Located east of Innsbruck, Kitzbühel is a small Alpine town in the western Austrian province of Tyrol, full of tradition and exceptional charm. From October to Easter, the area is a paradise for skiers with 233 km of slopes, a state-of-the-art lift system and the world-famous Streif downhill ski racecourse on the Hahnenkamm mountain. Furthermore, you can get from the mountain to the heart of town on skis. The Hahnenkammbahn cable car is just a three-minute walk from the medieval town centre.
The Hahnenkammbahn whisks guests directly up into the stunning Kitzbühel Alps. At the top, the views are truly spectacular.
An inseparable part of the local history is Franz Reisch, one of the most important skiing pioneers in Europe, having successfully completed the first-ever high-Alpine descent on skis in Austria from the Kitzbüheler Horn mountain on 15th March 1893. Kitzbühel became a truly fashionable winter resort in the 1950s thanks to the global fame of local skiing stars like Toni Sailer, Ernst Hinterseer and Hias Leitner, who brought the attention of the world to this small Tyrolean town traditionally frequented by ultra-chic clientele from Austria and abroad.
Frank Reisch’s family imported skies from Norway. In 1893, he made the first ski ascent of the Kitzbüheler Horn.
You shouldn’t feel anxious though if you are not a master in the art of gliding down Alpine hills as the resort has plenty of slopes for novices. Even the legendary Streif offers a tamed version of its descent with a route that avoids the most difficult sections and even an option for total beginners called “Mini Streif”, which is basically a skills course at the bottom of the Hahnenkamm slope. The most experienced skiers are welcome to have a go at the full descent or try the Ganslernhang slope, on one of the last classic slalom trails in the World Cup.
Another popular choice is Freeriding since Kitzbühel is famous for its off-piste skiing – that unique feeling of absolute freedom as you glide over untouched snow. Away from the parks, the diversity of the terrain will spoil free-riders and backcountry enthusiasts of all abilities. Many powder snow slopes head from the mountain area down into the valley, on occasion crossing through agricultural farms and barrier woodland, the habitat of animals that can be easily disturbed. Kitzbühel takes the protection of nature and the rights of property owners very seriously so areas out of boundaries have been established and must be respected by all visitors.
View of the high tower and spire of St Catherine (Kitzbühel) against the backdrop of the Alps.
Even if you are not a skier you will love Kitzbühel. This Tyrolean gem is postcard pretty, with the backdrop of the Alps and the river Kitzbüheler Ache meandering through it. Away from the slopes, visitors can enjoy expert-prepared cross-country trails, winter and snow-shoe walks, ice-skating, or, if you want to really soak up the 750 years of local history, take a ride on a horse-drawn sledge to explore the town and its surroundings.
Tyrolean hospitality is world renown – so time-out is a real experience in this town of the chamois – as it is its gastronomy; Kitzbühel is peppered with award-winning restaurants, as well as family-run businesses that offer local culinary delights. Luxury cafes and boutiques line the streets of its medieval centre, with international brands and local “fashion originals” like Sportalm, Frauenschuh, Franz Prader and Helmut Eder, not to mention the variety of arts and crafts businesses belonging to the Kitzbühel Master’s Guild.
Kaiserschmarrn is an Austrian dessert made of a caramelised pancake and rum-soaked raisins sprinkled with powder sugar, apple sauce, and preserves.
For a bit of culture, Museum Kitzbühel chronicles the history of the town for the last thousand years and holds an extraordinary collection of paintings by acclaimed local artist Alfons Walde, known best for his winter landscapes, farming images, and especially, his skiing and sporting scenes. The High Gothic church of St. Catherine’s (1360 – 1365) in the heart of the town is not to be missed. It boasts an exquisite coppersmith altar and a famous carillon that chimes at 11 am and 5 pm. Its high tower and spire are a striking landmark in Kitzbühel.
The terrace of the Hahnenkamm Lodge offers extraordinary views of the Alps.
In terms of accommodation, you’ll be spoiled for choice. From luxury chalets like Hahnenkamm Lodge to 5-star hotels such as Weisses Rössl, boutique properties like ERIKA Boutiquehotel or even an adults-only hotel, the Schwarzer Adler, whichever your preferences are, you’ll find a suitable option in Kitzbühel.
The closest airport is Salzburg (75km) followed by Innsbruck (97km) and Munich (165km).
Tel. +43 5356 66660
Opening picture: © Kitzbühel Tourismus – Michael Werlberger.