Exploring Tyrol: Your Ultimate Travel Guide for an Alpine Holiday

Unlocking Tyrol: Your Ultimate Travel Introduction To The Austrian Alps.
15. September 2023
Tyrolian landscape

Are you yearning for that next vacation, that escape into nature, that return to your inner balance? Sometimes, the next getaway might seem distant, but here’s a little secret I’ve discovered during my 10 + years in Tyrol: just slip on your hiking boots and embark on an adventure.

Tyrol, with its breathtaking landscapes, offers a remedy for your wanderlust. In just half an hour, you could find yourself wandering through lush forests, and in a mere hour, conquering a 500 meter ascent to be greeted by a herd of jubilant sheep on an alpine meadow. Today, the innkeepers are absent, the kitchen remains cold, but the self-service fridge overflows with refreshing drinks. No fitness center in the world can replace this feeling. It’s a journey back to yourself. As you descend, every step lightens your mind, weighs down your feet, and makes the day even more beautiful. The worries of everyday life and work feel farther away than ever.

Even if you call Tyrol your home (like in my case), a mountain getaway is always within reach. Welcome to Tyrol!

Innsbruck in the snow

All About Tyrol: North Tyrol, East Tyrol, South Tyrol – An Explanation

Tyrol is one of Austria’s nine provinces and comprises two parts: North Tyrol (Nordtirol) and East Tyrol (Osttirol). North Tyrol stretches from the Arlberg in the west to the Wilder Kaiser Mountains in the east. South of it, geographically isolated, lies East Tyrol, bordering Salzburg, Carinthia, and Italy. This somewhat unusual separation has historical roots.

After World War II, as per the Treaty of Saint-Germain, South Tyrol was ceded to Italy, becoming an autonomous Italian province. It now rests between the two Austrian parts of Tyrol. To truly grasp the subtle differences, one must embark on extensive explorations. And, between us, even though I adore living in Tyrol, South Tyrol holds my (not-so-secret) affections.

Osttirol: East Tyrol

East Tyrol boasts the rugged beauty of high mountains, hosting the country’s loftiest peaks. Here, you’ll experience the untouched allure of a region that has successfully avoided the pitfalls of mass tourism. Discover more about East Tyrol in my East Tyrol Travel Guide, brimming with invaluable tips for planning your journey.

Nordtirol North Tyrol

In the past, the mountains were perceived as a source of danger, but today, they bring prosperity and tourism. Over the decades, both aspects have occasionally posed challenges to Tyrol. Today, many places consciously counteract these challenges and embrace what has always empowered the locals in Tyrol: experiencing idyllic mountain destinations. Whether you find yourself at the summit of one of the 500 peaks over 3,000 meters, taking an evening stroll through blooming alpine meadows, or swimming in one of the crystal-clear mountain lakes, you’ll feel the power of these cherished places. The mountains have a unique way of leaving an indelible mark on those who seek solace in their beauty. This feeling is often addictive, and you’ll find it wherever people passionately embrace the mountains.

Innsbruck: The Alpine Urban Capital

As a starting point for your Tyrolean adventure, the Tyrolean capital, Innsbruck, is ideal. Here, you’ll have one foot in the picturesque old town and the other in the mountains. It’s the best of both worlds.

For comprehensive Innsbruck travel tips, check out:

Unique and Unusual Discoveries in Tyrol

Tyrol, much like its residents, might appear tough at first glance, but once you crack its hard exterior and decipher its dialect, you’ll never get enough of it. However, remember, not every Tyrolean holiday needs to be sporty.

Sometimes, it’s enough to dream of the next winter while building your own skis. SPURart, based in Innsbruck, has introduced sustainable ski craftsmanship of the highest quality. In weekend courses, you can get hands-on in a former butcher shop’s workshop and unleash your creativity. You’ll determine the right shape, ideal length, and, most importantly, the perfect design. Then comes the bending of edges, laminating, inlaying, and cutting. The finished skis are not only conversation starters but also a beautiful reason to return to Tyrol when the mountains are blanketed in snow.

Autumn Hikes in Tyrol

But before the first snowfall, Tyrol beckons with its autumn charm. The golden-red larch forests in late October create perhaps the most beautiful hikes of the year. You can experience Tyrol’s version of „Indian Summer“ at the Eulenwiesen in Stubai, the Mieminger Plateau, or the Ahornboden in the Karwendel Mountains.

Must-Eat: Tyrol for Foodies

One thing is certain: when you arrive on an alpine meadow on foot, you’ve earned your culinary reward. Tyroleans are known for their hearty cuisine, offering everything from the beloved Kaiserschmarrn to various dumplings and stuffed Schlutzkrapfen and Tiroler Gröstl (full Gröstl recipe on the blog!). Once you’ve tasted Tyrolean Kaspressknödel, you won’t forget them. These dumplings are made by enriching bread dumplings with cheese, flattening them, and frying them to crispy perfection in hot fat. It’s not light fare, but paired with sauerkraut, salad, or soup, it’s a divine combination you shouldn’t miss.

Read more: The Most Delicious Tyrolian Foods: Everything You Must Try

Tiroler Grostl Recipe with potatoes in a pan from Austria

On smaller alpine huts, it’s common to be served a schnapps after (sometimes even before) your meal. The red-glowing Zirbenschnaps, made from young stone pine cones, is especially popular. The Swiss stone pine grows exclusively at higher altitudes, starting at 1,300 meters above sea level, and can live for several hundred years. Many old farmhouses still feature rustic stone pine-paneled rooms, and Zirbenbetten (stone pine beds) are the latest trend in hotels.

Bringing home a bottle of Zirbenöl (stone pine oil), a few drops can transport you back to Tyrol’s wild mountain world in seconds. Or at least into a peaceful sleep. It’s almost as if you’ve spent a day wandering through Tyrol’s mountain landscapes. What could be more beautiful?

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