A Late Summer Tour to the Austrian Tyrol A Heavenly elixir of alpine air, beautiful nature and welcoming hospitality
Holidays for Birders
The Natural World
Short City Breaks with a Twist
A Late Summer Tour to the Austrian Tyrol A Heavenly elixir of alpine air, beautiful nature and welcoming hospitality
Discover the magic of the late summer in the Alps. Breathe clear mountain air under crisp blue skies, re-connect with nature on a turquoise-blue lake and immerse yourself in Tyrolean history and culture.
Tyrol is a place that will delight body and soul; a place where soaring mountains, glacial lakes, rushing waterfalls, lush meadows, and thick pine forests combine with rich traditions, a fascinating history and picturesque towns. Discover the magic on this 5-night/6-day tour.
You will be staying in Pill and visiting Innsbruck, Mayrhofen, Karwendel Nature Park, Swarovski Crystal Worlds, Lake Achensee, Tratzberg Castle, and Rattenberg
Immerse yourself in the rich history of the Tyrol. Travel back in time at Hotel Plankenhof where you will have the chance to drink Schnapps in a 500-year-old vaulted cellar; learn about the lives of rural people at the 18th Century Ental farmhouse; take a fascinating romp through the history of Tyrolean folk art at the Museum of Tryolean Regional Heritage and experience the sumptuous elegance of the Imperial Palace and Tratzberg Castle.
Feed your passion for nature and still your mind in the Tyrol’s magnificent landscape. With six national parks, over 300 lakes, unique forests, verdant meadows and awe-inspiring mountains, this is a place of natural gems. Marvel at the views from steam trains, cable cars and furnicular railways; discover Europe’s only primeval alpine landscape at Karwendel Nature Park with an expert guide and take a cruise across the Tryol’s largest lake.
The Tryol is also home to some extraordinary contemporary design. Experience the sparkling enchantment of Swarovski Crystal Worlds, described by leading travel guide Lonely Planet as one of "the most thrilling, memorable and interesting places on earth," and travel to futuristic mountain-top stations designed by the late, great architect Zaha Hadid.
What we love
- Staying in the historic Hotel Plankenhof, a listed Gothic house dating back to 1460 and now run by the 11th generation of the same family
- Tasting traditional Tyrolean schnapps in a 500-year-old vaulted cellar
- Travelling on a steam train through the magnificent Zillertal Valley with views of the mountains, glaciers, lush meadows and unique forests
- Discovering the rich history and traditional culture of the Tyrol in fascinating museums, castles and palaces
- Immersing ourselves in the wonders of nature on a guided tour of Karwendel Nature Park, home to Europe’s only primeval alpine landscape
- Exploring the historic town of Innsbruck, known as ‘the capital of the Alps’
- Strolling through the picturesque towns of Mayrhofen and Rattenberg
- Exploring the spectacular Chamber of Wonders at Swarovski Crystal Worlds and receiving an exclusive gift
- A boat excursion across Lake Achensee, the largest lake in Tyrol nestled between the Karwendel and Rofan Mountains
- Bespoke options, including a guided photography or bird watching experience at Karwendel Nature Park, a breath-taking cable car ride above Mayrhofen, and riding to the heights of the Karwendel mountain on a furnicular railway (tPlease note, these come at an additional cost)
- Private coach transfers, an ECT tour manager and expert local guides throughout
Experiences you will treasure
- Staying at the historic Hotel Plankenhof, dating back to 1460. The hotel is also home to the Tiroler Schnapsmuseum, set in a 500-year-old vault, and you will be treated to an exclusive tour and Schnapps tasting.
- Taking the Zillertalbahn stream train through the magnificent Zillertal valley. Immerse yourself in the atmosphere of a bygone era.
- Learning about the life and times of local people at the Ental farmhouse museum, built in 1713. See the Tennen, (haybarn), Machkammer, (workshop) chapel, and a burning hut.
- Visiting the market town of Mayrhofen, nestled at the end of the lush Zillertal Valley
- Discovering the fascinating history of Innsbruck on a walking tour with a local guide, then exploring the capital of the Tyrol at your leisure. Famous for its ‘little golden roof’ (the Goldenes Dachl) with its 2,657 fire-gilt copper tiles, the town boasts one of Europe’s most delightful old town centres. And the cafes are rather fabulous too!
- Taking a guided hike in the Karwendel Nature Park, the only primeval alpine landscape of its kind in Europe. As you walk along a wild and romantic path beside the Hall Valley, look out for alpine plants including Willow Gentian, Globeflower, Pannonic Gentian, Yew Tree and Chamois. Keep your eyes on the sky (though a pair of Swarovski binoculars) too in case a Golden Eagle soars into view.
- Exploring the Chamber of Wonder at Swarovski Crystal Worlds. Marvel at the glittering chambers of wonders, an aperitif and lunch in the restaurant and take home an exclusive gift.
- Gently cruising across the turquoise-blue water of Lake Achensee, the largest lake in Tyrol, nestled between the Karwendel and Rofan Mountains.
- Visiting Rattenberg, Austria’s smallest town tucked between a hill-top fortress and the river. Discover ancient townhouses, cobbled streets and alleyways dotted with specialist glass shops, then treat yourself to a delicious pastry at cafe Konditori Hacker.
- Discovering the spectacular 16th Century Tratzberg Castle, located on a steep ridge above Jenbach. Home to Count Ulrich Goëss-Enzenberg and his wife Katrin Goëss-Enzenberg, this is one of the best- preserved castles in Austria
What people say
Here I have finally found a place of quiet, a place of peace, the like of which I could have only wished for.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
How much is it?
Specially curated visits and experiences - you decide!
For a more immersive holiday, we have created a flexible programme so you can 'pick and mix' from a selection of specially curated excursions and activities in each destination.
Friday 9th, during morning visit to Mayrhofen
The town of Mayrhofen lies at the at the end of the Zillertal Valley. Experience this iconic Tyrolean valley from above with a spectacular cable car ride.
Saturday 10th, during day visit to Innsbruck
Why not take a look at Innsbruck from the heights of the Karwendel Mountains? A must for architecture fans, this eight-minute, panoramic furnicular journey starts and ends at the spectacular, futuristic stations designed by Zaha Hadid.
Sunday 11th, 09.30 – 12.30
We have created two bespoke experiences at Karwendel Nature Park. Keen photographers will relish the opportunity to join a local expert guide who will show you the best views and locations for spotting the wonderful wildlife. Bird watchers have the chance to explore this extraordinary reserve in the company of a specialist guide with inside knowledge of the best locations.
A Deeper Dive
Discover how farmers of the Ziller Valley lived at this meticulous recreation of an entire farm, dating back to 1713. The original location of the Ental farm that houses the museum was in Burgstall/Schwendau but it was moved and re-built as a museum in Zell in 1991. Visit the ‘Machkammer’ and see displays of farming tools covering 300 years of farming life, the court chapel, a garden and a hut where Schnapps was distilled.
Lying at the foot of the Nordkette Mountains, Innsbruck is a place where the urban meets the Alpine. It is also steeped in history, a city where visitors can take a step back to the middle ages in the medieval old town and walk in the footsteps of the Habsburgs. Sites not to be missed include:
The Golden Roof
Innsbruck’s most famous landmarks shines in the heart of the historic old town. The gleaming alcove balcony gets its name from the 2,657 fire-gilded copper tiles that adorn the roof. Built by Emperor Maximilian over 500 years-ago, the structure below is richly decorated with a wide variety of figures and images, including a tiny bare bottom that no one can explain and, on the front, the Emperor himself next to both of his wives, Maria von Burgund and Bianca Maria Sforza. Another eye-catcher are the morisco dancers with their twisted limbs, the break-dancers of the Middle Ages.
The Imperial Palace
The Imperial Palace was originally completed in 1500 under Emperor Maximilian (1459-1519), and the original Crest Tower bearing his coat of arms, can still be seen today. Most of the rest however, dates back to Maria Theresa’s visit there almost 250 years later. She deemed the castle to be behind the times and arranged for it to be rebuilt in the Viennese late Baroque style, sending her best artists – Konstantin von Walter and Nicolaus Parcassi - to Innsbruck. Martin van Meytens and his school and Franz Anton Maulbertsch were also appointed to do the interior. The renovations were completed in the 1770s. Following the death of her beloved husband, Frances I, Maria Theresa had the room where he died converted into a new chapel and built the Triumphal Arch, one side of which is dedicated to mourning, while the other commemorates the wedding of her son Leopold.
In the 19th Century, the governor of Innsbruck Karl Ludwig had the Inner Apartment refurbished for his sister-in-law Empress Elisabeth. Every room was decorated in a different colour and the furniture, by Viennese court artist August La Vigne, was adorned with exquisite silks.
Following the end of the monarchy in 1918, former Imperial possessions became state property and today the Imperial Palace is the third most important historic building in Austria.
The Court Church
The Court Church is known by the locals as ‘Schwarzmander Church’ thanks to the 28 life-size bronze figures that stand guard over the tomb of Emperor Maximilian I. It is an odd name, given that eight of these ‘schwarzmander’ (black men) are actually women! Nor is their guarding necessary as the magnificent tomb he planned for himself lies empty. (Maximilian I’s body is buried in Wiener Neustadt. His tomb wasn’t completed until three decades his death when it was discovered that the foundations and walls of Wiener Neustadt weren't strong enough to bear its weight.)
The Emperor’s tomb takes pride of place in the church, but it is also home to legendry local heroes such as the freedom fighter Andreas Hofer who, in 1809, led thousands of brave Tyroleans against Napoleonic troops on Bergisel. He was executed for his efforts but is still revered as a hero in Innsbruck.
The Silver Chapel, named after the magnificent silver altar and Madonna by Imperial architect Giovanni Lucchese, is another highlight. Archduke Ferdinand II and his wife Philippine Welser, a local superstar known as ‘The Queen of Hearts’, are buried here. The chapel also boasts a very special Renaissance wood-pipe organ.
Innsbruck comes right into the 21st century thanks to the state-of-the-art Hungerburgbahn funicular system connecting the city centre with the city district of Hungerburg at the foot of the Nordkette mountain group. Designed by late-great architect Zaha Hadid, the system has four stations, Congress in the city centre, Löwenhaus, Alpenzoo, and Hungerburg. The stations with their smooth, shell-like structures, are a direct nod to frozen fields of snow, and riding the funicular feels like floating among, or gliding on top of, flowing slivers and tongues of ice.
The Karwendel Nature Park covers almost the entire Karwendel Mountains, famous for their wild, craggy peaks, extensive forests and lush meadows. At 727 square kilometres in size, it is Austria's largest nature park, and one of the oldest in Europe. The primordial vegetation has remained in-tact and it is home to many rare animals, including golden eagles, ibex, sandpipers, three-toed woodpeckers, owls and woodcock and plant species such as the German tamarisk, wild orchids and ancient sycamore trees.
Our hike takes place in Hall Valley, right in the heart of the Nature Park, and starts and ends at The Chapel of St. Magdalena, a former monastery set amidst a forest glade. First built in 1441, the old brick cellar, which served as a refuge from avalanches and as a storage place for food, still exists today. The neighbouring church is still in good condition after being restored in 1946, 500 years after its first consecration.
This unique, dazzling crystalline world was created by Austrian artist André Heller to mark the 100th anniversary of the Swarovski Company and has been described by leading travel guide Lonely Planet as one of the most 'thrilling, memorable and interesting" places on earth.
The magic begins the moment you arrive when, rather than pushing a revolving door, you step through a giant’s head and straight into a Chamber of Wonder. Or 17 Chambers of Wonder to be precise. Inspired by a sixteenth-century attempt to assemble a universal collection of all the knowledge known at the time, the Chambers of Wonder at Swarovski Crystal Worlds are places of sparkling fantasy designed by a roster of internationally acclaimed artists, designers and architects.
Every one of these crystal-filled chambers is guaranteed to amaze and enchant, but if we had to pick a favourite, it would be ‘Silent Light’. Filled with 150,000 Swarovski crystals, the centre piece of this romantic winter wonderland is a spectacular crystal Christmas tree, originally designed by Dutch designer Tord Boontje and the late, great, British fashion designer Alexander McQueen for the foyer at the Victoria & Albert Museum. When its brief appearance in London came to an end, Swarovski brought the tree to Wattens where, in 2015, it became the centre piece of the ‘Silent Light’ Chamber of Wonders. Placed on a revolving stage, it casts spellbinding rainbow light reflections around the room.
The magic continues out in the garden where contemporary art combines with ancient history and unique pleasures. Created in collaboration with artists and architects from across the globe, highlights include a sparkling Crystal Cloud, a gleaming Mirror Pool, and a multi-sensory play tower.
Austria’s smallest town (population 400) is tucked between a 10th Century hilltop fortress and the River Inn. The medieval center owns its prosperity to the development of the glass industry and the cobbled streets and winding alleyways are still dotted with specialist glass shops, including the 70-year-old Kisslinger Glassblowing shops where visitors can watch glass blowers at work.
Nail-making was another thriving industry and you can still visit the 12th Century Nagelschmied (nail smith) Homes where around 2,000 nails were produced each day. Located at the foot of the castle, these houses are built right into the mountain at the western town gate to Rattenberg. Nail production in the town finally stopped in 1912 and the houses have been turned into an Arts and Crafts Museum where perfectly preserved timber panelled parlours, bedrooms and paintings show how people lived in former times and interpret the town’s history.
Rattenberg’s location made it a good spot to secure the trade that came along with River Inn and the citadel became an important seat of administration. In 1504, the town became part of the Habsburg Empire and Emperor Maximilian I expanded the original citadel into an imposing fortress. Today, this castle is lies in ruins, but the views of the town from here are spectacular. So spectacular in fact that the artist Egon Schiele, was inspired to paint it. The painting was printed on glass and is now installed in the same place where he sat with his easel more than 100 years ago.
Tratzberg Castle sits perched high above the valley floor between the towns of Jenbach and Schwaz. It is first mentioned in documents dating from the 13th century and was originally used to secure the border with neighbouring Bavaria. After falling into ruin, it was rebuilt by the Taenzl Brothers around 1500. To honour their clients, the House of Habsburg, the brothers erected the ornate Habsburg Hall complete with a wall painting depicting the enormous Habsburg family tree. Later, the Fugger Family, a wealthy dynasty of merchants from Augsburg, acquired Tratzberg Castle and expanded it further, adding the splendid Fugger Parlour and the Fugger Chamber. Most of what can be seen today is from this time.
In the early 19th century, the castle was plundered by Bavarian soldiers. Some 50 years later, the rather neglected estate came into the possession of the Enzenberg Family, and it has stayed in their ownership ever since. Thanks to the family’s dedication and efforts the castle became the very embodiment of a 16th century Tyrolean castle. Ulrich Goëss-Enzenberg and his wife Katrin Goëss-Enzenberg have been living here since 1991 and have opened parts of the castle, their family home, to the public and visitors can experience beautifully preserved rooms, including the Habsburgersaal, the Gothic Fuggerstube and the King's Room. There is also an audio guide in which former residents of the castle take visitors from room to room, telling them about the history of this magnificent building. Hands-on exhibits include helmets and swords to pick up and even try on.
Legend has it that there is a subterranean tunnel, running deep below the Inn River, guarded by a knight with a sword who cuts off the head of everyone who tries to get through. This myth might have its origin in the many galleries and tunnels that were built in the Schwaz Area during the silver-mining boom in the Middle Ages.
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