Everyone knows the Austrian Tirol is brilliant fun to visit in winter, but few know of its summer lures. When the snow melts and wildflowers explode across the valleys, one of the world’s most deeply scenic escapes becomes even prettier. Here are eight reasons you should head to the Austrian Tirol this summer…
The Tirol really is staggeringly beautiful, with vaulting mountain peaks rippling with jagged ridges that look like they have been conjured up for a postcard. For once the reality is even more breathtaking than the brochure photos. Below the peaks skip glacial valleys that ease down into lush valleys where tinkling cowbells and trim little wooden farmhouses and mountain huts complete the beguiling mix. This quite simply is the Austria that you always dreamt of visiting. There are plenty of epic viewpoints too in each regions of the Tirol where you can take it all in. And plenty of ways to get active in this natural playground, from golfing and al fresco swimming, through to rock climbing and even paragliding.
When the snow and ice slips away any sadness at the loss of that beauty is quickly more than made up by the explosion of wildflowers that greet spring in the Tirol. Many stay right through summer — unlike in lots of other countries in Europe. Strolling, or even better, running across an Alpine meadow blanketed with wildflowers is one of the quintessential Tirol experiences. Exotic sounding species to look out for include Bavarian Gentian Bladder Campion and Turk’s Cap Lily. Make sure you have plenty of space on your camera or mobile phone.
The Tirol offers some of the most rewarding and spectacular walking anywhere in the world. On first sight the mountains look a daunting prospect, but handily almost 25,000km of marked trails snake their way around the valleys and hillsides opening up the most jaw-dropping terrain. It’s definitely not just about epics like the Eagle Walk — the famous long-distance trekking trail that vaults over 400km through the region. There are easier circular strolls handy for day-trippers, testing steep ascents for adventurers and short snapshots that give you a lot of the flavour of a long distance walk in a nutshell. In short, there's a walk for you. Cosy mountain huts await at the end of the day in a region where the needs of walkers are amply catered for.
It’s all here for fans of two wheels. This gorgeous region of Europe is blessed with 5,600km of mountain bike track with over 200km of dedicated testing single track too. These scoot by shimmering lakes and head up high mountain passes, opening up the best of the scenery as they go. The 1,000km Bike Trail Tirol is the most extensive mountain bike trail of the Alps, looping around the Tirol, handily spread into 32 stages. It is ably backed up by gentle valley floor cycle routes for families and adrenaline soaring tight single-track trails. E-bikes have become increasingly popular these days, suiting those looking for a little helping hand or just wanting to cover more ground. You just cycle as normal then flick on the power when you need a little boost. Mountain huts and bike friendly hotels await at day’s end.
These chocolate box traditional mountain huts are the very essence of Tirol mountain culture. In these cosy oases you are guaranteed a warm welcome, whether you are lucky enough to be staying the night or are just coming in to fuel up on delicious cuisine. Fresh homemade chunks of bread are always on hand to dip in hearty soups and enjoy with the bacon and cheese produced in the mountains. Another savoury treat is Tiroler Speckknödel — boiled bread dumplings laced with bacon that are delicious with sauerkraut and salad. Sweet toothed diners can tuck into Moosbeernocken. These wild mountain blueberries are best simply prepared with sugar powdered pancakes. A cold beer or a pick me up pine schnaps are the perfect accompaniments, especially after a long hike.
The Tirol loves to celebrate and has a rich tradition of yearly summer fairs and festivals. We are talking those characterful traditional festivals awash with hearty Tirol culture, through to extravaganzas that see hundreds of people hiking high up into the hills. There are foodie festivals, music festivals and mountain bike festivals that attract people from all over the world — enough to keep you partying all summer long. And as the locals are a famously friendly bunch you are always welcome.
Forget any idea that the Tirol is an expensive place to spend time in. A swathe of businesses have come together throughout the region to offer a string of summer visitor passes. These passes offer everything from access to the cable cars and lifts that stay open right through the summer, through to travel on public transports and free or reduced entry to a slew of visitor attractions. Plan your trip wisely and these passes will save you cash you can then spend in the local hostelries and restaurants. Dozens of these ace cards are available for use in various cities, resorts and regions dotted through the Austrian Tirol.
Yes, we know this list is about summer in the Tirol, but you can actually still ski in Austria high up at the glacier resorts during the summer months. At the Hintertux Glacier you are guaranteed 365 days of snow. While your ski mad friends have retreated elsewhere thinking that the season is over for another year, it’s still very much alive in the Tirol. It’s a thrilling experience topping up your tan under the bright blue skies as you ease along the crisp snow.