10 Places in Tirol You Simply Have to Visit in 2021
1. The Perfect Place to Stay a While: The Frischmannhütte
Best time: June – October
Region: Ötztal Valley
A sigh breaks the silence: “Can’t we just stay here?” my dad asks. I’m sitting with my parents on a rock just south of the Wenderkogel mountain. It is our first stop of the day, but it certainly won’t be our last. We are in Köfels, a village high above the Ötztal Valley. A church, an old restaurant, a little row of houses, more animals than humans – picture-perfect – even the clock decided to stop here.
“No, we have to continue for a little bit longer,” I answer. The prospect of further amazing views keeps us going. However, we don’t get very far. A wooden bench next to the Waalweg trail near the end of the Fundustal Valley is too tempting. We cannot resist and decide to take a short break. Above us the Geigenkamm ridge reaches high into the sky. Alpine roses blossom around us. We can hear the the rushing waters of the Waal river close by. To be honest, we could stay here for hours. There are so many tempting spots for a break. Eventually we manage to tear ourselves away and continue to the Frischmannhütte, an alpine hut on the other side of the valley. After a hearty meal I find myself drawn to the Fundusfeiler peak. “You go ahead,“ my parents say. „We’re enjoying this terrace so much, we’ll stay here.“ I do as they say and make my way up to the top of the mountain at 3,000 metres above sea level. To be honest, I would like to stay up here longer – here on this peak, enjoying each and every ridge and summit on the horizon. But I’d better get going – after all, I’ve got a long descent ahead of me.
My parents have already started hiking back down into the valley, but I find them at the Hintere Fundusalm. The delicious „Knödelsuppe“– a typical Tirolean soup with dumplings – is already on the table. „Now that’s what I call a warm welcome!“. We catch the last rays of the day before the sun disappears behind the mountains. Time to crack on. Arriving back at the car, my father lets out another sigh: „It’s so amazing where you live. How about we stay here for a while?“ Slowly but surely, the last day of my parents‘ annual holiday in Tirol is coming to an end … – Jannis Braun
The Frischmannhütte hut. Photo: Jannis Braun
2. Winter Walk to the Brunschkopf Peak
Best time: Winter
A winter walk is probably not the first thing you think of when you hear Seefeld. However, apart cross-country skiing, a day on the well-maintained winter hiking trails is the perfect way to explore this high plateau from a new perspective. The crunchy snow, fresh air and sparkling snow are amazing. I’m going to pull on my hiking boots for an adventure through the deserted Fludertal Valley. The walk starts in the centre of Weidach. The path leads to the idyllic nature preserve of Wildmoos, where you can watch the cross-country skiers gliding across the landscape. For those who want to continue a bit further there is the option of continuing to the top of the Brunschkopf mountain. I highly recommend this extra loop, as it offers marvellous 360-degree views of the whole region. On your way back you can stop at either the Wildmoosalm hut or the Lottenseehütte hut for a warm drink and some hearty local food. This trail is also part of a multi-day winter hiking trail which gives winter walkers the opportunity to explore region on foot – including an overnight stay in a mountain hut. – Martina Nairz
View from the Brunschkopf mountain looking across to Seefeld. Photo: Olympiaregion Seefeld /Stefan Wolf
3. Hotel Seebichl: Time to Recharge your Batteries
Category: Food & drink
Best time: All year round
Region: Kitzbühel Alps
Located on the shores of the Schwazsee lake, the Hotel Seebichl offers cosy accommodation and a welcoming restaurant with a radically regional approach. The milk is from the farmer next door, edible wild herbs are foraged from the forests and meadows around the hotel, and even the rice is from Austria. The result? Creative dishes prepared with modern as well as some old, traditional methods. Champagne, which can be found pretty much everywhere in the high society hotspot of Kitzbühel, is off the menu here. Indeed, the only wines they have are 100% made in Austria. This gives small local producers the chance to showcase their goods. Favourites include Vermouth from the Schwarzer Vineyard in Lienz, East Tirol, which has also recently started producing a bitter aperitif similar to Aperol. When it comes to the food, „homemade“ and „regional“ are the name of the game – not the easiest way of cooking, but the team at the Hotel Seebichl remains true to its philosophy. Definitely a top tip for anyone keen to experience an authentic taste of Tirol! – Anna Lang
The Hotel Seebichl on the shores of the Schwarzsee lake near Kitzbühel is the perfect place to get away from it all.
Regional produce is a top priority here. Photos: Hotel Seebichl
4. Mysterious: The Secret of the King of Steinberg
Best time: Summer
Region: Kitzbühel Alps
For 2021 I would like to recommend something which impressed us during the summer of 2020: fighting against the King of Steinberg. No worries, you don’t need any weapons for this adventure – just a bit of logical reasoning, sharp eyes, skill, and good teamwork within your family. Why? Because to win the game you must solve a series of riddles – and this is only possible if everyone in the group works to together. There are eight stops at eight locations in the Pillerseetal Valley. This gives adventurers the chance to not only discover some of the most beautiful spots in the valley but also to try out some of the most exciting activities: rope walkways (the floor is lava!), alpine coaster, stand-up paddle, roller coaster, whitewater rafting – all rounded off with a bit of chillout time at the idyllic moorland lake in the evening. The best thing is that the mysteries don’t have to be solved all at once. In fact, you can also spread out the activities and the battle against the King of Steinberg over the whole summer. Once all eight stations have been completed you will get a great prize. We highly recommend this adventure – my kids and I loved it. Oh, and by the way, if you decide to stay in the Pillerseetal Valley for a whole week then you should buy the Pillersee.Card, which includes all the challenges and activities in one handy ticket. – Julia König & kids
Out and about battling the King of Steinberg.
5. Lizumer Hütte: An Oasis in the Heart of the Mountains
Best time: Early June – mid-October
As for so many people, the year 2020 wasn’t great for my holiday plans. Instead of driving along Portuguese coastal roads, I stay-cationed at home and explored the mountain trails of Tirol. And, to be honest, it was fantastic. As soon as it became clear that foreign travel would be a precarious undertaking, a friend and I started forging plans for an alternative summer holiday. I didn’t want to book accommodation in a hut too far in advance, so when we finally got round to it – just two weeks before our holiday – the choice was pretty limited. Many places were fully booked and had been for months. Our increasingly desperate search led us to the Lizumer Hütte, a hut en route from Navis in the Wipptal Valley to the Schlegeis reservoir at the end of the Zillertal Valley. I called the hut more in hope than expectation – and they had a room for us! As we arrived a few weeks later it was pouring with rain and the Lizumer Hütte seemed like a warm, dry oasis in the middle of the Wattener Lizum restricted military zone. A fine place to end our first day of hiking.
We were welcomed with calm energy – it was the first time during this difficult year that there was no trace of hustle and bustle: no stress, no Corona. The hut has been renovated, and standing in the WC – more like luxurious bathrooms – you can easily forget that you are at 2,019 metres above sea level. A special highlight for me as a climbing fan was the indoor and outdoor boulder wall. After a long day hiking there is no better way to relax than hanging around on the boulder wall for a while. The food – and schnapps – were delicious. The two friendly managers definitely know how to run the show – or, to be more precise, the hut. All I can say is, “Keep it up and see you next summer!“. Looking forward, this kind of holiday will definitely be more than just a Plan B. – Julia Müller
6. Discovery: Hinterhornbach
Category: Food & Drink
Best time: All year round
The most remarkable discovery of my adventures last summer in Tirol was Hinterhornbach. This side valley branching off the Lechtal Valley is often overlooked, though it is neither in a remote location nor particularly difficult to reach. The valley has just a few houses, no village centre and no shops – but you don’t need any of that around here anyway. There are two cosy guesthouses offering accommodation and delicious food – two more reasons to visit. One is the Landgasthof Adler, which I first visited a few years ago. The food is excellent and the renovated rooms are really cosy. Then there is the place I stayed this year, the Gasthof Hochvogel, named after the distinctive Hochvogel mountain in the valley. The views are phenomenal, the food is exquisite. I don’t need a luxurious spa and beauty programme – this is all the rest and relaxation I need. Simply wonderful! – Eckard Speckbacher
The Landgasthof Adler. Photo: Eckard Speckbacher.
7. Obernberger See Lake: Caribbean Vibes in the Heart of Tirol
Best time: Autumn
Region: Wipptal Valley
Yellow, blue, turquoise and green. Autumn hikes at the Obernberger See lake are a breathtaking experience, as nature showcases its beauty in full technicolour. Our hike leads through the idyllic nature reserve in the Obernberg Valley. Nature lovers will be fascinated by the Obernberger Lake at around 1,600 metres above sea level – the perfect place to recharge your batteries. The route starts at the Waldesruh car park at the end of the Obernberg Valley. From the Gasthof Waldesruh follow the trail left and walk into the Obernberg Valley, past the Obereinsalm alpine hut all the way to the shores of the lake. After completing the approach, which is steep in places, it’s time to take a deep breath and enjoy the view. The lake itself is characterised by its deep-blue water, the romantic Chapel of Maria, the imposing Tribulaun mountains and the quaint wooden bridge leading over the lake. After walking around the lake you can take the same route back to the start. – Pia Nickl
A little bit of Barbados in Tirol. Photo: Pia Nickl
8. Rock Climbing at the Reintalersee Lake
Best time: Summer
Last year I learned to appreciate the beautiful places around me even more. One place I probably visited the most was the Reintalersee lake near Kramsach. This beautiful spot in Tirol is not only great for swimming and sunbathing but also for a little bit of action – if you are looking for an adventure you should try the via ferrata, a climbing route with steel handholds and footholds as well as a steel rope throughout for safety. The view from the top is sensational.
The start of the via ferrata is not too far from the lake. There are actually two different routes to choose from: an easier option and a more challenging variant rated „E“ (very difficult). You should plan around one hour from start to finish. En route there is also a nice place where you can take a break and enjoy the view. However, even the easier option is relatively challenging – with a rating of „C/D“ it is not for beginners. The best thing about about it is that after finishing the climb you can enjoy the rest of the day at the lake. If you still have enough energy left you can take a walk to the nearby Berglsteinersee lake, which is also definitely worth a visit.
Tip! Directly next to the lake there are two restaurants serving excellent fish. – Denise Krug
The view from the top of the via ferrata down on Looking down over the Reintalersee lake.
Climbing with the Reintalersee lake in the background. Photos: Denise Krug
9. Fullmoon Sledging at the Inneralpach Valley
Best time: Winter
Region: Alpachtal Valley
Fullmoon parties – that’s yesterday’s news. Nowadays it’s all about fullmoon sledging! If you have the chance you should definitely try a little after-dark action on the four-kilometre toboggan run at the Faulbaumgartenalm hut. We took headlamps with us, but on clear fullmoon nights you don’t really need one – the moonlight reflecting off the snow is the best natural lighting you can wish for. The adventure begins at the small „Luegergraben“ car park. The walk up to the hut takes around 1.5 hours. The first section is through the forest, but after a while the trees clear and you will be able to enjoy fantastic views of the mountains at the end of the valley. The Faulbaumgartenalm hut itself dates back around 300 years. It is open throughout the day but closes in the late afternoon, so don’t expect any food or drink if you do venture up in the evening. There are a few sections on the way down, but most of the tobogganing back to Inneralpbach is pretty easy. For kids, it is also an adventure they’ll never forget. – Klaus Brunner
Sledging in Inneralpbach.
10. Thierbach: A Little Gem in Wildschönau
Category: Food & drink
Best time: All year round
The village Thierbach is a little gem just a stone’s throw from the bustling Inn Valley. It’s a place where time seems to stand still and where you can get away from the stress and strain of daily life. There’s more than one way to get to Thierbach. I usually choose to go by bike from Kundl, taking the “Saulaug” trail to the sleepy little village. I stop for a bite to eat at the Sollererwirt restaurant, where they offer traditional Tirolean food in an over 300-year-old dining room – the “Speckbacherstube” – or on the sunny terrace. Definitely a place on my 2021 bucket list – even though I have already been coming back for years! – Michael Walzer