Top of cool: mountain retreats within the Austrian Tirol | Journey

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By Stacy Connor

A wood swimming jetty juts right into a lake of deepest emerald inexperienced. Within the distance white-sailed dinghies skitter throughout the water, propelled by a mild breeze coming down from the mountains. That is Achensee, the biggest lake within the Austrian Tirol. And if you happen to endured final summer season’s heatwave on a sticky and crowded British seaside or watched the skies flip crimson above the Med because the mercury nudged the excessive 40s, the possibilities are you discovered your self fantasising a couple of scene identical to this.

Dalfazer waterfall at Achensee lake.
Falling to earth: Dalfazer waterfall at Achensee lake. {Photograph}: Getty Photos

I’d like to say we jumped off that jetty into the lake, however it’s not simply the color that’s glacial, so we retreat to the extra temperate waters of the rooftop infinity pool at Atoll Achensee. This gleaming lakeside leisure advanced has the feel and appear of an unique spa retreat, all sweeping white curves and mountain vistas, however you’ll be able to spend half a day right here, flitting between the indoor and outside swimming pools, whirl swimming pools, sauna and solar terraces for only a few euros greater than it might value you to swim in a municipal pool again residence. It’s not the one factor that seems to be nice worth. Summer time is off-season within the Tirol and most of the resorts right here – together with the smart-but-cosy Sonnenhof in Pertisau the place we’re staying – supply engaging half-board packages.

The following morning we drive as much as the Gramai Alm, a gorgeous guesthouse that could be a jumping-off level for exploring the limestone peaks of the Karwendel mountains, on foot or by mountain bike. We go for a simple round stroll that takes us to a waterfall and provides tantalising glimpses of the lake far beneath. On the Alm’s sunny terrace we order käsespätzle – a Tirolean noodle dish doused in melted cheese and fried onions – after which drift to a close-by hammock for a siesta, to the mild accompaniment of cowbells jangling within the pasture. It’s exhausting to depart this idyllic spot, however after bidding a reluctant farewell to the resident goats, we head again down the mountain for the 45-minute drive to our subsequent cease.

The beautiful Wildschönau region is at 1,000m on the western slopes of the Kitzbühel Alps.
Pastures new: the attractive Wildschönau area is at 1,000m on the western slopes of the Kitzbühel Alps. {Photograph}: Nick Brundle /Getty Photos

Excessive within the Kitzbühel Alps, Wildschönau is a peaceable valley of rolling inexperienced pastures dotted with farmhouses whose wood balconies are a riot of crimson and pink geraniums. Inside minutes of dropping our luggage on the pleasant family-run Resort Wastlhof in Niederau, we’re being whisked in a cable automotive to the highest of the Markbachjoch mountain for a brief however spectacular stroll to a tiny chapel with an enormous view. All resort company staying within the valley are given a Wildschönau card, which provides free or discounted entry to native sights and entry to the community of cable automobiles, lifts and buses, making it extremely straightforward, even for mountain novices and households, to catch some eye-popping surroundings.

The following morning we board the delightfully named Bummelzug road-train from Oberau, which rattles alongside at a leisurely tempo via forests and meadows to the Kundler Klamm. This steep limestone gorge gives one of the crucial satisfying (and accessible) walks within the area, following the course of the Wildschönau river because it carves its approach via the canyon. The prepare drops us again in Oberau simply in time for a late lunch of brezenzuppe (pretzel and cheese soup) on the Thalmuehle, a flower-bedecked inn stuffed with Tirolean attraction.

Käsespätzle: a Tirolean noodle dish doused in melted cheese and fried onions.
Käsespätzle: a Tirolean noodle dish doused in melted cheese and fried onions. {Photograph}: Simon Reddy/Alamy

Wildschönau is dairy-farming nation and one of many highlights of our week is a go to to the dairy at Schönanger Alm. Grasp cheesemaker Johann Schönauer offers us a tour and tasting of the tilsiter and emmentals that he’s making ready to enter for the Mountain Cheese Olympics – they take their cheese severely right here. We’re the final guests of the day, so we additionally get handled to a shot of Krautinger, a bracing schnapps produced completely within the native villages from white turnips.

On our closing day we take the cable automotive up the Schatzberg mountain to go to a Tirolean music pageant, the place it turns into obvious that we’re the one ones who didn’t get the memo to come back dressed because the von Trapp household. In an idyllic Alpine meadow, a brass band is taking part in Austrian folks tunes whereas {couples} in lederhosen and dirndls transfer via elaborate set dances. Waitresses carry spherical large trays of beer for the onlookers who sway and sing alongside to the music on wood picnic benches. The ambiance is considered one of infectious jollity. The lady subsequent to me insists I be a part of the queue for schmalznudel, deliciously mild doughnuts served with cranberries. “When you attempt schmalznudel as soon as,” she tells me, “you’ll come again to Wildschönau.” I obediently be a part of the queue.

Coronary heart of the Alps

Extra Tirolian resorts and Alpine sights for summer season guests

Medieval town Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Bavaria.
Color codes: the medieval city of Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Bavaria. {Photograph}: Getty Photos

Bavaria, Germany Discover the lakes, mountains and castles of southern Germany on a Bavarian Wander with Inntravel ( From £1,765pp, together with seven nights’ B&B on the Biohotel Eggensberger and return rail journey from London.

Unhealthy Gastein, Austria Recharge your batteries on the Comodo, a brand-new and opulent design resort within the Austrian spa resort of Unhealthy Gastein with a wellness centre, midcentury decor and implausible views of the Excessive Tauern mountains. Double rooms from £142 (

Morzine, France In contrast to many ski resorts, Morzine is buzzing year-round. The Valdez Suite, a two-bedroom chalet 100m from the Tremendous Morzine bubble carry, is considered one of 5 chalets being provided this summer season by VIP SKI ( Seven nights’ self-catering in July prices from £385pp, primarily based on 4 sharing. Flights not included.

Gardens in the sky: the dramatic setting of Gardena Grodnerhof
Gardens within the sky: the dramatic setting of Gardena Grodnerhof. {Photograph}: Fiorenzo Calosso

Ortisei Gardena Grödnerhof is an expensive wellbeing resort within the Italian Dolomites. Set within the city of Ortisei, it’s moments away from the cable automotive that runs as much as the Alpe di Siusi, the biggest Alpine plateau in Europe. After a day exploring the peaks, trails and wildflower meadows, chill out within the resort’s fabulous spa. Doubles from £290, B&B (

Joanne O’Connor travelled with the Tirol Vacationer Board ( and Achensee Tourismus ( Keep on the Resort Sonnenhof Achensee ( from £280 for 2 individuals half-board, or on the Resort Wastlhof in Niederau ( from £204 per room, B&B

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