Time Out In The Tirol

STORY BY Patrick 14th May 2019

Summer is upon us and there’s the usual conundrum of whether to hit the beach or the mountains, enjoy a city break or stay in the countryside. 

The good news is there’s a simple answer: do it all, and do it all with just a short hop from London too.

The cosmopolitan, historic and all-round beautiful city of Innsbruck, surrounded by a magnificent circle of towering Alpine peaks, is the capital of Western Austria’s Tirol region – a land of almost endless hiking, cycling and mountain biking routes.

So, it’s very easy to tie a city break in with as much outdoor adventure as you can handle. If you really need a beach holiday there are lakes with beaches here as well. You can even go skiing or snowboarding in summer on the nearby Hintertux glacier.

If you want to use Innsbruck as your arrival and departure point for a bigger trip, Tirol is well located in the heart of Europe, with the German state of Bavaria to the north and Italy in the south as well as bordering Switzerland to the west.

Plus, it’s all very easy to reach, with a direct British Airways service between Heathrow and Innsbruck (where the airport is just a few minutes from the city centre) taking less than two hours.

City Break

Innsbruck is a vibrant destination year-round with a phenomenal selection of shops, restaurants and attractions – both modern and historic – to enjoy. Large parts of the heart of the city are pedestrianised so it’s a wonderful place to window shop and pop into a pavement café or two as you meander around.

Nowhere else in the world can you stroll through 800 years of Imperial Habsburg history, go shopping in the boutique stores of the Old Town and head up the mountain for outdoor fun so quickly and seamlessly.

But if you’d like to add a bit of a topic to your ambling, there are seven themed walks designed to take visitors to lesser-known parts of the city following routes on the trails of modern architecture, Alpine-Urban and other fascinating facts about incredible Innsbruck!

Hiking

With 24,000km of marked hiking trails to walk, Tirol is an Alpine paradise for walkers, with treks of every size and type from short 10-minute strolls to multi-day high-mountain hikes.

In Innsbruck itself, for example, a cable car actually starts in the city centre and 20 minutes later you are on top of the Nordkette mountain in high-Alpine terrain.

If all that choice is a little overwhelming, Innsbruck offers a free guided hiking programme on weekdays between 28 May and 26 October for holders of the free Welcome Card that’s given to people staying overnight in the city or the surrounding villages.

If you prefer an extra portion of comfort, then you could also opt for the Innsbruck Trek, a seven-day hiking tour around Innsbruck, guided or self-guided, available with a choice of two difficulty levels every morning. Your luggage is transported to your next accommodation with a choice of 3 or 4★ hotels while you’re hiking, so it feels great to walk light.

Biking

Tirol is one of the world’s leading destinations for mountain bikers with 5,600km of marked mountain bike routes including 230km of single trails and a number of bike parks. Every summer the planet’s best bikers arrive to compete in major world-class competitions, such as the gravity bike festival Crankworx. For the rest of us there are endless trails to enjoy – whether cross-country or downhill – and a rich support network of bike-friendly accommodation, restaurants, shops for supplies and spares or indeed renting a bike, pedal-powered or electric.

Take A Culinary Hike

Hiking in the mountains is a hungry business and along with those stunning views and enjoying the wonders of nature, taking a break to enjoy some good homemade cuisine in a mountain restaurant along the trailside, hopefully with a sunny terrace to sit on while you enjoy it, is definitely a big part of the pleasure.

Fortunately, the local Tirol Tourist Board is aware of this and has worked with renowned food experts and local mountain restaurants to create a range of “Culinary Hikes” to Alpine pastures that foodies, fans of home-cooked food and families will all love.

The nine selected hikes each have a maximum altitude of 500m and last less than two hours a piece. That excludes the time you’re sat down to enjoy scrumptious homemade produce such as local Alpine cheese, butter, yoghurt or bacon, and that’s just to start.

For example, on the hike to the Burgeralm in Rettenschöss, Kaiserwinkl, several types of cheese as well as homemade sausages and bacon await. The milk from the cows who graze nearby is processed right there at the Alpine dairy and turned into award-winning organic cheese.

Several of the hikes are designed especially for families with younger children or babies, and these have no more than 200m of altitude gain and require no more than an hour’s walking on paths which are mostly suitable for prams.

The child-friendly Mutterer Alm high above Innsbruck offers an adventure playground, tree houses and a water area. Instead of using the cable car down again we highly recommend taking the mountain carts, which are particularly popular for all age groups. Families are also happy with the generous portion sizes.

“Our favourite: the chicken skewers with salad. Such a good mixed salad is rare,” said Kathrin Siller, a family travel expert.

Where To Stay?

Wherever you choose to stay in the Tirol, the region’s villages and cities are abundant with nature, retain their original style and you’ll find the people are world-famous for their hospitality and friendliness. At the same time, the accommodation options offer a very high standard in every category for comparatively reasonable prices, so it’s a win-win-win.


Enjoy The Tirol with British Airways Holidays

British Airways Holidays offers a 24hr holiday helpline and deposits from just £75 per person, all with full ATOL protection. To find out more and to book your Innsbruck holiday visit ba.com/innsbruck


 

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