Ever since Franz Reisch slipped on skis and whizzed down the slopes of Kitzbüheler Horn way back in 1893, so christening the first alpine ski run in Austria, Kitzbühel has carved out its reputation as one of Europe’s foremost ski resorts. It’s renowned for the white-knuckled Hahnenkamm downhill ski race in January and the reliable excellence of its slopes.
The arms show an ibex on a mountain. The composition already appeared on the oldest seal of the city, known since 1362. The ibex probably is simply used as a common local animal typical for the mountainous area.
Skiing in Kitzbühel is a dream! With perfectly groomed slopes, a state-of-the-art lift system, and 145 miles of slopes, every skier will leave with a full heart. In addition to the world-famous Hahnenkamm Streif racecourse, a total of 57 lifts facilitate fun on the slopes for beginners and professionals alike.
Activities In winter there’s first-rate intermediate skiing and freeriding on Kitzbüheler Horn to the north and Hahnenkamm to the south of town. One-/three-/six-day passes cost €53/147/256 in the high winter season and €47.50/132.50/230.50 at all other times.
Dozens of summer hiking trails thread through the Kitzbühel Alps; the tourist office gives walking maps and runs free guided hikes for guests staying in town. Cable cars cost €18.80/23.50 one way/return in summer.
🏠🍽 Sleeping & Eating Rates leap by up to 50% in the winter season
Villa Licht – Pretty gardens, spruce modern apartments with pine trappings, living rooms with kitchenettes, balconies with mountain views, peace – this charming Tyrolean chalet has the lot, and owner Renate goes out of her way to please. Kids love the outdoor pool in summer.
Snowbunny’s Hostel – This friendly, laid-back hostel is a bunny-hop from the slopes. Dorms are fine, if a tad dark; breakfast is DIY-style in the kitchen. There’s a TV lounge, a ski storage room and cats to stroke.
Restaurant Zur Tenne – Choose between the rustic, beamed interior where an open fire crackles and the more summery conservatory at Hotel Tenne’s highly regarded restaurant. Service is polished and the menu puts a sophisticated twist on seasonal Tyrolean dishes such as catfish with wild garlic pasta and artichokes.
More info ℹ Getting There & Away Trains run frequently from Kitzbühel to Innsbruck (€15.80, 1¼ hours) and Salzburg (€30.30, 2½ hours). For Kufstein (€10.20, one hour), change at Wörgl.
🏞 Hohe Tauern National Park
Straddling Tyrol, Salzburg and Carinthia, this national park is the largest in the Alps; a 1786-sq-km wilderness of 3000m peaks, alpine meadows and waterfalls. At its heart lies Grossglockner (3798m), Austria’s highest mountain, which towers over the 8km-long Pasterze Glacier, best seen from the outlook at Kaiser-Franz-Josefs-Höhe (2369m).
The 48km Grossglockner Road (www.grossglockner.at; day ticket car/motorbike €35/25; h5am-9.30pm) from Bruck in Salzburgerland to Heiligenblut in Carinthia is one of Europe’s greatest Alpine drives. A feat of 1930s engineering, the road swings giddily around 36 switchbacks, passing jewel-coloured lakes, forested slopes and wondrous glaciers.
The Hohe Tauern is the oldest national park in Austria. It stretches across an area of 1.800m2 distributed across the three federal states of Salzburg, Carinthia and East Tyrol – making it also Austria’s largest national park. An area of 805m2 is located in the federal state of Salzburg, making this the most alpine region in Austria.
This national park is home to the country’s highest summits, the largest glaciers and a wide range of attractions known across the world. But this alone has not made this recognised nature reserve famous beyond the borders. In fact, the Hohe Tauern is well-known because more than a third of Austria’s diverse plant species and over half of the native animal species are at home here.
The major village on the Grossglockner Road is Heiligenblut, famous for its 15th-century pilgrimage church. Here the tourist office ( GOOGLE MAP ; 📞04824-27 00; www.heiligenblut.at; Hof 4;h9am-6pm Mon-Fri, 2-6pm Sat & Sun) can advise on guided ranger hikes, mountain hiking and skiing. The village also has a spick-and-span Jugendherberge ( GOOGLE MAP ;📞04824-22 59; www.oejhv.or.at; Hof 36;
Bus 5002 runs frequently between Lienz and Heiligenblut on weekdays (€16.40, one hour), less frequently at weekends.
Vorarlberg, which is situated in the very west of Austria on the border to Switzerland, is famous for the excellent cheeses it produces. Hay-milk cheese, alp- and mountain cheese from different regions and the “Sura Kees” offer something for every cheese lover.
Cut off from the rest of Austria by the snow-capped Arlberg massif, the westerly region of Vorarlberg has more than the touch of nearby Switzerland about it. The capital, Bregenz, sits prettily on the shores of Lake Constance and holds the Bregenzer Festspiele (Bregenz Festival;📞05574-40 76;
www.bregenzerfestspiele.com; hmid-Jul–late Aug) in July/August, when opera is performed on a floating stage on the lake. The real action here, though, is in the Arlberg region, shared by Vorarlberg
and neighbouring Tyrol.
Some of the country’s best downhill and off-piste skiing – not to mention après-ski partying – is in St Anton am Arlberg, where the first ski club in the Alps was founded in 1901. The centrally located tourist office (📞05446-226 90; www.stantonamarlberg.com; Dorfstrasse 8;h8am-6pm Mon-Fri, 9am-6pm Sat, 9am-noon & 2-5pm Sun) has maps, and information on accommodation and activities.
A single ski pass (one-/three-/six-day pass €52/148/262) covers the whole
Arlberg region and is valid for all 87 ski lifts.