Kitzbühel Travel Guide

Dave WestEd Budds
By Dave West  - Travel Guide Manager Ed Budds  - Travel Editor 17 Min Read

Like no other destination, Kitzbühel, the most legendary sports town in the Alps, stands for authentic lifestyle and tradition.

INTRODUCTION


Refined and relaxed – Kitzbühel is the ultimate, charming, year-round destination. 

Kitzbühel is always in season – in summer, the Gamsstadt delights with an extraordinary mix of culinary experiences, idyllic nature, and rustic tradition providing a well-earned time out for the soul.  

An unmistakable combination of activity goes hand-in-hand with time for rest and relaxation. Mountains, meadows, and lakes complement culinary diversity, exclusive shopping opportunities, and varied recreation and leisure activities. All of this represents the uniqueness of a stay in this incredible town, whose special atmosphere has shaped its reputation as a friendly and hospitable perennial location. 

Kitzbühel is a destination of short distances. As you ski from the mountain to the middle of the town away from the towering slopes, a fairytale winter paradise opens, with perfectly groomed cross-country ski trails and stunning hiking routes abound. 

Vacation is about experiencing unique moments and leaving everyday life behind. In Kitzbühel, there are 365 days a year to make every moment special and create unforgettable memories. Whether you’re up for a sporting adventure or want to recharge your batteries across a variety of idyllic spots, everyone will find their special Kitzbühel experience amidst the Tyrolean mountains. Visitors can look forward to unique experiences in the most legendary sports town in the Alps. 

There is also a lot to offer in the neighbouring villages of Reith, Aurach, or Jochberg, and there is plenty to discover in the surrounding regions, be it a visit to a schnapps distillery or exploring the fortress town of Kufstein. 

Kitzbühel is in love with sports, but the cosy side of any holiday is also celebrated. Whether it’s shopping, wellness retreats, or a good glass of wine in the evening – the selection is exclusive and extensive.  


TOURISM INSIGHTS: KITZBÜHEL TOURISM


The tasks of Kitzbühel Tourism include strategic planning for the area, tourism marketing, the infrastructural attractiveness of the region, and securing the support of its members in the creation of guest services and event management. Viktoria Veider-Walser, Executive Director, tells us more. 

Can you talk us through the origins of Kitzbühel Tourism and its initial vision?

Viktoria Veider-Walser, Executive Director (VVW): We could say that the history of tourism in Kitzbühel began primarily with summer tourism. Tourism in Kitzbühel started in the early 1850s with the concept of ‘Sommerfrische’, meaning summer retreat. Boasting two train stations and the Grand Hotel, Kitzbühel became a popular summer destination for people from all over the world. However, the town’s tourism landscape began to evolve in 1893, when Franz Reisch laid the foundation for skiing in Kitzbühel, leading to the rise of the renowned Hahnenkamm races. Since then, Kitzbühel has gained fame as an exclusive winter sports destination and has established itself as one of the most prestigious holiday resorts. 

What are your organisation’s current goals and how do you plan to achieve them?

VVW:  Kitzbühel Tourism focuses on strengthening its brand identity and supports initiatives that align with our defined target groups. Another key responsibility is to consistently meet expectations for quality and convenience, thereby maintaining the strength of our brand. Kitzbühel Tourism actively promotes itself as the perfect spot for holidays and executive meetings, but is also responsible for infrastructure projects like the upkeeping of hiking trails and so on. A primary goal is to cater to the needs and desires of our guests in Kitzbühel by creating unique experiences and opportunities. One of our responsibilities is therefore organising and hosting our events, for example the KITZ Kulinarik Festival, Kitzbühel Klassik, Kitzbühel Advent, and many more. Emphasising all-year-round tourism is crucial for Kitzbühel. Our objective is to sustain interest and accessibility to sporting activities throughout all seasons for both tourists and locals. Importantly, our aim extends beyond serving tourists; we also strive to foster a positive attitude towards tourism among the local community. 

Why, in your opinion, should someone visit Kitzbühel, and what defines the location?

VVW:  There are numerous reasons to visit Kitzbühel, which is self-proclaimed as the most legendary destination in the Alps since 1850 and is a unique blend of tradition and lifestyle. It offers unspoiled nature and a wide array of sports, allowing visitors to experience the charm and distinctive approach to life in Kitzbühel. The town hosts year-round events, ensuring it’s always lively. Renowned as the most awarded ski resort in the Alps, Kitzbühel also boasts a range of culinary delights, from high-end to traditional options. A standout feature of Kitzbühel is its local craftsmanship, exemplified by master tailor Franz Prader. The town’s unique contrasts are evident in the variety of events it hosts, ranging from intimate gatherings like Pura Vida and KITZ Kulinarik to large-scale events such as the Hahnenkamm race. If you prefer to enjoy the silence, there are many hideaways.   

As a culturally vibrant destination, what type of travellers does Kitzbühel typically attract?

VVW:  Kitzbühel is known for attracting an international clientele. Since the 1850s, Austrians and Germans have loved to spend their time in our beautiful region all year long. The “Gamsstadt” is also well known in many other countries: British visitors have been frequenting Kitzbühel for more than 170 years, along with travellers from the US, Australia, various European countries, the Middle East, and Scandinavia. It’s evident that travellers to Kitzbühel value the excellent blend of sports and lifestyle that the city offers. The convenient location, close to three airports, facilitates easy access for visitors, making it a popular destination in both summer and winter. 

What does Kitzbühel offer in terms of sustainable or eco-friendly travel experiences? Do you have any goals in place regarding this?

VVW: I believe that sustainability is a crucial factor in the travel industry, yet it needs to present a win-win situation to entice the majority of guests to opt for sustainable choices. Kitzbühel has set multiple objectives towards becoming more sustainable. Significant investments have been made by our cable car company, KitzSki. Notably, Kitzbühel is the only ski resort with three train stations. The Kitzbühel-Schwarzsee-Reith golf course avoids using pesticides and has established a 2,000 square-metre (sqm) flower meadow to support bee colonies. A notable achievement was realised in late summer 2022, when 45 kilogrammes (kg) of honey was harvested. The regional KitzShop offers products from Austrian producers, and Kitzbühel Tourism engages in sustainable advertising, such as campaigns in collaboration with CO2-free billboard companies in Vienna. 

What recent trends are currently transforming tourism in Kitzbühel, and more broadly across the region?

VVW:  Generally, the average length of stay is decreasing. Consequently, Kitzbühel Tourism, along with other tourism boards, faces the challenge of attracting more visitors. We’ve noticed that travellers are increasingly conscious of environmental responsibility and the value of local products. The demand for local products and craftsmanship is growing. People get more sensitive about how sustainable we act, and a new understanding of luxury is established. To capture this trend, we’ve featured local heroes and personalities in Kitzbühel on our KitzBlog and on social media, which give you an insight into their work and their passion for what they do. These individuals contribute in various ways to the unique lifestyle of Kitzbühel. 

Are you optimistic about the future of the tourism industry for Kitzbühel, particularly with regard to bouncing back from the COVID-19 pandemic?

VVW:  One of the sectors which has suffered the most from the pandemic has been the tourism sector. Still, bad times in combination with creative thinking can generate the best results. Challenging times often require innovative thinking, creative solutions, and at the same time, a lot of responsibility and accountability. 

Are there any particularly unique experiences or underrated activities that Kitzbühel has to offer, which are perhaps lesser known?

VVW:  Depending on individual preferences, Kitzbühel offers a variety of activities. One of my favourites is watching the sunset at the Seidlalmsee.  

Another personal highlight is the Kitzbüheler Horn in March, where there’s plenty of sunlight. For those seeking adventure and adrenaline, I highly recommend mountain bikes and road bikes on the steep road up onto the Kitzbüheler Horn, or taking an ice bath in the Schwarzsee.  

For lunch, I suggest places like Huberbräu and Rasmushof – you won’t be disappointed. Kitzbühel is not only about sports activities; it’s also known for local manufacturers such as the fashion store Frauenschuh and the goldsmith Margarete Klingler. Another unique experience is visiting the local farm store, Unsere Kiste. Additionally, the KitzShop is worth exploring. 

For skiing enthusiasts, an insider tip is to start your ski day at 08:30am to enjoy moments of freedom and peace. Cross-country skiing enthusiasts will find the sports trail at the Kitzbühel Schwarzsee-Reith golf course appealing, especially as it’s illuminated until 9:30pm.


OUTLOOK RECOMMENDS

Do:


For luxurious ski products and retail therapy for all, explore the international fashion company Sportalm, hailing from the heart of Kitzbühel…  

Sportalm

Eat:


For local delicacies, fresh, regional products, and panoramic views of the Kitzbühel mountains… 

Branderhofstube

Sleep:


For unbeatable comfort, unbelievable scenery, and unforgettable experiences…  
Grand Tirolia Kitzbühel

For incomparable luxury moments in a typical traditional hotel…  

Hotel Tennerhof


WINTER SPORTS IN FOCUS


As the most iconic sports city in the Alps, Kitzbühel has an extensive programme of sporting activities on offer 365 days a year. Skiing, hiking, golfing, cycling, or trail running – there are no limits to the athletic array of adventures available. Whether you’re an adrenaline seeker or an alpine connoisseur, everyone will find the right sporting challenge in Kitzbühel. 

It is not only recreational activities that find their place in Kitzbühel, as due to the wide range of sports that the region offers, numerous sporting events take place in Gamsstadt. In addition to highlights such as the legendary Hahnenkamm race and the Generali Open tennis tournament, the calendar of events offers many other world-class sporting events. 

Skiing in Kitzbühel is a dream! With perfectly groomed slopes, a state of the art lift system, and 145 miles of slopes, every skier will leave with a full heart. In addition to the world-famous Hahnenkamm Streif racecourse, a total of 58 lifts facilitate fun on the slopes for beginners and professionals alike. 60 huts and mountain restaurants, each unique, enticing travellers with culinary delights amid an exquisite mountain panorama.  

Elsewhere, for something that doesn’t require any special skills, and is almost as fast as skiing, tobogganing is an excellent adventure for people of all ages. 


LANDMARK ATTRACTIONS

Schwarzsee Lake


Early morning exercise helps to get the circulation going and wakes up the body, and those who complete their morning training session or an early walk around the breathtaking Schwarzsee Lake will automatically receive an unbeatable natural high from the sumptuous surroundings. When the first rays of sunlight emerge from behind the Kitzbüheler Horn, the nature reserve is still wonderfully quiet. Due to the fresh temperatures, the morning fog still wafts over the alpine water in the quiet of the morning and immerses the scenery in a mystical, mountainous atmosphere.  

A dreamlike circular path of about two and a half kilometres leads once around the lake and is suitable for a morning walk as well as for a sporty jog around. For those who want to move a bit more, there is a beautiful forestry trail on the eastern shore. A dip in the cool water rounds off the perfect morning routine. 

Aurach Wildlife Park


Open all year round, the Aurach Wildlife Park is a truly beautiful slice of nature nestled above the small village of Aurach. Lovingly tended for several generations by the Pletzer family, the largest wild animal outdoor enclosure in Tyrol impresses with over 350 different majestic creatures. From red deer to yaks, donkeys, and kangaroos – a wide range of incredible species have found a home here. New fluffy friends can be found in the petting stall, while delicious delicacies and a good cup of coffee in the Brandnerhofstube round off the unique excursion.  


GETTING THERE AND AROUND

Whether by train, car, or plane, Kitzbühel is always easy to reach.  

The perfect, picturesque location and the area’s excellent accessibility continue to distinguish the town, thanks to three train stations, uncomplicated connections to the surrounding airports, and a good network of public transportation, meaning the way to the heart of the Alps is always a short and comfortable one. Upon arrival, you can reach your accommodation quickly and easily on foot, by taxi, or by bus. 

In addition, Kitzbühel is characterised by its easy walkability – your car becomes superfluous in the Gamsstadt. Enjoy the wintry mountain world in a relaxed and carefree way, safe in the knowledge that mobility on site is well taken care of. 

Kitzbühel is incredibly easy to reach, thanks to the surrounding airports in Munich, Innsbruck, and Salzburg. With a transfer service, rental car, or train, you can get to Kitzbühel in no time from any direction. 

Wherever you want to go and no matter where you want to be picked up, the taxi companies in Kitzbühel are at your beck and call 24 hours a day. The town’s fleet of taxis is ready and waiting to help.  

If you like to travel in comfort, it is recommended to arrive by train – which is also your most sustainable travel choice. Whether coming from Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Italy, or Belgium, trains are often very reasonably priced, and the relaxation can begin immediately after boarding.

VIEW THE KITZBÜHEL TRAVEL GUIDE

Read Issue 15 of Outlook Travel Magazine
TAGGED:
By Dave West Travel Guide Manager
Follow:
Travel Guide Project Manager