At the foot of the mighty Zugspitze, two countries, one ski pass and a delightful mountain holiday await

Straddling the high snowy slopes that frame the Austrian and German border, the Tiroler Zugspitz Arena is as scenic as it is welcoming. Breathtaking views emerge from all sides -- with seven ski resorts reached on one easy ski pass this is a family-friendly destination with a difference.

Mountain lovers have been flocking here since the first cableway was built in 1926. Today, from the very same viewing terrace, the vistas extend as far as Austria’s venerable Großglockner, Switzerland’s Piz Bernina and the Bavarian capital of Munich.

Seven ski resorts provide ample terrain and adventure -- 142km of pistes and 56 lifts (even more with the Top Snow Card -- more about that shortly) all easily linked by frequent bus services free of charge with a ski pass. All levels of skiers and boarders are well served, from the advanced and the cruisers to families with children. Snow is a certainty on the glittering Zugspitze Glacier, and the sun-kissed slopes of the Ehrwalder Alm and the Wetterstein area are favourites with families. The pistes on the Marienberg in Biberwier are ideal for practicing first turns. The Grubigstein in Lermoos offers a magnificent view of the Zugspitze and the interconnected area between Berwang and Bichlbach is another must. To cover even more terrain with one pass and two countries, The Top Snow Card accesses cross-border skiing and boarding across a total 214km of pistes and 87 lifts by including the German ski resorts of Mittenwald, Grainau and Garmisch-Partenkirchen in addition to the Tiroler Zugspitz Arena.

If that sounds busy, this enticing area isn’t only about sport and action. There’s plenty of typical Tyrolean tranquillity and relaxation at the foot of Zugspitz massif too. From the sporty villages of Ehrwald, Lermoos and Biberwier to the traditional hamlets of Berwang, Bichlbach and Heiterwang am See, snow-laden inns and candle-lit restaurants line quiet streets where warm hospitality and great cuisine is always on the menu. So too is the crisp apple strudel and fragrant glühwein.

After a day on the slopes in Lermoos and Biberwier, children – of all ages – are enchanted by free torchlight and llama hikes. Those keen for a little more action hurtle down dedicated sledge runs four nights a week. And on the Grubigstein in Lermoos and the Marienberg in Biberwier there’s the chance ride to shotgun in a state-of-the-art piste groomer. This season’s newest activity is sure to be a hit: set out in the snowy footsteps of Eskimos for a spot of igloo building. Accompanied by hiking guides from the Alpinschule Lermoos, snow adventurers learn to build a traditional block-style igloo with their own hands.

A wonderland more than 60km of winter trails weave through silvery landscape and pass by cozy huts. Away from the paths, snow-shoe hikers set out into stunning mountain scenery. For cross-country enthusiasts, at the foot of the Zugspitze is a 131km network of trails for classic and skate skiing. Certified cross-country ski holiday hotels cater precisely for the needs of cross-country skiers (ski storage and wax rooms, saunas, steam baths and convenient locations less than 300 metres from the nearest trail). And for a good dose of real Tyrolean tradition, head for Berwang and Ehrwald schnapps distilleries, or a visit to the goat farm at Ziegenstall Peter.

This winter, there is plenty that’s new including the Obere Karbahn, a 10-person gondola lift and mountain restaurant. Stay at the new luxurious Pure Resort Ehrwald whose luxury apartments, chalets and penthouses welcome small parties and large families alike. Zugspitz Resort Ehrwald reopens December 2019 with 47 new rooms and suites, and both the Heiterwanger Hof hotel and pizzeria and the new rooms and apartments at pension Zeegershof Heiterwang are under new management.

Picture days like these…. Meet at Ehrwalder Almbahn for 8am early-bird skiing with Skischule Total while any little ones enjoy a fun-filled group course. At lunchtime the family gets back together to tuck into a tasty Tyrolean lunch at the panoramic Tirolerhaus. The sun-kissed slopes offer varied pistes for both beginners and families (plus some challenging black slopes). A more adventurous day leads up to the Grubigstein in Lermoos with a guide from a local ski school to explore the pistes and many freeride routes that are especially fun in powder. After a fun-packed morning with fresh tracks, there’s no better place to stop than authentic Wolfratshauer Hütte, with an obligatory schnapps to finish a great meal off the beaten track. Break up your holiday with a snow-shoe tour or winter walk with views of the Zugspitze and Wetterstein mountain – a vision and days’ of memories certain to last a very long time.