Best For: Intermediate skiing couples with a taste for the cosmopolitan
Executive summary by darmansjah
A classic medieval village turned internationally famous ski destination, the glitzy town of Kitzbühelin Austria’sTyrol region looks more like a chocolate-box illustration than an actual place. Not only is it real, it hosts some of the most scenic and extensive skiing in the Alps—particularly for the non-extreme set. The romantic town center features narrow cobbled streets and horse-drawn sleighs, but things turn decidedly more spirited by evening, when the many chic bars and clubs turn up the volume.
A gondola for the main mountain leaves directly from town, and a sprawling network of lifts, gondolas, and runs thread up the mountains in all directions, offering the ability to drop into neighboring villages and areas without taking off your skis or board. The posh personality of the town extends onto the slopes as well, where tasty restaurants in mountain huts pepper the slopes. Though Kitzbühel is famed for its Hahnenkamm racecourse, the most spectacular and perilous on the World Cup circuit, this is no Chamonix. Intermediates looking for long cruisers will be most satisfied. Just check conditions before you go—the area’s low elevation makes lower slopes increasingly susceptible to poor coverage in lean snow years.
Kitzbühel is a small medieval town in Tyrol, Austria and the administrative centre of the Kitzbühel district (Bezirk). It has a population of 8,204 (as of 1 January 2010).
The town is situated in the Kitzbühel Alps about 100 kilometres (62 mi) east of the state capital of Innsbruck. It is a ski resort of international renown.
Kitzbühel is one of Austria's best-known and fanciest winter sports resorts, situated between the mountains Hahnenkamm (5616 ft, 1712 m) and Kitzbühler Horn (6548 ft, 1996 m). The Hahnenkamm is home of the annual World Cup ski races, including the circuit's most important event, the downhill race on the famous Streif slope. This downhill is counted as one of the toughest downhill competitions in the World Cup.
Each summer Kitzbühel also hosts an ATP tennis tournament on clay, the Austrian Open.
From 2007 to 2011, ITU Triathlon World Cup races took place at the local Schwarzsee lake.
The Kitzbüheler Alpenrallye is an annual festival of historic automobiles. It was first held in 1988. The first trip of the United Buddy Bears was 2004 to Kitzbühel, following by the first trip into the "big wide world" – when they went to Hong Kong and many other metropolises on all five continents.
Together with the pistes and ski lifts in neighbouring Kirchberg in Tirol, Jochberg and by the Thurn Pass Kitzbühel is one of the largest ski regions in Austria. With around 10,000 hotel and guest house beds, Kitzbühel and its neighbours have an unusually high density of guest accommodation.
Holidaymakers in Kitzbühel have 56 cableway and lift facilities and 168 kilometres of slopes available to them, as well as 40 kilometres of groomed cross-country skiing tracks. Of note is the relatively new 3S Cable Car, the cable car with the highest above-ground span in the world.
In summer there are 120 km (75 mi) of mountain bike paths and 500 km (311 mi) of hiking trails.
Other attractions include six tennis courts and four golf courses, the Kitzbühel swimming pool, Austria's only curling hall and the bathing lake of Schwarzsee.
Kitzbühel also caters for the high end of the tourist market, as many celebrities and the jet set come here for the international races on the Hahnenkamm.
Kitzbüheler Horn seen from the cable car to the Hahnenkamm
Road: The Brixental Road, the B170, from Wörgl intersects in Kitzbühel with the Thurn Pass Road, the B161, from Mittersill to St. Johann in Tirol. Kitzbühel station is a major bus stop for buses to Lienz and Worgl.
Rail: Kitzbühel Hauptbahnhof, Kitzbühel Hahnenkamm and Kitzbühel Schwarzsee are stops on the Salzburg-Tyrol Railway. Whilst Hahnenkamm and Schwarzsee stations are served by local trains only, long-distance services from Innsbruck and Graz stop at Kitzbühel station. Kitzbühel station has just been rebuilt (2010) and been equipped with new barrier-less platforms with underpasses and a lift. From 2011 there will be no stationmaster at Kitzbühel and it will no longer be possible to buy tickets at the counter.
Places of interest
Liebfrauenkirche church with its 48 m bell tower
St. Catherine's Church: built 1360–1365, High Gothic church in the heart of the town with a coppersmith altar; the high tower with its spire is a striking landmark in the town centre. Its carillon sounds at 11 am and 5 pm.
Protestant Christ's Church in Kitzbühel: built in 1962 by Clemens Holzmeister
Reisch Dance Cafe: built in 1928 by Lois Welzenbacher (architect of the Tiroler Moderne); the Plahl Medical Practice (Arzthaus) was also designed by him
Berghaus Holzmeister, a guesthouse on Kitzbühel's local mountain, the Hahnenkamm; built in 1930 by Clemens Holzmeister
Berghaus by Alfons Walde, 100m away
Fresco by Max Weiler (1951) in Kitzbühel Primary School (Volksschule)
Newly built tri-cable system by the firm of Doppelmayr, the cable car with the highest elevation above the ground (400 metres (1,300 ft)) in the world.
Museum Kitzbühel - Collection Alfons Walde: the new renovated museum presents the history of the town, from 1000 years ago to the winter sports era; it also includes a larger permanent exhibition of the Tyrolean painter Alfons Walde
Schwarzsee lake and Wilder Kaiser mountains as the backdrop
Ask a Local
Pepi Treichl, a ski instructor and hiking guide, is a lifelong resident of Kitzbühel. Here are her recommendations.
Budget: Hof Unterleiten is a farm with traditional accommodations.
Swank: Grand Tirolia Kitzbühel is a luxury hotel with a huge spa.
Swank: Schwarzer Adler in Jochberg, with celebrated chef Andreas Wahrstätter’s refined farm-to-table sensibility, makes for delicious fare in a historic guesthouse setting.
Best After-Ski Party Spot
The Hahnenkamm Pavillon
Best Rest-Day Activity
Visit the local museum and explore the city center.
Kitbühel’s Classic Run
The Streif on the Hahnenkamm, where one of the World Cup races is held every January