Alpbach & Lech, Austria

Steve Finch on 26 August 2017

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A two-centre holiday to the lovely fresh air and mountains of Austria.

The first week commenced, in the ever so traditionally built, Austrian village of Alpbach in the Tyrol. The village is located 1000 m above sea level and just over an hour's drive east of Innsbruck and has won quite a few accolades for its sheer perfection. The local mayor there, a while back, forbade the construction of any new building in anything but traditional Austrian style. The result is houses with geraniums cascading down from every balcony, truly beautiful.

Lush green grass, wildflowers and hills that are alive with the occasional sound of cow bells.

We did a lot of walking here. The walking routes are well marked and promoted by the local tourist board. Guests staying there receive a free tourist card to avail of local bus transport and lift passes on the partially open (ski) lift system. Our lengthy walks included Inneralpbach, Wiederberger Horn (2128 m), Reith and lower down into the local valley, Rattenberg, Radfeld and Kramsach. The aforementioned pass also included free admission to the Augustine Museum, Rattenberg. You can see baroque fresco painting on the cupola from the floor of the church monastery and then clamber above it into the roof and see it from the other side before ascending the bell tower.

As ever, the food here is gorgeous and the people are so very friendly.

After a week in Alpbach we then travelled to Lech am Arlberg.

Lech is a 75-minute drive to the west of Innsbruck. It is a more mountainous region located at 1450m A.M.S.L. A very different landscape, the mountains are refreshingly cooler than Alpbach. As before, Lech tourism also provide complimentary buses and lift passes on the summer lift system. It is clearly a massive area for skiing in the winter when fully operational. The walking here is a little harder at altitude and the scenery offers a spectacular contrast. Here the vistas are dominated by mountains, craggy rock faces, serene mountain lakes and crystal-clear rivers. The pasture, perhaps, is not so lush, however you still have the ubiquitous cows and there are also marmot and ibex to be seen.

Our walks included Spullersee to Zug, circumnavigating the lake at Formarinsee on foot (rather steep in places), Tannegg to Kalbelesee via the quite stunning Korbersee lake, Rufikopf to Zurs (a hard walk walking through a mountain pass, many ibex here) and to the top of Kriegerhorn (2175m).

The beauty of these walks is that, as with Alpbach, they are well marked and the variety of excursions means that there are always new sights to behold. By using the buses and lifts you can pick differing start/end points to make this happen.

Lech is a larger village, very much centred on the skiing season. It has a lot of accommodation and a tremendous, expansive lift system but still is a very enjoyable destination for the summer months.

We did not walk 500 miles but we managed 85 or so in the holiday! Overall, both locations are superb and have their virtues. Both are highly recommended.

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