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During the winter months, Mayrhofen caters to a fairly young and boisterous crowd of Dutch, British, and German skiers. Until a couple of years ago, the resort had a poor reputation because of terribly long lift lines, but since the installation of a new 15-person per car gondola, the Penken-Seilbahn, Mayrhofen has become one of Austria's most popular ski resorts.

A number of wintertime activities, however, don't require traipsing around in stiff boots attached to long, skinny planks. The tourist office can arrange a hot air balloon ride or a panoramic alpine flight, horseback riding, sleigh rides, ice skating, or tobogganing. In the rare case of inclement weather, indoor activities include swimming at the "adventure" pool (Waldbadstrasse); soaking in a hot tub, sauna, or Jacuzzi; playing squash, billiards, bowling, or chess; and of course, browsing the shops along Hauptstrasse.

When the Snow Melts

In summer, this ski town transforms into a mountain paradise that appeals to a slightly older, and less raucous crowd. The tourist office likes to point out that the towns location at the end of the Ziller Valley can be deceiving. For hikers, this is only the beginning. Four side valleys branching out from Mayrhofen provide miles of trails for grand views of the valley, low-level walks or hikes, and hut to hut tours and glacier crossings for serious backpackers.

To get the full effect of the Ziller Valley, take a ride up the Penken gondola. Conveniently, it departs from the middle of town (between #470 and #476 Hauptstrasse) within walking distance of nearly every hotel. Even nonskiers will appreciate the spectacular views and the abundance of beer huts, outdoor bars, and restaurants serving staples like local brews on tap, hot mulled Glhwein, Wrstel, Wiener Schnitzel, Gulasch soup, and apple strudel. The Penken gondola is open year-round, from 9am till 5pm daily, weather permitting.

For the truly adventurous, Mayrhofen's most unusual pastime in winter and summer is paragliding. On a clear day, one can look up from the valley floor and spy a dozen or more brightly colored parachutes drifting down from the mountain tops to the valley floor. For 1,000 AS ($79), adventure-seekers can ride tandem with a guide for a 20 minute-long sail that ends at the Edenlehen Hotel