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SWITZERLAND & AUSTRIA ACTIVE IN AUSTRIA DESTINATIONS


I


t’s 5.30am and I’m at the top of the Wiedersbergerhorn mountain in the Alpbach Valley, on the eastern side of the Austrian Tirol. But instead of gearing up to hurtle down a snow-covered slope, I’m sitting down, enjoying a moment of peace after an incredible hike, and watching the sun rear its fiery head over mountains shrouded in a carpet of bright green. Welcome to the Austrian Tirol in summer, a quiet, peaceful collection of mountain resorts barely recognisable from their winter months. Here hiking, biking, swimming and


sightseeing take place under warm blue skies, with average temperatures ranging from 21C to 25C. There are still plenty of people


around – 52% of visitors to the Alpbach Valley come in summer, according to the local tourist board – but it doesn’t feel like it, and there’s a real sense of authentic Tirolean culture in the area at this time of year. Perhaps that’s because there are fewer Brits in summer: just over 22,000 came to the valley for the season last year, compared with 44,000 in winter. That’s worth highlighting to clients looking for a quiet,


cultural break that involves getting out and experiencing the great outdoors on foot, and a key selling point for Thomson Lakes & Mountains, which offers a range of sporty breaks in the region. With 15,000 miles of marked hiking trails across the whole Tirol, alongside a temperate climate, working cable cars and tracks to suit every fitness level, it’s certainly well equipped for all things outdoorsy.


w WALK THIS WAY Among the most famous hiking routes in the Tirol is the Eagle Trail, a 250-mile track that stretches from east to west. For


those not quite set on doing the whole thing though (why ever not?), suggest one of the 24 stages, which can each be done in a day. The village of Alpbach makes a good base from which to explore a section of the trail, and with 560 miles of hiking paths found in the surrounding valley, it’s an ideal destination for walkers in general. Lifts go up the nearby Wiedersbergerhorn mountain every day during summer, and once a month they start around 4.30am for the sunrise, hoisting up early risers who come to see the sky take on pink, blue and lilac hues


21 July 2016 travelweekly.co.uk 41


TOP TIP Find out more at alpbacktal.at, visittirol.co.uk


and for Niederau wildschoenau.com


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