Home of the legendary Hahnenkamm Race, Kitzbühel is much more than a chic resort with quality snow.
Words by Kerry Christiani | Photos by Michael Werlberger.
‘Kitz’, as the locals call it, pulses with outdoor action all year round.
In summer, those sheer slopes burst into Alpine flower meadows, rising to the jagged limestone heights of the Kitzbüheler Alps. Hike to waterfalls, baroque churches, lakes and mountaintops. Play golf on one of the four golf courses in Kitzbühel, with spirit-lifting views to the mitre-shaped peaks of the Wilder Kaiser. Or test out mile after exhilarating mile of mountain bike routes. An impressive calendar of sporting events, and adventure on every bend, make Kitzbühel the most legendary city of sports in the Alps.
Hit the trail
When the weather warms, more than 1,000km of marked trails take hikers deep into the heart of the Kitzbüheler Alps and beyond, often with uplifting views of the Wilder Kaiser and the glacier-capped Hohe Tauern range, crowned by Austria’s highest peak: 3,798m Grossglockner.
Families and those seeking low-key walks will find trails to waterfalls, mountain-rimmed lakes and high-on-a-hill baroque churches. And this wouldn’t be Tirol without a break at a rustic mountain hut to refuel over Tyrolean Speck, local cheese and schnapps.
More challenging half-day hikes beckon, too. The 2-hour Karst-Wanderweg at the Kitzbüheler Horn provides an overview of the region’s cave-pitted karst landscape, spectacularly eroded by the elements over millennia. More challenging still is the 3.8km Streif route on the knee-trembling ski run of the same name, with an 85% gradient that takes you from start to finish of the famous Streif downhill run at the Hahnenkamm.
On weekdays from mid-May to late October, you can take one of the free guided tours, with Kitzbühel locals Madeleine, Susi and Engelbert, which range from heritage rambles to moonlit walks. Click here for details. If jogging or Nordic walking are more your thing, check out KitzRunning, a network of 23 trails spanning 170km, which take in a variety of terrains.
More Alpine adventures
- Road and mountain biking Kitzbühel has an extensive 1,200km of road bike and 800km of mountain bike trails that rattle around lakes, through meadows and down heart-stoppingly sheer slopes. A superb infrastructure for e-bikes takes the sweat out of biking in the Alps, while those craving a challenge can tackle the 23km route at Kitzbüheler Horn, part of which features a thigh-burning 22.3% incline (a stage in the epic Tour of Austria).
- Adrenaline thrills Canyoning, tandem paragliding and via ferratas (fixed rope trails) make Kitzbühel an adventure magnet in summer. A local specialist is element 3.
- Tee time Golf in the Kitzbüheler Alps has never been better, with four courses in Kitzbühel alone, and a further 30 within the region. Golfers of all levels can practise at the two 9-hole courses, Rasmushof Golf Course and Kitzbühel Golf Course, or at the two 18-hole courses, Schwarzsee-Kitzbühel Championship Course and Eichenheim Championship Course, while beginners benefit from expert tuition at local golf academies. The calendar highlight is the Golf Festival Kitzbühel in June.