“Here I have finally found a place of quiet, a place of peace, the like of which I could have only wished for,” wrote Johann Wolfgang von Goethe about Tirol in 1829.
The state of Tyrol in Austria is separated into North and South-East Tirol by a 20-kilometer wide stripe, known as Alpine divide. The state’s territory is located within the Eastern Alps at the Brenner Pass, the highest mountain in Tirol is the Groβglockner. With the height of 3,797m is also the highest mountain in Austria. Visitors to Tirol can experience a majestic and enchanting mountain landscape. Stunning region offers countless outdoor activities in both, winter and summertime. Many visitors come to Tirol to leave behind their worries, escape the stress and be at one with the nature. With more than five hundred peaks over 3000m, more than six hundred glaciers along the main alpine ridge, lush green meadows and charming huts, Tirol has truly a unique landscape. Though I’ve visited Tirol by a car, places are accessible also with public transport.
Charming Salzburg relies mostly on tourism due to its spectacular architecture, for being the birthplace of composer Wolfgang Mozart, connection to the Sound of Music and to connection to Sound of Music. Beyond Salzburg’s two biggest money-spinners – Mozart and The Sound of Music – hides a city with burgeoning arts scene, manicured parks, amazing architecture and concert halls. Salzburg is dominated by churches, castles and palaces. No wonder, that the quaint old town has been declared as World Cultural Heritage. One can spend every minute in the UNESCO-listed Altstadt (old town) drifting from one baroque church to the next majestic monument. When in the Altstadt be sure to visit the Salzburg Dom Cathedral, St. Peter’s Monastery, Hohensalzbur Fortress and Mozart’s Birthplace. Everywhere you go, the scenery, the skyline, the music and the history send your spirits soaring higher than Julie Andrew’s octave-leaping voice.
2. Hinterglemm and Saalbach
Two villages Saalbach and Hinterglemm, resting hidden between the Alps, offer unforgettable mountain world. In summertime, seven cable cars whisk you to the panorama view mountains of Kohlmais, Reiterkogel, Schattberg, Zwölferkogel, Asitz and Wildseeloder where you can savor stupendous view of the imposing alpine summits. For the hikers, mountains provide more than 550 km of marked hiking trails and mountain bike routes, adventure-experience paths. Most of the hotels and guesthouses in Hinterglemm provide you with a Joker card, which include free usage of cable cars and also buses connecting the towns. I’ve manage to see the top of Reiterkogel (1480m) and Zwölferkogel (1984m) in Hinterglemm and, for me the highlight of all, Schattberg in Saalbach (2020m). The view from the top is breathtaking. On a sunny day one can enjoy panoramic views from the Schattberg peak. It’s a high mountain in the Kitzbühel Alps. Though the sun was peaking behind the clouds, the wind made it quite chill. On the ground was around 20 degrees Celsius, however on 2020 meters was below 15.
- Zell am See
Amid the lakes, mountains, and glaciers lies marvelous alpine town Zell am See. It’s an instant heart-staler with its blue lake (Zeller See), pocket-sized center studded with brightly painted chalets, surrounded with snow-capped peaks of the Hohe Tauren. The main attraction in the town is without doubt the lake, which has the shape of a peanut, with an area of 4.7 square kilometers. This picturesque Alpine town it’s not a rustic village like most of its small Austrian competitors, but a bigger lakeside town with a charming old center. Though popular in the summertime due to the lake, Zell am See is one of the most significant Austrian ski resorts, the all year glacial resort Kitzsteinhorn in Kaprun, the Maiskogel in Kaprun and the Schmittenhöhe in Zell am See open an area of 130 km of pistes and 54 lift systems. During the summer take a walk along the lake, rent a boat yourself or enjoy a ride and a glass of wine or a beer on a boat cruise.
Innsbruck is a larger mountain town and the capitol city of Tirol state. It sits in a narrow valley, restrained by the mountains which rise around it. The center of Innsbruck is, like in many, if not all other Tyrolean cities, called the Old Town or Altstadt. It is pedestrian walking area with shops, bars and restaurants all around, there are a lot of beautiful Baroque-style buildings throughout the city. I recommend staying in a hotel outside the Old town, since it’s cheaper and it will be just around 15 minutes’ walk to the Altstadt. Tyrolean capital wows visitors with its sights and its height. Strolling through the old town district makes you feel like you’re on the set of a medieval movie; buildings are very colorful, various shades of yellow, green, rose and blue. Looking up, you’re surrounded by Nordkette Mountain Range, the city’s natural skyscrapers. The best part of Innsbruck is that the Alps surround you in every direction.
The Zugspitze belongs to the Wetterstein range of the Northern Limestone Alps and it’s the highest peak of the range. The fastest and shortest connection from Innsbruck to Zugspitze is through the mountain pass Fernpass in Tyrolean Alps in Austria. The road offers you astonishing views of the Alps. The border between Germany and Austria goes right over the mountain. There used to be a border checkpoint at the summit, since both countries are now part of the Schengen zone, the border crossing is no longer needed. We visited the highest mountain in Germany from the Austrian side in the town of Ehrwald. A ten-minutes ride with Tyrolean Zugspitze cable car will cost you 42 euros (up and downhill ride). The top station is at 2950 meters above sea level, next to the summit of Zugspitze (2962m). The Zugspitze cable car started operating in 1926 and the ride offers you amazing views across the peaks of the eastern Alps. If you’re coming to Zugspitze from the German side, take a ride with a railway. the Bavarian Zugspitze Railway runs inside the northern flank of the mountain and ends on the Zugspitzplatt. Even though the peak was wrapped in the clouds, standing on the “top of the world” was still breathtaking.
If you’re already so near Bavaria in Germany, take trip across the Austrian German border and visit the famous, romantic castle Neuschwanstein. The most famous Europe’s castle is truly fairy tale-like. It was constructed in 1869 as the private summer retreat for King Ludwig II, but unfortunately, he died before the castle was completed, so he never got to see it in all the glory. The setting of the castle couldn’t be more idyllic; it is perched over one of southern Bavaria’s most beautiful gorges and overlooks the Alps, making it one of the most photographed sites in all of Germany. The castle is “pretty as a picture”. More than one million visitors per year visit Neuschwanstein. So expect huge crowds. We were unlucky, because the visit of the castle was sold out for the afternoon. The view outside was still worth coming, it was a dream come true. If you know exact time of visiting, I would recommend reserving tickets online. It will guarantee you the entrance and you will skip the long line for the tickets. Ticket office is located in the village of Hohenschwangau below the castle. From there you can take a ride with a bus or walk up to the castle. The best view of the castle is supposed to be from the Marienbrucke, but the bridge is closed due to the construction work since August 2015.
Hallstatt it’s an Austrian dream. What you see it almost too beautiful for word. It’s one of the most peaceful places in the world. This small postcard like town is overlooking lake Hallstatt and it is commonly referred to as one of the most beautiful lakeside towns in the whole world, due to its charm and surrounding gloriously mountain range. The main attraction is the picturesque town itself, the main attraction is the picturesque town itself, which will definitely have ended up on lots of holiday snaps. 7000-year-old village has a vast history and it is built into a mountain surrounding the lake. I’ve only had couple of hours to kill in this charming town, so I’ve missed a view of the town from a boat on the lake. I’ve also couldn’t go on a 70 minutes long tour of the salt mine. Hallstatt has the world’s oldest salt mine. For the best view of the lake take a panoramic funicular railway up the mountain and enjoy the amazing view from the Skywalk. Impressive viewing platform on the mountain Salzberg offers a unique panoramic view over lake Hallstatt and the massive mountain scenery.