Renewables are key enablers in the plight to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and cope with anthropogenic global warming. The intermittent nature and limited storage capabilities of renewables culminate in new challenges that power system operators have to deal with in order to regulate power quality and ensure security of supply. At the same time, the increased availability of advanced automation and communication technologies provides new opportunities for the derivation of intelligent solutions to tackle the challenges. Previous work has shown various new methods of operating highly interconnected power grids, and their corresponding components, in a more effective way. As a consequence of these developments, the traditional power system is being transformed into a cyber-physical energy system, a smart grid. Previous and ongoing research have tended to mainly focus on how specific aspects of smart grids can be validated, but until there exists no integrated approach for the analysis and evaluation of complex cyber-physical systems configurations. This paper introduces integrated research infrastructure that provides methods and tools for validating smart grid systems in a holistic, cyber-physical manner. The corresponding concepts are currently being developed further in the European project ERIGrid.