Hitting new heights in Kitzbühel, Austria’s stylish mountain resort

At the heart of the Austrian Alps, Kitzbühel is famed as both a winter sports playground and a glamorous mountain escape. Read on for a guide to some of its summer highlights.

Kitzbühel is the culinary heart of the Tyrol region. Up in the mountains, huts and inns serve traditional delicacies made from regional ingredients, while a host of gourmet restaurants experiment with creative takes on old classics. 

Photograph by Kitzbühel Tourismus
By Nick Dalton
Published 14 Jul 2022, 18:00 BST

In winter, Kitzbühel is one of the big hitters on the ski circuit. It has 145 miles of groomed slopes, but perhaps more importantly, it famously plays host to the annual Hahnenkamm Races — the second-oldest, and arguably most prestigious, alpine skiing competition. When the snow has gone, the town brings the same level of sophistication to its summer offering of activities, from its network of hiking trails — the first to be awarded a European seal of approval — to its state-of-the-art lift system. And no matter the season, the restaurant scene doesn’t disappoint; this is the culinary hub of the Austrian Alps, with the highest number of award-winning gourmet restaurants in Tyrol.

See and be seen in the old town

Kitzbühel is a medieval town that still looks the part, and nowhere is this most evident than in its historic, car-free centre, Innenstadt. Here, pastel-painted buildings line two main cobbled thoroughfares, with cafes, high-end shops and artisanal stores.

Tucked inside a 16th-century granary, Museum Kitzbühel houses a collection ranging from Bronze Age mining relics — a nod to the town’s mining heritage — to works by Alfons Walde, a local 20th-century expressionist who rubbed shoulders with Gustav Klimt. One street away, 14th-century St Catherine’s Church guards the only winged altarpiece from the early 16th century left in the region.

From there, it’s a two-minute walk to Hotel Das Reisch, a great spot in which to savour Austrian specialities. The local institution celebrates its 110th birthday this year, with a revamped restaurant and terrace. For a gourmet meal, a 20-minute stroll will take you to the historic Tennerhof estate: it’s regularly listed as one of the country’s best restaurants, with three Gault & Millau toques (a rating system, similar to the Michelin stars) to prove it.

Left: Top:

From panoramic trails and hut hikes to challenging summit tours and long-distance circuits, Kitzbühel is a veritable walker's paradise.

Right: Bottom:

Stroll through the centre of Kitzbühel, and you’re strolling through history. This is a medieval mountain town that still looks the part, where pastel-painted buildings cosy up to narrow cobbled streets.

photographs by Kitzbühel Tourismus

Early hikes and legendary slopes

For all the charm of the old town, it’s the outdoors that beckons here. The Kitzbühel district is an open-air all-rounder, with more than 700 miles of hiking trails, 500 miles of bike paths and 20 scalable peaks.

On the Hahnenkamm mountain, skiing buffs can hike along the legendary Streif piste (for a challenge, tackle the Mausefalle section, with its 85% gradient). Early risers, meanwhile, shouldn’t miss the Horngipfel experience: this sunrise cable-car ride up the Kitzbüheler Horn is followed by a guided hike through the Alpine Flower Garden and up the area’s highest summit, ending with a hearty al fresco breakfast.

The region has no shortage of mountain inns and huts to stop and refuel at — many with dedicated trails leading straight to their doors. Once a refuge for miners, and still surrounded by old tunnels and ruins, the Kelch Alm - Bochumer Hütte serves up homemade Tyrolean dishes with herbs from the surrounding meadows. Another local favourite, Bichlalm sits at 5,200ft and offers sensational views of the Hohe Tauern National Park.

With temperatures of up to 27°C in summer, Lake Schwarzsee is a popular swimming spot.

Photograph by Kitzbühel Tourismus

Swim and swing

Schwarzsee lake is perhaps the region’s most beautiful — with the added bonus of being one of the warmest bodies of water in Tyrol. Relax on its sunbathing lawns, hire an electric boat or jump in for a refreshing swim. Along its banks, the new Das Steghaus restaurant, part of the Alpenhotel, offers a modern take on Austrian specialities along with Mediterranean-inspired dishes.

Kitzbühel has two 18-hole courses, including Eichenheim Golf Club, which sprawls across clifftops and above silent gorges, and two nine-holers, with Kitzbühel Golf Club, the town’s oldest, boasting two holes on lake islands. Golf enthusiasts are spoilt for choice with the Golf Tirol Card, which gives access to 12 more courses in nearby villages that can be reached in less than an hour.


Top three culinary events in Kitzbühel, Austria

1. KITZ Culinary

2-3 September 2022
This town-wide celebration of local cuisine features everything from traditional dishes to creative reinterpretations of old classics, courtesy of both sleek restaurants and rustic mountain huts. The focus is on organic and local produce using the ‘3R principles’: reduce, reuse and recycle.

2. KITZ Culinary X Piemont

13-16 October 2022 
During this food festival, local culinary delicacies meet specialties from the Piedmont region of Northern Italy, from white truffles and hazelnuts to tajarin from the commune of Alba.

3. Breakfast on the mountain

Over 60 mountain huts in the region of Kitzbühel and beyond offer invigorating homemade breakfasts on the slopes for early risers — think farmhouse bread with fresh butter, herb spreads, cheese and bacon.

Read more: Authentic experiences in Tyrol, Austria's alpine capital

Plan your trip

A number of airlines fly direct to the neighbouring cities of Munich, Innsbruck and Salzburg. From the airports, use a transfer service (Tirol Taxi offers pick-ups) or take train to Kitzbühel.

For more information, visit kitzbuehel.com and austria.info

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