The Austrian Tirol is one giant natural playground that invites those seeking thrills and spills. Discover the best outdoor adventures, from hiking to paragliding...
With its jagged mountains, sweeping alpine valleys and gushing rivers and streams, the Tirol in Austria could have been sculpted with active adventurers in mind. Hiking may be the most famous summer pastime, but you can also throw yourself into whitewater in a rubber ring, set off into the valleys on four legs and enjoy some world-class mountain biking (with batteries to power you if it gets too tough). If that's not enough, there's rock climbing, paragliding and even some summer skiing...
There is nothing like being on your own halfway up a steep mountain coming face to face with Mother Nature. The Tirol in Austria overflows with superb opportunities for rock climbing, with the Ötztal Valley offering opportunities for all abilities, whether you have been rock climbing for years or just want to go along as a beginner. The Oberried area alone, for example, has around 100 routes that span the gamut of experience and skill levels. The hulking granite rocks in the Ötztal Valley could have been carved with rock climbers in mind.
Always dreamt of soaring high above the ground, free from the stresses of daily life? The Wildschönau is perfect for paragliding thanks to its favourable winds and climatic conditions. The set off point is near to the top station of the Markbachjoch cable car, at a height of around 1,500m. You will garner envious glances from day trippers taking the cable car up. The Wildschönau Flight School in Niederau offers courses and tandem flights with a highly rated practice area for those learning the ropes.
All areas of the Tirol offer superb mountain biking, with over 100 marked routes. There are lifts open in summer to get you to the top of runs without the usual muscle burning ascents. You can rent all the gear, as well as hire guides. If you're keen to test yourself on single track then check out the Blindsee Trail, which roars from Grubigstein mountain right down to the Blindsee lake, with a number of testing sections to tackle. Other famous adventures include the Grubigalm Trail, which kicks off at the top of the Grubigsteinbahn lift at a height of 2,032m. It barrels down 4.4 km and 650m in altitude. E-biking is also becoming very popular in the Tirol in Austria. Using a bike kitted with a small engine enables riders to take on tougher ascents and cover greater distances
In the mood for some serious whitewater thrills? Then you can have come to the right place. River tubing is popular here, where you fling yourself in to the Brandenberg River with little more than a rubber ring for company. You can go on a guided wild swimming adventure on the same river too – it’s a liberating feeling swimming in the cool, clear Alpine waters (and jumping in them too). Then there is whitewater rafting. Here you get to appreciate the scenery between the tougher hands-on rapid sections on the River Inn. For serious thrills, kayakers can enjoy a 17km adventure down the Imst Gorge or a testing whitewater kayak course.
Mountain biking is in Innsbruck's DNA. At the Innsbruck BikePark, various biking routes loop and twist with the impressive mountains as a backdrop. There are easy mountain biking tracks for beginners, together with tracks for only the toughest cyclists, with jumps, side-tracks and obstacles. Every June, Innsbruck is home to the Crankworx Innsbruck festival (taking place 12 to 19 June in 2019). Some of the best riders pull their most impressive tricks, racing at top speeds down the slopes as crowds watch on in awe. Find out more about visiting this adrenaline-fuelled festival here.
Many people presume that Austria only has skiing in the winter months – but not in the Austrian Tirol. A great place to head for summer skiing is Zillertal, where you will find the landmark Hintertux Glacier. This is Austria’s only all year round ski resort with all the trappings you would expect. It's great for beginners, with lessons available on the gentle slopes, but serious skiers will still find enough to keep them busy for hours.
E-biking is big in St. Anton am Arlberg. From the 21st to 23rd of June 2019, the region is hosting its second ever E-biking festival to celebrate the diverse biking routes that lie within its reaches. There will be night rides, campfires, guided cycle rides and races, as well as the opportunity to enjoy St. Anton am Arlberg's soul-stirring mountain scenery. Outside of the festival, there's plenty of opportunity to rent an e-bike from one of the many sports shops (including SportAlber, Intersport Arlberg, Sport Jennewein and Sport Pete). Using St Anton am Arlberg's interactive map, you can narrow down the best cycling route and head off on the long and winding roads.
Though the whole of the Austrian Tirol is well-equipped for families, the Alpbachtal is extra special. Using their handy route finder online, you can narrow down hiking trails specifically designed for families, lengthening or shortening the route depending on fitness levels. There's also geocaching, family-friendly cycling, kid's clubs and a range of play areas – including the Juppi Zauberwald ('enchanted forest') where a 2.4km path winds through fairytale woodlands full of quirky bridges, puzzles and viewing platforms.
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