Skip Summer Travel Crowds: Visit The Alps in the Fall -

Skip Summer Travel Crowds: Visit The Alps in the Fall

It’s tempting to take time during the summer for major travel, particularly if you’re planning to visit the Alps. Americans think of summer as their regular vacation time and often plan a jaunt across the pond to see all the European sights they can fit into a couple of weeks abroad. But if you want to skip summer travel crowds, the experience can be so much more relaxing if you visit the Alps in the Fall.

We shopped until we dropped in Kitzbühel, and the experience was world-class.

And in this case, we suggest Fall is a great time to visit the Austrian Alps town of  Kitzbühel.  If you and your traveling group are looking for fresh air, outdoor adventure, Alpine beauty and European history, this is your place. Famous as a global ski destination and the home of the annual Hahnenkamm Races , Kitzbühel is famous for its ski activities. If you visit the Alps in the Fall however, you can enjoy charming mountain towns like Kitzbühel without the crowds and freezing conditions.

That’s exactly what we did on a vacation with two other couples, and we had a blast exploring the Alpine town of Kitzbühel.

Why Visit the Alps in the Fall

Before the snows arrive and blanket the Alps from top to bottom with world-class skiing conditions, the mountains surrounding Kitzbühel are green green green. Every view is a stunning contrast of European village structures, grassy slopes, towering trees and rocky mountain tops. It’s the perfect town to visit the Alps in the Fall for many reasons.

Whether you like to hike the grassy slopes, cycle the twisting terrain, shop until you drop, or relax and soak at the spa, there are plenty of activities to keep you entertained.

View from hotel room at Gastof Eggerwirt in Kitzbühel Austria
The view from our room at Gastof Eggerwirt served up The Alps from every window.

Kitzbühel is a popular destination in Europe because it is easy to reach from multiple destinations. The town is a 75 minute drive from Salzburg or a 90 minute drive from Munich, putting this area within easy reach of local metropolitan areas. Excellent and reliable train service is also readily available, as in most European destinations.

We visited in September and the weather was ideal for hiking, exploring and sitting in cafes with coffee and cake. Kitzbühel weather is temperate in the Fall, averaging during the day around 66 degrees F and at night around 45 degrees F. Although the occasional rain might fall during otherwise sunny circumstances, the days are comfortable and evenings cozy with a warm jacket.

Local Tyrolean Charm

The real draw here in Fall is local charm. The town of Kitzbühel is nestled in a valley within the Tyrol area of the Austrian Alps.

Kitzbühel enjoys a European beauty that has remained relatively unscathed during invasions and world wars. The downtown village is intact, with rows of mansions, storefronts, restaurants and hotels. Architectural styles here reveal a town that has developed since before the 1200s, with stone structures and colorful styles popular from the 1600s on. The downtown streetscape is extraordinarily well kept, with cobble streets, charming shops, and a central area that draws focus and attention to its beauty.

Colorful and historic buildings line the cobble stone streets of downtown Kitzbühel, Austria
Colorful buildings line the streets of Kitzbühel’s Old City

This is clearly a luxurious destination at any time of year, drawing a well-heeled crowd to its designer shops and excellent restaurants. The hotel rates are most likely on the higher end during the winter ski months. During the Fall they are quite reasonable.

Things to Do in Kitzbühel in the Fall

With an autumn chill in the air, an atmosphere of cozy comfort blankets the town of Kitzbühel. We were glad for our decision to visit the Alps in the Fall. However you choose to enjoy Kitzbühel, there is plenty to keep visitors busy throughout the Autumn months.

In the center of the Old City sits this stone mosaic inlaid in the street to commemorate the city’s history.

History

A center of skiing since the first ski runs began back in the 1890s, Kitzbühel is regarded as one of the top ski destinations in the world. That distinction was earned over time by hosting world-class competitions and training Olympic Gold Medal athletes. Yet all the while, the town has amassed an interesting history tracking back to 800 BC.

As in many European villages, there is much to learn about their interesting histories. Kitzbühel has some special places to visit that help tell their unique stories.

Our tour guide Hilde gave us a rundown on the history and roots of Kitzbühel.
Guided City Tour with Hilde Flack

For a special treat, tour downtown Kitzbühel with a local who has lived her most of her life. Hilde has seen many decades of change, yet shares interesting stories about the long history of this town. Her enchanting manner and spry approach is both entertaining and educational.

Kitzbühel Museum

Worth a walk-through, this Museum tells more than a walking tour can. Of particular interest is the evolution of skiing as it emanated from Kitzbühel as one of its most important starting points. Traces the town’s history from copper mining in 1100 BC to the Roman invasion in 15 BC. From there the village dodged in and out of the Bavarian monarchy, Napoleon and managed being spared by Nazi troops because of its beauty.

St Catherine’s Church

Built in 1360 in the Gothic Style, the church has survived through the ages and is now a War Memorial. Bells ring each day at 11 am and 5 pm to honor the fallen from World War II. A peek inside is worth the time and a walk through the grounds is a beautiful diversion.

St Catherine's Church and Tower in the Old City of Kitzbühel Austria
In the Old Town area of Kitzbühel the bells of St Catherine’s Church keep track of the hours.
Cemetery

Within the confines of St. Catherine’s Church grounds lays a colorful cemetery with historic headstones. Local tradition is to decorate a loved one’s burial spot with colorful mementos, flowers, flags, photos and other rememberances.

Local tradition has decorated cemetery graves with colorful personal items.

Outdoor Adventure

There is quite a wealth of outdoor activities that visitors can enjoy in an around Kitzbühel. When you visit the Alps in the Fall, the weather may be a little less warm but by no means is it uncomfortable to be outside. We loved visiting this time of year when crowds were less and paths were walkable.

Hiking is huge here, and there are strenuous paths for the more intrepid hikers. Right nearby, there are also sweet meandering paths with very little elevation for those seeking something calm and easy. Check out hiking options in Kitzbühel here.

Because there are so many options, we’ve provided links to the Kitzbühel website for more information.

Culinary

Here we felt compelled to intersperse our sightseeing with several stops per day into the vast collection of European cafes that dot the streets. There were a couple of stand-out restaurants for us:

Huberbrau Stuberl

Traditional hofbrau restaurant and beer pub. We loved the Bacon-Wrapped Berner Würstel, a cheese filled sausage with excellent fries on the side. Great for lunch.

Gasthof Eggerwirt Restaurant

Inside one of the oldest hotels in Kitzbühel, this is the place for traditional Tyrolean specialties like Wiener Schnitzel, Braised Beef Shoulder and more.

The restaurant at Gastof Eggerwirt was not only charming – it also served delicious food.
Goldene Gams

Located at the historic Tieffenbrunner Hotel, this restaurant has been operating in this location since 1810. A favorite was the Roast Beef braised in red wine sauce with glazed carrots and buttered spaetzle. Excellent wine list.

Dinner at the Golden Gams was traditional with a twist.
Schatzi

Cozy cafe designed entirely in pink and green with a garden patio of flowers, comfortable indoors and tremendously good cakes and coffees.

Kortschak Cafe & Wein

Set along the historic walkways of downtown, this hole-in-the-wall is a perfect escape from raindrops or a simple respite from traversing the town. Lovely coffees and wine selection, pastries and ice cream delights.

Cafe culture is alive and well in the Kitzbühel Old City.
Franz Coffee& Wine Bar

Charming and eclectic cafe and shop with fantastic music, colorful guests and a great vibe. We could have stayed here for hours enjoying our wine and coffee drinks. Enjoyed sitting in their comfy furniture and watching the world go by.

The vibe at Franz Coffee & Wine Bar could have kept us there all day.
LaMonte Bistro

Delicious Italian cuisine with an ideal view of the gondolas starting their way up the HahnenkammenBahn to the top of the mountain. Homemade pastas were the standout here. We sampled several different dishes that made our stomachs happy and our hearts content.

LaMonte Bistro serves authentic Italian cuisine at the base of the mountains in Kitzbühel.

Wellness

If there is anything they do will in the Austrian Alps, it’s wellness. The people here have a healthy respect for, well, being healthy. Maybe it stems back to the local dedication to outdoor activities and sports. Whatever the motivation, Kitzbühel offers some very impressive wellness options sure to balance mind and body.

Spas

A variety of choices abound in spa treatments, and the hotels seem to offer the best packages for visitors. Although not all hotels have spas within them, guests can purchase a day pass to most hotel spas whether they are staying there or not. Check out the options at Hotel A-ROSA, where saunas, steam rooms, massages and an indoor pool await.

photo courtesy of the Lebenberg Schlosshotel

Another spa to consider is the Lebenberg Schlosshotel, which is located on a hillside with panoramic views of the valley and mountains from their spa swimming pool and treatment rooms.

Yoga

What’s better than to relax, breathe and practice yoga in the great outdoors of the Austrian Alps?! There are several options for yoga studios and outdoor classes. Regardless of time of year or weather conditions, it’s always a good time for stretching and mindfulness. Check out options like Natürlich Yoga and Sivananda Yoga. There are also quite a few indoor yoga studios, both independently owned and inside resort hotels as well.

Meditation

Go outside – anywhere in the nearby wilderness – and it will be easy to find a peaceful place to relax and meditate. If you prefer the sound of running water, nearby creeks and streams will provide the backdrop. Or hike along a path and sit down in a green grassy field while you listen to birds singing, gentle winds in the trees and distant church bells. Although Kitzbühel is a center of activity, there are plenty of quick exits to nature and an escape for some quiet time alone.

Shopping

The shopping is epic in Kitzbühel, probably because the area attracts so many wealthy visitors to ski its famous slopes. There are quite a number of designer boutiques in town such as Louis Vuitton, Bogner, Lacoste and Moncler. We also really loved the approachable styles offered at stores like the ones in the Kitz Galleria. (We came home with several cool pieces of clothing from this outing!)

For specific stores and information on offerings, check out this listing of shopping in Kitzbühel.

Retail stands in the Kitzbühel street markets were filled with handmade items and artful accessories.

A highlight are the street markets which pop up regularly in the historic village area. With the holidays approaching, we picked up several presents to bring home. Of particular interest were handmade items from leather, wool and other items used to create clothing, accessories and art. We had to buy another suitcase to fit the cool new purchases we made in the Kitzbühel markets – another good reason to visit the Alps in the Fall.

Where to Stay in Kitzbühel

There are more than 10,000 hotel rooms within the Kitzbühel area, and so many options for hotels and resorts. Options range from spartan to lavish, with price ranges to match. Yet you will experience a very reasonable hotel price structure when you visit the Alps in the Fall. Because this is not their high season, rates are lower in these months.

Our hotel choice was the historic Gastof Eggerwirt. This hotel captures the epitome of what we envisioned an authentic Austrian inn to be. In typical Tyrolean fashion, the Gastof Eggerwirt has been welcoming guests since 1658. That’s more than 350 years of hospitality – they certainly know what they are doing! Located in the heart of Kitzbühel, guest rooms here are large and comfortable. Our bathroom here was the largest of any hotel we stayed in throughout our trip. It included bathtub/shower, double sinks and plenty of counter space.

The exterior is charming, with the traditional murals painted on the walls and shutters framing the windows. There are even flower pots hanging beneath the windows full with colorful blooms. The staff at this family-owned establishment are extremely helpful and friendly – more than many of the other stops we made on our tour of the Alps.

Also very important – the hotel is located right in the city of the Old City. Guests can walk from the hotel to all of the major sights, and can even reach the ski lifts with a brisk walk up the hill.

We highly recommend Gastof Eggerwirt and would absolutely stay there again.

The guest rooms at Gastof Eggerwirt have all the modern conveniences and a pillow-soft bed.

Plan Your Trip to Visit the Alps in the Fall

If this itinerary sounds fun to you, it’s easy to plan your visit to the Alps in the Fall. We started with a great site called Best of the Alps, which helps visitors plan which destinations in the Alps suit them best. When visiting Kitzbühel, their tourism website focus on autumn holidays is very helpful.

And last but not least, here is an overview of our entire Alpine adventure with all the locations highlighted.

As always, reach out with any questions and we will try to help you plan your trip. Until then, auf wiedersehen!

 

 

 

 

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