Insiders view on Tyrol, Austria

The Wanderers in conversation with  Angela.

Everything the guide books or tourism websites won’t tell you about the place..

One little-known fact/trivia that everyone should know about when travelling to Tyrol?

In Tyrol fresh drinking water comes straight from the tap. It is very clean and of a high quality, so drinking it is probably one of the most natural and most healthy refreshments you can experience.

What is a must buy when in Tyrol?

Visit one the Swarovski shops and you will know. For example, go to the store in Innsbruck and gives you a feel of a Swarovski museum. Buy yourself a present there and take it home with you as something that will always remind you of a very special holiday in Tyrol.

One take-away after a visit to Tyrol?

In my opinion, a “Zirben-pillow” would be a great take-away, it smells very good and can decorate your couch at home. Otherwise Kitzbühel with its luxurious boutiques and shiny jewelry stores is the most famous shopping destination in Tyrol, I am sure you will find something nice at the exclusive shops at the “KITZ GALLERIA” (shopping mall).

What is your advice to first-time travelers?

You have to pack your suitcase for different types of weather. Like the onion-model: Be prepared for cold weather, but so that you can put off clothes if the weather is warm.

One thing to definitely pack when travelling to Tyrol?

Take good shoes with you. Doesn’t matter if you go through cities, on a mountain or just for a walk. Keep in mind that you might want to touch the snow on one of our impressive glaciers, which are easy to reach also in the summer.

One activity anyone travelling to Tyrol should not miss.

For sure you should not miss the view when you are on the top of a mountain. It is possible to go there for everyone. You can hike or take the gondola. For Example in Sölden in the Ötztal Valley you can visit the Big 3 panoramic rock path covered in glass, the view from there is breathtaking – even for locals!

Where should anyone, travelling to Tyrol, definitely get their picture taken?

It’s nearly the same for this question: On the top of a mountain. Do not forget to share it on social media to let your friends admire the view as well.

Which is the best place to get a panoramic photo?

The Valluga in St. Anton at Arlberg, because you can see the peaks of three countries: Italy in the south, Switzerland in the West and Germany in the North – that’s a unique experience!

Best place to enjoy sunset/sunrise?

As we are in the middle of the Alps, the best places to enjoy the sunset/sunrise is on the top of one of our beautiful mountains or on a tease with a nice cup of coffee.  If you are in Innsbruck you can go up the Mountain with the “Nordkettenbahn” which takes you at an elevation of almost 2,000 meters in 20 minutes directly from the city center.  This is something you could do every day, however for sunsets I recommend considering a Friday as the cable car has extended opening times till 11.30 pm.

Most romantic place to take a special someone to.

To the Swarovski Crystal Worlds in Wattens (only 20 minutes away from Innsbruck), because with their subterranean “chambers of wonder” they are a sparkling fantasy world and a pure invitation to dream. The atmosphere is magical to romantic there, someone special will notice.

Best place to have local food?

The best place for local food is a real Tyrolean restaurant, beside the numerous international restaurants they are easy to find everywhere.

Your favorite local dish and drink that you would recommend?

I would recommend the “Käsepressknödel” (cheese dumplings) because they are a vegetarian speciality that is typical for Tyrol. By the way, the “Graukäse”, which is the cheese used for this dumplings, contains just 0,1% fat.

One place only the locals would know?

There are many places in the different regions. One example is at the Ötztaler Alps. There you can see ibexes most of the time.When you come to Tyrol, just ask one of the locals. The people here are very friendly and will share their hidden spots with pleasure with you. If you would ask me I would send you to the Ötztal Valley to see the most beautiful waterfall – the “Stuiben Waterfall”.

The best pub and a best place to catch up for a drink?

There are plenty…so I try to give you the highlights.

In Innsbruck on the rooftop of a shopping mall is a quaint local bar called “360 Grad” that has an amazing “360-degree” view of downtown Innsbruck. For a real party experience I would recommend “The Londoner” in Kitzbühel, as it is the favorite party location for summer and winter tourists as well as for the local party animals since more than 25 years. In the Ötztal Valley the “Top Mountain Star” is a combination of a panoramic platform and a bar in a special shape on a mountain beyond 3000 meters above sea level.

A local festival you feel more travelers should come and see?

The traditional “Almabrieb” is a very colorful event in in autumn (mainly in September) where the cattle of the farmers that have grazed the mountain pastures all summer long are driven back down the mountain to the safety of their winter quarters. That is very beautiful in the region of St. Anton am Arlberg.

 The things guide books will not tell anyone about Tyrol?

As you know, the official language in Austria is German, but we are very proud of our various dialects. However, sometimes people from the different valleys do not understand each other. As a result, it is common to make friendly jokes about the `foreign` dialects.

Is there any particular month you would not recommend travel to Tyrol and what would that reason be?

The best time to come to come to Tyrol is the summer season (middle of May – end of September) because the climate is very nice. You will have a warm temperature, but it is never getting too hot.

In one sentence, Tyrol is the heart of the Alps!

Hello, my name is Angela, I am 29 years old and grew up in Innsbruck – the capital of Tyrol. In the last years I studied and worked abroad, it was amazing to see so many beautiful places in the world, but coming back and to settle in Tyrol was definitely one of the best choices I ever made, because this is where my heart belongs.

Check out our Italy with The Wanderers

Tatras National Park – Slovakia

By Alifiya Calcuttawala

Alifiya Calcuttawala, Regional Director, The Wanderers Kolkata writes about her experience at the High Tatras National Park which she visited in December 2013.

The way Tatras are today is a remnant  from the last glacial period. The first travellers who visited High Tatras came only about 200 years ago and believed that the Tatras were full of gold, silver and other gemstones.
The Tatra is the oldest and the most visited national park in Slovakia and is in the list of UNESCO biosphere reserve. Every year the park is visited by approximately 5 million people and it offers 600 kilometers of hiking trails. The High Tatras are spread over 341 sq kms, 260 sq kms of which are on the Slovak side and is rich with mountain lakes (approx. 190).

We drove from Krakow to The High Tatras National park and stayed in a ski village of ‘Stary Smokovec’ for two nights. This was a good break between seeing cities. In the 2-3 days that we were there we rode snow mobiles, did dog sledging and also took a horse carriage ride. The weather was kind, it was -7 degrees, but the two hours of bright sunshine in the morning gave us the courage to go all out and experience the outdoors.

By 03.30 pm it starts getting dark and obviously very cold. The Grand hotel where we stayed, was a delight since it had an indoor  pool, sauna and jacuzzi,  giving an ample opportunity in the evenings to thaw out. 🙂

Interestingly, it was their peak season – after 2-3 days almost all the hotels were sold out for the New Year; and apparently Russians have their New Year after a week, so this is place is almost booked out till January 15!

This region is a playground for the affluent Russians who like to spend and have a luxurious stay complete with skiing activities, spa etc. (there aren’t many  luxurious and high end accommodation  option available in their country hence most of them come to the Tatra National Park and stay in Zakopane, Smokovec and Pleso etc.
High Tatras offer 22kms of well kept downhill courses – the skiing centres are among the top winter centres in Europe.


Winter activities..
Dog sledging, skiing, hikes with snowshoes, snow mobile excursions,  climbing the icefalls, avalanche courses, snow rafting, sledding and skating.

There is a winter fun park situated in Pleso where one can do snow tubing, air boarding, snow bags and zorbing.
And of course, you can also do sky adventures (sky diving, scenic flights, balloon flights and paragliding). These can be done throughout the year!

In December 2013, Alifiya Calcuttawala travelled on a 12 days journey to Eastern Europe with a small group who wanted to see the Christmas markets. Her itinerary started in Munich, ended with Budapest and included Salzburg, Český Krumlov, Prague, Krakow and the high Tatras!