Places to visit in The Tirol
The Tirol is a wonderful place for Austrian family holidays and breaks, with kids able to run free amidst the open countryside, and seemingly endless valleys full of waterfalls, lakes and forests, offering masses of scope for skiing, biking, hiking and other outdoor adventures. This is classic Alpine Austria, with craggy mountains, lush pastures, timeless villages and a sense of peaceful grandeur. The capital Innsbruck is a sophisticated city (ideal for low-key city breaks with children) affording easy access to the surrounding peaks, and there are several major year-round mountain resorts (including the glitzy town of Kitzbühel, rugged St Anton and the family-friendly delight Mayrhofen) plus many other scenic villages.
Things to do with kids in The Tirol
Take to the slopes. In winter this is Austria’s ski hub. St Anton (Sankt Anton) is one of the world's best ski resorts, and one of the most challenging too, with runs and off-piste to test every ability and gorgeous scenery. It's among the best family ski resorts in Austria too, despite its reputation as party central. There's skiing until mid-April, and the Arlberg lift pass covers 260km of piste and 180km of deep snow trail, allowing you to ski to the resorts of Lech, Zurs and St Christoph. There are kids' ski areas in Nasserein and up at Gampen. St Anton village is charming, with great facilities and activities including tobogganing, bowling and indoor tennis. Or if you're wondering where to go in Austria in summer, St Anton is fantastic for walking.
Or try a family ski holiday in Kitzbühel (famed for its Hahnenkamm downhill course), a more accessible region for children. The medieval walled town itself is a delight (particularly for parents wanting to treat themselves to chic clothes). Or with its quaint villagey centre, the cosy ski resort of St Johann near Kitzbühel is the envy of every purpose-built 1960s resort. Between the Kitzbüheler Horn and Wilden Kaiser mountains, it has 60km of superb slopes and 17 lifts and is thus perfect with younger kids and beginners or intermediates. But it doesn't rule out adventurous skiers, who can branch out into the 61-lift Schneewinkl ski region. It also has a halfpipe, and you can learn to snowboard in the dedicated park. Its highly reputed ski schools for adults and kids have English-speaking instructors, and there are crèches for tots. In February, watch or even compete in the Koasalauf amateur cross-country ski race, or the Mini and Super Mini Koasalaufs for kids. Other winter activities here include cross-country skiing, tobogganing, horse-sleigh rides, ice-skating and indoor tennis. Year-round, there's bowling and swimming. St Johann is also one of the best summer resorts in Austria, with hiking, bike, swimming, paragliding, outdoor tennis and hot-air balloon rides among the activities.
Mayrhofen is also excellent for family holidays in the Austrian Alps, as is the specialist family ski resort of Serfaus and Ellmau, a gentle family place with placid slopes, plus connections to SkiWelt Austria, the country's largest linked area. But there are many more options.
Most resorts open their cable-cars in summer, allowing you to stroll atop the mountains with little effort and be rewarded by many wonderful and historic mountain huts for lunch. There are plenty of other places to visit, including Ischgl, Solden and Langenfeld in the Otztal Valley, with its huge waterpark and spa with outdoor hot tubs on stilts. Obergurgl in the Otztal Valley – runner-up in our Best Ever Family Ski Resort Award in the Over-7s category – is a high, pretty resort, with beginner areas at village level, easy blues to move on to, and intermediate runs across three connected areas.
Also on offer are rafting (of the whitewater variety for adults and older kids), canyoning, high-ropes courses, canoeing, rock-climbing, swimming and cycling (there are 800km of bike paths). The Eagle’s Way (Adlerweg) is a mountain walk meandering 280km across the Tirol; many of its stages can be accomplished by children (although there are also plenty of simpler routes along rivers and through meadows).
Innsbruck is full of fun for families, from the baroque Imperial Palace to gothic treasures to the underground-overground funicular (with its space-age stations by London architect Zaha Hadid), whisking you to the bottom of Nordpark, a summer mountain paradise/winter ski area where two modern cable-cars complete the half-hour city-to-peak journey.
The Zillertal Alps.
The Tirol prides itself on its local produce, with the rich pastures producing exceptional cheese and beef, butchers excelling in cured meats, and mountain streams supplying trout. Particularly worth trying are the bacon dumplings, the game soup and the huge cream-filled doughnuts – as well as a new wave of gourmet fare in a string of smart restaurants.
A Tirol lake in summer.
When to go to The Tirol
Late November to April is the ski season in the Tirol, offering excellent snow. When it comes to family holidays in Austria in summer, the Tirol can be as hot as the Med from June to August, meaning you can revel in the clear air on a mountain walk before swimming in a lake or open-air pool.
The lovely Tirol city of Innsbruck.
Austria is not the cheapest of destinations for family holidays and breaks. For those on family ski holidays in St Anton or other Austrian resorts, package deals usually represent the best value.
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Lake-side fun in the Tirol.
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