â€œThe world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.â€?
Welcome in Austria it’s almost magical how, when the snow melts and spring makes way for summer as you’ve always imagined it, our country warmly reveals itself with a wondrous and fascinating array of summertime activities. It is a splendid natural paradise with no limits on outdoor recreation. Whether on land or in the water, spend long, sun-kissed days amidst breathtaking landscapes dotted with Alpine towns and villages where your hosts will always be delighted to see you. But wait, there’s more – fine cuisine, unforeseen avant-garde architecture, and an arts and culture scene second to none blend in seamlessly with the season’s backdrop. I hope you enjoy this special glimpse into summertime in Austria, and that it will perhaps inspire you to come and share some of your holidays with us. Prepare to be enchanted. Herwig Kolzer Manager UK, Austrian National Tourist Office
Cover image: Markus Tretter, © Antony Gormley, Kunsthaus Bregenz
Inside 6 Art in the Mountains of Vorarlberg: Lech Zürs am Arlberg-Bregenzerwald 10 Art & Culture: Lake Constance/Vorarlberg 16 Cities: Graz, Salzburg and Innsbruck 22 On the Nature Trail: Zell am See-Kaprun 26 Slow Down: Burgenland 36 Family Paradise: Saalbach Hinterglemm 40 Back to Nature: Alpbachtal 46 Nature’s Dinner Table Zillertal 52 The Outdoor Fitness Centre: Montafon/Vorarlberg 56 The Eagle’s Walk: Tirol 62 Index This book was created for the Austrian National Tourist Office in the UK by To see what we can do for you visit www.editorialise.com © Editorialise 2011, unless indicated or agreed otherwise. No content may be reproduced without the express permission of the publisher.
Eerie and spooky is the way it sometimes appears, especially on autumn days when draped in fog. Yet even at the height of summer, Lake Hallstätt is no swimmers’ paradise as water temperatures never rise above 20 degrees. The lake is 125 metres deep and the legendary Salzberg (Salt Mountain) is nearby. In 1734, miners uncovered a Celtic man conserved in the salt and later 04 Austria’s Hidden Treasures www.austria.info/treasures
discovered an extensive prehistoric graveyard. These illuminating and important discoveries dated from 850 to 500 B.C. and the region all around Lake Hallstätt has since been declared a World Heritage Site and is undoubtedly worth a visit. For sports lovers, there is plenty to do including mountain biking and hiking trails and there is an array of challenges for mountain climbers. In the lake you can go fishing, scuba diving and kayaking. www.austria.info/treasures Austria’s Hidden Treasures 05
Art in the Mountains of Vorarlberg: Lech Zürs am Arlberg and Bregenzerwald
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The Art Route
he local communities of the beautiful mountainous region of Bregenzerwald and Lech Zürs am Arlberg in Vorarlberg rarely tamper with their sublime surroundings. Here Alpine existence retains a pure simplicity. Life between 1,500 and 2,000 metres is all deep green meadows in the summer and powdery snow in the winter. Amidst the medieval and traditional Austrian surroundings, modern contemporary ideals prevail. You only have to glance at the pure lines of the contemporary architecture in Bregenzerwald to see how the curious combination of old and new co-exist. Throughout the region classic wooden buildings are punctuated with bold modern forms, clearly illustrated throughout the design hotels that you can stay in when visiting here. Contemporary buildings only heighten the beauty of the old. In the village of Hittisau, slick glass façades fit harmoniously alongside the classic pitch-roofs of yesteryear. Guests along the famous KäseStrasse 06
(‘Cheese Route’ – not a street or road in the usual sense but an association of farmers, dairies, inn-keepers, retailers and trades-people), are steeped in the ancient culinary traditions of the area. Lech Zürs am Arlberg offers plenty of culinary delights – it was awarded the accolade of ‘Most Outstanding Gourmet Village in the World’ at the Falstaff and Vöslauer Gourmet Gala in 2008. At the LöffelWeise gourmet evenings, which are created in collaboration with guest chefs, winegrowers and experts from all over the world, regional restaurateurs and their in-house teams present exquisite cuisine for themed evenings which leave everyone more than satisfied. horizon field Contemporary art has found an unlikely home in this high mountain region. The staggering Alpine landscape is a backdrop for British sculptor Antony Gormley’s latest project, ‘Horizon Field’, created through a joint venture with the Kunsthaus Bregenz
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(KUB), one of Europe’s leading venues for the exhibition of contemporary art. Hikers on this landscape installation, which snakes its way over 150 square km of horizontal green mountain path will encounter a hundred cast iron figures (winched by helicopters and placed at precisely 2,039 metres above sea level) gazing out at the lush summer landscape. The unspoilt Alpine habitat gives Gormley’s work powerful significance. The figures are a profound addition to the natural spectacle – at once commanding and vulnerable – standing boldly on windy precipices, weathering the elements. ‘Horizon Field’ is the largest installation of art in the landscape ever shown in Austria, and is gaining worldwide fame. where art meets architecture Gormley’s installation is a fitting expression of Vorarlberg’s modern Opposite page: Antony Gormley’s ‘Horizon Field’ consists of 100 life-size, solid cast iron figures of the human body spread over an area of 150 square km
Markus Tretter, © Antony Gormley, Kunsthaus Bregenz
High in Vorarlberg, some of Europeʼs finest contemporary art awaits
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Art in the Mountains of Vorarlberg outlook – the work is elemental, affecting and yet unobtrusive to the natural environment. The work makes subtle suggestions to its audience of hikers – each small iron figure could trigger big existential ideas about the future of humankind, or the omnipotence of the sublime. Gormley says he hopes his forms will make ramblers think, ‘What is he doing here? What am I doing here?’ In Lech Zürs am Arlberg it’s nature that provides the real spectacle. Gormley’s landscape installation leads hikers past spectacular lookout points, stunning rock formations, drinkwater clean streams; from natural landmarks to a mountain lodge library and a bivouac where they can spend the night. Every natural wonder or ancient tree is a work of art. This is not the only hiking attraction in this region. ‘The Green Ring’ is the walking trail that encircles Lech Zürs am Arlberg and whilst the endless expanse of track is a physical challenge (where you’ll also encounter mythical installations), there are now literary feats to encounter too. The Austrian writer Daniela Egger has traversed the route and created modern-day folk tales, which ramblers read on their way. Art and architecture takes on new meaning in the wilderness. The high altitude climbs of Vorarlberg are a sublime amphitheatre for experiencing art and the transcendence of creativity. Gormley’s subtle forms punctuate their Alpine surroundings – they are a touching reminder of human intervention and a humbling admission to the magnificence and beauty of the mountains they inhabit. At a heady 2,000 metres, surrounded by the clean, crisp mountain air and breathtaking views, each encounter is artistic, physical and elemental. The four white walls of the gallery may never be the same again.
Meet the locals
Avant-garde art on the Danube Linz’s Lentos Museum, designed by the Zurich architects Weber & Hofer, is one of Austria’s most important museums for modern and contemporary art. Opened in 2003, it houses collections of European painting from the first half of the twentieth century as well as collections of graphic art and photography. A major highlight of the museum’s 2011 exhibition season is the show ‘Che Fare? Arte povera – Die Historischen Jahre’ (18 February – 29 May 2011) and don’t miss the large-scale summer exhibition by the duo Gilbert & George which showcases their latest series, ‘Jack Freak Pictures’. (17 June – 9 October 2011).
Where wine and art mix
‘Over the space of just a few square km in the region of Lech Zürs am Arlberg, you will find an endless variety of landscape – from the scenic mountains to the soft meadows and the canyons, it really is like no other place in Europe. If you are a fisherman, like myself, or a gourmet, the fish you will find here are an absolute treat. People forget the wonderful fish you can find here in our waters – not just for fishing but for eating also. For us, as fishermen, they are our gorgeous and fascinating companions; for foodies, they are an unsurpassable, pleasurable and above all, fresh and natural, treat.’
‘The landscape installation ‘Horizon Field’ by Antony Gormley is a great inspiration for me as a hiking guide. I spent the summers of my childhood up in the Alpine pastures, and the close relationship between animal, man and nature propels me very deeply into this subject. Gormley’s iron sculptures make us ask questions about death, life, man, nature and landscape – the ideal combination for conveying the essence of our region.’
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The Weinviertel (‘wine quarter’) region is present throughout the Museumszentrum Mistelbach (MZM). In this 6,000 square metre exhibition space, the focus is on the region’s people, its past, and its present. The museum complex consists of the Nitsch Museum and the Lebenswelt Weinviertel Museum. Local artist Hermann Nitsch, whose ‘splatter paintings’ (right) are a regular source of controversy in the country, is represented here by a broad cross-section of his diverse work. The Lebenswelt Museum features an extensive exhibit on witches and is a rich source of information about the Weinviertel’s varied cultural landscape.
Africa meets Austria The Liaunig Museum is the private museum of the industrialist and art collector Herbert W. Liaunig and possesses one of the country’s largest collections of postWorld War II Austrian art. The collection ranges from present-day Austrian artists such as Arnulf Rainer and Cornelius Kolig to international stars like Tony Cragg, with his perspectively distorted sculptures. As a contrast to contemporary art, it also offers the permanent exhibition ‘Gold der Akan’ – 600 pieces of jewellery and cult objects from African tribal kingdoms, most of which date from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, are displayed in a 350 square metre black cube.
Salzburg's contemporary twist With the opening of the Museum der Moderne Salzburg Mönchsberg in 2004, this Baroque city now had a fitting place in which to display contemporary art. The museum was designed by Munich based architects Friedrich Hoff Zwink, and together with the original Rupertinum building at the centre of the Altstadt, the two Museum der Moderne buildings provide around 3,000 square metres of exhibition space. Exhibitions include thematic collections of art from the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, exhibitions from the Austrian Gallery of Photography and large rotating exhibitions of international contemporary art. www.austria.info/treasures Austria’s Hidden Treasures 09
Art & Culture: Lake Constance/Vorarlberg
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t has been said that opposites attract and it is precisely a combination of old and new that makes the region of Lake Constance (Bodensee), Vorarlberg, so thrilling. In the westernmost part of Austria, tucked away into a four-country corner of Germany, Switzerland and the Principality of Liechtenstein, the Bodensee-Vorarlberg region has a daring imagination. The cities of the region – Bregenz, Dornbirn, Hohenems and Feldkirch – combine rural idyll with urban flair. The juxtaposition of old and new architecture defines the landscape and the culture of this region. Its annual music festival in Feldkirch (the Feldkirch Festival), plays ancient and modern scores throughout the months of May and June. Here, an old indoor swimming pool in Feldkirch is now host to the ‘Poolbar Festival’, a sixweek jamboree for DJs and musicians from all over the world. In contrast to this super-modern event, the nearby Hohenems hosts a festival dedicated
entirely to the composer Franz Schubert – an intimate homage to his musical genius, in the beautiful bucolic surrounds of the Austrian mountains. tradition meets modernity Nowhere is this synthesis more apparent than at the Bregenz Festival, where a hi-tech floating stage on the glistening lake has become a platform for some of the world’s most distinguished operas. Every year the Bregenz Festival brings together the Vienna Symphony Orchestra, performers (who are rising stars), and directors to produce awesome feats of modern entertainment. Productions like the upcoming Umberto Giordano’s ‘André Chénier’ (to be performed on the floating stage in July and August 2011) are packed with high voltage drama and global cultural fusion. As well as the festival’s staggering feats of set design, Lake Constance provides a sublime backdrop for each show. The audience seated on the lake’s shoreline look out at stunning sunsets and waters
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beyond. Scenic sunsets, ominous clouds or misty evenings add to the spectacle. When it comes to culture, the region’s capital Bregenz certainly punches above its weight. The Kunsthaus Bregenz (KUB) is Vorarlberg’s most important art and exhibition centre and a spatial concept. The glass façade mirrors the elements and channels the light of Lake Constance. ‘From the outside, the building looks like a lamp’ says the KUB’s Pritzker-winning architect, Peter Zumthor. He has created a living modern edifice in this ancient town. The KUB is a portal to the world of international art. Indeed, the British artist and sculptor Antony Gormley has recently created his world-renowned project ‘Horizon Field’ in association with the Kunsthaus Bregenz. On display in the mountains of Vorarlberg from August 2010 – April 2012, Opposite page, from top: evening time at the festival house during the Bregenz Festival; the Kunsthaus Bregenz (KUB) is renowned for the art it showcases
Kunsthaus Bregenz; andereart/Bregenzer Festspiele
Vorarlbergʼs stunning Lake Constance provides a perfect backdrop for the arts
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Art & Culture
Meet the locals
Summer of music 10 July – 19 August 2011
‘Horizon Field’ consists of a hundred lifesize cast iron figures of the human body, placed at precisely 2,039 metres above sea level. Of the project, Gormley says ‘the installation recognises the deep connection between social and geological territory; between landscape and memory’, a theme that resonates deeply with the identity of Vorarlberg. There are also numerous museums to visit whilst you’re in this region, notably the Rolls-Royce Museum in Dornbirn, which opened in 1999. Here you’ll find the world’s most impressive collection of Rolls-Royces and over 1,000 exhibits with guided tours, including the Phantom 1, 11 and 111.
Performance art feast 23 September – 16 October 2011
‘The region of Vorarlberg combines tradition and modernity in an extremely unique way. The Kunsthaus Bregenz, which was built by the Pritzker award-winning architect Peter Zumthor, and opened in 1997, is an internationally renowned example of this combination of elements. Made from glass, steel and concrete, it stands in the light of Lake Constance and absorbs the changing light of the sky. Peter Zumthor said that from the outside, it looks like a lamp. Visitors from all over the world are amazed by this architectural highlight and the art you will find here in the Kunsthaus. I especially appreciate the openness and the curiosity of the local people here when reacting to internationally known artists and their work.’
‘I absolutely love the work I do with with Rolls-Royce and Bentley and the opportunity to test drive a different car every day is very appealing to me! Stories and memories about certain exhibits are inspiring time and time again and over the last 40 years, we have not just collected cars and accessories, but also many interesting items that describe the lives of RollsRoyce owners over the years. Visitors can enjoy the extensive amount of exhibits – we have more than 1,000 in our museum – and of course, the chance to see the many famous cars – like the Queen Mother’s Phantom 111 – we have on display here. We are the world’s biggest Rolls-Royce museum and our friendly, caring and competent staff will ensure you have an unforgettable experience when you come to visit us.’
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Every year the steirischer herbst (festival for contemporary art) in the Styrian capital of Graz guarantees the opportunity for unexpected perspectives in unusual performance venues, such as abandoned factory buildings, swimming pools and underground mine tunnels. The festival presents a diverse programme of drama, film, architecture, music, literature, and visual art and one of its hallmarks is the incorporation and networking of both international and regional artists. Over the years, Graz’s close proximity to Slovenia, Croatia and the Central and Eastern European regions has enabled this to flourish. 2011 promises to excite and intrigue.
MD, Rolls-Royce Museum
Celebrate with Salzburg 27 July – 31 August 2011 Every summer the Salzburger Festspiele dominates this Baroque city. Some of the great artists of classical music appear on the stage of the Festspielhaus, and international stars like Anna Netrebko, Ricardo Muti and Edita Gruberova have become regulars here. In the splendid ambience of the city’s Domplatz, every year, thousands of performers demonstrate the harrowing story of the life and death of the rich man in Hugo von Hofmannsthal’s ‘Everyman’ (staged here every year since the beginning of the festival in 1920). Visitors can also experience contemporary theatre on Hallein’s Perner Island, in the middle of the Salzach River.
Vienna Festival Week 13 May – 19 June 2011 Dominik Mentzos, steirischer herbst
cuisine and culture While the region is a hub for international artists, it is also a truly Austrian province steeped in history and an authentic alpine way of life. Whilst cuisine is traditional, in restaurants you will discover that it is complemented with startlingly modern and classic fare. The region is packed with high quality restaurants, many of which are modern in style and 18 of which bear the prestigious Gault-Millau chef ’s hat. It is also known for its fine schnapps; be sure to visit award-winning distillers like Freihof Destillerie in beautiful Lustenau, Albert Büchele’s Michelehof or go to the village of Fraxern to taste the unique and delicious ‘Fraxner Kriase’ cherry schnapps. The cultural and culinary scene on the Austrian side of Lake Constance draws attention way beyond its borders. The fresh, modern imagination of the Bodensee-Vorarlberg region and its inhabitants makes it an inspiring place to explore. Above all, it’s nature that steals the show. The region’s world-class artistic, musical and architectural feats certainly impress – but there’s no doubt that the region’s real forte is the sheer spellbinding beauty of nature.
The Carinthischer Sommer music festival is ranked among the most important in Austria today. It began in 1969 on the shores of Lake Ossiach and is renowned today for the classical and new music talent that it showcases. Many musicians come to Carinthia every year and perform in atmospheric venues such as Ossiach Abbey, the mountain church in Tiffen, the ‘Stone House’ of architect Günther Domenig in Steindorf, the gothic church St. Martin/Feldkirchen and Glanegg Castle. Highlights for 2011 include appearances by Rudolf Buchbinder, Vladimir Fedosejey, Evelyn Glennie, Magdalena Kožená, Sabine Meyer and Heinrich Schiff.
Innovative and contemporary theatre will be the focal point of the annual Wiener Festwochen in 2011 when artists and ensembles from all over the world will present celebrated productions. The festival is not only a wealth of music, dance, and the visual arts but also a festival that emphasizes openness toward other worlds and cultures and provides ample space for forward-looking works. Among the highlights of the 2011 Festwochen, in addition to the open-air event that kicks off the festival on Vienna’s Rathausplatz, is artistic director Luc Bondy’s evocative staging of Giuseppe Verdi’s tragic opera ‘Rigoletto’. www.austria.info/treasures Austria’s Hidden Treasures 13
Franz Liszt, pianist and superstar of his time, was born 200 years ago in Raiding, in Austria’s eastern Burgenland province. He was the creator of a totally new genre of piano music and a musical visionary. He was one of the first composers to perceive music as a narrative form, becoming a pioneer of the ‘symphonic poem’. His oeuvre comprises of 123 piano works, 77 lieder or songs, 25 orchestral works, 65 14 Austria’s Hidden Treasures www.austria.info/treasures
Liszt Festival Raiding/Ulrich Schwarz
sacred and 28 secular choral pieces. Liszt liked to perform his works himself as pianist and conductor and was often greeted by applause from music lovers and hysterical shrieking from the ladies of the audience. ‘Lisztomania’, a term coined by German writer Heinrich Heine, is the motto for all the events of the Liszt Year 2011. The Liszt Centre in Raiding devotes each season to a different facet of this versatile composer: the European, the symphonist, the vocal composer and, of course, the pianist. www.austria.info/treasures Austria’s Hidden Treasures 15
Cities: Graz w o r d s
Cities: Salzburg M A T T
C A RRO L L
Where music meets art
Combining the old, the new – and the culinary! raz is the second-largest city in Austria but still relatively undiscovered for us Brits as a holiday spot. However, it is becoming increasingly popular due to its deserved reputation as a culinary destination. Located in the south of the country, it enjoys a Mediterranean vibe and you’ll not only find fabulous food here but also some of Europe’s most exciting architecture. The great thing about Graz is that you’ll see cutting edge modern design just a few minutes’ walk from the historic old town. A classic example of this is the Kunsthaus, with its curved, blobby exterior that contrasts with the sharp angular Baroque rooftops nearby. Come here at night and the whole thing is lit-up with hundreds of big pixels (bixels), giving it the appearance of a UFO – locals referring to it as ‘the friendly alien’. From here you’re close to the UNESCO-listed old town, just a short stroll across the Mur River. In contrast to the Kunsthaus, the historic district is all tiny alleyways, grand, pastelcoloured houses and quiet courtyards. Another thing you must do is visit the farmers’ markets where you can pick up delicious local treats to take home or to enjoy as a picnic in one of the many parks you’ll find in this city.
Top: Graz is in a sunny corner of Austria
World-famous city, sights and sounds for all
Doris and Günther Huber Gisela Zöpnik Restaurateurs
Slow Food pioneer
Inez Reichl-de Hoogh
‘For us Graz is the most adorable city in the world and so wonderful to live in. It offers on one hand the perfect infrastructure of a big city but at the same time it is still like a little village. It is perfectly summarized by a quote from Hanns Koren, founder of the steirischer herbst festival – ‘Graz is small enough to meet anyone you would like to meet. And big enough to avoid those you don’t want to see.’
‘I was born and raised in my native city of Graz. I particularly like the city because it is so family-friendly. When our four children were younger, we enjoyed the many green parks in the city. The attractive surrounding area adds to a high quality of living. Now with four almost grown-up children we take advantage of the cultural and sporting activities Graz has to offer.’
‘Salzburg, one of the most beautiful cities in the world, offers in addition to Mozart and The Sound of Music, world renowned summer festivals, cultural events and a unique landscape. It is my pleasure and passion as a hotelier in our great city to welcome, to host and to pamper guests from all over the world. The Hotel Stein with its outstanding roof garden views offers Austrian hospitality at its highest.’
‘This city is even beautiful when it’s raining! It is my aim to be a super guide, showing visitors why I like these old buildings so much, the fine art in the city and the people living here. After you have had a tour, Salzburg, with its very special character, should feel like yours too. I hope you will wish to come back next year!’
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Manager, Hotel Stein
ention salzburg to most people and they immediately think of Mozart – this being the birthplace of the great composer. The city centre is amazingly well preserved, and as you walk the old streets you almost expect to see wig-wearing dandies appearing from behind arched doorways. Indeed, if you head to the restaurant, Stiftskeller St Peter, you will. This is Europe’s oldest restaurant – dating back to 803 – and the Mozart family were regulars back here in the 1700s. In honour of this fact there are regular concerts where costumed musicians and opera singers perform classic Mozart arias accompanied by a traditional three-course meal. However, not everything about Salzburg is old. Perched on a cliff, 60 metres above the historic quarter, is the Museum of Modern Art which, from a distance, looks like a Lego brick with windows. Inside there’s work from the world’s hottest contemporary artists. Perhaps the ultimate blend of old and new Salzburg, however, is the Rupertinum Museum of Modern Art. Located in the city’s historic centre, the building began as a school for student priests in 1350, but the interior has been redesigned with minimalist curved walls, forming the perfect backdrop for the contemporary pieces on show.
Top: Mozart was baptised at Salzburg Cathedral www.austria.info/treasures Austria’s Hidden Treasures 17
From Graz with love
Past, present and future
Graz has all the elements of an old Austrian city but is also forward thinking and full of modernity. The young designer Lena Hoschek lives in the city (she has stores all over Europe) and whilst some of her collections draw on the 1950s for inspiration (lots of pantsuits and petticoats with wide skirts), she also designs studded belts, extravagant latex stockings and high heels. Her collections look as if someone has stuck them in a time machine and mixed up a few decades in the process. She’s now dressing the likes of US star Katy Perry and received rave reviews at Berlin Fashion Week so be sure to visit her store whilst in the city.
Thrilling Imperial crossroads in a deep valley
n the heart of the alps, Innsbruck blends avant-garde architecture with lavish Baroque heritage. In the last 10 years a host of futuristic structures have shot up across the skyline, creating a 21st-century vision that fulfils what many experts predicted the ‘future’ would look like. The Bergisel ski jump building is a classic case of this. Designed by renowned architect Zaha Hadid, it drapes itself over the Bergisel hill in the south of the city. Meanwhile, on the opposite side of the city lies another Hadid creation – the Nordkettenbahnen – which is just as jaw-dropping, with its slippery, extraterrestrial-looking arches. Climb aboard the funicular ‘pods’ that whisk you up the mountain to the Hungerburg station, and you’ve got the whole city spread out before you. One of Innsbruck’s main attractions for mountain sports lovers is the close proximity of city centre and slopes – the city has twice hosted the Winter Olympics – in 1964 and ’76. Meanwhile, tucked in between these two striking tributes to modernity, lies ‘old’ Innsbruck, in the heart of the city. As you stroll the streets look out for the Goldenes Dachl – or ‘golden roof ’ – built for Emperor Maximilian I in the 16th-century as his royal box. Top: The Bergisel ski jump was built in 2001
Shop chic Gernot Bohmann, Harald Gründl and Martin Bergmann are the three creative designers behind the brand EOOS. Specialising in furniture, product and shop design, the brand has created concepts for shop spaces for top brands, including Giorgio Armani and Adidas. One particularly renowned piece of work is the ‘Inipi Stone’ – the small remote control device, which looks exactly like a smooth stone, enables users to regulate temperature, humidity, colour of light and music within their own home. EOOS’s clever design of its ‘b2’ kitchen workshop, produced by Bulthaup, earned it the 2010 Gold Design Award of Germany.
‘When I took over the Cafe Kröll from my mother five years ago, I knew I had to develop a new product and new ideas. That creative process led to the Strudel Café which serves a myriad of sweet and savoury strudels. Using only regional and seasonal products, we have become one of the ‘in’ places to go in Innsbruck. I love the urban-alpine lifestyle which makes this city so special – mountains, city and lots of sports!’
‘In S’Culinarium, we serve 300 different flavours of brandy and liquors, Austrian ice wines, and many other culinary delights. I came to Innsbruck on a holiday 45 years ago from Vienna and I never left! The quality of life in this city is second to none. I shower in mineral water – it really is that clean – have fantastic mountains surrounding me, culture, nature and sports. What more could I possibly want?’
Owner, Strudel Café
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Mano Design is the name that product designer Hedwig Rotter chose for her label, inspired by the Latin word ‘manus’, meaning hand. Her studio is in the Ottakring district of Vienna and she specialises in high quality porcelain and likes to explore a range of possibilities with this extremely delicate material. As well as playing with traditional forms, she likes to try new and demanding forms with it and collections include not only mugs, bowls and vases but also lamps that pay homage to the shape of a big ball chair. Humour also plays an important role – perhaps you fancy porcelain football shoes available with either a gold or platinum coating?
Cheeky schnitzel Three designers, Sascha Mikel, Martin Schnabl and Michael Tatschl make up the Viennese design group Breaded Escalope, which creates socially sustaining artefacts and systems that raise questions and challenge common meanings and general perceptions. The studio doesn’t create work; rather it makes statements which are often produced through playfully interactive performances. For example, the design performance Shakin’ Products sees various colourful bottles and other concave forms filled with liquid bioresin. When these moulds are shaken and rolled around, the bioresin hardens and out pops a solid, finished piece. www.austria.info/treasures Austria’s Hidden Treasures 19
Located in the heart of the Kamptal region, famous around the world for its sophisticated, aromatic white wines, Loisium is a striking vinotheque and wine museum, a place to indulge in a wine adventure for all the senses. Indeed the star attraction is in fact dubbed The Adventure World of Wine; open since 2003, it is a place to learn about and be mentally immersed in wine – as well as sample it and take some home. 20 Austria’s Hidden Treasures www.austria.info/treasures
A tour of the cellar, the tunnels of the vinotheque, and striking contemporary buildings encompasses all that is compelling about modern Austrian wines. There’s the Sekt Bar, to sample fine dry sparkling wine, the baroque Zehnerhaus and the shop. And all around, the spellbinding vineyard-clad scenery of the hilly Kamptal, one of Europe’s prettiest wine-growing regions, where warm days and cool nights produce beautifully structured, balanced fine white wines. www.austria.info/treasures Austria’s Hidden Treasures 21
On the Nature Trail: Zell am See-Kaprun
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The high-altitude safari
The new ̔Peak World 3000̓ zone opens the door to a world of flora and fauna
o anyone used to being in the Alps in wintertime, when the whole region is a snowy wonderland, visiting in summer can be quite an eye-opener, and nowhere is this phenomenon more pronounced than in the area around Zell am See-Kaprun. The villages themselves are picturesquely situated in low, broad valleys, ranged around a freshwater lake that, on most days, represents a picture-postcard view of hot summer idyll: sunbathing, yachting and ice-cream-eating children abound. Yet a few minutes on a cable-car whisks you upwards into a different climate, past the tree line to where only grasses and lichens survive, and finally, on the highest cable cars, into the high mountains, where permanent snowfields, glaciers and rocks abound. It’s one of the greatest tonics imaginable on a holiday to head up into this highaltitude hinterland; more of an escape than any crowded beach. Whatever you do during your visit, be sure to obtain a Zell am See-Kaprun
card which enables you to visit the most popular attractions in the region, and the different methods of transport used to get there, for free. high-altitude hi-tech This summer sees the opening of the ‘Gipfelwelt 3000’, or ‘Peak World 3000’, at the very top of the Kitzsteinhorn, the summit that towers over the area. Gipfelwelt is a highmountain adventure zone, with a dramatic suspended viewing platform, giant screen cinema, and a 360 metrelong ‘summit gallery’ that features hi-tech exhibits on themes like local mountain crystals, gold and silver, and the permafrost layer that holds the mountain together. There’s also a slickly decorated panoramic restaurant. The star of the show is the view, and the name ‘summit world’ is no exaggeration. At 3,029 metres, Gipfelwelt is high even by Alpine standards, but its real draw is its geographical position at the gateway to the second largest national park in the
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Alps, the Hohe Tauern national park. It occupies a special place in the eyes of many Alpinists, not only because it contains Austria’s highest peak, the 3,798 metre Grossglockner, but because its combination of high peaks and remote valleys, and its protected status, mean it is a natural wonderland housing the most beautiful flora and fauna in the Alps. Go on a guided tour with one of the park rangers to really experience it. spot the big five And this is the third great attraction of Zell am See-Kaprun: as well as its lakeside life and views, it is the gateway to the wonders of the Hohe Tauern. To explore properly you will need a guide, who will create an itinerary to suit your ability. Whether you go on a gentle three-hour ramble or a three-day climb, you will see natural wonders you’re unlikely to spot anywhere else. Opposite page, from top: Lake Zell and its surroundings offer visitors plenty of summer activities; if you’re lucky you might see a golden eagle www.austria.info/treasures Austria’s Hidden Treasures 23
On the Nature Trail
Meet the locals
Wet and wild
At each height level, you are effectively in a different biosphere. Lower down, look out for rhododendron and dwarf mountain pines; higher up it’s evergreens like spruce and fir. Blink and you’ll miss the wildlife: chamois, ibex, and earth toads are three species to cross off your list at lower altitudes. In fact, the Hohe Tauern even has an informal, safari-style ‘Big Five’ of creatures to spot: running from relatively common to ‘Oh my gosh do you know what I just saw?’, these are the chamois, ibex, griffon vulture, golden eagle and bearded vulture. But don’t forget the marmots, cute furry critters that often sit on rocks taking in the sun. fantastic flora Like any kind of wildlife trek, spotting animals is largely a matter of luck. Less so spotting the local flora: myriad species abound due to the protected national park and its unique terrain. My favourite place (as a complete amateur) to spot flowers is in that exceptionally pure zone just below the rock/glacier high-altitude regions where only mosses and lichens survive. It is here, among the sparse high Alpine grass, that you are most likely to see rare flowers like the black vanilla orchid. Indeed, orchid species abound here, as do edelweiss, fabulously coloured gentians, tiger lilies and the ubiquitous Alpine roses. You don’t need to know what they are to appreciate them either: seeing a mountainside dotted with purple, white and yellow, with a waft of herbs, beside a stream washing down from the glacier above, is as appealing for the novice as the expert (I imagine). And at the end of each day, you can be whisked down to Zell am SeeKaprun and stroll in the hot summer’s sunshine, in what is, quite literally, a different world.
Located between the European capitals of Vienna and Bratislava, the Donau-Auen National Park preserves the last remaining major wetlands environment in Central Europe. The wetlands along the free-flowing stretches of the River Danube that pass here are among the most ecologically significant of the Central European river and nature enthusiasts will be fascinated by the numerous animals and plants that thrive here. The river provides sustenance to 60 species of fish, kingfisher, golden eagle, beaver, terrapins, rare orchids and countless insects. Explore the extensive wetlands landscape on land or water under the guidance of the park’s tour guides.
A park for all reasons
‘In my opinion, the region of Zell am See-Kaprun is absolutely and totally unique. The nature that surrounds us here has everything anyone could ever possibly want or need. On Sonnberg on Schmittenhöhe, I operate a brewery called ‘Saglbräu’. We are high above sea level and enjoy beautiful views of Lake Zell and the impressive Grossglockner mountain region. For my beer I only use locally grown ingredients and you can definitely taste that when trying my many different brews! Here in my homeland region, residents and visitors can still enjoy nature in its purest form, whether you are high up in the mountains, in the valley, or on our famous lake.’
‘For 37 years, I have been responsible for maintaining the ski runs and walking trails on the famous Kitzsteinhorn mountain, part of the Hohe Tauern moutain range. I know these mountains like the back of my hand and they never fail to cast their spell over me. Every year I take guests on hiking tours to the summits and every time they are fascinated by the stunning view of the highest peaks in Austria. There are so many different routes for hikers (in both winter and summer) and the panorama platforms, at up to 3,000 metres high, are the ultimate place to go for a breathtaking view. From here, the Grossglockner, Austria’s highest mountain, is so close you could almost reach out and touch it and if you are really lucky you might even spot a golden eagle soaring high above the mountaintops.’
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With an area of 11,054 hectares, the Gesaeuse National Park is the third largest of the six Austrian National Parks and features a range of different landscapes – high mountains, woodlands, high meadows and open water – meaning there is a wealth of nature to discover. Explore the lower regions on foot, with a guide – there’s a wide range of walks suitable for all levels. Easier routes include the Sagen and Rauchboden paths, more experienced walkers can try more challenging ascents such as the waterfall and Petern paths. Climbers will particularly enjoy a visit here as the Gesaeuse is well known to Alpinists for its breathtaking climbs.
Untouched beauty The National Park Thayatal is unique in that it is a transborder national park, with its counterpart, the ‘Národni park Podyjí’, on the Czech side of the border. Before the fall of the Iron Curtain, the valley along the border had remained practically untouched and the national park was only founded in 2000. Surrounding the Thaya river, here you will discover an extraordinary world of plant species and forest that had been virtually hidden from human interaction for years. The Thayatal valley has an array of landscapes – steep cliffs, gentle meadows, natural forests and wild river banks created by the ebbs and flows of the Thaya river.
Natural tree museum The Kalkalpen National Park comprises of 21,000 hectares of woodland and is the largest protected forest area in Austria. Visitors will discover many different forest types with fir, spruce and beech dominating. The aim here is to maintain the natural cycle – trees grow old and die without any interference from humans or machines; decayed tree trunks give way to new tree life and the cycle begins again. However, there’s much more than just trees here – visitors can explore waterfalls, lakes, gorges and ravines as well as search for 30 different species of mammal (beware of the brown bears), 80 species of bird and 1,600 species of butterfly. www.austria.info/treasures Austria’s Hidden Treasures 25
Slow Down: Burgenland
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Chillout zone Escape, peace, space – all of these abound in magical Burgenland still, the sky clear, the sun blazing. Two flocks of birds almost crossed each other in mid-sky over the lake. I didn’t realise at the time, but on entering Burgenland, the province surrounding the great Lake Neusiedl, we had left Alpine Europe behind and entered Pannonia, the westernmost part of the great Eurasian plain that stretches to Siberia. Far from being another deep, clear Alpine lake, carved out of steep mountainsides, Neusiedl is a shallow – less than 2 metres deep – saltwater lake, surrounded by wetlands. The atmosphere is different, too. This is the warmest, sunniest part of Austria and the chillout vibe is palpable. Vinotherapy Any visit to Burgenland is incomplete without an experience of the wine and the culture around it. The warm climate lends itself well to red and noble sweet grape varieties, unlike Austria’s north, which is perfect for zingy, complex whites. Experience the regional Blaufränkisch and Zweigelts
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from world-renowned producers in restaurants in towns like Eisenstadt, the capital (made famous by Joseph Haydn and still a musical centre) or simply by dropping into a wine pub among the reed beds, all of which serve both red and white wines, the latter often freshly made and refreshingly spritzy. With the white wines, try locally-caught zander, carp and pike; with the reds, dishes made from the local breeds of Mangalitsa pork and beef. In the calm and silence that abound in this province, a little stroll along the nearest path is bound to reveal some or other migratory bird soaring overhead; the lake is a major stopover on the avian migration highway, made even more attractive by its lack of obvious development. You may well be tempted onto one of the many guided bird watching expeditions, with up to 300 species on show in their natural habitat. Opposite page, from top: Mole West is a café and fine dining restaurant on the shores of Lake Neusiedl; the lake is home to 300 species of bird
elcome to the steppe!” I still clearly remember the words of the smiling gentleman delivering two glasses of wine to the table on the terrace of the little wine pub, on my first ever visit to Burgenland. As I sipped my Blaufränkisch, I admit to wondering what, exactly, he meant, though before he came back with a second glass I had started to get an inkling. The terrace itself nestled among reed beds, beyond which stretched a long, wide, shallow lake, or really an inland sea, whose opposite shore lay beyond the horizon. We had driven to the lakeside (or, technically, reedside) terrace from Vienna via a low, forested range of hills that separate Austria’s easternmost province from the rest of the country. Once we had broached these hills, there was a palpable change of geography from the rest of the country. The scenery was flat, stretching towards a horizon; the soil holding the vineyards that stretched in either direction seemed drier; the air was
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Slow down the Austrian way
Meet the locals
Cycle heaven To clear the head after a good evening of fine red wine, I recommend doing as I did and taking to two wheels the next day. There are a breathtaking 2,500 kilometres of bicycle paths, including one skirting the lake and others weaving through vineyard, reed and forest. Many are perfectly flat; and if another type of riding takes your fancy, there are dozens of stables and 1,300 kilometres of horse riding paths. Many stables will provide riders with GPS navigation equipment free of charge. Natural health service Just being in Burgenland is a tonic, with the climate, the peace and feeling of exoticism. But there is also no shortage of natural thermal springs and spas of all types, from holistic healing at traditional health centres to bang-up-to-date hotel spas designed inside sustainably-created, harmonious wooden architecture. There’s nothing that jars in Burgenland. Of particular interest to those seeking to cleanse both body and soul is the panoply of waters: in a country of mineral water, Burgenland is the mineral water capital, and in many spots you can catch these at their source, accompanied by thermal spring treatments. The Burgenland Therme in Bad Tatzmannsdorf focuses on water as the source of life and has five themed saunas. The Stegersbach resort is famed for the soothing effect of its waters on aching joints and muscles. At the Sonnentherme LutzmannsburgFrankenau the whole family (babies too) can embark on natural spa therapy. Meanwhile the new St Martin’s Therme & Lodge in Frauenkirchen is an upmarket, eco-chic hotel with a sophisticated spa, delicious cuisine and that memorable view, outwards and upwards, of utter peace that so perfectly characterises Burgenland. 28
Austria's finest spa hotels Think spa, think Austria. Imagine backdrops of stunning natural beauty, worldrenowned service levels and a culture of true spa expertise and innovation. Whilst treating yourself to a stay in one of Austria’s fifteen four and five star spa retreat hotels, you will find yourself in the hands of professional practitioners with years of extensive training. Located on mountaintops or in valleys, each boasts its own uniqueness and each meets the highest international spa standards and radiates Austrian warmth and character. Combine your spa experience with a host of outdoor activities and enjoy exquisite dining. It’s the perfect blend of well-being.
The Danube biking trail
‘The Neusiedler See region is different from the rest of Austria. Because of the steppe, the reed belt, dozens of salt lakes and wet meadows it is a crucial stepping stone for the European-African bird migration flyway and is very important as a point for bird watching in Central Europe. The easily accessible habitats are perfect for birdwatching as about 320 species can be found here – more than anywhere else in Austria or Central Europe. The Bird Experience 2011 is a mixture of lectures, excursions and exhibitions and will take place from 15th to 17th April. The aim is to offer a thorough overview of the birdwatching industry and regional biodiversity to both beginners and experts. There’ll be lectures and workshops on birds and bird observation is available as well as excursions to the protected areas at Lake Neusiedl, in Hanság on the Danube and Morava and in the Sopron Mountains. Don’t miss it!’
‘The region of Lake Neusiedl is known as a unique wine region. The lake is a climate regulator and the Pannonian climate guarantees a high quality of wine – in the winter, it’s cold and has snow, in the summer, it’s hot and humid – and due to the blazing sun, the evaporation of Lake Neusiedl is very high. 2,000 hours of sunshine, high humidity and an average of 550mm of rain per year provide climatically unique conditions for the production of premium wines. The white wines like Welschriesling convince with their gentle fruit nuances; full-bodied, elegant reds (such as Blaufränkisch, St. Laurent and Zweigelt) have helped to create an awareness for this region in the world of wine and win recognition in the blind taste tests. The unique conditions of the soil here (stony soil composed of sand and clay) also assists in guaranteeing the success of a large variety of grapes.’
Austria’s Hidden Treasures www.austria.info/treasures
Europe’s second longest river, the Danube, flows like a lifeline through Austria, drawing its ribbon-like path through Upper and Lower Austria, wending its way through highly diverse landscapes. For years, the most popular biking trail in Europe has been the one along the Danube and usually bikers start this scenic route in the town of Passau, also known as the ‘City of Three Rivers,’ because the Danube is joined here by the Inn from the south and the Ilz from the north. From here, it gently descends, always close to the riverside, leading you through cities and dreamy villages, past fortress ruins, monasteries and convents.
Natural remedy The town of Scheffau in the Wilder Kaiser region is totally unique in that it is dedicated to the legendary health philosophy of the pastor Sebastian Kneipp. Here you can experience the healing benefits of the Kneipp method, whereby through light, air, weather, diet, peace and exercise, illnesses can be eased or healed altogether and health maintained. But the dedication to the Kneipp method is not the only reason to visit Scheffau – there are also plenty of activities on offer here, including hiking, watersports, mountain-biking and golf, all which allow you to appreciate the stunning scenery in the heart of the impressive Kitzbühel Alps.
High-altitude healing Summer can often mean allergies for many of us but you don’t need to worry when visiting the village of Kühtai in the Stubai Alps in the Sellrain valley. Because of its location at 2,000 metres, it has become a favourite place for allergy sufferers to visit. Enjoy stunning landscapes and hiking on trails through pollen free air and drink water from the crystal clear mountain springs. Visit the three lakes that are easy to get to on foot – the Finstertaler reservoir, Lake Plenderle and Lake Hirscheben. Just like the high performance athletes who train here in the highaltitude environment, you’ll feel in optimum health after a visit here. www.austria.info/treasures Austria’s Hidden Treasures 29
In the region of Carinthia the lakes are so clean and clear that they have been classed as drinking water quality. The lakes are loved by locals, who have made them an integral part of life here. In the summertime, families and swimmers make a beeline to the lakes to cool off in the crystal clear waters whilst appreciating and taking in the stunning mountain surroundings. CafĂŠs, late night restaurants and
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lakeside bars all add to the atmosphere and experience and offer viewing points from which to take in the surrounding beauty that you will discover. The lakes have become the perfect space to eat, swim and relax. Situated in the very south of the province, the stunning lakes of Klopeinersee and Turnersee are blessed with a Mediterranean climate and thus have become key places to visit for locals and visitors alike. www.austria.info/treasures Austriaâ€™s Hidden Treasures 31
It is believed it is possible that mountain bikers can actually relax through the excitement of cycling and Austria has plenty to offer enthusiasts with thousands of kilometres of specialist and well signposted routes all over the country. In the mountains, you will find a huge network of trails and routes in every possible imaginable grade of difficulty. You can career across the terrain on your wheels and
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practice on cross-country skiing and downhill routes, hill climbs and stage races. However, if you are not a pro, do not worry as there is plenty of professional guidance available – book a course to learn the essential techniques and skills you will need before heading up into the high mountain peaks and make sure you have a GPS device close at hand to navigate your way. Choose Austria for its unrivalled cycling and mountain bike routes and you will not be disappointed. www.austria.info/treasures Austria’s Hidden Treasures 33
The region of Ausseerland held its first Daffodil Festival on May 28 and 29, 1960, as a way to celebrate spring. Since then, the festival has become an annual event and is now the largest flower festival in Austria. The daffodils found in this region are known as the ‘poet’s daffodil’ or ‘findern flower’ and originate from southern Europe. They are in bloom from mid-May until the end of June and the meadows that become 34 Austria’s Hidden Treasures www.austria.info/treasures
filled with them during this time bring joy to the locals and to anyone who visits. More than 30,000 people flock to the festival every year and it takes more than 3,000 helpers to make it so special. You will see over 40 elaborately decorated vehicles take part in the motorcade and between 30 and 40 boats in the boat parade – over 30,000 daffodil blossoms are used in these decorations. An attraction for all the family, this special event should not be missed. www.austria.info/treasures Austria’s Hidden Treasures 35
Family Paradise: Saalbach Hinterglemm
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Fun and fresh air for everyone
Saalbach Hinterglemm has all you need for the perfect al fresco getaway…
emember what it felt like to play outdoors all day? Running around in the woods, building dens and scraping knees. Back then, there was no talk of ‘fat camp’ or ‘five-aday’; kids did what kids love – running around and just enjoying themselves. Thankfully, in Saalbach Hinterglemm, located in the north of Austria, it’s still a bit like that. This vast Alpine valley, where farmers’ fields are draped over the lower slopes like a green patchwork quilt, is a veritable adventure playground for youngsters – of all ages. Woodwork and play At first glance, you almost expect to see a bunch of elves come running out of the trees at Schnitza’s Holzpark. Tucked away cosily on the valley floor, it’s littered with exotic-looking sculptures and miniature shelters – built entirely out of wood. It was the brainchild of local craftsman, Herbert ‘Schnitza’ Aschaber (‘schnitza’ means carpenter in the local lingo), who wanted to create an area where kids could play
simply – and safely – using both their imagination and their hands. It is a chance for children to rediscover their creativity. (See his interview with us on page 38.) The result is a world away from Xbox and MTV. Under the watchful eye of the carpenter himself, youngsters can learn how to whittle their own chosen creations out of lumber, before clambering over the carved wooden biplane and testing their balancing skills on various exciting obstacles. There’s even a child-sized stream where they can race rubber ducks – assuming the little resident dog, Sunny, doesn’t run off with them. High jinks While Schnitza’s Holzpark is aimed at the more diminutive members of the family, up in the nearby trees you can take on some altogether loftier challenges. Opened last July, the new ‘Golden Gate Bridge of the Alps’ is a rather spectacular overpass that takes you
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across the valley in line with the treetops. Owner Reinhold Bauböck says ‘the immediate surroundings of the Lindlingalm at the end of the Glemm valley offer a unique setting and excellent infrastructure for this project, which aims to awaken and deepen our understanding of the forest, nature, and the entire eco-system, through direct observation and personal experiences.’ Indeed, it’s the highest elevated tree-top walk in Europe and takes you on a one kilometre loop through the canopy, along a route that encompasses towers, platforms and massive larch-wood staircases. The ‘highlight’ is the 200 metre rope bridge from one side of the valley to the other, which is enough to make your knees wobbly with anticipation – or at least those of us who are less than fond of heights. Once you’ve climbed the staircase to get up to the walkway, you’ll find it’s Opposite page, from top: tree-top views from the great heights of the ‘Golden Gate Bridge’; Saalbach Hinterglemm is the perfect place for a family holiday www.austria.info/treasures Austria’s Hidden Treasures 37
Meet the locals
Museums for kids
Arts and crafts
easily wide enough to fit three or four people standing abreast (perfect for that all-important family photo). In fact you could pretty much point the camera in any direction around here and end up with photos that will make the guys back home green with envy. Stand halfway across the bridge and you get a cracking view down into the Glemm valley – all lush fields, tall pines and craggy peaks. Gremlins and clowns Thankfully Saalbach is not all about testing your fear (or carpentry skills). At the nearby Kohlmais Mountain, you and the little ones can embark on a mission to help Montelino the clown find his missing toys – which disappeared, along with his friends, after he took them all for granted. At least that’s how the legend goes. After grabbing an empty toy box of their own and taking the cable car up the mountain, you set off along a scenic walking trail through shady woods and Alpine meadows – searching for the missing toys hidden en route. Having made their way through the giant spider’s web, encountered the squirrel’s nest containing the golden nut and launched themselves down the giant slide, one thing’s for sure, they’ll be thoroughly worn out – even if they don’t find all the toys. Another destination they’ll love is the fantasy zone at Reiterkogel, in Hinterglemm. After taking the cable car up to the top station, you set off together on a two mile circular tour – entering the magical world of the gremlin, Kodok (said to have stolen the hat of the clown, the ‘good spirit’ of the mountain). The aim is to recover and restore the hat, as well as solving riddles and collect clues. Above all, you will be sure to just generally enjoy yourselves in the great outdoors. Just like we all did in the good old days…
The ZOOM museum in Vienna was established in 1994 and was Austria’s first museum for children. There’s an interactive exhibition where through play, children will learn about key topics in science, art, architecture and everyday culture. The ZOOM studio offers workshops where they can paint, cut, build, spray and assemble creations as well as make felt and mould shapes. There’s also an animated film studio, where teenagers can play the roles of screenwriters, directors, cinematographers and photographers. And if that isn’t enough, there’s a permanent ZOOM Ocean adventure and play area for children up to six years old.
Past, present and future
‘I love to live in Saalbach Hinterglemm – for me it’s definitely the best place to be. In my opinion Saalbach easily matches the diversity of big cities, though here everything is done in tune with nature. There are plenty of unique activities for the whole family, easily accessible by our panorama cable car: the swimming lake, built especially with sustainability in mind, the petting zoo, the mountain farming museum, the demonstration of baking bread the traditional way, the feeding of the deer or the show of birds of prey. It’s all about having fun but also learning and understanding about things – that’s the added value we like to offer visitors as a ‘souvenir’ to remember us by when they are back home.’
‘Our clients often tell me that they highly regard the sustainability of the experiences at Schnitza’s Holzpark. Children love to carve their personal hiking pole which brings forward their creativity. They have no experience in woodcarving when they come to us and when they create something with their own hands they are very excited and they appreciate my guidance. This is a different way of teaching and children love it. The work and activities using wood, whether it’s the actual carving or playing with the wooden toys is great fun and an excellent alternative to computer games and TV. I prefer to live in the ‘here and now’ and I don’t think of these children as the guests of the future; the only thing that matters to me is to see their happy faces and watch their excitement. I want them to remember their holiday at SaalbachHinterglemm as a jolly good time.’
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The Haus der Natur (Museum of Nature) in Salzburg combines history, nature and a lot more. It houses a permanent exhibition about all aspects of nature, a science centre, an aquarium (with over 40 tanks full of fish species from all over the world – don’t miss feeding time) and a reptile zoo. Children will learn and have fun by going around the exhibitions on offer here, including ‘Prehistoric times and Dinosaurs’, ‘Geology and the Ice Age’, ‘Men and Nature’ and ‘The Human Body’. There’s even a ‘Space Hall’ which features large-scale models of assorted spacecraft and a seriously impressive computer animation of a meteorite impact.
Showtime in Graz When visiting the city of Graz with your little ones, you must go to the children’s museum, Frida and Fred. There is so much to do here – start by taking off your shoes as it’s more fun to experience the exhibitions barefoot or in socks or slippers. The exhibition ‘Blubberblubb’ is especially for three year olds and is dedicated to discovering the world of water – bring a dry change of clothes! There is an exhibition for those over the age of seven that focuses on questions about death and the before and after – Why do we get old? What happens to the deceased? There are also theatre shows and a laboratory for trying out experiments.
A feast for the senses The Villa Sinnenreich Museum in Rohrbach, situated in the foothills of the Bohemian Forest, is a whole new world of illusion and reality. The museum contains over 400 square metres of exhibition space housing the works of over 40 artists. Here technology and art combine to surprise visitors with the unexpected – start by enjoying your edible ticket then check out the mirror exhibits that include a walk-in kaleidoscope and a piece titled ‘the room exploded’. Children must also experience ‘The Ingenious Way’, a five kilometre trail that leads you through the landscape of Upper Mühlviertel and amazes with optical illusions along the way. www.austria.info/treasures Austria’s Hidden Treasures 39
Back to Nature: Alpbachtal/Tirol
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Escape to an old world
In the Alpbach valley you’ll find much more than just 17th-century farms
hat little red light on your BlackBerry has got a lot to answer for. While we’re constantly told about the benefits of taking your ‘office’ with you, what happens when you really need to get away from it all? A good start would be to visit the Alpbachtal (Alpbach valley) in western Austria, where, thankfully, life has remained largely the same for centuries. Surrounded by dramatic Alpine peaks, this sun-kissed natural amphitheatre is a ‘living museum’, where traditional farming practices still hold sway and there are strict building controls to ensure that it keeps its good looks. More importantly, though, you might struggle for a phone signal… The most beautiful village in the Alps? Arriving in Alpbach, the valley opens out before you to reveal meadows awash with yellow wildflowers. Oxlips, orchids, primulas and Alpine roses sway gently in the breeze, as if announcing your arrival to the locals. This, however,
is just a prelude to the floral displays adorning the chocolate box chalets – rows of pinks, reds, purples and whites creating splashes of colour that stand out against the carved wood balconies. It’s no surprise then, that the village was voted the most beautiful in Austria during a 1983 television contest, coming in the wake of a scientific study several years earlier which found that Alpbach had the country’s cleanest air, too. One deep breath is enough to tell you that this is probably still the case. Think of the wonders a visit here will have for your health. The village has dozens of walking trails leading off in all directions, giving you an opportunity to disappear off into high Alpine pastures, where the likelihood is you’ll have most of the mountain to yourself. Peering across to the opposite side of the valley you can see other hikers making their way down the verdant hillsides, like ants crawling over a giant leaf. If you haven’t quite got the energy for a full-on hike, how about strolling
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along the lane from the village, for a look round the Vorder-Unterberg farming museum. Like many of Alpbach’s buildings, it dates back to the 1600s and is filled with over 800 pieces of authentic furniture and items, giving a fascinating snapshot into the rural life here. There are even cows, pigs and chickens still running around the place – so feel free to muck in. Little ones will be sure to love gaining some hands on experience at tending to and feeding the animals. Food glorious food Indeed farming is still hugely important here, and there are more than a hundred smallholdings scattered around the valley, many having belonged to the same families for centuries. One of these is Gasthof Rossmoos, about 10-minutes’ drive up the valley from Alpbach, which also Opposite page, from top: the stunning lush green hillsides of the Alpbachtal; a traditional wooden door in the Vorder-Unterberg farming museum www.austria.info/treasures Austria’s Hidden Treasures 41
Back to Nature
Meet the locals
Green in the sun
just happens to be a renowned restaurant. Owned by the Moser family and perched on a hillside overlooking the wide natural bowl, at around 1,200 metres above sea level, this place is famous for serving up tasty local dishes, like speckknoedel – a typical farmer’s meal of dumplings, bacon, eggs, onions and diced bread. Just what you need after a day out in the mountains. Indeed, home-cooked comfort food is something the Austrians do rather well. Another thing you must try when you’re here is a traditional dessert called Kaiserschmarrn – a thick baked pancake, chopped into small pieces and served with a plum sauce. Guaranteed to leave you stuffed but satisfied. Healing hands After all this fresh air and fine local food, the only thing you need now to have you firing on all cylinders again is a relaxing massage. This is something they’re pretty good at in the Alpbachtal, with several wellness centres and spas dotted around the area offering toetingling treatments using local, herbderived products. At the family-run Hotel Galtenberg, for example, the ground-floor spa and wellness centre – which spans over 600 square metres – is decked out with various steam rooms, and even an al fresco ‘sauna garden’ where you can sit and sip a refreshing fruit tea while soaking up the magnificent view. Book yourself in for a 50 minute deep tissue massage, which will iron out those knotty shoulders; or how about a full-body hot stone rub-down, which promises to ‘release stored tension, recharge your energy levels and relax you on a physical, mental and spiritual level.’ The wellness centre also offers special ‘Enjoying Days’ packages for you and the whole family with multiple treatments. There’s only two words to add to that: yes please. 42
The resort of Ramsau in Styria is renowned for enjoying plenty of sunshine so is perfect for a holiday. And now you will be doing your bit environmentally when you visit as businesspeople in the area – hotel owners, farmers, restaurateurs and merchants – have formed the ‘Ramsau bioneer’ initiative. They are all dedicated to achieving a sustainable and ‘green’ way of living - whether it’s the vegan-vegetarian guesthouse or a four star hotel, all ‘bioneers’ committed to the programme produce genetically non-altered products and adhere to the waste and energy criteria stipulated by the Austrian environmental label of standards.
Farm holidays in Austria
‘I am one of only five people in the Tirol region who practice the art of feather quill embroidery. I have learnt everything I know from my father who learnt his trade in this region years ago. He still helps me today and I am passing on my expertise and secrets to my own son – this art cannot be learnt through apprenticeship, it is passed from generation to generation through teaching and words. Our workshop is in our home and our materials are of the highest quality - we use peacock feathers for the feather quills and for the leather, we use cow, goat or horse skin – it is important that the leather is smooth and thin. Our expertise lies in making belts, handbags, braces and cow bell collars and I begin my day at 5am as it takes time to produce good work. I’ve found the job of my dreams; I could probably earn more if I worked the same hours as a mechanic, but that wouldn’t make me happier.’
‘I was born here on the Unterberghof farm and my family lived here until it was turned into the present day VorderUnterberg museum by the Mayor in the Seventies. Today, I live next door to the museum (one of the Tirol’s last) and I work as the museum’s guide, as well as tending to the animals we have here – 3 cows and 15 hens – which provide me with fresh milk and eggs. The museum is full of history and gives visitors an interesting insight into rural life: there are the old butter churns, wooden skis, traditional costumes and even 18th-century toothpicks. The museum houses the only existing Alpbach four poster bed in the old farmer’s bedroom and we also have a very special feature – the farm has its own chapel with an altar. There is much to see here and I enjoy guiding visitors through the house where I was born and reminiscing about my childhood and bringing the farm to life for others.’
Feather quill embroiderer Farmer
Austria’s Hidden Treasures www.austria.info/treasures
There’s nothing to be afraid of when taking a farm holiday in Austria – not the big tractors, or the old rooster, or the smell from the stables. Not the dirt or the dung in the sty! Your only worry is that you’ll enjoy your visit so much that you will never want to leave. Large and modern or smaller and older, all farms are well maintained, very clean and cosy. There are tiled stoves in the parlour, barns where the hay is stored, fresh eggs from free-range hens, homemade apple juice, butter and milk. The whole family, especially children, will be able to learn what life on the farm is really like but don’t worry, the farm owners will not be strict with you!
Natural choice Founded in 2001 and with 55 hotels in Europe, Bio-Hotels prides itself on offering organic produce, environmentally conscious accommodation and waste management. The Hotel Gralhof in Carinthia, in the heart of the Weissensee Nature Park, offers beautiful surroundings. Its eco-friendly credentials are obvious – it has a wood chip heating system and most of its organic produce is grown on site or sourced locally. The Knallers, who own the hotel, are music lovers and have developed the hotel into a cultural centre also – their ‘Jazz Under the Pear Tree’ event has become a regular fixture on the region’s cultural calendar.
Equine therapy The Grosses Walsertal in Vorarlberg is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve where the motto is ‘use nature without harming it’. St.Gerold is a monastery in the heart of the valley and accommodates up to 60 guests. It aspires to be a place of communication, encounter and exchange – there are no TVs and horses play a very important role in physical therapy riding. Guests can also take part in workshops and seminars on subjects such as dance, Zen Buddhism and the Feldenkrais method (designed to promote well-being and reduce illness). Be sure to visit the nearby village of Marul, Austria’s first all organic farming village. www.austria.info/treasures Austria’s Hidden Treasures
What is it about water? There’s nothing quite so exhilarating as waking up, drawing the curtains, and seeing a vast expanse of Alpine lake spread before you. The heart of the Alps is a wonderful combination of majestic mountains and glittering lakes and rivers but is also home to some 10,000 clean water springs that bubble up to the surface and come forth offering the ulitmate mountain refreshment 44 Austria’s Hidden Treasures www.austria.info/treasures
– the freshest and most delicious drinking water you’ll find anywhere (and it’s free!). Whether you fancy a refreshing swim after some energetic hiking or mountain biking, or would like to have a go at white-water rafting or any of the other watersports that you can try here – kayaking, windsurfing, sailing and water-skiing to name but a few – Austria is among the European nations that boast an abundance of water resources. www.austria.info/treasures Austria’s Hidden Treasures 45
Nature's Dinner Table: Zillertal
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Enter a world of fine food and fresh air in the Ziller valley
iking is all about fresh air and exercise but if you’re lucky enough to be doing it in the lush mountain pastures of Zillertal (Ziller valley), in western Austria, you’ll also be surrounded by the perfect components for the most healthy and delicious organic produce. This region is renowned for its cuisine and natural ingredients and deservedly so – herbs grow all over the mountainsides and the spring water is the freshest. For anyone with even the slightest interest in good organic food, this place is a veritable Promised Land. Its steep, flower-filled meadows are peppered with traditional huts, walking trails and coffee-brown cows who lazily chew away the days under huge blue skies. But it’s not just the milk and honey that you’ll love. For centuries, the region’s ruddy-cheeked farmers have been quietly churning out delicious cheeses, smoked meats and other homemade delicacies, unbeknown to the rest of the food-loving world. Now, though, the secret is finally out.
Foodie heaven Locally brewed beer, mouthwatering speck (cured ham) and tangy local chutneys. These are just a few of the temptations that you’ll encounter while you’re here. Even the water is rather special – it’s fed by rain and snowmelt, then filtered through bedrock, before reappearing out of thousands of springs throughout the valley, ready to drink. But it’s the meat and dairy products that particularly cause gourmands to go weak at the knees. The beef comes from traditional Zillertal Tuxer cattle and is renowned for its marbled quality. But it’s not just the steaks that are good. The valley is peppered with small, family-run butchers’ shops such as Metzgerei Gasser in Mayrhofen, where the aroma of smoked pork hangs in the air courtesy of the prime cuts hanging from nearby hooks. It’s the oldest family butcher in the valley, with the current owner, Hans Gasser, having been here for around 25 years. And he doesn’t just sell meat. Alongside the strings of seasoned
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sausages, you’ll find cheese, honey, bread and even schnapps – everything you need for a gourmet picnic to take with you when exploring the valley. Say cheese The dairy products here are out of this world – courtesy of various special ingredients. The grassy hillsides that the Tuxer cows feed on are littered with herbs like veronica, heath milkwort, lady’s mantle and yarrow – which combine to create a distinctive ‘Zillertalflavoured’ milk, known as haymilk. Visit the Adventure Alpine Dairy Zillertal while you’re in Mayrhofen, and you can work your way through a menu that includes cheeses, yoghurts and other milk-derived delicacies. In fact the milk in this region is so good, they even recommend that you bathe in the stuff. We’re not sure on the science behind it but why not try it? Opposite page, from top: the Zillertal is renowned for its cuisine, especially haymilk products; the Zillertal Tuxer cattle; walking over the Zillertal mountaintops www.austria.info/treasures Austria’s Hidden Treasures 47
Nature's Dinner Table Building an appetite One of the best ways to effectively experience what this region is all about is to load up your backpack with goodies and take to the trails. Around 30 per cent of the Zillertal is designated conservation area – which equates to more than 965 kilometres of hiking routes, and 30 adventure tracks and nature paths. From Mayrhofen, for example, there’s a path that takes you all the way up to the Karl von Edel Hütte: at 2,238 metres it’s more than 1,600 metres above the village. From here you can watch the sun set over the Zillertal while tucking into a tasty, traditional homecooked meal, before hitting the hay. Indeed the area is littered with great restaurants – like Landgasthof Linde, in the village of Stumm. Run by Hannes Ebster and his wife, Christina, this 500-year-old restaurant prides itself on natural local ingredients and serves up a mean rack of lamb. Grab a table in the tranquil garden out the back, and soak up the early evening sun with a glass of red (there’s a large wine cellar) while Hannes beavers away in the kitchen. Throughout the year there are many regional festivals that inevitably involve copious amounts of eating. Like the Gauderfest, for example – the country’s largest springtime traditional costume parade – which even has its own signature beer called ‘Gauder Bock’. And there’s plenty to do if you’re here with the family, too. At the Adlerbühne Ahorn bird of prey park, you can watch exotic species like steppe eagles, red-tailed buzzards and Harris hawks take to the skies. Or, if you’re after something white-knuckle-scary, how about strapping yourself in to the Arena Coaster in Zell, a self-controlled toboggan-cum-rollercoaster that takes you down the mountainside at grininducing speeds. Now there’s some food for thought.
Meet the locals
Tomato heaven In Austrian dialect, tomatoes are known as ‘paradisers’ (apples of paradise). Erich Stekovics is renowned for the tomatoes he grows in his fields in Frauenkirchen, on the eastern shores of Lake Neusiedl and has been dubbed the ‘Emperor of Paradisers’ by local inhabitants. Every summer, he takes visitors across his fields where they can see the many types of tomato, peppers and other vegetables that he grows. He rejects the concept of greenhouse-grown fruit and vegetables and instead embraces growing his produce under the open sky, completely open to the elements. He doesn’t even water his plants but waits for the rains to come.
‘Being a haymilk farmer is hard work and the alarm goes off at 5am as the cows are already waiting to be milked. We are often exposed to harsh weather conditions as the cattle graze in the high mountain pastures. During the winter, there is snow and cold weather which can make my job harder but during the summer, it is lovely and warm up in the mountain meadows. The meadows here in the Zillertal Valley have many herbs, like veronica, heath milkwort, lady’s mantle and yarrow, and they play an important role in creating high-quality milk (haymilk) which yields tasty butter and cheese. As soon as the cattle are milked, the fresh milk is then immediately processed into butter and cheese. My role is important as milk is a precious commodity and people appreciate locally-sourced quality produce.’
‘In all haymilk partner hotels, we pride ourselves on using only local produce and ingredients. Many of the farmers here in the Zillertal are returning to their roots – haymilk sounds new and innovative but years ago it was normal practice: farmers were feeding their cattle with grass and hay and from the milk they produced cheese and yoghurt. The products made from haymilk are of the highest quality, are extremely healthy and above all, taste delicious. The produce here is honest and real and that is why we use it. The same is true of the beef from the TuxZillertaler cattle, a very special kind of breed – the red coloured Zillertaler and the black Tuxer were both on the verge of extinction and were brought together in the course of the Gene Protection Programme and now described as Tux-Zillertaler. Why would we use any other meat when we have the highest quality just outside our door?’
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Pioneer, haymilk hotels
If you’re keen on fish, either catching them or eating them, a visit to the Gut Hornegg estate in Southern Styria is a must. Run by Heinrich Holler, the estate breeds fish species naturally in ponds that are fed by natural brooks and streams guaranteeing high quality water. You can buy fish directly from the estate and visitors are also encouraged to go angling themselves. If you’re not fish mad there’s plenty more to keep you busy – during the warmer months, there’s swimming in the Spiegelteich lake and numerous beautiful running trails and tennis courts are closeby. All the food is organic.
Only in Styria In the region of Styria, pumpkin seed oil is regarded as sacred. Locals will tell you that salads and boiled beef are unimaginable without it. For 100 years, the farmers here have cultivated the soft-shelled pumpkin seeds, creating the so-called ‘skinless Styrian pumpkin seeds’ for their famous oil. Deep and dark green in colour, it has a nutty aroma and intense taste and is known as the ‘green gold’. In 1998, more than 2,300 local pumpkin seed farmers and 30 mills (where they are ground and processed) merged to form a co-operation and were given the EU protected geographic status which means the oil can only be produced here.
Secret recipes The best organic baked bread in all of Austria is reputed to be Mauracher Strutzen, baked on the Mauracherhof farm in Rohrbach in Upper Austria. Visit and you’ll learn how it is made from the very beginning – the recipes used on the farm have been passed down through the generations. Baked from rye and sourdough, the unparalleled quality of this bread is renowned. Dough is given plenty of time to mature, the water is from the streams that filter through the rocks in the high altitude of the Mühlviertel region and the grains used are those with hefty, thick roots, which provide the cereals with vitality and a strong aroma. www.austria.info/treasures Austria’s Hidden Treasures 49
The majority of Austria’s award-winning restaurants are located in the province of Salzburg. But it is not just gourmets who appreciate the refined culinary treats found there; there is also much pleasure to be found in simpler cuisine. This is the motto of ‘Via Culinaria’, a guide to gourmet eating, organised by region and culinary genres. There is a small book available free of 50 Austria’s Hidden Treasures www.austria.info/treasures
charge from the Salzburger Land Tourist Office. For the food lover, it is an essential acquisition; it summarises all the recommended restaurants and even outlines seven distinct ‘gourmet routes’ for you to embark on, whatever your favourite choice might be – there’s one for fish lovers, for cheese enthusiasts, meat lovers and even one for beer drinkers! These routes offer only the best in their field so you will be sure not to be disappointed by what you’ll find. www.austria.info/treasures Austria’s Hidden Treasures 51
The Outdoor Fitness Centre: Montafon/Vorarlberg
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Nature’s adventure playground
The Outdoor Fitness Centre: Montafon in Vorarlberg has all you need
Hiking The first thing you notice when you arrive here are the colours. The vast, natural ‘half-pipe’ of the valley decked out in audacious green, the impossibly white peaks of the Alps and the crisp, electric blue sky overhead. But as your eyes adjust, you start to see small paths zig-zagging through the trees in all directions, as if some giant hand has scribbled over the hillsides. There are more than 500 kilometres of walking trails in this valley – easily catering for hardened hikers and casual
strollers alike. The best bit, though, is that many of the hikes also involve eating. There are cheese-tasting walks, hut-to-hut culinary tours – where the walking is interspersed with delicious local dishes – and even routes where guides introduce you to edible local plant life (really, it’s delicious). The most unique route to the top, though, is the Europatreppe – a giant 4000-step ‘stairway to heaven’ that takes you from the valley floor at Partenen, all the way to the top. By the time you reach the summit you’ll have buns of steel – and a jaw-dropping view of the Montafon valley stretched below. Many football teams and marathon runners as well as the Austrian Ladies National ski team integrate the Europatreppe 4000 into their training regime, which just shows the extent of its fitness benefits. However, if you’re up for something slightly more conventional, why not try the Verwall to Wormser Höhenweg route, where you’ll get magnificent vistas of the main ridge on the Rätikon
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mountain range, and an overnight stay at the Wormser Hütte. Be prepared, though: much of the route involves narrow mountain paths at over 2,000 metres – so you’ll need sturdy boots and a good pair of lungs… Biking As with anywhere that has landscape of this scale, the mountain biking here is pretty epic too. In all there’s a whopping 800 kilometres of off-road trails, divided up into 30 sections that are graded like ski runs – blue for cruising, red for a challenge and black for lunatics – ensuring that you don’t unwittingly end up on that extreme downhill section. They’re handily signposted, too, so there shouldn’t be any mid-mountain ‘discussions’ about whether you should have turned left back there. There are free guidebooks available from the Opposite page, from top: kids learn the ropes at the Hochseilgarten fun club; Montafon has 500 kilometres of walking trails and 800 kilometres of cycling routes
ake a trip to the Montafon valley in Vorarlberg and you may never set foot inside a gym again. For those of us who struggle with the sometimes daunting concept of ‘doing’ exercise, this outdoor playground in the south-west corner of Vorarlberg is a dream come true – a 40 kilometre stretch of lush, tree-covered mountainsides, where scenic walking trails thread their way through the greenery and going for a swim means getting a tan.
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The Outdoor Fitness Centre several tourist offices throughout the Montafon valley, detailing altitude, difficulty level and even the nature of the sub-soil. So if it’s been raining, you might want to avoid those slippery limestone paths. Of course, you could throw caution to the wind and dispense with maps altogether. Various routes can be downloaded straight onto a GPS handset from the Montafon website, leaving you to concentrate on the scenery while following those on-screen arrows. The handy thing about mountain biking here is that you don’t even need to bring your own bike. The Activpark Montafon leisure centre has a fleet of more than 60 steeds – in various shapes and sizes – and there are various depots throughout the area; simply drop it off at the nearest one when you’ve finished. Family The little ones will love the Activpark Montafon, too. If they’re not in the mood for heading uphill, they could always spend the afternoon sailing on the boating lake, perfecting their driving skills in go-karts or flinging themselves about on the over-sized trampolines. And if that doesn’t impress them, head to the waterslides; you won’t hear another peep. To be honest, though, the real reason to come here are the mountains – and it doesn’t have to be high adrenaline all the way. At the Silbertal Forest School a guide will take you all on a relaxed three-hour walk in the woods, where you’ll get up-close and personal with local wildlife and some of the area’s hidden treasures. However, if this seems a bit tame, why not head over to the Alpine Coaster, at Golm, and strap yourselves in for a 2.6 kilometre ride down the mountainside – that’s part toboggan, part roller-coaster. Might as well cut up that gym card now.
Meet the locals
Thermal pampering in Styria Relaxation, regeneration, restoring the body and soul: that’s what the volcanic waters in southeastern Styria promise, a region of sweeping hillsides that are made for the deepest relaxation. The springs rise up from a depth of 2,843 metres, reach temperatures of 110°C and are believed to have curative properties. Six thermal centres can be found here, including the Hundertwasser Therme at Bad Blumau with their green garden roofs, rounded forms, colourful façades and golden domes. With 2,724 square metres of water, the core of the facility is the unique hot springs and sauna area and there are many treatments to choose from.
Sailing on Lake Traunsee
‘I am passionate about mountains; walking and outdoor activities keep me young, both in the mind and body. Working in the mountains keeps me physically fit and whenever I am guiding a group of people through the mountains I don’t just show them a couple of peaks and huts but try to open their eyes to the beauty, health, recreational and fitness benefits of the woods and mountain pastures they are walking through. It’s important that we learn not only how to profit from this environment but also how to respect it. We must protect the flora and fauna of this unique high mountain environment to ensure that the future generations experience the same ‘fountain of youth’ that we are fortunate enough to enjoy today.’
‘We are fortunate to live in a natural environment that offers many gifts to us. Not only are we able to experience many different outdoor activities here in Montafon, we also enjoy the natural produce that grows abundantly in the wild such as delicious berries and mushrooms as well as the natural medicinal benefits of wild herbs. Nature provides for our well-being and health but also for our indulgence. I am extremely grateful for this outdoorhealth centre and really enjoy my walks to collect herbs, which I use for preparing my personal homoeopathic health products.’
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At 197 metres, Lake Traunsee is the deepest lake in Austria and offers countless opportunities for watersports enthusiasts. Located between the mighty Felsriegel of the Traunstein mountains and the grass-covered slopes of the Feuerkogel, it has the perfect sailing wind conditions and hosts the seasonal races of the RC44 Championship Tour. But don’t worry if you’re not a pro as it’s also the best place for beginners to learn how to sail. Try the Sailing School Stadlmann or at the Sailing Charter Herbert Zobl in Gmunden, you can charter your own sailboat and glide over the waters under the guidance of a professional skipper.
Surfing on Lake Neusiedl The wind conditions and Mediterranean climate of this lake make it a top destination for every kind of watersport but particularly surfing – there is a high wind velocity and the water has heavy swells. There are many surfing schools dotted around the shores of the lake, offering plenty of opportunity for beginners and those more experienced. Every year, fanatics head to the town of Podersdorf on the lake for the Surf World Cup when surfing and kite-surfing pros hit the water to compete for the popular title of ‘European Freestyle and Kitesurf World Champion’. It is a huge event that attracts many spectators. Don’t miss it!
Canyoning in Vorarlberg If you’re addicted to the natural adrenaline rush of canyoning then a visit to the ravines of Vorarlberg is a must. Think rappelling through roaring waterfalls, jumps into crystal clear pools, metre long natural slides, abseiling descents of 100 metres, climbing over rocks and trees, and swimming in natural surroundings. ‘High 5’ in Lingenau is known for its certified guides, small groups and top equipment (neoprene suits and the latest harnesses and canyoning belts). Whether you’re a beginner or more advanced, you can explore the area’s rocky gorges under the safe guidance of experts. Just bring your nerves and the desire to have some fun! www.austria.info/treasures Austria’s Hidden Treasures 55
The Eagle's Walk: Tirol
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Walking in the sky
The high-altitude Eagle̓s Walk is spectacular, but also very approachable resembles, on the map of the Tirol, a pair of wings. The Eagle’s Walk is ready to bear you across mountains and meadows, through valleys and villages, as it has done for centuries. Actually, that’s not quite right. While the Eagle’s Walk provides a perfect course through the Tirol, it relies on you to do the leg – and, in the trickier stretches, arm – work. And while many of the individual paths and trails that make up the Eagle’s Walk are almost as old as the hills they tackle, the concept itself is recent. great mountain heights To the question, ‘Where can I walk in the Tirol?’ the traditional answer has always been ‘Anywhere’ or ‘Everywhere’. But demanding, timepressed travellers need something more. That is why the region put its finest mountain men and women on the case, and came up with the Eagle’s Walk, a pan-Tirolean trail that invites you to sample a few days or feast on the full 280 kilometre extravaganza.
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Days filled with walking among the mountains are joyful. But when the sun starts to sink, so can your heart. Do you descend to a village, trading altitude for comfort, or take your chances in a tent or mountain refuge? (The last of the latter that I tried was a cattle shed with a hole in the roof in the Pyrenees). The Austrians do things differently, which is why the end of the walking day is a cause for celebration usually involving both a hot shower and a cold beer. The Alpine Hütte is a great deal more than a high-altitude hut: it is a mountain inn, a hospitality miracle, in which the values of a traditional Austrian family hotel are transplanted to some of the most spectacular vantage points in the nation. While you breathe the cool air, you can contemplate the journey you have made while the last of the sunlight daubs gold across the mountainsides. Opposite page, from top: the Tirol region boasts breathtaking landscapes; the region is a hiker’s paradise and is filled with fascinating flora and fauna
N Henning Bode
he best moment along the Eagle’s Walk? The candidates are many. The exhilaration when you lift a weary leg for the last step after a long, steep climb and look out from the pass to a new valley, even more beautiful than the one you leave behind; the gentle jangle of cowbells wafting with the breeze and mingling with birdsong; or the sparkling simplicity of drinking pure water from a mountain stream. Yet from my experience, the high points of the Eagle’s Walk are, well, high points: what I mean specifically is the mountain refuges that offer comfort, cuisine and camaraderie with the added benefit of altitude. Thanks to one of Europe’s greatest long-distance footpaths, you can sample these joys of the traveller anywhere across the region from St. Johann to St. Anton. Austria is traditionally where East meets West, and the Tirol is where western Austria meets the sky. The sinuous course of the Eagle’s Walk
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The Eagle's Walk First, though, you have to get there. I started what is billed as ‘the most scenic and hardest segment’ of the Eagle’s Walk at the hotel Alpengasthof Eng, and warmed up gently through the meadows. The Falkenhütte popped into view right on cue at lunchtime, providing the necessary high-carb reinforcement for an afternoon when the gradient steepened as the sun descended: climbing through ancient maples, then beside a wall of limestone that soared like, well, an eagle. The Karwendelhaus is set amid a range of mountains that ripple towards a Tirolean horizon. The kitchen serves an appropriately sturdy supper, before you succumb to sleep beneath a benign duvet. Make the most of it, because the next day is probably the single most challenging. Steel cables, ladders and rails have been hammered into the rock to help you cope with some of the trickier stretches on the way up to the high point of the Eagle’s Walk at 2,650 metres – well over a mile-and-ahalf above sea level in old money, and above the snow line even at the end of summer. The Hallerangerhaus looked like a mirage towards the end of the day, but proved deliciously tangible. I traversed from east to west, but whichever way you go the Eagle’s Walk has a knack of delivering world-class views. Even on the descent towards the more sophisticated pleasures of Innsbruck, the field of vision changes from wide-screen panoramas, through valleys crowded with pines, to close-ups of butterflies, daisies and an old chapel beside an equally ancient miners’ track. The Eagle’s Walk is an encyclopaedia of experiences, an escape that allows you to soar on the breeze of adventure. Which, in 21st-century Europe, spells a rare pleasure. As it says on one signpost pointing towards the mountains, ‘Nur für Wänderer’ – which I like to think means ‘only for wanderers’.
Meet the locals
Views from above The Dachstein Skywalk has been called ‘the most spectacular outlook platform in the Alps’ – situated 2,700 metres high and constructed at the edge of a 250 metre high vertical cliff of the Hunerkogel, it has the most outstanding panoramic 360-degree view of the southern wall of the mighty Dachstein mountain and some of the most beautiful summits in the Alps. Other viewing stations have also been constructed in the Alps offering similar views – from the Kitzsteinhorn you are eyeball-to-eyeball with the Grossglockner and from the Adlerhorst Rofan you look across to the wild Karwendel and Rofan mountain ranges.
Austria’s own app
‘You don’t need to be a pro, or even an experienced hiker, to enjoy the whole of the Eagle’s Walk. The route is very well signposted and, in conjunction with a good map, it’s very easy to find your way around. There are clearly marked easy alternatives to the difficult sections of the route. We always have this challenge in Tirol: when we talk about hiking, people take it to mean serious mountaineering, and that’s not the case. You can tailor your trip along the entire walk according to your experience. For me the most interesting part of the Eagle’s Walk is the central section, from Kramsach to Scharnitz; it has the most spectacular limestone rock faces and is protected as a natural park. People love so many elements of the Eagle’s Walk but one aspect everyone comments on is the mountain huts where you sleep, which are unique and typical, serving very simple local food to a fascinating mix of international guests.’
‘As part of my job as a hiking guide in the Tirol region, I helped in developing the Eagle’s Walk. I walked all the stages of the walk for several weeks to check the signposting and to fix the missing signs. I love this walk so much because of its scenic routes and the comfortable mountain huts of the Alpine Society where you can stop to eat and stay overnight (a particularly special one is the remote Württemberger Haus in the Lechtal). The flora and fauna along the way is very impressive too. A big highlight for me was seeing the many eagles when walking in the Karwendel mountains – one of my favourite routes – and the Lechtal Alps. There are so many other highlights along this famous walk and some of my favourites include the Halleranger Alm in the Karwendel for its delicious cuisine, the Bonn-Matreier hut in East Tirol for its breathtaking views and the stunning Ziereiner lake in the Rofan mountains.’
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If you have an iPhone you can now be at the forefront of holiday planning when you download the free of charge iAlps Austria application. It offers a range of useful information for your holiday, before and after arrival, including recommendations about where to stay (from people who know what they’re talking about), where to drink and dine, cultural sights and special events happening during your visit. There are resort maps and others which display hiking trails and mountain bike routes, as well as climbing tours and biking paths in each region. With the latest weather reports and available in several different languages, don’t plan without it.
The long trail The longest continuous hiking trail in the Alps is the 360° in Eastern Tirol. You’ll be spoilt with breathtaking views throughout as this trail leads through nine different mountain ranges, from the Lienzer Dolomites to Austria’s highest glaciers in the Grossglockner region. This is not for the faint-hearted and before you embark, make sure you are fit and healthy and do not have a fear of heights! You hike for 318 kilometres, ascending from hut to hut, but always maintaining high-altitude (up to 2,500 metres in places). Don’t worry though as the hike is only meant to be accomplished in stages... over a period of 36 days.
Along the river The Donausteig is 450 kilometres of brand new hiking heaven that runs along the banks of the famous Danube river, winding its way past the historic city of Passau, through forested highlands to the breathtaking Schlogen bend. Along the way, in the Bavarian and Upper Austrian Danube regions, there are 64 hotels and inns that have established themselves as ‘Donausteig Hosts’ – as well as offering a place for hikers to stay, they will also provide expert information regarding the trail to help along the way. There are 40 different routes to choose from, of varying lengths, and mountain bikes are available for those who prefer a bit of speed. www.austria.info/treasures Austria’s Hidden Treasures 59
It’s got to be Austria
What is your favourite pleasure? Is it lakes from which you can drink from as the water is so clean? Or pure white glaciers? Golden yellow wheatfields in the summer sun? Maybe it’s the heady scent of green forests or the waters of the blue Danube? If you are looking for more from your holiday than just relaxing and if you 60 Austria’s Hidden Treasures www.austria.info/treasures
are searching for extraordinary surroundings in which a wealth of cultural gems are to be found, then look no further than Austria. This country has so much to offer to everyone who visits. You’ll find everything you could possibly want here, for any type of holiday, whether your desire be activities, cuisine, culture (there’s some of the world’s best opera, theatre, art, architecture and literature to experience) or just appreciating the stunning landscapes. www.austria.info/treasures Austria’s Hidden Treasures 61
Lech Zürs am Arlberg and Lake Bregenzerwald Constance
Zell am See-Kaprun
High in the Vorarlberg, some of Europe’s finest contemporary art awaits. The spirit of modernism has found an unlikely home in this high mountain region: the Alpine landscape is a backdrop for British sculptor Antony Gormley’s ‘Horizon Field’, with 100 cast iron figures placed around at precisely 2,039 metres above sea level.
The region of BodenseeVorarlberg provides a perfect backdrop for the arts. The cities of the region combine rural idyll with urban flair. There are dozens of annual music and art festivals, and at the hi-tech Bregenz Festival on Lake Constance, a floating stage has become a platform for some of the world’s most distinguished operas.
Graz combines the old, the new and the culinary in a Mediterranean climate. As well as fabulous food, here you will find cutting edge modern architecture, most notably the Kunsthaus, sitting alongside the Baroque buildings of the historic old town. Take a picnic and sit in one of the many parks in the city.
Salzburg, Mozart’s home, is where music meets art, with a well-preserved city centre and dramatic modern art spaces. The city houses Europe’s oldest restaurant (where Mozart’s family were regulars) and in contrast, the Museum of Modern Art, which from a distance looks like a Lego brick with windows.
Innsbruck, set deep in an Alpine valley, is a thrilling Imperial-era crossroads blending avant-garde architecture with its lavish Baroque heritage. In the last 10 years, a host of futuristic structures have shot up across the skyline including the Zaha Hadid designed Bergisel ski jump and the Nordkettenbahnen.
A cable car whisks you upwards past the tree line to the brand new Peak World, at 3,000 metres. Enjoy the high-altitude cinema, mountain adventure zone, museum and restaurants, and go with a guide to see the fabulous flora and fauna of the Hohe Tauern, Austria’s highest mountain range.
Escape, peace, space – all of these abound in magical Burgenland, which has a balmy microclimate and a chilled-out spirit. The climate lends itself well to rich red wines; the area is a haven for migratory birds, offering unbeatable bird-watching; and there are 2,500 kilometres of cycle paths, many of them easy.
Saalbach Hinterglemm has all you need for the perfect al fresco family getaway. This vast Alpine valley, where farmers’ fields are draped over the lower slopes like a green patchwork quilt, is a veritable adventure playground for youngsters of all ages. Visit Schnitza’s Holzpark, a wood-crafted adventure playground.
In the Alpbach Valley you’ll find much more than just 17th-century farms. Arriving in the village, the valley opens out before you to reveal meadows awash with yellow wildflowers. The village has dozens of walking trails leading off in all directions. Home-cooked comfort food and fabulous spa treatments abound.
If you’re lucky enough to be hiking in the lush pastures of the Ziller valley in western Austria, you’ll also be surrounded by the perfect components for the most healthy and delicious organic produce. This region is renowned for its cuisine and natural ingredients, particularly its herbs and dairy products – and beer!
Lech Zürs Tourism Dorf 2 6764, Lech am Arlberg T: +43 (0) 5583 21610 F: +43 (0) 5583 3155 firstname.lastname@example.org www.lech-zuers.at Bregenzerwald Tourism Gerbe 1135, 6863 Egg T: +43 (0) 5512 2365 F: +43 (0) 5512 3010 info@bregenzerwald. at; www.bregenzerwald.at/uk; www. vorarlberg.travel/en
Bodensee-Vorarlberg Tourism Board P.O. Box 16 6901 Bregenz, Austria T: +43 (0) 5574 434430 F: +43 (0) 5574 434434 email@example.com www.bodenseevorarlberg.com/en www.vorarlberg. travel/en
Graz Tourist Office Herrengasse 16 A-8010 Graz T: +43 (0) 316 80750 F: +43 (0) 316 807515 info@graztourismus. at www.visitgraz.com
Tourismus Salzburg Auerspergstrasse 6 5020 Salzburg T: +43 (0) 662 889870 F: +43 (0) 662 8898732 firstname.lastname@example.org www.salzburg.info
Innsbruck Tourismus Burggraben 3 6021 Innsbruck T: +43 (0) 512 59850 F: +43 (0) 512 59850107 email@example.com www.innsbruck.info
Zell am See-Kaprun Tourismus Brucker Bundesstr. 1a A-5700 Zell am See T: +43 (0) 6542 770 F: +43 (0) 6542 72032 firstname.lastname@example.org www.zellamseekaprun.com
Burgenland Tourismus Johann PermayerStrasse 13 A-7000 Eisenstadt T: +43 (0) 2682 633840 F: +43 (0) 2682 6338420 email@example.com www.burgenland.info
Tourist Office Saalbach Hinterglemm Glemmtaler Landesstrasse 550, A-5753 Saalbach Tel: +43 (0) 6541 680068 Fax: +43 (0) 6541 680069 contact@saalbach. com www.saalbach.com
Alpbachtal Seenland Tourismus Zentrum 1 A-6233 Kramach/Tirol T: +43 (0) 5336 600 600 F: +43 (0) 5336 600 699 firstname.lastname@example.org www.alpbachtal.at
Zillertal Tourist Board Bundesstrasse 27d A-6262 Schlitters, Zillertal T: +43 (0) 5288 87187 F: +43 (0) 5288 871871 email@example.com www.zillertal.at
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www.austria.info/treasures Austria’s Hidden Treasures 63
Austrian National Tourist Office
Montafon is not known as the Outdoor Fitness Centre for nothing. With 500 kilometres of walking trails, a 4,000 step ‘stairway to heaven’, and 800 kilometres of off-road mountain biking trails graded for difficulty like ski runs, it’s a fitness paradise. There’s also sailing, go-karting, and trampolining for kids.
The high-altitude Eagle’s Walk is spectacular, but also very approachable. A pan-Tirolean trail, it invites you to sample the region’s mountains in a few days or feast on the whole 280 kilometre extravaganza. Alternative routes mean that experts and leisure hikers can experience its views and unique mountain huts.
When you visit Austria in summertime for the first time, there’s a good chance you’ll be delightfully surprised, for our country is usually swathed in warm sunshine, the mountains providing a wonderful backdrop to watersports, al fresco dining and all the wonders of summertime in Europe. Look a little deeper and the delight continues. The Alps, which run through the heart of the country, offer spectacular mountain trails and cutting-edge architecture and art. It is a dream for lovers of fine cuisine, exercise and activities.
Montafon Tourismus Montafonerstr. 21 A-6780 Schruns Tel. +43 (0) 5556 722530 Fax +43 (0) 5556 74856 firstname.lastname@example.org www.montafon.at www.vorarlberg. travel/en
Tirol and its Leading Resorts Maria-TheresienStrasse 55 A-6010 Innsbruck T: +43 (0) 512 72720 F: +43 (0) 512 72727 email@example.com www.visittirol.co.uk
Austrian National Tourist Office 9-11 Richmond Buildings London W1D 3HF Tel: 0845-1011818 firstname.lastname@example.org www.austria.info/treasures All pictures, unless otherwise stated, have been provided by the Austrian National Tourist Office and/or partners featured in this book. The paper in this book is elemental chlorine free and is FSC accredited. It is printed to ISO 14001 environmental procedures, using vegetable based inks. Mixed Sources
Product group from well-managed forests and other controlled sources
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The FSC is an independent, non-profit, non governmental organisation which promotes management of the worlds forests. Forest certification is combined with a product labelling that allows consumers to readily identify timber based products from certified forests.
64 Austria’s Hidden Treasures www.austria.info/treasures
“The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.” St. Augustine C over image: Markus Tretter, © A ntony G ormley, Kunstha...