The Austrian state of Tirol, with its breathtaking mountain views, picture perfect towns and villages, and clean mountain air, is often referred to as “the heart of the Alps.” Whether you want to hike high mountain pastures in the summer and fall, ski down one of the 500 mountains over 3,000 meters (9,843 feet) high in the winter, or visit one of its historic medieval towns, the Tirol Offers Spectacular Alpine Scenery no matter what time of the year you visit.
There are wonderful choices of where to stay in the Tirol. You could choose the small provincial capital city of Innsbruck with its landmark Bergisel Ski Jump towering over the city. Ruled for 600 years by the Hapsburg Empire, it has interesting museums and churches, and lively streets filled with boutiques, sidewalk cafes and restaurants.
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There are famous ski resorts like St. Anton, Lech or Kitzbühel for skiing and apres ski nightlife. Kitzbühel, a favorite of the rich and famous is especially fun at Christmastime when the pedestrian center of old town holds an outdoor Christmas market.
In summer, you might want to stay at one of the beautiful lakeside resorts like Achenkirch am Achensee, Austria’s largest mountain lake, Zell am See, or in a quaint village where you can hear the sound of cow bells in the distance.
My husband and I usually spend one or two weeks in this area while visiting Austria, dividing our time between a couple of our favorite hotels. The first stop on our visit this year was the town of Lermoos, where we returned to the Hotel Post located in the center of town. The hotel has wonderful views of the Alps, delicious food and a lovely spa. Our second stop was in the Stubaital valley, which is known for its glacial skiing most of the year, at the Spa Hotel Jagdhof in the town of Neustift im Stubaital. We enjoy the traditionally decorated lodge, the warm welcome that we receive at this family run hotel and its terrific spa.
This year, we added a third stop to our itinerary so that we could further explore the Tirol. In particular, we wanted to see the area known as the Hohe Tauern National Park. Our choice for this stop was the popular lakeside resort town, Zell am See.
We chose to stay at the lovely Hotel Salzburgerhof which is just a block away from the lake. I was expecting this hotel to be nice, but the Salzburgerhof is more than nice. From the wonderful suite with its own private sauna, to a restaurant that served innovative and delicious food, to having the top rated spa in Austria, everything at this hotel was perfect.
The hotel’s room price includes breakfast, a light lunch buffet, afternoon pastries, and a multi course evening meal.
Even though the desserts were very tempting each evening, we usually chose to make a cheese plate from the great choice of perfectly aged cheeses. The cheeses paired with truffle honey and fig mustard were terrific. After all, we had already had pastry in the afternoon and oh what a nice selection. As good as all the pastries looked, we had the warm cheese strudel with vanilla sauce each day. We couldn’t pass it by…it was delicious!
We left the lovely dining room each evening happy from a day of wonderful excursions, a delicious meal with good Austrian wines, and headed back to our room for a night’s sleep.
Even though I’m uncomfortable with heights, we decided to drive the world’s highest and most famous alpine road, the Grossglockner. The 48 km (30 mile) long mountain road with 36 hairpin bends takes you into the heart of the Hohe Tauern National Park. Austria’s largest national park is a spectacular region and the experience was memorable.
During this thrilling and beautiful ride through the park, we enjoyed many wonderful sights. The lovely little town of Heiligenblut at the end of the Grossglockner Road was lovely. We continued our travels and visited the town of Lienz and stopped at the Bruck castle before our return to Zell am See.
Beautiful churches, elaborately painted buildings, spectacular alpine scenery and the warm hospitality of the Austrian people, keep my husband and I returning to this wonderful Tirol region of Austria. I hope you will have the opportunity to visit someday…it is an unforgettable experience.