Kitzbuhel, Austria, for our American friends, is the Vail or Aspen of Europe, but with a twist. Situated in the Austrian Alps, it is at once a pricey ski resort town and an old, medieval hamlet with a fairytale charm and cobblestone alleys lined with brightly painted storefronts and trendy little boutiques and cafes, where the promenading crowd dons furs rather than ski wear. It is a place, particularly its walled town center, that lends itself to walking around and lingering, soaking up an ambiance that is both quaint and upscale.
But if you are visiting Kitzbuhel for the first time and wish to take in the sights, here are the city’s ‘Top 7’ attractions.
The Bergahnmuseum, or the cable car museum, is located at the world-famous 2 mile-long (3.5 km) Hahnenkamm Ski Run in Kitzbuhel, on the top station of the gondola lift. It has exhibits documenting the history and technology of ski lift construction. For ski buffs, the museum also offers a simulated run down the Streif ski racecourse. The museum is open daily.
The most interesting thing about the Heimatmuseum is that it is housed in the city’s oldest structure, a restored 13th-century home. The museum is devoted to the history of Kitzbuhel and has displays of old photographs, mining tools and other artifacts. Museum admission is 6.50 euros each, and the museum is open daily except Sunday.
3. Bauernhausmuseum (Hinterobernau)
Bauernhausmuseum, also known as the Hinterobernau Farmhouse Museum, is located just to the north of town on Romerweg. It offers visitors a peek at a traditional 16th-century farmhouse, fully furnished and equipped, just as it would have been 400 years ago. The museum is open daily from June to September, and by appointment during winter.
Pfarrkirche, situated on a knoll just north of the town center, is a delightful 15th century church. It’s well worth a visit, if only to see its Baroque interior. The church is open daily.
5. Wildpark Tirol
Wildpark Tirol, a wildlife park of sorts, is situated along the road to the Jochberg Tor, just 4 km (2.5 miles) outside the Kitzbuhel city limits. The centerpiece of the park is a walking trail that winds its way through enclosures of yaks, lynx, deer, boars, ibex, marmots, ducks and other birds and beasts. The park is open year-round.
6. St. Johann
A bustling yet charming Tyrolean village in a stunning alpine setting, St. Johann is situated just around the Kitzbuhelerhorn Mountain from Kitzbuhel. The chief attractions here are the lovely, two-towered, onion-domed parish church, Maria Himmelfahrt, that dates from 1723; the village’s tiny market square dominated by a wall of frescoed houses; and the ski area where the main lift, the Harschbichl gondola, climbs the mountain from a St. Johann residential area.
The Tyrolean village of Soll, also a stone’s throw from Kitzbuhel, offers a worthwhile detour. The village clusters around its Rococo-style 1765 landmark church, perched on a hill in the center of town, overlooking a lively pedestrian area with shops and restaurants. Soll’s principal draws, however, are its labyrinth of walking trails, more than 700 kilometers of them, and SkiWelt, Austria’s largest interconnected ski area, with 250 km of groomed runs and 93 lifts. Another highlight here is a walk through Hexenwald, or Witch’s Forest, and up the mountain to the summit of Hohe Salve, where you can visit Salven Chapel, the highest chapel in Austria at 1829 meters, and also enjoy panoramic views of 70 alpine peaks.