Tirol, Austria – practical guide

Surrounded by the Alps, Tirol is a popular destination on the tourist map of Austria. It is not only visited by enthusiasts of winter sports but also in the summer it has a lot to offer when it comes to natural attractions as well as forms of spending time actively and cultural values.

Tyrol – most important information

Tyrol is a geographical and historical region in the Alps located in western Austria and partly in northern Italy. In Austria, it forms a federal state with the capital of Innsbruck, and in Italy, a region known as Trentino-South Tyrol with the main city of Bolzano. Interestingly, as a result of the division of this land between two countries, the Austrian part – North Tyrol and East Tyrol – are separated from each other by the Italian part – South Tyrol. Due to the stunning nature, Tyrol is the most visited region in Austria by tourists. It is known as the “Land im Gebirge”, which means “The land of the mountains”. The region offers numerous ski runs among glaciers and has a well-developed tourism infrastructure. The land also captivates with the characteristic architecture of cities and breathtaking villages.

Tyrol is located in the Eastern Alps and the valleys of Upper Inn, Alto Adige, and Upper Drava. Its area is built by alpine chains: the High Tauerns, the Zillertal Alps, Tuxer Hauptkamm, Stubaier Alpen, Ötztal Alps, Rhaetian Alps, Ferwall, Lechtal Alps, Karwendel, Kitzbühel Alps, Bavarian Alps, Algerian Alps, Welsh Werner Alps, Algerian Alps, and the Dolomites. The highest peak is the Ortles in the Rhaetian Alps (3905 m above sea level). Another important peak is the Wildspitze (3772 m above sea level). In the high parts of the mountains, there is permanent snow and glaciers.

Tourist regions in Austrian Tyrol:

  • West Tyrol and the Lechtal Valley – with the Inn River and the largest city being the city of Landeck. The region is a quiet place where you can relax among the stunning nature.
  • Paznauntal and Oberinntal valleys – a tourist region where the Arlberg is located, as well as the Paznauntal, Oberinntal, and Kaunertal valleys with a glacier,
  • Pitztal and Ötztal Valleys – The Pitztal, an offshoot of the Innu Valley, situated between the Ötztal Alps and the town of Imst. The Ötztal valley runs along the Ötztaler Ache River and is located near the border with Italy,
  • Central Tyrol – situated around Innsbruck offers many sights, ski runs, and entertainment for tourists,
  • Stubaital valley with glacier – located south of Innsbruck. Place of numerous ski runs,
  • Wipptal Valley – Brenner Pass – The valley runs along the Sill River south of Innsbruck. The border with Italy runs through the Brenner Pass (1374 m above sea level),
  • Achental Valley – situated by the Lake Achensee. It is surrounded by the Karwendel and Rofan mountain ranges, a pass between the Unterinntal valleys in Tyrol and the Isartal in German Bavaria,
  • Zillertal and Tux (Mayrhofen) – together with the Hintertux Glacier is one of the most important and largest alpine skiing centers,
  • Wörgl and Wildschönau valleys – offer a wide range of accommodation options, numerous holiday resorts, and great skiing conditions,
  • North Tyrol – famous for its wonderful mountain landscape. Offers several hundred kilometers of ski slopes, hiking trails, and bicycle trails.

Innsbruck

The largest city in Tyrol and its capital is Innsbruck. It is the cultural center of the region and, thanks to the proximity of the mountains, a great destination for both hiking and skiing. The most important monuments include Goldenes Dachl (Golden Roof) from the 16th century, medieval Old Town, Imperial Castle Holfburg from the 14th century, Ambras Castle (with works by, among others, Lucas Cranach, Anton Mor, Titian, van Dyck, or Diego Velásquez and the Spanish Renaissance Hall) and the baroque cathedral of St. James from the 18th century.

The Alpenzoo in Innsbruck is the highest located zoo in Europe (727 m above sea level) with over 2000 animals, including 150 species naturally inhabiting the Alps. There is also the Bergisel ski jump, where one of the competitions of the 4 Hills Tournament is held every year. Innsbruck hosted the Winter Olympics twice (in 1964 and 1976). There are two ski areas nearby:

  • Axamer Lizum – 41 km of ski runs, including 10 km of black ski runs, 27 km of red ski runs and 4 km of blue ski runs, 9 ski lifts and one gondola lift,
  • Glungezer – 22 km of ski runs, including 1 km of black ski runs, 12 km of red ski runs, and 9 km of blue ski runs, and 7 lifts.

Cities, towns and villages of Tyrol

There are many small towns and villages in Tyrol with unique architecture and Tyrolean vibes. It is full of medieval castles, fortresses, and charming nooks and crannies. One of the most beautiful cities is Hall in Tyrol. In the Middle Ages, the town developed thanks to mining salt. The old town is formed by a maze of narrow streets with the upper square of the Oberer Stadtplatz, where the 700-year-old town hall is located. The mighty Burg Hasegg castle with its characteristic tower and the minting museum dominates the old town. Hall in Tirol also houses the Salt Mining Museum.

Another place you should visit is the Rattenberg. It is Austria’s smallest town with just 400 inhabitants and a long tradition of glassmaking. It is located at the foot of a 10th-century fortress and is famous for its breathtaking old town with houses built in the style of Inn Salzach, which is typical of the village. It houses the Handicraft Museum and the Augustinermuseum, which presents works of Tyrolean art.

The medieval town of Kufstein in East Tyrol is dominated by the beautiful Kufstein Castle. The castle dates back to over 800 years ago, and today it houses several museums and exhibitions. It is home to the world’s largest open-air pipe organ- Heldenorgel. In the old town is the Römerhofgasse, a narrow avenue with buildings decorated with frescoes. Wasserbastei is the remains of medieval ramparts. In Kufstein, you can also find examples of Art Nouveau architecture.

Lienz is the largest city in East Tyrol – a cultural center that exudes a Mediterranean atmosphere thanks to its palm trees and blooming flowers in the warm summer months. It is full of cafes, shops, boutiques, and craft workshops. The most important sights of the old town include Antoniuskirchl, Fransziskanerkloster, Liebburg, and the town hall. The Schloss Bruck castle that dates back to 750 years ago is a former seat of the nobility and at the moment a museum and exhibition space with works of local painters Albin Egger-Lienz and Franz Defregger.

It is also worth visiting Achensee which is associated with a place for a romantic or family getaway, because it is very peaceful and quiet here and offers relaxation close to nature, with a pinch of luxury in a hotel with spa. However, this region between the Rofan and the Karwendel mountains also offers a lot of active entertainment: a few mountain trails with panoramic views, bike routes, and in summer kite surfing on the lake. It is also one of the best places in Austria to try a paragliding.

Read more about it here: What to do in Achensee to spend an exciting, active weekend? – ideas for #europanaweekend

How to get around Tyrol?

The best way to get around Tyrol is by car. Visiting the town with your own car allows you to go where you want and when you want. You can also rent a car, which is especially affordable for larger groups or family trips. In Tyrol, public transport is very well organized and includes buses and trains. You can also use the lifts when hiking in the mountains.

What is the best time to visit Tyrol?

The best conditions for a winter visit are from December to March when the lifts, slopes, and ski runs are operating at full capacity. The summer season lasts here from May to September. You can then walk on mountain trails, ride a bike, and enjoy other attractions that Tyrol is offering.

Where to stay in Tyrol?

When looking for accommodation, look for places away from the largest cities and resorts. The Achensee region is one of them. It has are atmospheric, romantic boutique hotels, often with spas, swimming pools, and even private beaches. These are the perfect places if you want to explore local cuisine, relax, and all in the picturesque scenery of nature with a touch of luxury and interesting design. I highly recommend Entners Am See hotel beautifully located on Lake Achenee. You can read more about the hotel here: Entners Am See – the most beautiful hotel by Lake Achensee in Austria

Things to do in Tyrol in the summer?

Hiking

Mountain hiking is an inseparable element of every visit to this place. Tyrol has numerous trails with varying difficulty through the Alps.

The most interesting hikes in Tyrol:

  • trail from Issjöchl to Issanger – leads from Issjöchl through the Halltal valley in the Karwendel mountain range andfor ro the protected forests of the Karwendel Nature Park to the Issanger pasture. There are numerous mountain streams, as well as abandoned tunnels and miner huts related to salt mining. It is a trail of moderate difficulty, 13.3 km long, the hike takes 6 hours and 30 minutes,
  • trail to Lake Seebensee – easy, recommended for families with kids. It leads from the village of Ehrwald at the top station of the Ehrwalder Almbahn gondola lift to Lake Seebensee situated between the peaks of the Vorderer Tajakopf, Vorderer Drachenkopf, and Ehrwalder Sonnspitze. The distance of the hike is 10,4km and takes about 4 hours. 

You can read more about it here: Outdoor paradise – trek to the Seebensee lake in Tirol – practical tips

  • trail to the Zireinersee lake – a hiking trail with an elevation gain of 1550 meters. It begins at the bottom station of the Sonnwendjochbahn gondola lift in Kramsach and goes through the Brandenburg Alps. Here you can enjoy the views of the mountain peaks and the lake Ziereinersee. The hike of moderate difficulty takes about 8 hours and is 17 km long,
  • trail Kleiner Mutzkopf – Schwarzer See – Grüner See – starts in the town of Nauders, located near the border of Austria with Italy and Switzerland on a chairlift that will take you to the peak of Kleiner Mutzkopf. Then it leads to the Lake Schwarzer See where white water lilies bloom in June, and further to the Lake Grüner See. From here the road goes down to the bottom lift station. It is an easy 10.3 km trail and takes about 4 hours,
  • trail Koppeneck – Eulenwiesen – starts at the top station of the Serlesbahn gondola lift in Mieders im Stubaital. On a hike, you can admire, among others the northern slope of the Serles mountain, the Eulenwiesen pasture with a beautiful viewpoint. The trail is one of the easy ones, it is 15.4 km long, it takes about 5 hours,
  • trail to Obernberger See – another easy trail. It leads from the Obernbergtal valley to the Lake Obernberger See (1600 m above sea level), goes around the lake, and then returns to the starting point on a different route. Tribulaun peak dominates the lake. The distance of the trail is 6 km long, the hike takes 2 hours,
  • trail Reintaler See – Berglsteiner See – Moosen – leads through the Brandenburg Alps (Rofan) from Lake Reintaler See near Kramsach through Lake Berglsteiner See to Moosen. An easy trail, recommended for family hikes, leads through mixed forests next to Kramsach. It is 6.1 km long and takes about 2 hours,
  • scenic trail Brandstadl – Hartkaiser – from the Brandstadl-Gondelbahn lift station in Scheffau you go to the Hartkaiser peak. The trail is easy, you can admire the Wilder Kaiser massif, the Brixental valley, Loferer, and Leoganger Steinberge, Hohe Tauern, and the Zillertal Alps. In June and July, the trail is blooming with alpine rhododendrons. The trail is 5.8 km long and takes 1 hour and 45 minutes.
  • trail Bärenkopf – the peaks surrounding Lake Achensee are among the most popular hiking destinations in the Karwendel and Rofan mountains. One of the most spectacular ones is Bärenkopf, a rugged mountain landscape with sparse rock vegetation and mountain pine fields in the southeastern part of the Karwendel Mountains. The Bärenkopf hike is one of the highlights of the region, as it offers a view of the valley and the intensely blue Lake Achensee.

Read more about it here: Hike to Bärenkopf around Lake Achensee in Tirol, Austria

Bicycle trails

Tyrol is a place of the largest MTB cycling events, including Ironbike-Race. There are also bike parks for enthusiasts of MTB. The entire network of mountain biking trails in Tyrol is 670 km long.

The best regions for mountain bike enthusiasts:

  • Paznaun – the Paznaun Valley is a place of Ironbike. There are many MTB trails with different levels of difficulty. In August, the Ischgl Ironbike takes place here – it is a challenging bike marathon, which also amateurs can take part in. Its most difficult variant is 79 km long and 3820 m of elevation gain. Many tourists choose to take the Landeck – Ischgl trail. When staying in this region, you can use the Silveretta Card all-inclusive, which each guest receives at the place of accommodation. It allows you to transport your bike free of charge on a lift,
  • Serfaus – Fiss – Ladis – there are many trails to choose from: from easy ones to demanding trails for freeriders and downhill runs in the bike park. Fiss is home to the largest bike park in Tyrol. The towns are situated on a plateau above the valley. The most interesting trails in this region are Komperdell Tour, SFL Tour, and Frommestrail leading from Schönjoch almost 2500 meters down to Ladis. The region is home to a popular Kona MTB-Festival bike event,
  • Singletraile in Nauders – the vast majority of MTB trails in Nauders lead towards Italy or Switzerland. Of course, crossing borders with these countries is not a problem. The trails lead through the Reschenpass, Val’d Uina, Schlinigpass, or along the Lake Schwarzsee. There is 20 km of new enduro trails. The most interesting in the region include 3-Länder Endurotrails, Grünseerunde, Plamordrunde, Sesvenarunde. The holders of 3-Länder-Summercard Gold can use the lifts and buses in the Reschenpass area for free in each of the three countries, and the card is also valid for some bicycle tours. It hosts biking events such as 3-Länder Bike Enduro on the Reschenpass and Alutech Green Days in Nauders,
  • Ötztal Valley – offers numerous trails with fast downhills. The largest pumptrack in Tyrol is located here. The best trails are Ötztal Mountainbike Trail, Hochsölden Panorama Trail, Flowtrail, Piburg-Seejöchl, Flow Trail Sölden and Hochoetz Panorama Tour. Numerous events are taking place here, including Singletrail Schmintzeljagd and Sölden Enduro,
  • Achensee – On the shores of Lake Achensee, there are mountain ranges: Rofangebirge to the east and Karwendel to the west. Two MTB trails lead through these ranges mostly on forest roads. The most interesting are Singeltrail Plumsjoch, Bike Trail Tirol: Guffertspitze, Mountainbiketour Feilkopf, Mountainbiketour around Unut, and Karwendeltour, which starts at Lake Achensee and is 305 km long. It leads through long descents among stunning landscapes. If it seems like the distance will be too long for you, you don’t have to go all the way around.

For road bike enthusiasts, in Tyrol there are trails between the peaks, valleys, and high mountain passes with long uphill sections and winding downhills:

  • trail Kaunertaler Gletscherstraße – difficult one, with over 2000 meters of elevation gain. It starts in Prutz and leads to the Kaunertal Glacier. The trail is 77 km long and takes 4 hours and 30 minutes,
  • trail Karwendeltour – difficult one, starts in Innsbruck and runs around the Karwendel range. On the trail, you will pass Lake Achensee, the village of Seefeld, and discover the areas of neighboring Bavaria. The trail is 156 km long, the ride takes about 7 hours,
  • trail Ötztaler – difficult one, starts in Innsbruck. It is a real road marathon. On the way, you can see the village of Sölden, take the ascent to Kühtai, cross the Jaufenpass and Timmelsjoch. The distance of the trails is 227 km and takes 15 hours, it is best to divide the bike trip into two days,
  • trail Ötztaler Gletscherstraße – difficult one, The glacier trail leads from the Ötztal valley to the Rettenbach glacier (2829 m above sea level), which is the highest point in Austria. You can get there on a road bike. The elevation gain is 1550 m, it is 31 km long and takes about 3 hours,
  • Brandenberg loop – moderate difficulty, starts and ends in Schwaz, runs on both sides of the Brandenberger creek, and is 44 km long which means it takes approx. 2 hours.,
  • trail from Innsbruck to Gnadenwald – easy one, depending on the variant, starts in Hall in Tirol or Innsbruck and leads along the Innu Valley to Gnadenwald. It is 53 km long and usually takes 3 hours
  • trail from Innsbruck to Mieminger Plateau – starts in Innsbruck and leads to the Mieminger Plateau. It runs along the Innu valley, is 67 km long, and the trip takes about 3 hours
  • trail from Kematen to Kühtai – difficult one, starts in Kematen or Innsbruck and leads to the Kühtaisattel pass (2000 m above sea level). It is 110 km long and takes about 4 hours
  • trail Zillertaler Höhenstraße – difficult one, runs in the Ziller Valley, has many ascents. It starts and ends in Strass im Zillertal. It isis 34 km long and takes approx. 4 hours.

Lakes of Tyrol – swimming, sailing, boat trips, windsurfing & kitesurfing

Tyrol has numerous beautiful mountain lakes. Some of them offer sailing, boat cruises, and even windsurfing and kitesurfing. Below there is a list of the most beautiful ones:

  • Vilsalpsee,
  • Hintersteiner See,
  • Piburger See,
  • Seebensee,
  • Traualpsee,
  • Haldensee,
  • Schwarzsee,
  • Walchsee,
  • Badesee Mieming,
  • Berglsteinersee,
  • Tristacher See,
  • Thiersee,
  • Achensee,
  • Haldensee,
  • Hechtsee,
  • Plansee,
  • Heiterwangersee,
  • Badesee Kirchberg,
  • Badesee Kirchbichl,
  • Rifflsee,
  • Frauensee,
  • Reintaler See,
  • Pillersee,
  • Lauchsee,
  • Natterer See,
  • Reither See,
  • Badesee Ried,
  • Badesee Rossau
  • Stimmersee

Read the full post about the most beautiful lakes in Tyrol: The most beautiful lakes in Tyrol, Austria

A bungee jump down the Pitzklamm Gorge

Austria’s highest suspension bridge – Pitzklammbrücke – add this place to your must-visit list if you love extreme sports. Here you can bungee jump down the 94 m deep Pitzklamm Gorge.

Tyrolean cave system – Spannagehöle

Karst phenomena can be found in the limestone alpine ranges of Tyrol – the Tyrolean Spannagehöle cave system consists of 10 km of corridors with interesting dripstone and rock formations. It is an ideal place for those who love speleology and geo-tourism.

Rafting & Canyoning

Rapid rivers, beautiful landscapes, deep gorges and canyons, and clean water make Tyrol a great place for water sports. There are numerous rafting, canoeing, and canyoning centers in the region that organize adventures on the water accompanied by adrenaline. The most popular rafting and canoeing spots in Tyrol include Imster Schlucht, Ötztaler Ache, Sanna, Großache/Tiroler Ache, and Tösener Schlucht. If you enjoy canyoning can visit the Auerklamm & Rosenklamm, Rosengarten Gorge, Tiroler Ache, or Frauenbach.

Paragliding

Paragliding in Tyrol is something that every visitor to this region should try. Flights always take place in tandem with an instructor. There are many great places to practice this exciting sport in the region. Regular paragliding events and competitions take place in Tyrol. The most recognized include the annual Stubai Cup which takes place in March, the Super Paragliding Testival and Expo in Kössen, the Alpenrosencup in Westendorf, and the Zillertal Open, during which the Austrian championship is held. The best places for paragliding in Tyrol are the Rofanseilbahn valley and Lake Achensee, the Zillertal and Stubai valleys, Serfaus-Fiss-Ladis, Alpbachtal-Wildschönau, the Wilder Kaiser range, St. Anton am Arlberg, and paragliding flights from Lienz to Italy.

Read more about this amiazing experience here: The best place for paragliding in Tyrol, Austria

Balloon flight

Another way to admire the alpine peaks, glaciers and from a bird’s eye view are balloon flights. This attraction is available at any time of the year. You can take a balloon flight from over 20 places between the Mieming Plateau and the Zillertal valley. Balloon events and competitions take place in Tyrol such as Alpine Ballooning Festival in Kaiserwinkl, International Libro Ballooning Cup in Kirchberg.

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The photos you can see in this post are the effect of my collaboration with Michael. We believe in the synergy effect, which is why we have decided to work together during this trip. We hope that it will be an inspiration for your European trips.

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