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Is 4 nights enough to see central Austrian Alps?

Dear folks:

I have made a booking at a small farm B&B near Kitzbühel for 4 nights. My itinerary will be as follows:

Days 1-2
Touch down in Salzburg in morning. Recuperate and tour Salzburg
2 nights Holiday Inn in Salzburg

Day 3
Pick up rental car in Freilassing, and then drive right back to Austria
1 night by Hallstatt lake. Tour town and lake

Days 4-7
4 nights at farm B&B near Kitzbühel
Tour around Kitzbühel, including a mountain hut called "Hunde Paradise" (Dog Paradise) in Mullneralm

Spend a day at Alpbach, Achensee, and Tiefenbachklamm (and, if time allows, Kaiserklamm)
(Pending Covid situation) Watch cattle drive near Kirchdorf on 9/11
Kaprun area for the gondola to Gipfel Welt 3000
Attend some farm activities for half a day if we are too tired to drive

Day 8+ (for about 12-13 nights)
Drive to Italy via Lienz to see the Dolomites
Will see Tre Cime and Val Gardena -- itinerary and accommodation TBA

My questions:

  1. While in Austria, I would like to see things that are not available on the Italian side, such as river gorges. (When I was at Seefeld back in 2018, the walk along a nearby river gorge was one of the highlights.) There are Wolfsklamm slightly to the west of Achensee, Tiefenbachklamm to the east of Achensee, and then Kaiserklamm upstream from Tiefenbachklamm. Should I see them all? If not, which ones do you recommend?

  2. What are other Austrian Alpine sights or experiences that are not found in Italy?

  3. If I am going to Italy, is a visit to Alpbach necessary? I heard it's a quaint village with lots of well preserved wooden farmhouses, but I am not sure if it's nicer than small towns in the Dolomites.

  4. What other items can I skip for days 4-7? Are Kaprun and the gondola to Gipfel Welt 3000 "skippable" (I know I am making up a word here)? On the other hand, the visit to Dog Paradise is a must to me.

Overall, I am just wondering if I should add another night for my stay in Kitzbühel, so that I can see more of Austria and also to budget some potential "down" days in case of bad weather. Three years ago, I saw Innsbruck and the Ötztal valley, and so I don't need to see the west side of Tirol that borders Switzerland.

Any ideas or suggestions are very welcome. Thank you!!

Posted by
2700 posts

The Zillertal is simply beautiful. The further into the valley (going south), the more dramatic the scenery. We stayed in Finkenberg in the Zillertal. Mayrhofen in the Zillertal has a large “cattle drive” in September.

Dolomites. The scenery is far more dramatic, in my opinion. Not like any other alpine country. We loved staying three times in La Villa at the Ciasa Montanara.

Here you have nearly direct access to the best, most scenic drives over so many Dolomite Passes. Gardena pass, Sella pass, Campolongo Pass, Pordoi Pass, Falzarego Pass and Giau Pass.

In one afternoon we drove the Gardena, Sella, Pordoi and Campolongo, a circle route starting and ending in La Villa. You’ll find areas to stop and walk and or hike among the top of the peaks. Plus there’s a cafe at the “top” of the Gardena and Sella passes. The Lagazuoi cable car is easy and quick to the top at the start of the Falzarego Pass. It normally runs into October.

In the Dolomites you’ll pretty much feel like you’re in Austria. Except for the limestone peaks and the fact while German is usally the primary language, signs are in two to three languages. German name, Italian name and Ladin name.

Rainy day options can be Bolzano and Bressanonne. Both have very interesting museums, including the “Ice Man” in Bolzano. Both also have nice traffic free pedestrian zones.

Posted by
2700 posts

Oh. Are you driving the Grossglockner to get to the Dolomites? You may want to spend a night in Heiligenblut at the southern end of this drive. Very quaint, small, picturesque village in the shadow of the Grossglockner, Austria tallest peak.

We loved our stay at:

Posted by
575 posts

Thank you, Paul. How difficult was the drive along the Großglockner pass? I see from photos that the scenery is amazing, but worry about our ability to drive, esp. if it rains.

Posted by
2700 posts

I felt very safe to be honest. In the rain? Well, that depends i guess on circumstances such as a light rain, pouring rain and so on. I honestly wouldn't want to drive it in a heavy rain. Light rain, I would be fine. Just a little slower and more careful.

I will say this, the Dolomite passes are as, or even more spectacular, and free!

Posted by
744 posts

If you drive from Kitzbühel to Wildschönau you will see some great Austrian farm houses with flowers hanging from the balconies, Glockentürme on the roofs, sitting in/on green mountain sides. I have never been to the Klamm you have noted, but the Kundler Klamm near Mühlthal was impressive. You can take the Bummelzug to get there. Lienz is one of my favorite places too, just because it's Lienz. Most sunshine in all of Austria.

Some folks ride their bikes up and down the well maintained two lane Großglockner-Hochalpenstraße along with other mountain roads in Tirol/Südtirol etc. Last time I drove it I think the toll was EUR 47. Nothing like the no guardrail, barely one lane, hair pin turn roads (hopefully paved) you can find throughout the Alps, if you get off the beaten path.

Posted by
1139 posts

'If I am going to Italy, is a visit to Alpbach necessary?' - No. Pop in for a coffee and a quick walk around if you are close by, but don't go out of your way for it. In your previous post I mentioned that we stayed in Alpbach. At the time it was mainly a one street village. Many of the chalets were attractive, and the scenery and hiking from our accommodations were enjoyable. The reason we went there was because of an old article I read in National Geographic, saying it was named the prettiest village in the Tirol, or some such, a particular title given out yearly to a different village.

I found Zell am See to be an attractive place, and Kufstein is a worth a visit for its small old town and castle. There used to be river cruises leaving from Kufstein.

The Großglockner is safe at any time it is open, there is a resticted speed limit. If conditions become unsafe, the road closes down. Just make sure you dedicate a nice, clear day for it, more for the visuals than any safety concerns. Paul might be right about the roads in the Dolomite region. Our drive from Vipiteno to Merano was splendid. We stayed in Vipiteno, in the South Tirol. Close by is the splendid Reifenstein Castle, and Novacella Abbey lies just to the south. One day we spent in Merano, another day was spent mainly driving, with a stop-off at Castelrotto, then lunch about an hour or so east of that, before turning back and stopping off at Bressanonne.

I'll always have a crack at a gorge if close by, so I'd probably try all the ones you mentioned. I think we did Wolfsklamm, but not sure. Whatever it was, it was close to Alpbach.

Posted by
51 posts

While in the Kitzbuhel area, you could also check out Triassic Park in Waidring and St. Jakob's Kreuz in St. Jakob. Both are in the PillerseeTal just east of Kitzbuhel and offer terrific views of the surrounding mountains.

Also, the Krimml Waterfalls are south of Kitzbuhel and are worth a visit if the weather is nice.

Posted by
31 posts

From my point of view: I'd spend as much extra time in Kitzbühel as you can give to it. Unfortunately. I don't have specific recommendations; it's been 20+ years since my last visit to the area. One of the most beautiful places I've traveled to (throughout 40 years of travel). The hiking is wonderful. Have a great trip!