Tyrol is a western federal state of Austria in the heart of the Alps. The region is one of Europe’s most popular winter and summer destinations. It attracts nature lovers, culture junkies, and active tourists who like to spend their holidays in a place that is steeped in tradition. Use this guide to discover the Austrian Tyrol and plan your next trip.
Living in Tyrol is a continuous journey of discovery for us. We’ve seen a lot and learned a lot in the 10+ years we’ve had the privilege to live here. The result is this condensed guide to Tyrol to help orientate you if you’ve never been before or to discover something new on a return trip.
Fast Facts About Tyrol
|Known For||Rich cultural history and spectacular Alpine scenery that make it a popular destination for experiencing local traditions, skiing in winter, and hiking in summer.|
|Geographical Location||Western Austrian state in the heart of the Alps. Made up of North and East Tyrol. North Tyrol shares international borders with Germany, Italy, and Switzerland, while East Tyrol borders Italy only.|
|Population||Around 760,000 people|
|Highest Mountain||Großglockner (3,798 m) on the border with Corinthia|
A large part of North Tyrol is dominated by the Inn Valley with Innsbruck at the centre. West of Innsbruck lies the Tyrolean Oberland, encompassing this part of the upper Inn Valley and all its side valleys. Everything east of Innsbruck, excluding East Tyrol, is known as the Tyrolean Unterland.
Did you know?
There is also a South Tyrol, but it belongs to Italy. While this post is all about the Austrian Tyrol, there is an Italian extension of the region. South Tyrol was given to the Italians after World War 1 and is now an autonomous state in Italy where the Tyrolean culture is still very much alive.
North Tyrol Destinations
Popular Cities and Towns Along the Inn Valley
- Innsbruck – The capital of Tyrol is sometimes also called the capital of the Alps. With the Nordkette mountain range towering over it, a visit to Innsbruck is a unique alpine-urban experience. The city’s old town, with the famous golden roof at its centre, is filled with gems of the Habsburg era in Austria.
- St Anton am Arlberg – Surrounded by the biggest ski area in Austria, St Anton am Arlberg is especially popular among winter sports enthusiasts.
- Kufstein – Home to the impressive Kufstein Fortress, this town welcomes you as you cross the German border from Munich.
- Hall in Tirol – Not far from Innsbruck, Hall in Tirol has a beautifully preserved medieval old town.
Beautiful Side Valleys of the Inn
- Ötztal – A 65 km long valley and home of Sölden, the most popular village in Tyrol among overnight guests in winter. It was near Sölden where scenes of the Bond movie Spectre were filmed, resulting in a unique Bond experience called 007 Elements in the mountains above Sölden. It’s also in this region, on the border with Italy, where the famous iceman Ötzi was discovered. You can find out all about him at Ötzidorf in Umhausen, where a walk to the Stuiben Falls is also a highlight. The Hochgurgl/Obergurgl ski area is near the end of the Ötztal.
- Pitztal – Home to Austria’s highest mountain lake, the Rifflsee, and North Tyrol’s highest mountain, the Wildspitze at 3,768 m. The Pitztal Glacier at the foot of the Wildspitze is also Austria’s highest ski resort.
- Wipptal with Stubaital – The Brenner Pass that connects the Austrian Tyrol with South Tyrol and the rest of Italy, goes through the Wipptal. However, it is the Stubaital, a side valley of the Wipptal near Innsbruck, that is better known as a winter and summer destination for nature lovers. There are four ski resorts in the Stubaital, with the Stubai Glacier being the main attraction. In summer, you can walk along the Stubai High Trail or do a multitude of day hikes. The Alpine coaster at Mieders is a big family favourite in summer.
- Zillertal – The widest side valley of the Inn is easy to reach from the A12 highway between Innsbruck and Kufstein. The main town of the Ziller Valley is Mayrhofen, about 23km from the entrance to the valley at Fügen. The Zillertaler Alps are home to numerous mountain attractions, hiking trails, and ski resorts, including the Hintertux glacier.
- Alpbachtal – The village of Alpbach near the end of this valley has been named Austria’s prettiest village on more than one occasion. From here, you have access to the Ski Jewel Alpbachtal Wildschönau resort with over 100 km of pistes. In the autumn, the village of Reith im Alpbachtal hosts one of the most impressive Almabtrieb festivals when they welcome the cows home from the mountain pastures after the summer.
- Brixental – A 30 km long side valley of the Lower Inn Valley in Tyrol laced by beautiful villages such as Kitzbühel, Brixen im Thale, and Kirchberg in Tirol.
East Tyrol Destinations
With a surface area of only 2,020 km², East Tyrol is small in comparison to North Tyrol. It is separated from North Tyrol by a short 9,5 km border where the federal state of Salzburg Land meets up with South Tyrol.
Lienz, the capital of East Tyrol, is worth a visit for its pretty old town and the Bruck Castle that towers over it. A large part of the Hohe Tauern National Park, which includes the Großglockner, Austria’s highest mountain, is also in East Tyrol.
Austrian Tyrol in Winter
Some things to look forward to in Tyrol in winter are:
- Over 100 ski resorts
- Around 3,400 piste kilometres – 2,000 km easy, 2,600 intermediate, and 600 difficult
- Almost 750 km of toboggan runs
- Approximately 4,000 km of cross-country skiing trails
Austrian Tyrol in Summer
Visitors to the Austrian Tyrol in summer have access to:
- Almost 24,000 km of marked hiking trails
- Around 1,400 mountain huts or ‘alms’ offering food and drinks
- Mountain bike trails totaling 5,600 km
- Over 5,000 alpine climbing trails, 3,000 sport climbing trails, 1,500 bouldering trails, and 100 via ferratas.
- 18 golf courses
Best Time to Visit Tyrol
There isn’t a good or bad time to visit Tyrol – it all depends on what the purpose of your visit is. To give you a better idea of what the optimal times are for different activities and experiences in Tyrol.
|Time of Year||Best Things to Do|
|Spring (March to May)||Spring skiing on glaciers, hiking, sightseeing, festivals like the Gauderfest, paragliding, mountain biking.|
|Summer (June to August)||Hiking, sightseeing, visiting lakes and water parks, camping, taking cable cars to mountain resorts, sleeping in mountain huts, riding alpine coasters, mountain biking, paragliding, canyoning.|
|Autumn (September to November)||Autumn hiking, harvest festivals, Almabtrieb, sightseeing, paragliding, mountain biking.|
|Winter (December to February)||Skiing, Christmas markets, sledding, sightseeing, ice skating, cross-country skiing, snowshoe hiking.|
Frequently Asked Questions
The Austrian Tyrol is famous for a number of things, including Iceman Ötzi and Swarovski crystals. It is here in the Ötztal Alps on the border of Italy and Tyrol, where the glacier mummy who lived more than 5,000 years ago was found in 1991. It’s also here, in the village of Wattens near Innsbruck, where Daniel Swarovski and his three sons began producing Swarovski crystals in 1913.
Tyrol is a western federal state of Austria and is made up of North and East Tyrol. It shares borders with Germany, Switzerland, and Italy as well as other Austrian federal states including Vorarlberg, Salzburg Land, and Carinthia. The region called South Tyrol is not in Austria, but an autonomous province in northern Italy.
No, Tyrol is not in Germany but in Austria. However, it does share a border with the German state of Bavaria. Innsbruck, the capital of Tyrol, is about 145 km from Munich, the capital of Bavaria.
No, Tyrol is not a country but one of nine federal states of Austria. The popular winter and summer tourist destination in the heart of the Alps shares borders with Germany, Italy, and Switzerland. The capital of Tyrol is Innsbruck.
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