A taste of the high life

The Tyrol

Salzberg

First published in What's On by

If the stuffy London air and the overcrowded, sweltering Tube journey is getting to you, the perfect place to escape to is Austria’s Tyrol province.

I first went to the Mayrhofen region as a teenager with my parents and was transported into a a different world, with air so fresh you want to breathe deeply and fill your lungs while you admire the fairytale scenery of scented pine forests, and glistening streams flowing down ice-tipped mountains.

The glacial water is fed by rain and snowmelt, then filtered through bedrock,before reappearing out of thousands of springs throughout the valley, ready to drink.

We hiked for miles every day, snacking on the delicious deli food the region is famous for, such as fresh-cured salami and speck (cured ham), delicious cheeses, freshly churned butter and fluffy rolls.

In fact, he Tyrol has a rich culinary landscape. The Zillertal region is often nicknamed ‘nature’s dinner table’ for its celebratory food festivals and its adherence to naturally grown and sustainable farming methods.

Haymilk cheese is made with milk from cows raised only on pasture-fed grass peppered with herbs such as veronica, heath milkwort, lady’s mantile and yarrow.

Try this savoury cheese with top-quality Tuxer beef and a glass of local beer at one of several award-winning mountain restaurants with breathtaking views. Wine-lovers should head to Burgenland, one of Austria’s top wine-growing regions with more than 300 days of sunshine a year.

Anyone wanting to burn off the calories after devouring all this rich food has a choice of outdoor pursuits, from gentle walks to extreme sports.

It is is where you will find one of Europe’s greatest long-distance hiking trails. The Eagle Walk runs 280km across the most scenic regions.

Horse-riding is also popular and many hotels cater exclusively for riders. Or why not explore the Bike Trail Tirol, that offers exhilarating cycling for miles. The route winds its way through almost all of Tyrol’s scenic regions and is connected to a dense network of other beautiful cycleways allowing you to create a trip that matches your abilities and interests.

Nature-lovers should head for Zell am See-Kaprun, a delightful alpine community that is ideally located for exploring Hohe Tauern, the second-largest national park in the Alps, and home to Austria’s tallest peak – the Grossglockner.

Catch a glimpse of chamois, ibex, and golden eagles, which can all be spotted here by those with a keen eye.

Guests can also visit Peak World 3000, a new mountain adventure zone, including a panoramic restaurant, at the top of Kitzsteinhorn mountain.

Life in the Tyrol has remained largely unchanged for centuries, with farmsteads having belonged to the same families over several generations, and strict building controls to ensure the gorgeously preserved buildings retain their 17th century character.

Those with an appreciation for architecture and culture can also visit nearby towns and cities.

Graz boasts state-of-the-art buildings and is a foodie paradise, Innsbruck combines heritage with modern sporting arenas, while Salzburg is a beautiful tapestry of Renaissance mixed with modern architecture.

At the end of the day, wherever you lay your hat, relax over a slice of schwartzwalder kirchtorte – or Black Forest gateau. You’ll have more fun eating it than pronouncing it, I guarantee...

o Flights to Innsbruck in August on easyJet cost around £240 each. Rooms at the 4-star Hotel Alpenblick, in the Tyrol’s Hippach region, cost from £42 a night. Visit hotel-alpenblick.at

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