WHEN it comes to snow reliability and picturesque alpine views, it’s hard to look past the Austrian Tyrol. Yet at the Tiroler Zugspitz Arena, a breathtaking resort an hour from Memmingen Airport and a little more from Munich, you’ll find all that white stuff — just without the crowds.
The main reason seems to be that, on the whole, people haven’t really heard of the place. Tourists visiting the resort, which lies in the shadow of the highest mountain in Germany, the 9,718ft Zugspitze, tend to be Munich dwellers on a day trip or Dutch skiers who have made the nine-hour pilgrimage to what, remarkably, is one of their nearest ski resorts.
‘We’ve had some brilliant winters in recent years,’ says Bram, a ski instructor in the local Lermoos area. ‘The snow has been great too — our last winter season was the best in at least least ten years.’
Seven ski areas make up Tiroler Zugspitz Arena, which totals 86 miles of pistes. We begin our skiing in Ehrwalder, directly under the Zugspitze, passing perilously perched mountain goats as we ride our first chairlift.
The slopes are wide and perfectly groomed, something we soon learn is delightfully commonplace across the resort, and the runs last long enough that you’ve earned your seat by the time you reach the lift.
The slopes boast the Gaistal Valley as a backdrop as well as looking back across the Tyrol, and the appropriately named Panorama black run must be one of the most scenic in Austria.
There’s plenty of opportunity for dreamy off-piste powder adventures in Lermoos too, if the snow is right, and it often is.
A lunch stop at the Wolfratshauser Hütte is essential, though sadly for beginners, it’s about as difficult to access as it is to pronounce. There’s an unprepared piste and a narrow ridge to traverse to get there, but the reward is the best local food on the mountain.
A day snowshoeing over to a stunner of a frozen waterfall is well worth the hike if you can tear yourself off the slopes, and families flock to the evening llama hiking, which is exactly what it says on the tin. The llamas don’t spit but they do prioritise eating trees over posing for a selfie.
The crowning jewel of the resort can be found on top of the Zugspitze itself. A nine-minute cable-car ride and you’ll find a viewing station with distinctive Tyrolean peaks on one side and views out to Munich on the other. You can ski on the dramatic Zugspitze glacier, where seven lifts take you back and forth from Austria to Germany, where once there was physical border control.
Eat the schnitzel and drink in the breathtaking Tyrolean views. They’re sure to go down even easier than the famous local schnapps.
Return flights from London to Memmingen start at around £63, ryanair.com