Sunrise over the mountains, gorges lined with dramatic rock formations, and the most beautiful village in Austria. Say hello to Alpbach in summer, the perfect base for getting outdoors, off-grid, and connecting with nature.
I recently spent a few days in Alpbach in the Austrian Tirol enjoying a massive nature fix with Inghams and Tirol Tourism. My mission was to get outdoors and #LiveEveryMoment. I’d visited Austria a few years back for winter skiing in Filzmoos and since then I’ve been itching to see what was hiding under Austria’s winter snow scape. A few days in Alpbach this summer gave me the opportunity to find out.
Alpbach in Summer
I discovered that Alpbach in summer, and the area of Alpbachtal around it, is utterly breathtaking. With a choice of wide open spaces, tree-lined valleys, forests, lakes and mountains nearby there’s a lot to love. It’s the perfect destination to take time out for beautiful summer wanderings, connecting with nature and creating a sense of well-being. In short, Albach is good for the soul and it taught me that I’m happiest when I’m outdoors and immersed in nature.
Where is Alpbach?
What is Alpbach known for?
Alpbach is known for its beautiful alpine setting and fresh mountain air. The village sits in a lush tree-lined valley surrounded by majestic mountains and hillsides rich with alpine flowers and happy bees. The area is a hiking, cycling, outdoorsy paradise with many stunning hikes and trails in the mountains, gorges and forests.
Traditional Austrian charm reigns in Albach. Houses are built to strict 1950’s planning rules so it retains an authentic Tirolean appearance and appeal. The wooden chalets in Alpbachtal villages are festooned with colourful flowers. Balconies are overflowing with red, pink and white geraniums and petunias. A riot of colour prevails. It soon became obvious why Alpbach has been voted Austria’s most beautiful village.
Things to do in Alpbach in Summer
It’s a known fact that spending time in mountains, forests and countryside is good for the mind, body and soul. I found myself smiling a lot during this trip. Time spent outdoors, breathing in the pure mountain air, enjoying epic landscapes, and getting back to nature makes me happy. The company was pretty special too! It’s a good feeling when you’ve had an active day and hit your bed tired and happy. Boy did I sleep well!
So, what is there to do in Alpbach to get yourself a fix of that feel-good factor? Actually, there’s a lot…
Walk the Path of Contemplation
Ease yourself into walking on the Path of Contemplation. You’ll find the entrance a two minute walk from Alpbach village. The easy 2.4 mile (3.9km) circular walk takes you through part of the forest lined with art installations, inspiration for connecting with nature and info about the flora and fauna.
Have you heard of forest bathing? It’s where you use all five senses to clear your mind and connect with the environment to aid well-being. Apparently time spent under the tree canopy boosts the immune system, lowers blood pressure and aids sleep. The Path of Contemplation is the perfect spot for it…
We walked alongside a small stream under the tree canopy before coming out into the open to the north of Alpbach. The views down to the village and through the valley are superb. You’ll pass pretty Austrian chalets with balconies overflowing with flowers, alpine meadows and the tiniest of churches.
We didn’t take the full route but cut back down to the village passing this small wooden chapel which was built for workers who couldn’t get back to the village for services in bad weather.
Watch the sunrise from Wierdersbergerhorn
A bit of background. I’m not a morning person and we left the hotel at 4.10 am. But I’d do this again in a heartbeat…
We hopped on the gondola at Wierdersbergerhorn and rode up to the second station where the gentle hum of alpine horns greeted us. The dawn was slowly creeping towards the day and a thin ribbon of ochre widened behind the jagged peaks of the Wilder Kaiser mountains to the East.
We started our ascent, traversing along the mountain path climbing higher towards the summit as dawn approached. As the sun appeared, the valleys and mountains emerged from the darkness in a soft golden light. An unforgettable experience.
Thanks to Mel from MelBTravel for capturing this moment
More info here for dates, times about the sunrise gondola rides which run every two weeks from July to late September. The uphill walk to the summit took around an hour. You’ll need good walking shoes. We climbed to 2,127 metres and it was quite chilly before the sun came up so take a fleece or light jacket. Be sure to stay hydrated and take a flask of water.
Enjoy a free daily gondola ride using the Alpbachtal Seenland Card (see factbox below)
Enjoy the Alpine flowers
After coming down from the top of the Wiedersbergerhorn we turned off to the right, before reaching the gondola, and continued round the side of the mountain.
The views across the valleys are beautiful but take time to enjoy the flora at your feet. The trail is lined with colourful Alpine flowers, shrubs and herbs. A sea of Alpine Roses met us as we turned the first bend and we spotted Edelwiess, Austria’s national flower, Cranesbill, Yarrow and Thyme.
We met a few curious cows on the path, and where there’re cows there’s cheese…
Have a hearty mountain breakfast
If we weren’t hungry when we started our sunrise hike we certainly were afterwards. A hearty mountain breakfast was calling at Hornalm mountain hut.
We sat down to a glorious breakfast of eggs, bacon, ham, cheese, orange juice and steaming hot coffee. I wolfed the lot down and mopped up the greasy bacon fat with a freshly baked bread roll, something I wouldn’t usually do but I figured I’d earned it that morning. Delicious.
There are two mountain huts which serve sunrise breakfasts from 6.45 a.m. – the Hornboden and Hornalm. For Hornalm you’ll need to book in advance, by the day before: +43 664 5488494.
Ride the Alpine Coaster
After breakfast, full of renewed energy, we carried on back towards Wiedersbergerhorn,. We were heading for the Alpine Coaster and I have to admit to being a bit nervous about the ride. I’ve never been a fan of roller coasters or funfair rides but this was nothing like that and actually a lot of fun. I’d have gone again if we’d had time! Good to get out of your comfort zone now and then…
The Alpine coaster Lauser Sauser opens at 9.30am and costs €6 for children and €8 for adults for one ride. Photos are €4 – worth every cent don’t you think…!
Climb Wolfsklamm Gorge
I had no idea there are so many beautiful gorges in the Tirol region. We explored Wolfsklamm Gorge as part of an Ingham’s excursion. There were around 20 of us in the group led by Jane who is the Inghams rep in Albach. Wolfsklamm is also easily visited independently. Good walking shoes are recommended as it gets wet and slippery in places.
The start of this 118 year old trail took us along the forest path through dappled shade. We soon began to head up the incline of the narrow gorge, the sound of cascading water filling our ears. Along a series of bridges, wooden boardwalks and 354 steps we made our way upwards through the stunning scenery.
Stallenbach Creek has cleaved its way through the landscape forming waterfalls, rapids and pools. The limestone rock gives the water a delicate turquoise appearance. We stopped for a while at a small beach where I perched on a boulder and dipped my toes into the creek. It was too cold to keep them in for long but when I put my walking shoes back on my feet felt deliciously cool and invigorated.
Visit St Georgenberg Monastery
You could end your walk here and retrace your steps but I recommend continuing up the pilgrimage route to the monastery and the former St Georgenberg Hermitage. We could see it looming above us through the trees from its clifftop perch. We crossed Hohe Brücke, which means High Bridge, stopping briefly to take in the views. The wooden bridge is Tirol’s oldest dating back to 1497 and curves pleasingly across the top of the tree-lined gorge.
The monastery was once a mountain hermitage and Tirol’s oldest place of pilgrimage. The church on the site is still open and there’s a small shop and Gasthof where we stopped for a well-earned beer and delicious Schnitzel lunch. Well, when in Austria…
Enjoy traditional Austrian food
Albachtal’s fresh mountain air and outdoor activity generate a hearty appetite but that’s not a problem because Austria dishes up some delicious traditional dishes which’ll fill your boots.
Wiener Schnitzel is Austria’s national dish and traditionally made of veal although pork is often used. My heart-shaped Schnitzel at the St Georgenberg restaurant almost took up the whole plate. Delicious as it was I couldn’t manage it all.
We enjoyed some traditional dishes at Roherof Kramsach, the excellent restaurant at the Tyrolean Farmhouse Museum. We couldn’t decide what to order so they brought a selection of food to our table in a massive frying pan.
Various types of knödel aka dumplings were served along with Käsespäetzle, which is Austria’s take on Macaroni cheese sprinkled with fried onion. We tucked into Tiroler Gröstl, a bacon, onion and potato dish and local St Johann’s sausages. If I didn’t know my knödel from my Käsespäetzle before that meal I certainly did by the end of it. Read more about Austrian food in this post.
Step back in time at the Museum of Tirolean Farmhouses
Throughout Tirol you’ll see traditional timber Austrian chalets and farmhouses. We learnt about their history at Tirol’s largest open-air museum in Kramsach. We tool a leisurely stroll around the site wandering in and out of the well-preserved farmhouses.
The buildings come from all over the Tirol and were dismantled, moved to the site and reconstructed timber by timber. The museum gives a fascinating insight into Tirolean life, traditions and how the innovative farm folk solved the problems they faced on a daily basis.
Entry is free using the Alpbachtal Seenland Card (see factbox below)
Immerse yourself in nature at Tiefenbach Gorge
Another day another beautiful gorge. There are around fourteen gorges in Tirol where streams have flowed from the mountains and carved their way through the landscape to create ravines alive with rapids, misty waterfalls and cascades. This walk was the perfect way to get loads of fresh air, exercise and some outdoor therapy.
Tiefenbach Gorge is breathtakingly beautiful and runs between Kramsach and Brandenberg in the Alpbachtal Seenland area. Once used for log-driving, the trail is a place to totally immerse yourself in the beauty of nature.
The trail follows the Brandenberger Ache (river) as it cascades and flows through the narrow ravine lined with intriguing striated rock faces. It really is achingly beautiful and I’d have liked to stay all day.
The gorge is closed on days with heavy rainfall, as well as from November to April. Again, good walking boots or shoes are recommended as the rising spray often makes the paths quite slippery. My Saloman walking shoes were ideal.
Read more about my hike in hike in Tiefenbachklamm with information on how to get there by car or public transport and what to see along the trail.
Where to stay in Alpbach
Our Alpbach accommodation was at Hotel Böglerhof which sits right next to the church in the heart of the village. Dating back to the fifteenth century, family-run Hotel Böglerhof is the best hotel in Alpbach with a 4* superior status.
Many original features have been retained and beautifully compliment the newer areas of the hotel in traditional Austrian style.
Both food and service are excellent and the staff are very friendly. We enjoyed dinner in the hotel every evening and the food was beautifully presented, delicious and plentiful.
Hotel Böglerhof Spa
The hotel spa is the perfect place for relaxing after a day’s hiking, biking or kayaking. There’s an outdoor heated pool plus indoor pool, spa area with saunas and steam room and treatment rooms for massage and beauty therapies.
The new Tyrol Lounge at Innsbruck Airport
Sadly, all good things come to an end and after a few days we had to leave and head back to Innsbruck Airport for our flight home. We spent our final hour in the new Tyrol Lounge enjoying the mountain panorama over a peaceful glass of wine and some nibbles. The lounge really is rather special and it helped make saying goodbye to beautiful Alpbach slightly less painful.
Thank you to Inghams and Tirol Tourism for inviting me to explore this gorgeous part of Austria on a hosted press trip. All thoughts, opinions and love of a good mountain hike are entirely my own and I retain full editorial rights. If you haven’t already guessed I loved every minute of my visit to Alpbach.
Suzanne Jones is creator, writer and photographer at The Travelbunny. When she’s not indulging her wanderlust you’ll most likely find her enjoying coastal walks in her home county of East Sussex, UK.
Suzanne co-writes Sussex Bloggers which showcases the best of East & West Sussex.