Indian Summer: 10 Beautiful Autumn Landscapes in Tirol


One does not need to possess the eloquence of a poet, but it would come in handy in order to express oneself as Rainer Maria Rilke did in his famous poem "Autumn Day" (1902): "Lord, it is time. Let the summer go. / Lay your long shadows on the sundials, / And over harvest piles let winds blow". The comparison between the cycle of the changing seasons and the birth and demise of human life springs to mind. Autumn is the interconnecting period between the extremes of summer and winter. It is a special time. And one of great beauty.

Days are no longer oppressively hot; evenings are not uncomfortably cold. The thunderstorm period is over, a strong wind blows through the trees and clears the mind. The meadows are mown one last time and fruit is harvested. And these colours! Without doubt: notwithstanding spring, summer and winter, autumn is undisputedly the best time to explore Tirol – ten beautiful autumn landscapes from west to east.

1 · Pfundser Tschey

Autumn in Tirol: Pfundser Tschey, © Tirol Werbung/Mario Webhofer

This enchanting alpine valley with the beautiful ancient name of Pfundser Tschey lies above Pfunds, at 1,650 metres above sea level. It impresses autumn visitors with the perfect mix of summer warmth and a refreshing cool breeze, as well as scenery that soothes the soul; with pale-brown meadows, ready for winter dormancy after the final haymaking of season; a few hazy clouds scud across the horizon, only serving to accentuate the deep blue of the sky. Countless tiny barns of weathered timber, known as “Cooking Huts”, are dotted randomly throughout the countryside.

Eat. Autumn is wild game season and the Berghof in Pfunds serves up game dishes from their own hunting grounds, in addition to their traditional Tirolean and Austrian cuisine.

Sleep. As member of the HikersHotels* Tirol, the Hotel Berghof offers guided walks several times a week, as well as great value for money and friendly overnight accommodation. Sections of the four-star Hotel Traube in Pfunds date back to the 16th century, while the Lafairser Hof combines contemporary design with traditional architectural elements.

Experience.The Pfundser Tschey high alpine valley is located at around 400 metres above the village of Pfunds and starts at the renovated Greitermühle mill at Radurschlbach river. An easy 2.5-hour family hike takes you through the Tschey and Platzertal valleys to Platzalm. Those wanting to stay a little longer with the family can visit the Bergerlebnispark Serfaus-Fiss-Ladis mountain adventure park nearby.

2 · Piburger See Lake

Autumn in Tirol: Piburger See lake in the Ötztal Valley, © Tirol Werbung/Mario Webhofer

You don’t “stumble on” Piburger See lake by accident. A wooded ridge separates Piburg from the village of Oetz at the start of the Ötztal Valley. A massive rockslide, triggered in the last Ice Age, blocked the Ötztal Ache river back then, leading to the formation of the lake. While walking around the “Piburger”, as the locals affectionately call the lake, the last water lilies are in bloom, their petals an elegant white against the backdrop of green leaves, craving for the last few rays of autumnal sun. A few marsh marigolds enjoy a late second bloom on the shoreline, having taken root amongst the luxuriant evergreen sedges and reeds.

Eat. An afternoon snack of freshly caught trout or a slice of cake can be savoured on the terrace of the restaurant next to the lake.

Sleep. Those wanting to stay a little longer (often the case in the Ötztal Valley) will find welcoming accommodation at the Gästehaus Braunegger in Piburg, the rustic Gasthof Stern in Oetz or at the Posthotel Kassl in Oetz.

Experience. The road to Piburg branches off to the right just before the centre of Oetz. It takes around one hour to stroll around the lake from the pay and display car park in Piburg. Those with sportier ambitions can start the 4.5-hour (easy) walk in Oetz. Leaving from the post office car park, walk along the banks of the Ötztaler Ache river as far as the Wellerbrücke bridge, before heading uphill to Seehäusl and on to Seejöchl. From there one enjoys a splendid view of the lake and the surrounding 3,000m peaks, especially in the clear autumn air.

3 · Telfer Wiesen

Autumn in Tirol: Telfer Wiesen, © Tirol Werbung/Mario Webhofer

Many locals who like to take excursions in this region mistakenly call Telfer Wiesen the "Telfeser Wiesen". Telfer or Telfeser, it doesn’t really matter. All you need to know is that the Telfer Wiesen belong to the village of Telfes in the Stubai Valley, one of the most beautiful areas in Tirol for pleasant autumn walks or mountain bike rides with the whole family. Expansive, sparse larch forests in the mid-mountain range on the sunny side of the Stubai Valley please both the eye and the soul with subtle shades of yellow, orange and gold. One’s gaze is repeatedly drawn to the Stubai and Wipptal Valleys far below the scattered settlement, or up to one of three nearby mountains: the dome-shaped Patscherkofel to the south of Innsbruck, the craggy Serles and the mighty Habicht.

Eat. Landgut Thalerhof at the starting point of the walk impresses diners with great food made using local organic products. Dumpling lovers, as well as fans of traditional dishes such as Tirolean “Graukäse” cheese in vinegar and oil are well catered for at Alpengasthaus Stockerhof above Mutters/Kreith.

Sleep. Spend nights in an elevated location with views of the entire Stubaital Valley at the Landgut Thalerhof. Self-catering enthusiasts will feel right at home in the Pension Pircher with its comfortable, Tirolean-style apartments.

Experience. The circular trail leads along a more or less flat path from the carpark in Kapfers through the Telfer Wiesen. A particularly romantic and eco-friendly way to arrive is to travel on the Stubaitalbahn tram, which runs from Innsbruck to the Telfer Wiesen (stopping at Luimes, Telfes and Telfer Wiesen).

4 · Eulenwiesen and Maria Waldrast

Autumn in Tirol: Eulenwiesen meadows, © Tirol Werbung/Mario Webhofer

Nearer, My God, to Thee – those who undertake a pilgrimage in order to give thanks to his/her Creator, ask for forgiveness for any wrongdoing, or beg for help in a difficult situation, must be prepared to make a little effort. Otherwise, it does not count as a pilgrimage. Visitors who feel the need to visit the ancient pilgrimage site of Maria Waldrast should make their journey in early autumn. It is quite possible that stress and anxiety levels dissolve of their own accord as you walk through the vibrant larch groves and take a welcome break to catch your breath at the well-hidden Eulenwiesen meadows.

Eat. Maria Waldrast, one of the highest monasteries in Europe at 1,600 metres above sea level, impresses visitors with regional cuisine and a sun terrace with magnificent views. Both kitchen and cellar are able to cater for private parties for up to 60 people. The Hammer family at the Alpengasthaus Gleinser Hof above Schönberg serve Stubai specialities produced on their own farm.

Sleep. Not only hikers, climbers and seminar groups take advantage of the fabulous location of the Maria Waldrast monastery for overnight stays. The former monks’ cells are today simple yet beautiful guest rooms.

Experience. Maria Waldrast lies at the foot of the Serles mountain in Mühlbachl and can be reached via numerous hiking trails, including a 1.5-hour walk from Gleins in the Stubai Valley (public carpark) via the Gleinser Mähder and Eulenwiesen meadows. A tarmac road leads from Matrei am Brenner up to this pilgrimage site. Those who prefer mountain biking can discover the autumn landscapes around Maria Waldrast on stage 7 of the Tirol Mountain Bike Safari.

5 · Obernberger See Lake

Autumn in Tirol: Obernberger See lake, © Tirol Werbung/Mario Webhofer

Nature pools all its resources again on a sunny autumn day at Obernberger See lake, before gearing up for the long hibernation of winter. The water surface, flawlessly smooth like a precious mirror, shimmers in the most auspicious colours: the magical blue of lapis lazuli, delicate shades of turquoise with a hint of green, glittering Malachite and emerald. Expansive, yellow larch forests and the mighty Tribulaun peaks, sharply silhouetted against the incredibly deep blue sky, watch over this natural treasure trove at almost 1,600 metres above sea level. It is quiet, so very quiet and peaceful that you will be enveloped by calm when you stop to rest on a sun-warmed stone on the shores of the lake, and never want to leave this place again.

Eat. Gasthaus Vinaders is located directly next to the church in Vinaders, at the entrance to the Obernbergtal Valley (making it the perfect place to wind down after a pleasant day in the mountains). Tip: the landlady bakes all the homemade cakes herself.

Sleep. Gasthof Waldesruh rents out simple, affordable rooms with breakfast or half-board. Almis Berghotel in Obernberg focusses on stress-free, active recreation in nature and is the starting point of a Nature Watch hike. Head chef Seppi likes to gather fresh herbs himself, which he uses to season his delicious dishes.

Experience. Take the exit for Nösslach from the Brennerautobahn motorway and turn off at Gries am Brenner, in the direction of Vinaders in the Obernbergtal Valley. Leave your car at the pay and display car park at the Gasthof Waldesruh at the end of the valley and walk for around three quarters of an hour along a forest trail, or take the slightly longer meadow trail, to the lake. Ambitious mountaineers can climb the Obernberger Tribulaun peaks and savour the lake view from above.

6 · Schloss Tratzberg

Autumn in Tirol: Schloss Tratzberg, © Tirol Werbung/Mario Webhofer

Let’s be honest, you would not want to be responsible for the upkeep of a Renaissance castle. Although after walking through the publicly accessible parts of Schloss Tratzberg, one can assume that life cannot be bad within its magnificent walls. This stately castle, privately owned and permanently inhabited by the Goess-Enzenberg family, stands prominently on a hill in the Inn Valley between Jenbach and Schwaz and can be seen from far and wide. A visit to Schloss Tratzberg can be combined with a short, steep walk through a blaze of autumn forest colours and a rewarding excursion through the castle’s cultural history. Visitors have the opportunity to tour through the Habsburg Hall with its stunning murals, numerous pieces of invaluable antique furniture dating back to the early 16th century, lovingly furnished rooms such as the "Frauenstüberl" ("Women’s Lounge") and the inner courtyard with its ornately painted facades.

Eat. Those not on first name terms with the castle owners can order food at the Schlosswirt at the foot of the castle hill. In keeping with the wines from the count’s own South Tirolean winery, the Schlosswirt offers a traditional “Törggele” menu in autumn comprising typical autumn delicacies.

Sleep. Even if you are not a member of the aristocracy, it does not mean you cannot spend the night in noble surroundings, for example, at the four-star superior Hotel Schwarzbrunn in Stans. Includes a rooftop swimming pool.

Arrive. Exit the Inntalautobahn motorway at Schwaz and drive to Stans, where the carpark can be found hidden away at the foot of the castle hill. Either walk to the castle or take the "Tratzberg-Express" novelty train, which shuttles between the Schlosswirt and the castle.

7 · Großer Ahornboden

Autumn in Tirol: Großer Ahornboden, © Tirol Werbung/Mario Webhofer

The people of Tirol realised early on just how unique and valuable the “Großer Ahornboden” at the end of the Rissbachtal Valley is. A preservation order was issued for the Großer Ahornboden (as well as the Kleiner Ahornboden) as early as 1927. With around 2,500 sycamore-maple trees covering this alpine terrain in the Karwendel Mountains north of the Inn Valley, it does in fact exude an almost fairytale charm when the leaves turn from yellow to vibrant red during the autumn months. Those wanting to find out more should visit the Hinterriss Nature Park House for information on the fauna, flora and geology of the Großer Ahornboden.

Eat. There are plenty of ways to reward yourself for all your mountain efforts, for example by savouring the last warm rays of the sun on the terrace at the Rasthütte Eng as well as their excellent food. Visitors to the Gasthof Post in Hinterriss are treated to game and fish dishes from their own breeding stock.

Sleep. A special tip for an exclusive break is the Bauernladen farm shop at Eng-Alm, which rents out affordable rooms with shower and WC.

Experience. The Großer Ahornboden forms part of the 9th stage of the Eagle Walk from the Lampsenjochhütte hut to the Falkenhütte hut. It can be accessed via a toll road into the Rissbachtal Valley and is a popular destination for walkers and mountain bikers, as well as a starting point for many challenging hikes. Parents with prams and small children will find the walk easy from the Eng carpark into the “Enger Grund”.

8 · Tiefenbachklamm Gorge

Tiefenbachklamm gorge, © Tirol Werbung

The morning sun still bravely battles against the impending cold season. The autumn chill can, however, be felt keenly in the ice-cold spray of the waters in the Tiefenbach gorge. Sturdy shoes and a windbreaker are recommended if you want to enjoy an adventurous walk along the old wood drift between Kramsach and Brandenberg in the Alpbachtal Valley without catching cold. Where precious wood was once floated through the narrow gorge on the Brandberger Ache in dangerous working conditions, visitors can now watch daring kayakers paddling through the white waters and rocky outcrops deep below. After all, it is with good reason that the gorge is called the “Tiefenbachklamm” ("Deep River Gorge"). After about an hour’s walk, the gorge suddenly widens into an idyllic meadow – time to take your jacket off, enjoy a tasty snack on the restaurant terrace and catch a few rays of autumn sun!

Eat. The rustic Tiefenbachklamm snack bar serves homemade regional specialities and locally sourced products – there is also a children’s playground for those not worn out by the short walk through the gorge.

Sleep. The founder of this former inn painted the sundial, after which the Sporthotel Sonnenuhr is named, on the house facade almost 50 years ago. Today, the hotel is still run by the family, but with four-star comforts. Those who are looking for something extraordinary with noble ambience should book accommodation at Schlosshotel Matzen in Brixlegg. This high medieval castle is a beautifully renovated architectural gem, surrounded by a 200,000 square metre park.

Experience. The Tiefenbach gorge can be accessed from either Kramsach or the Aschauer Strasse in Brandenberg. During rainfall the path leading through the gorge is closed for safety reasons. The trail is well-secured, lthough it is recommended that you keep a close eye on your children and strap babies their prams. If your youngsters are not tired after the walk through the gorge, a trip to the Lauserland in the Alpbachtal Valley or the Hexenwasser Söll water play area at he Wilder Kaiser is thoroughly recommended.

9 · Berglsteiner See Lake

Autumn in Tirol: Berglsteiner See lake, © Tirol Werbung/Mario Webhofer

Admittedly, it is a matter of taste as well as a question of local pride – which the Tiroleans possess in abundance – that determines which of the many mountain lakes in the province is a personal favourite. The Berglsteiner See lake between Kramsach and Breitenbach, however, has most definitely got what it takes to rank highly on the list of Tirol’s best mountain lakes – especially in autumn, when the blazing autumn colours of the mixed woodlands are reflected in the deep green waters of this secluded lake, in a jaw-dropping display of natural beauty.

Eat. Those who want to know how a perfect day should begin must walk around the Berglsteiner See lake in the fresh morning air, before returning to the restaurant of the same name to enjoy one of the many breakfast options on the terrace overlooking the water. This does not mean, however, that an even greater sense of satisfaction can’t be enjoyed later on in the day in the form of a pan-fried fish from the lake, or a portion of Asian-inspired lentil soup.

Sleep. Stays in one of the holiday apartments at the Freundsheimhof are just as relaxed as at being at home, albeit a little more luxurious. Every apartment in the former farmhouse is equipped with a private sauna and wood-burning stove.

Experience. Walk to the Berglsteiner See lake along a forest road from the carpark at the eastern end of Reintalersee lake. This walk is also easily negotiable for all-terrain pushchairs. You can also drive to the car park at the Berglsteiner See lake in Oberberg via the Breitenbacher district of Haus. After your walk, a visit to the Tirol Farmstead Museum in Kramsach is highly recommended.

10 · Villgratental and Winkeltal Valleys

Autumn in Tirol: Villgratental Valley, © Tirol Werbung/Mario Webhofer

Holidays in the mountains don’t get more easy-going than this. Infrastructural modesty is considered a virtue in the Villgratental and Winkeltal Valleys, a fact that is highly appreciated by hikers and mountaineers seeking respite from the madding crowds. Here, visitors share hiking happiness with just a few likeminded people scattered amongst the soft alpine pastures – joined only by a number of laidback cows and the famous breed of Villgrater sheep, who still have no idea that their magnificent season of summer grazing will soon be coming to an end this year. If you point your nose towards the fresh oncoming breeze, the unmistakable aroma of blooming alpine clover will flatter your senses.

Eat. Those who like to be out and about in the great outdoors and enjoy fabulous food, should visit the Gault&Millau-listed Gannerhof, belonging to the Mühlmann family in Innervillgraten.

Sleep. The rooms and holiday apartments at the Natur Residenz Villgraten are fully furnished in stone pine and “Villgrater Nature” beds. As views of the surrounding mountains are absolutely priceless, they are thrown in free with every room!

Arrive. The Villgratental Valley branches away from the Pustertal Valley at Sillian. A roughly four-hour walk leads from Innervillgraten over the Ahornberg and Versellerberg mountains into the Winkeltal Valley and on to Außervillgraten. The route can also be walked in the opposite direction. A visit to the Schett family’s “Villgrater Natur Haus” is highly recommended.


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