Tyrol (German: Tirol) is a multi-national historical region in the heart of the Alps. It consists of North, East and South Tyrol. North and East Tyrol lie in Austria and together make up the Austrian federal-state of Tyrol with its capital in Innsbruck.
South Tyrol, despite its German-speaking majority, has been part of Italy since the end of World War I. It makes up the northern portion of the alpine Italian autonomous province Trentino-Alto Adige with its capital in Bolzano (Italian) or Bozen (German).
|North Tyrol (Alpbach, Fieberbrunn, Reutte, Lermoos, St. Anton, St. Johann in Tirol, Eng, Serfaus)|
The northern part of Tyrol. It borders the German state of Bavaria to the north, Vorarlberg to the west, the Swiss canton Graubünden to the south-west, Salzburg to the east.
|East Tyrol (Lienz, Kals, Hohe Tauern National Park)|
The eastern exclave of Austrian Tyrol, separated from the northern part by a strip of Salzburg and Italy.
|Paznaun Valley (See, Kappl, Ischgl, Galtür)|
An alpine valley on the Swiss border
|Lower Inn Valley (Innsbruck, Igls, Hall in Tirol, Kufstein, Wattens, Schwaz, Wörgl)|
|Achen Valley (Maurach, Pertisau, Achenkirch, Steinberg am Rofan)|
The beautiful Achen Lake.
|Tuxer Valley (Finkenberg, Tux, Hintertux)|
Side valley of the Ziller Valley, ending at the 1 Frozen Wall
|Ziller Valley (Mayrhofen, Fügen, Kaltenbach, Zell am Ziller, Aschau, Ried, Schwendau)|
A paradise for winter sports
Cities and townsEdit
- 8 Zirl
- 9 Völs
- 10 Innsbruck — the state capital
- 11 Igls
- 12 Hall in Tirol
- 13 Wattens — home of the Swarovski Crystal Company
- 14 Schwaz
- 15 Jenbach
- 16 Brixlegg
- 17 Wörgl
- 18 Kufstein — last Austrian town in the Inn valley near the German border
- 19 Maurach
- 20 Pertisau
- 21 Achenkirch - The largest town in the Achen Valley and popular ski resort in winter with extensive ski infrastructure. It sits at the border with Bavaria.
- 22 Steinberg am Rofan - A somewhat reclusive small town with only 280 inhabitants deep in the Rofan mountain range
Like its sister provinces of Bavaria in Germany and Salzburgerland in Austria, Tyrol is the very definition of the Germanic Alpine stereotype. Full of romantic lakes and castles and beer-drinking lederhosen-clad locals playing oom-pa-pa music and marching in bands, the place can seem a bit of a fairy tale to the visitor at times. Innsbruck and Bolzano/Bozen are the only real "bigger" cities, with the rest a beautiful natural panorama. The roads get clogged with tourists in the summer and winter months. South Tyrol sits on the sunny side of the Alps and is an interesting mix of three cultures.
As in nearly all of Austria, Austro-Bavarian is the main everyday spoken language of Tyrol (except in Reutte district where it is Alemannic). The Tyrolean dialect is even often tricky to understand for residents of eastern Austria (including Vienna) let alone from northern Germany. But, as in all of Austria, standard (Austrian) German is the official language used in all official publications and schools, so the vast majority speaks it, and in Innsbruck basically everyone is fluent. English is spoken by most educated middle aged and young people, and Italian is also quite prevalent due to the proximity of the South Tyrolian border and a small immigrant community in Innsbruck.
The main entry point by air is the 1 Innsbruck International Airport (INN IATA) which has scheduled flights to Vienna Airport, Frankfurt Airport, London, Amsterdam Schiphol, Graz, Nice, Hannover, Stavanger, Alghero, Gothenburg and Olbia. EasyJet also offers weekly low cost direct flights from Bristol on Fridays. Schedules may differ in winter.
2 Munich Airport (MUC IATA), 2.5 hours away by road transport, is another alternative. There are vans that will meet you at Munich Airport and take you directly to your lodging in or around Innsbruck for the price of a comparable train ticket.
Considering the topography rail connections are impressive and a highly scenic and relaxing way to see the Tyrol. Trains also connect the "three Tyrols" via rail and tunnels.
Skiing into Tyrol is very easy from Switzerland when crossing the Silvretta above Samnaun. The mountain ridge is the border between Switzerland and Austria, and multiple lifts take skiers to the ridge from either side. Descending the mountain on one side leads back to Switzerland, the other side leads into Tyrol. There is no border checkpoint for obvious practical reasons and because both countries are members of the Schengen treaty, but skiers with a keen eye for detail may notice a ceremonial border guard who "patrols" the border on skis!
The alpine geography creates obvious chokepoints for both road and rail traffic and during busy times there may be restrictions on driving with visitors using local roads having to prove they are indeed visiting local accommodation and not transiting the country. Many road and rail tunnels have already been built, but the politically contentious situation is likely to remain difficult until the opening of the Brenner Base Tunnel which will hopefully divert a significant share of transiting freight transport from road to rail. If you can arrange a rail based troop to your destination, do so for the sake of your own sanity.
- See also: Winter sports in Austria
Winter sports is the main reason to come for most who spend their holiday here. In most valleys there are common ticket systems for transport and ski lifts.
There are of course also cultural attractions, and the landscape is splendid also in summer, with many opportunities for hikes and mountaineering.
Except tourist facilities (including winter sports infrastructure) and museums, most shops and services are closed on Sunday, and many on Saturday afternoon as well.
The Tyrolean cuisine has traditionally focused on hearty dishes to provide energy and resilience against the harsh mountain weather. Many of the local specialties are based on meat, cheese, bread or potatoes. The Alpine climate with long winters and short summers, the steep slopes, and rocky soil all favour livestock cultivation over vegetables. Meat is very popular, and the local bacon variety Tiroler Speck is juniper-flavoured, smoked, and cured. It is a delicacy that is used in recipes such as Speckknödel (boiled bread dumplings served in broth). Speck is also a key ingredient in Gröstl, where it is fried with onion, potatoes, and eggs to create a delicious energy booster. Speck is also routinely enjoyed as an in-between snack, together with mountain cheese, sausages and bread. Ordering a Marend in a restaurant or Stube will get you a variety of local cured meat and cheese presented on a beech wood tray, and usually served with horseradish paste (German: Meerrettich) similar to wasabi.
Cheese is the second most prominent ingredient in Tyrolean cuisine. Very popular especially among children are Käsespätzle, thin egg noodles mixed with mountain cheese, gratinated in a wood fired oven, and sprinkled with roasted onion. Kaspressknödel is the cheese based variant of Speckknödel, except that they are typically fried instead of boiled.
Tyrol is also known for boiled or fried dumplings with a filling, such as Schlutzkrapfen which have a potato filling, Zillertaler Krapfen (a specialty from the Ziller Valley) has a cheese filling, and Buchteln which have a sweet filling such as plum jam.
For those with a sweet tooth, there are the ubiquitous Kaiserschmärrn served with plum or apple compote, although they can nowadays be found elsewhere in Austria as well. Specific for Tyrol are Apfelradln, slices of apple dipped in batter, deep fried, and served with cinnamon and/or sugar. They are very similar to the Belgian appelbeignets and follow the same preparation. Strauben are popular on fairs, look like very thin and long churros, and served with powdered sugar.
The best known seasonal specialty in Tyrol is without a doubt Moosbeernocken, which resemble thin pancakes made with wild growing mountain blueberries. They are a fantastic treat, but the blueberry season is rather short so they are nonexistent for most of the year.
Tyroleans have traditionally a strong regional identity, and see themselves as Tyroleans rather than Austrians. Tyroleans are keen on preserving their culture. The catholic faith still thrives in Tyrol and churches are busy on Sunday mornings. Religious symbols such as crosses can be found all around.