When I think of Alps, I see snow. But snow it not the only reason to travel to higher ground, I found out last month. There is so much more to see and do. Especially between the months of May and October!
Hiking, biking and golf are the Big Three in the Austrian Kitzbuheler Alpen. The older I get the more I value every minute spend in nature. So, to discover Indian Summer with its changing colours against the backdrop of a dramatic mountain range is a time well spent. And even better with a spectacular new experience added to my modes-of-transportation-list.
Kitzbuheler Alpen – Brixenthal
This mountain area in Austria is about an hour by taxi from Innsbruck and consists of three charming villages, Brixen, Kirchberg and Westendorf.
With charming I mean the chalet style houses with abundant hanging baskets and meadows with wooden fences shielding grazing cows. And fresh air, it is only when I’m not in the city that I realise that we are in desperate need of some extra oxygen in Amsterdam.
Where to stay?
We’ve stayed at Windau Lodge just outside the village of Westendorf. Or should I say Window Lodge? The views of this new and modern style apartment hotel are stunning. Even more so because of the location, next to the golf course. Picture me looking over the green of the 18th from my balcony…
The style is characterized by a modern exterior and a more authentic Austrian atmosphere inside. Natural materials, like stone and wood. Even the owners Harold and Miranda dress in traditional costumes, you wouldn’t say they are Dutch.
All apartments have a fully equipped kitchen, separate bedroom (s), living room and large bathroom. You can opt for breakfast in the restaurant, room service of just make your own.
What to do at the Kitzbuheler Alpen?
Indian Summer asks for outdoor activities. From easy and challenging trails to climbing the Hockbrixem Mountain by bike. From hikes along rusty coloured trees and waterfalls to a round of golf with mountain view. And… floating in a hot air balloon!
What is essential to bring along, is a pair of hiking boots. Which now I have. In bright pink. If you decide to buy hiking boots the afternoon before departure, one can’t complain about the colour if you find the perfect fit…
- Golf at Golfclub Kitzbuheler Alpen Westendorf. The clubhouse of this 18-hole championship course is attached to Windau Lodge. From door to tee never was this easy. The course is incorporated within the natural landscape and has wonderful panorama views. And fast greens. Easy walking course.
- E-Mountain Biking. I had no idea of the existence of electric mountain bikes. But this really is the most enjoyable way to be on the move! Exploring the scenic destinations without much effort. Just follow the Kitz Alp Bike trail signs on the road, to the Filzalmsee lake for instance.
- Hot Air Ballooning. First time ever and moved to tears by the serenity of it all. A mesmerizing experience, the slow pace and the sound of silence altered with a swoosh of heath to warm up the air is comparable to none. The kaleidoscope of colours of all the balloons ascending and floating over the mountains and valleys is a true spectacular sight.
- Hiking. Well, these pink boots were made for walking and they did. With up to around 2500 km of – signposted – hiking trails, there’s a trail for everyone. Easy hikes in the valley, intermediate from half station reachable by cable car or bring your iron clamps and ropes to reach some isolated summits. Walk from one mountain lake to another.
Where and what to eat?
Good food is easy to find, whether you’re in a mountain cabin or at one of the Kochart restaurants. The latter is an association of hosts, who make use of produce from local farmers.
A must eat is kaiserschmarrn, a fluffy shredded pancake. Better order one with some extra forks.
- Kochart Restaurant at Gasthaus Steinberg. Fine dining prepared with love by chef Michael Grafl. Walk a lot and don’t eat the rest of the day to handle the rather generous and delicious dishes.
- Windau-Lounge. The restaurant of the golf club is where golfers and hikers meet after a day outside. Great terrace.
- Maierl-Alm Chalets. This luxury alpine inn with chalet & spa is situated at 1220m in the middle of the Kitzbühler Alpen. If I close my eyes I can still taste the sweet patotoe fries.
- Jausenstation Frank-Alm. An old rustic hut in Brixen im Thale with Tyrolean specialities and friendly service. Did I mention the Kaiserschmarrn?
- Katz Platzl. A cheesemaking mountain restaurant in Ashau. Perfect stop after a mountain walk. From fresh alpine milk to cheese on your plate.
With a healthy feeling and longs filled with fresh air we return to hectic city life. This trip absolutely has given me taste for more. How about the Kat Walk trail next year? A long distance walk with luxury mountain lodges, luggage transfer and Kochart food. Those pink hiking boots can’t wait.
My stay in Kitzbuheler Alpen was by invitation of the Tourism Board on behalf of Chapter Fifty. I only accept items or collaborations that answer positive to the question: “does it match my lifestyle?”. I will not promote anything that I would not wear, eat, sleep or see myself. Authenticity is very important to me. Words, photos and opinions are my own.