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Where to find the most winter fun in Europe

You don't have to crave a vertical drop-or even ski at all-to enjoy the winter mountain scene: ice bars playing popular tunes, a bowl of Gulasch Suppe, and a tall, cold beer are among the highlights of offseason travel. Read on, as we profile a winter resort in each of our three countries:

Austria: Mayrhofen

An easy two and a half-hour drive from Munich or Salzburg, the Ziller Valley begins at the town of Jenbach (population 6,000), and runs south following the Ziller River between the Tux Alps and the Kitzbühel Alps. At the end of the valley sits Mayrhofen, a town of 3,000 residents that grew from its origins as a summer haven for Viennese city folk to an 8,900-bed skiing and hiking resort.

One of Austria's liveliest resorts, Mayrhofen has steadily upgraded its lifts in recent years. The latest addition is a six-seater called the Gerent, that will usher 3,000 skiers per hour to the mountaintop. Next on the list is the 25-year old Ahorn cable car.