrian Tyrol

Welcome to Pillerseetal! This valley in the heart of Austrian Tirol is not just beautiful, but also full of activities and things to do – not just skiing! Come and discover what to do in Tirol in winter with us!

1 - Pillerseetal is a paradise for skiers ...

Downhill skiing (alpine skiing)

Tyrol is home to some of the best ski resorts in Europe: With 330 km of slopes served by 94 ski lifts, the Pillerseetal is one of the largest ski areas in Austria.

In short, when we talk about the Alps and in this case of Pillerseetal we are talking about skiing.

The center of the village of Waidring, where I stayed during my ski week in Tyrol, is only a cable car ride from the Steinplatte ski area, which offers 42 km of slopes, including 18 km of blue slopes (the slightly easier ones), ideal for me who hadn't skied for at least 3 years.

Another ski area in Pillerseetal is Saalbach near Fieberbrunn which is also the largest area with 270 km of slopes and 60 refuges where you can stop for a glass of weissbier (weiss beer or my passion) or a jagermeister between one descent and another (which for me is the "jager" in the huts is one of the main reasons to go skiing).

The smaller area is instead Buchensteinwand with 22 km of slopes, easily accessible from St.Jakob, St.Ulrich e Hochfilzen, all a 20 minute drive from Waidring.

Cross-country skiing (skating or classic)

Margherita and I during our first ski lesson ... I'm much better than her (obviously not true!)

But when we talk about skiing we are not just talking about downhill skis.

If you love cross-country skiing, Pillersetal is truly a paradise: known as the "snow basin" of the KitzbĂŒhel Alps, here the snow is practically guaranteed from the end of November to Easter making it the ideal place for cross-country skiing, traditionally practiced at lower altitudes than alpine skiing.

Pillerseetal offers 110 km of rings of different length and difficulty (including that of difficulty level 0, in short, mine) suitable for both "skating" and "classic style".

The classification of the rings for cross-country skiing is the same as for the downhill slopes: blue means easy, red is intermediate and black means hard.

Just in Pillerseetal I discovered that there are precisely two styles of cross-country skiing: the classic style, that is when you proceed on 'tracks' with a movement similar to walking and the skating style, which is done off the rails, and is considerably faster. (and even more difficult!).

I tried the second style in Waidring's Dorfloipe ring with my wonderful teacher Lisa. The ring is in the center of the town, a stone's throw from the shop Intersport where you can rent all the necessary equipment.

Unfortunately my rather poor technique did not allow us to do the 10 km of the Panoramaweg, but it will be for the next time.

Other cross-country skiing rings can be found in Fieberbrunn where the Weissach Lope ring is immersed in a fairytale setting, a St. Ulrich at the Pillersee with the Weißleitenrunde ea ring Hochfilzen where the Dominik Landertinger / Feistenauer Loipe ring is located

If you are like me, that is total beginners, do not worry: in the Valley there are many schools and I assure you that after a couple of lessons you will be ready to tackle the first slopes on your own!

If you want to combine cross-country skiing (skating) with sport rifle shooting, you must try the experience of biathlon a Hochfilzen where an instructor of the Nordic Academy PillerseeTal will let you discover all the secrets of this Olympic discipline.

Biathlon is tiring, but a lot of fun!


I had never shot before and luckily I am totally denied, but I enjoyed it a lot.

2 -
 And also for those who don't ski


Tyrol has a wide range of winter activities, in addition to skiing and snowboarding. From grandchildren to grandparents, you are never too young or too old to enjoy the thrill of speed whizzing down the mountain on a sled.

Every town in Pillerseetal has a purpose built toboggan run, where in some cases you can have fun splashing down the mountains even late into the night.

There are various slopes, one of which is illuminated at night and starts in front of theAlpengasthof Oberweissbach (a traditional mountain restaurant) in Waidring, where it is also possible to jump down at full speed even after dinner (and after a couple of grappas) since the track is illuminated until midnight.

And for how many grappas you have drunk before don't forget to wear a helmet, the slopes are safe, but you never know.


The beautiful scenery of the Pillerseetal in winter

If, on the other hand, in addition to enjoying the spectacle of the snow-capped mountains while doing sports, you also want to take pictures (especially at sunset when the red light of the sun reflects on the mountains, creating unique opportunities for photography), snowshoeing offers a fabulous opportunity.

Especially for those who have already done so, renting your own snowshoes and walking around alone to discover the area is quite easy, but a local guide can really help you find the most beautiful route between the snow-covered fields and forests.

Lisa (exactly the same ski instructor) during the snowshoe hike told us anecdotes and stories about Waidring's life, its history and its inhabitants, before inviting us to have tea and biscuits with her.

3 - Walking by candlelight

We with the torches ...

When Lisa lit our candles, a warm soft light illuminated the darkness, small points of light that danced in the night.

We began to walk in line and the flames of our candles floated along the valley, surrounded by the cold winter air.

At night, the Pillerseetal region suddenly felt so magical that we stopped talking and all enjoyed the silence.

In fact, if you want to enjoy the magic of winter nights, you can book a walk with torches with Lisa (basically long candles)

The torches do not last very long, about an hour so this is a great activity to take a short romantic walk in the snowy forests, perhaps to have dinner, as we did.

In fact, from our chalet we arrived for dinner at camping e ristorante Steinplatte right outside the village, crossing snowy fields only by the light of our candles.

4 - There are new nice encounters

Meet Loriot, one of Barbara's beautiful lamas!

One of the most unique things that can be done in Pillerseetal (and not only here) is the meeting with the our new nice friends Ronaldo and Loriot, two beautiful lamas and their human mother Barbara dell ' Adventure Llama.

Originating from the Andean regions of South America, the llama has adapted very well to the cold and snowy climate of Tyrol and the  long trekking it is becoming an increasingly popular activity, not only in Pillerseetal but also in other locations in the Alps.

The main reason for the success of the lama trekking is due to the particular relaxing atmosphere, almost meditative, which is created in contact with these shy and sweet animals: for this reason, llama trekking is an activity that is also used with people who struggle with depression or anxiety or with children with autism.

When you walk side by side with your new lama friend you end up looking at the world from a different point of view.

Read more about my wonderful Lamatrekking experience in Tyrol!

5 - Enjoy relaxation and pampering

The Alpegg Chalets where I was staying: each has a private sauna on the balcony!

Skiing, snowshoeing, sledding, in short, visiting Pillerseetal in winter means doing sports, being active and having fun.

And there is nothing better than after a day spent among a thousand activities in the snow have a comfortable and warm place to return to and, why not, maybe in which you can take a sauna, letting the fatigue slip away from the body and let the tired muscles relax.

During this experience we were staying at the Alpegg Chalets a series of 3 wooden chalets with a private sauna on the terrace and a series of essential oils with which to sprinkle your body.

Each chalet has been furnished with extreme care by Conny and her husband for maximum comfort: wooden rooms with mattresses and warm winter duvets, a sitting area furnished with soft sofas and a terrace with sauna and sundeck.

But what more made me feel completely at home it was the care (in short, who doesn't like to feel a little special and very, very pampered?) with which I was treated by Conny: handwritten welcome cards for me, the bread for breakfast that I was left fresh from the oven on the door, jams and organic products and in the evening a homemade limoncino by Conny to celebrate!

6 - You feel you are spectators of "The Call of the Forest"

Welcome to the Call of the Forest!

Do you remember the brave dog Buck who is stolen from California to be sold as a sled dog in the Klondike to gold diggers and ends up becoming the leader in a pack of wolves?

The "Call of the Forest" is one of my favorite stories since I was a child so when it happened to me in Swedish Lapland to live afantastic adventure on a sleigh pulled by sweet Huskies I could not resist.

That wonderful experience left me with such tremendous nostalgia that when Lisa told me that St. Ulrich am Pillersee is held every year International Sled Dog Camp I took the car and literally rushed to the banks of the Pillersee to get a taste of those great emotions again.

In fact, every year dog teams come from every corner of Europe to participate in the competitions, to meet at night at the great gatherings in the light of bonfires and to participate in the various events organized on this occasion.

7 - We eat the best food in Tyrol ...

KÀsespÀtzle with cheese!

Skiing and fresh mountain air sure make you hungry, but there is a cure: the Tyrolean cuisine.

If you go to Tyrol you cannot miss the delicious Gröstl (sauteed potatoes with onion, meat and a fried egg), the traditional Kaspressknödel (flattened potato and cheese dumplings) or the tasty Schlutzkrapfen (ravioli with browned butter).

Tyrolean cuisine is traditionally based on meat, but "vegetarians do not fear almost every restaurant offers salads (even in buffet),
vegetable-based soups and many cheese-based specialties ”.

If not, there is always dessert: in addition to the apple strudel be sure to try the kaiserchmarrn, a cut pancake served with jam or cream!

Two excellent restaurants to sample Tyrolean cuisine in Waidring are Schneidermann e Sendlhof, recently opened, both highly recommended!

8 -
 in a cabin around the fire

La baita dove si dine with barbeque at Die Forellenranch

There are so many places for dine at Waidring, but by far the experience that I liked the most was having dinner at The trout ranch in a small wooden cabin, sitting around a big fire, with the snow falling outside.

You sit on comfortable wooden benches, covered with soft cushions in a circle around a large barbeque with the embers burning. Cabarets are brought full of all the good things: potatoes, fresh vegetables, skewers of fish and shrimp, steaks, corn on the cob and bread with garlic.

Everyone is given a small tongs to take the things you want from the cabaret and place them to cook on the grill placed directly on the fire.

In the end we did not manage to finish everything that was brought to us (and which we tried to wash down with abundant Weiss beer) and we had to reluctantly give up something.

After dinner we were brought different types of grappa to choose from. Needless to say, I tasted them all and they were all very good, but my favorite was definitely the pear one (although I must admit that the apricot one was not bad at all)!

9 - is close to Salzburg

Eh already this is a plus point. Because Pillerseetal is located about an hour and a half by road from Brenner pass, one hour from Innsbruck and one hour from that little gem that is Salzburg.

This means that you can get there quickly from Northern Italy and that if you want to visit a wonderful city (or rather two) just take the car and you are there. Maybe during the Christmas markets.

Getting to Waidring by car it's that easy. After the Brenner Pass, pass the Innsbruck exit and continue to theexit Wörgl Ost. From here continue straight on B178 direction Salzburg until you reach Waidring.

From the Brenner Pass it takes about 1 hour and 40 minutes to reach your destination.

Disclaimer: some of the photos in this post are courtesy of Margherita of @thecrowdedplanet. This post was written following my experience for iambassador's #BlogVille Europe campaign in partnership with the Tyrolean organization. The contents are my sole responsibility: as always, all thoughts and information, the how, what and why, are completely personal.
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