8th February 2023
If you’re off to the Tirol this season, we have some local secrets to let you in on. Even if you’re heading to the Austrian region’s most famous resorts, we’re pretty sure there will be things you don’t know. Let the locals tell you more. NEW
The capital of the Tirol is a Baroque town surrounded by no fewer than 13 ski areas.
You can wander around the elegant streets, have a coffee in a classic Austrian coffeehouse and take a cable car from the city centre up to 2,000m in 20 minutes.
Innsbruck is the perfect place to combine skiing and snowboarding with city activities, such as shopping, museums and spas.
Here at PlanetSKI, it’s one of our favourite bases in the Alps.
In the old town area, Helga Dengg and her partner Reinhold Brunhumer own and run the Restaurant Dengg Pause where you can eat something quite unique……
The Best Kiachl in Tirol
Kiachl is Austria’s version of a croissant.
It’s actually a cross between a croissant, a Yorkshire pudding and a doughnut.
Kiachl tastes best fresh.
According to the Tirolean tradition, Kiachl is served either sweet, filled with cranberries and sprinkled with powdered sugar, or salty with sauerkraut.
Helga Dengg‘s family were the first to sell them at the Christmas market in Innsbruck and they have been selling them there for 46 years.
“My grandma lived in the eastern part of Tirol, the Unterland,” Helga says.
“I would visit her every Friday and she would always cook Kiachl with runner beans followed by fruit compote.
“In Innsbruck you usually eat Kiachl with sauerkraut.
“The first Christmas market was held in Innsbruck 45 years ago. At that time not many people visited the market and it was easy to get a stand. We sold Kiachl – albeit not very many.
“At that time it was a dish which lots of people still made at home, so it wasn’t all that special.
“As the years went by more and more people came to our stand. Eating habits have changed, and today for many people eating a Kiachl invokes memories of childhood.
“Our recipe is, of course, top secret. But I can let you in on one thing: don’t spend too much time messing around with the dough – the more you handle it, the worst it becomes.
“After 45 years in the business it is now second nature. We still make the dough and the sauerkraut ourselves. The only difference is that the machines we use have got bigger.
“Of course we are proud of the reputation we have for our Kiachl. Sometimes I hear people saying: ‘It’s time someone else had a go.’
“In fact lots of other people have tried it – there certainly isn’t a monopoly on Kiachl in Innsbruck. But the fact is that I was out there all those years ago at the Christmas market when people laughed at us for selling Kiachl.
“Now the business is doing well everyone wants a bit of it.
“I think it’s fair enough to say that we sowed the seeds back then and now we are reaping the rewards.”
ST JOHANN IN TIROL
A family friendly resort where you can experience winter like ‘back in the day’ with skiing from your hotel door.
It’s less than an hour’s drive from Salzburg, has top ski schools for beginners and advanced skiers, a selection of family hotels and a charming city centre.
It’s a home-from-home with cosy huts and lots of comfort food.
Angerer Alm Hut
Annemarie Foidl runs the Angerer Alm hut near St. Johann in Tirol on the Kitzbühel Horn mountain together with her daughter Katharina and her son-in-law, Gerald Weiss, who is head chef.
Since 2008 Annemarie has been president of the Sommelier Union Austria.
With its wine cellar and outstanding food the Angerer Alm hut is a top tip for foodies in search of regional delicacies in a spectacular mountain setting.
The oldest farm in the resort, it provides ski in/ski out accommodation next to the Harschbichlbahn cable car.
There’s a rustic dining room with a fireplace and meals can be enjoyed on the terrace in good weather.
The Angerer Alm can be reached by cable car or on skis.
They serve what they have which means seasonal and regional products.
They use products from local suppliers, ingredients produced by farmers in the region, local venison and herbs from their Alpine garden and wine from their own cellar.
In the winter, the Angerer Alm is only accessible via the gondola lift. The last lift leaves before 16:00.
The Angerer Alm is:
- A member of Slow-Food Tirol
- In the Hüttenguide of Gault Millau 2018 (Guide to Tyrolean Mountain Huts)
- Awarded the Steinfederpreis Wachau 2018
“When I was 21 years old I was skiing one day and the cable car took us past the Angerer Alm hut. At that time my parents were in charge of running the hut.
“Back then I said to myself: ‘Next winter I’m going to do that.’ It was time for me to see what I could achieve on my own. My parents placed their trust in me and gave me the chance to run the hut,” says Annemarie Foidl.
“In 1989 I started developing my first wine list and expanded the wine cellar step by step. It went down really well with the guests.
“These days it is normal for many huts to have a wine cellar. In fact, the wines are often in better condition up here than down in the valley. That is thanks to the temperature, humidity and air pressure up in the mountains.
“And, of course, the cellar has to be very good as well. Mountain huts such as this one also provide excellent conditions to let cheese mature.
“Years ago, before ski touring became popular, I said to people that they should walk up here to the hut at night because it is so beautiful. That is the route I take when I go home. The snow crystals sparkle in the moonlight – it’s amazing to see.
“Then ski touring started to boom and now we have our own skidoo. That means I don’t have to go everywhere on foot anymore, but I still like to do it when I have the chance.”
SKIWELT WILDER KAISER BRIXENTAL
SkiWelt Wilder Kaiser-Brixental is one of the largest, most modern and sustainable ski resorts in the world.
And then, there’s the view – more than 70 peaks over 3,000m.
There are hundreds of wide easy slopes including rolling blue runs and long valley descents.
The longest possible one-way ski route is 80 km long. That’s the longest ski tour on the planet.
There are 80 huts and restaurants where you can sample traditional Tirolean fare.
For SkiWelt local Janine Gugglberger, every day should start the same way: at the top of the Hohe Salve.
“People often ask me, ‛Why the SKiWelt area’. And I just say: ‛You don’t have this variety of pistes anywhere else’,” she says.
The longest ski circuit in the world connects the SkiWelt Wilder Kaiser-Brixental with the KitzSki ski area.
You never have to go on the same lift twice on this 88km-long tour with slopes for all skill levels.
From Going am Wilden Kaiser it goes on groomed slopes across the Kitzbühel Alps to Hollersbach and back.
The tour can also be started from any number of SkiWelt locations.
Plan your route online on the KitzSkiWelt Tour planner.
Ischgl in the Paznaun, is the real Austrian deal with several gourmet restaurants and enough to occupy both serious skiers and snowboarders and those looking for a more leisurely experience in the snow.
It is one of the largest ski resorts in Austria, has snow-sure slopes from the end of November to early May, and more four and five star hotels and toque restaurants than any other winter resort.
It’s ideal for an authentic Austrian skiing break with a bit of extra luxury.
Top of the Mountain Concerts
Dominik Walser is a film and TV producer who has worked for many media outlets, including the BBC.
Each year he interviews the stars performing at the Top of the Mountain concerts in Ischgl. He is also involved in making music himself and for the past 14 years has been a member of the band The Nicknames.
The Top of the Mountain gig starts and closes each winter season.
Previous headline acts include Robbie Williams, Elton John, Tina Turner, Katy Perry, Pink, Jan Delay, 30 Seconds to Mars and Muse playing to a 20,000-strong audience.
“Robbie Williams was performing at the Idalp during one of our filming sessions. And Mariah Carey was really cool,” Dominik says.
“Before the concert everybody was saying how difficult she is, but she was actually really nice and self-deprecating.
“I am never nervous when I meet the performers. I never have been. I see it this way: they do their job, I do mine. Maybe I earn a bit less than they do – in fact, a lot less – but I always try to talk to everyone as equals.”
SKI JUWEL ALPBACH WILDSCHONAU
Ski Juwel Alpbach Wildschönau in Tirol celebrates its 10th birthday this year.
It is located less than an hour’s drive from Innsbruck.
Alpbach is officially Austria’s “most beautiful village”.
Ski Juwel has 25 traditional mountain huts serving traditional fare.
There are also many viewpoints boasting panoramic views over the whole region.
New this season in Alpbach is a detachable 6-seater chairlift with weather protection bonnet and seat heating, which replaces the Hornlift 2000.
The new top station “Top of Alpbach” has an observation tower as well as a platform with a panoramic view.
The award-winning GipföHit hut is a member of the Genussregion Österreich, an association of huts and restaurants promoting regional produce and local delicacies throughout Austria.
The hut is located at 1,900 metres altitude, just a few metres from the cross marking the summit of the Schatzberg mountain.
It is known for its fine food made using produce from the local region.
It is a popular meeting point for ski tourers and offers views of the Zillertal Alps, the Wilder Kaiser Mountains and the Kitzbühel Alps.
“Everybody works as hard as possible and tries to help the others if they need it. At the same time we also have fun and try not to take things too seriously,” say the owners, Stefan and Daniela Thaler.
“We also have our own farm with a traditional Tirolean breed of cows known as Tiroler Grauvieh. All the meat is processed here at the hut to make minced meat, goulash, burgers and steaks.
“Up here in the mountains there are always a few people who are never satisfied, even when the weather is fantastic. They want to hike as many kilometres per day as possible and forget to just relax and enjoy the surroundings. I can’t understand that way of thinking.
“Most of the ski tourers who come in winter are different. At the end of each season we put on an event for them. They have a good meal and a few drinks.
“Later on the guests can often be found dancing with their ski boots on. Those are unforgettable moments.”
ST ANTON IM ARLBERG
Often dubbed the “cradle of alpine skiing”, the Arlberg region has the famous pistes of St. Anton, the historical town of St. Christoph, the home-away-from-home feel of Stuben, the international lifestyle of Zürs, and the multiple-award-winning restaurants in Lech.
Skiing has been part of everyday life in the area for more than 100 years.
It is a place for both those who want a ski-only experience and for those as keen on good food and off the slopes entertainment.
Skiing the Valluga Peak
Born and raised in St. Anton, Patrick Bätz initially wanted to be a ski racer and later a professional golfer but a slipped disc put an end to those ambitions.
It didn’t stop the 26 year-old becoming a fully qualified ski and off-piste guide with the Skischule Arlberg.
“The fascinating thing about the Valluga peak is that it is the highest point in our resort. It is pretty tough – not everyone can ski down there,” he says.
“You need a head for heights and, in order to even ride the gondola to the top, you have to be accompanied by a qualified ski or mountain guide.
“The guide is responsible for the group and has to tell us how many people they are taking up onto the mountain.
“At the top there are two options: Valluga North and Valluga West. Valluga North is for experts only – there are some very exposed sections followed by a long, wide slope.
“Last year I was lucky enough on two occasions to carve the first tracks down the Valluga North after fresh snowfall. That’s a pretty cool experience.”
Zillertal has many traditional, family-run hotels and inns.
The region has good snow reliability and short lift waiting times.
There are picturesque pistes, fun family routes, snow parks and long challenging valley descents.
There are many huts that serve food all day long.
As well as downhill skiing there’s cross-country skiing, toboggan rides and hikes available.
Highest Craft Brewery in Austria
Tim Jones founded the highest craft beer brewery in Austria at 1,280m in the village of Tux in the Zillertal Valley.
Tux-Finkenberg is most well-known not for its beer but for its skiing, including on the Hintertux Glacier – the only ski resort in Austria scheduled to stay open 365 days a year.
Tim heard about a house up for auction in Tux the day after his son was born in England.
“I drove straight from the hospital to the airport and won the auction in Tux. We spent the winter holidays there and never went back,” he says.
Later he had a conversation with a friend working in a hotel.
“He gave me a glass of Guinness. I asked him, ‘Where did you get that?’ He said, ‘I made it.’
“In his small flat, which he shares with his girlfriend and their son, he had tubes hanging from the ceiling – like a huge spider’s web of brewing equipment.
“In some ways it was a bit like the TV series Breaking Bad.
“I had more space in my house so we ended up moving the whole set-up to my place and now we brew five different kinds of beer.”
MAIN IMAGE: © Wildschoenau Tourist Office/Moser Waltraud