Tyrol and Vorarlberg: Traditional Austria at its best

Traditional villages meet luxury resorts in two of Austria’s most beautiful Alpine regions: Tyrol and Vorarlberg. Plush resorts like those at medieval Kitzbühel and St. Anton offer some of Austria’s best skiing in Tyrol, while Vorarlberg offers a more authentic experience with rural Austria, complete with traditional costumes and architecture. Western Austria’s largest city, Innsbruck, has a charming medieval old town, a lively student population and spectacular Alpine views.

Kristallweltenstraße 1, 6112 Wattens, Austria
Swarovski, world-famous Austrian crystal maker, has made it its mission to amaze. While the glittering creations do that on their own, the family has also built a whole world of wonder for you to enjoy. The Crystal World is a dream-like place of beauty and art, where visitors can share in the brand’s fascination with glamorous products. Enter through the mouth of a giant, whose grassy face emerges out of the ground, and explore the otherworldly creations of Brian Eno and Alexander McQueen. The Crystal World allows you to let your imagination roam freely and see things through completely different eyes.
Hofgasse 1, 6020 Innsbruck, Austria
At the end of Herzog-Friedrich-Strasse stands the symbol of Innsbruck, the Goldenes Dachl, or Golden Roof. It was believed to have been added to the building by Maximilian I to celebrate his second marriage. However, it’s not actually gold, but rather 2,657 gilded copper roof riles. For the best view, take the 148 steps up to the viewing platform of the Clock Tower, where you’ll also have a nice view of the beautifully adorned 15th century Helblinghaus.
Herzog-Friedrich-Straße
With majestic views of the Alps and a medieval old town, Innsbruck is not short on charm. Get lost among the colorful Baroque buildings of Herzog-Friedrich-Strasse, see the famous Golden Roof, view Lucas Cranach the Elder’s “Madonna and Child” at the St. Jakob cathedral, and enjoy the splendid rococo style at the Hofburg.
Achen Lake, Austria
Known as “The Heart of the Alps,” Austria’s Tirol region beckons visitors with an abundance of shimmering Alpine lakes. Lake Achensee is the largest, drawing swimmers, couples in paddle boats, and even scuba divers thanks to its clear waters. Submerge yourself in the emerald water, or take a sail alongside snow-capped mountains.
Karl-Tizian-Platz, 6900 Bregenz, Austria
The ultra-modern Kunsthaus Bregenz (KUB), designed by Swiss architect Peter Zumthor, opened in 1997 and hosts temporary exhibitions of contemporary art from across the globe. Its etched glass shingles on the exterior stands not far from the lakefront, acting as both a part of the lighting arrangement and insulation.
6867 Schwarzenberg, Austria
The Bregenz Forest holds tight to its regional identity, maintaining its traditional wooden architecture and costumes. While German speakers may have trouble understanding their dialect, they’ll have no trouble appreciating this beautiful forest region.
Schloßstraße 20, 6020 Innsbruck, Austria
Ambras Castle was built by Archduke Ferdinand II (1529–1595), the second son of Emperor Ferdinand I, for his commoner wife, Philippine Welser, who was not allowed to live in the official residence in the town. A few notable items make Ambras worth the short trek out of the old town. There’s a Habsburg portrait gallery of around 300 works from the 15th to the 19th century. the Spanish Hall with detailed wood ceiling and wall paintings, and an armory. Somewhat unique is the Chamber of Art and Curiosities, which is found in the same location as it was when first assembled in the 16th century. Here you’ll find a mix of oddities collected by Ferdinand II, from coral and goblets to a woodcarving of “Death” by Hans Leinberger, Portraits include Vlad the Impaler and Pedro Gonzalez, who suffered from hirsutism, leaving his full body covered in hair.
Bergiselweg 3, 6020 Innsbruck, Austria
Innsbruck has twice hosted the Olympic Winter Games the most visited piece of that history is the Bergisel Ski Jump. But, that’s not the only reason to visit the Bergisel. The new ski jump installation includes a shining tower designed by the visionary architect Zaha Hadid. Reached by 455 steps, or a short funicular ride for those of us who don’t want to collapse before reaching the top, it includes a restaurant and viewing platform where visitors can take in what is arguably the most beautiful panorama of the city. Jumpers can sometimes even be seen in summer. One can’t help but wonder what goes through their minds as they look down the ramp and aim straight towards a cemetery.
Just a short trip from Innsbruck, the Stubaital is beautiful valley that is perfect for unwinding in one of the most parts of Tyrol. This unspoiled landscape is filled with cool streams and lush Alpine fauna, along with a few charming little villages like Mieders and Neustift im Stubaital. The beautiful Grawa waterfall is also nearby and a highlight of any hike.
More from AFAR
Sign up for our newsletter
Join more than a million of the world’s best travelers. Subscribe to the Daily Wander newsletter.
AFAR Journeys
Journeys: Europe
Journeys: Europe
Journeys: Europe
Journeys: Europe
Journeys: United States
Journeys: Sports + Adventure