The Almabtrieb Mayrhofen in the Zillertal Valley is one of the best parades in Europe! Celebrate the cows coming home in this Austrian town with music, food, and beer. Whether you’re an American living in Germany or just visiting the region, I highly recommend making the trip!
Americans Living in Germany: Know Before You Go
The drive from Grafenwoehr to Mayrhofen is approximately 4 hours, but it’s just 3 1/2 hours if you live in Hohenfels. And from Garmisch-Partenkirchen, it’s just under 2 hours!
Similar to driving to Czech Republic, you will need to buy a vignette when you cross the border. As of 2020, a 10-day vignette costs €9,40 — significantly less than the minimum fine of €120 for driving without one.
And bring your tourist passport! Even if you only visit for the day, you are leaving the country where your visa allows you to reside. There may not be strict border control, but there’s always a chance for other check points throughout the country.
Are you PCSing to Germany? check out our step-by-step PCS guide to make your move as smooth as possible!
Almabtrieb Mayrhofen: The Alpine Cattle Drive
This cow parade is no ordinary procession. You may want to do a little preparation in advance!
About the Mayrhofen Cattle Drive
In the spring, farmers take their herds to the Alpine mountain pastures to graze. According to the seasoned farmers, the cows produce better quality milk when they dine on the high-altitude grass. (Plus, it saves them hay.) When the summer ends, they bring the cows back to spend winter in the barns.
But the welcome home parade wasn’t always as glorious! As the farmers “paraded” the cows back to their farms, they’d leave quite a mess behind. But over the past 40 years, many farmers have stopped herding them by hoof and now transport them by truck instead.
Once the cows reach town, the Almabtrieb Mayrhofen really begins!
Attending the Celebrations
I highly recommend that you arrive as early as possible. Parking may be in short supply, and after a long drive, you don’t want to waste time finding a spot. Plus, the first cows reach the city around noon!
The festivities will start around 9:30 in the morning and continue throughout the day. Like any good fest, there will be beer, games, music, and food available for purchase. And if you’re lucky, you can taste their home brew during the parade!
I also recommend wearing dirndl and lederhosen. Most people will wear it as well, and honestly, we felt a little under-dressed without it.
If you don’t want to spend the whole time at the parade, take the lift up for a more peaceful experience. The views of the Zillertal valley are really incredible!
Frequently Asked Questions about the Cattle Drive in Mayrhofen im Zillertal
If you have other questions, let me know in the comments!
The festival takes place on the first Saturday of October. But if that’s the weekend you want to go to Oktoberfest, there are other cattle drives in the region throughout September as well! They may not be as big though.
The cows in the Almabtrieb Mayrhofen spent the summer grazing in the mountains, and now they’re returning home to their barns! But they don’t just live in Mayrhofen – they also come from Zillergrund, Stilluptal, Tux and Ginzling.
I recommend the Hotel Mayrhofen – Der Siegelerhof. It’s a cute, quintessentially Alpine hotel with flowers on the balconies.
Watch the Cows Come Home in Tyrol, Austria!
Tyrol, Austria (also written Tirol) is a beautiful region to visit. While many go to ski, you should definitely spend time in Mayrhofen in the early autumn to watch the cow parade. And don’t forget to buy yourself a cow bell on the way out!