The hills are certainly alive with the sound of, well, walking boots! When you visit the mountains of the Austrian Tyrol in the summer. the Wildschonau Valley, which means wild and beautiful, was our base for a week in the Austrian Alps and what a base. Mountains, rivers, cable cars and fabulous countryside.
Our Inghams holiday started in Salzburg where we were met with efficient, knowledgeable tour representatives. Our coach was waiting to take us to our hotel in village of Oberau. After a wait for people on other flights to join our coach, we set of for an approximately 2 hour transfer through some beautiful countryside. On the coach we were given a welcome pack by the Inghams representative with lots of useful information about the area and your hotel and a welcome meeting is arranged to discuss the trips and tours.
The Hotel Tirolerhof lived up to all the expectations the reviews and pictures had shown us. This ‘chocolate box’ hotel certainly has a charm of its own. A family run hotel with excellent rooms and facilities was overseen by the proud owner Martin who certainly added a plus to our visit, his English is excellent and he goes the ‘extra mile’ to help with as much information about the surrounding areas that you may need. The buffet style hot and cold breakfast was varied and plentiful and included in the price was a packed lunch consisting of sandwiches, fruit, a biscuit and water and the four course evening meal, which had a different theme each evening from Tyrolean food to luxury desserts and with reasonably priced wine that was very welcome after a day out in the stunning countryside and a glass of local schnapps was the icing on the cake!
The hotel is a popular hub of the village and many local people visit the outside terrace restaurant, the spa or the indoor swimming pool which is and lovely and relaxing. The pool and spa are free for the guests and a toweling robe can be hired from the reception. There is a small sun deck with sunbeds and chairs or just sit on your balcony and take in the beautiful changing picture of the Tyrol.
The beauty of this hotel is the friendly ambiance and the management set the restaurant out to accommodate people from the same areas of the world, which sounds rather strange, but it really worked. Each morning on our table (you kept the same table each day) a daily information leaflet was on the table telling you the weather forecast, the church services and many tips including hiking tips. We sat with the British contingent and soon made friends. So each morning and evening we compared notes on where we were going or had been and walked to during the day. This broke the ice as so often the silence at meal time can be rather difficult. This certainly wasn’t the case here and it was very enjoyable and good to meet like-minded Silver Travellers. The hotel is also good for solo travellers as there is lots to do during the day and in the evening the social activities help people to feel included. For disabled travellers the hotel has easy access to the reception and bar area also a lift takes you to all the floors. There are areas that are not disabled friendly but most areas are.
The village of Oberau has its own charm, two beautiful churches in the centre of the village and a few bars and restaurants which are quieter in the summer months but are ideal for an after dinner walk and drink. The evenings are quieter but the hotel does have entertainment on three evenings and the local brass band does have a music night once a week. The British contingency organised a trip up the valley to Zauberwinkel on a carriage pulled by two Shire horses that were driven by a farmer and part-time fireman. It was a lovely experience trotting to see the sunset over the mountains and as we approached a farm house we were greeted by the owner with wine, beer and schnaps, well it doesn’t get any better!
Oberau has a good transport connection for you to get out and about. The Bummelbahn is the main mode of transport taking you up and down the surrounding villages and valleys. Now what is the Bummelbahn? It is a small tourist train with a carriage. This is used all year round and can get through the snow in the winter months when cars cannot and for 15 euros per week to use between certain hours is excellent value for money. There is also the Post Bus that runs through the valleys to the town of Worgl and from here, you can go, by the train to Salzburg or Innsbruck which are beautiful cities. Inghams do run trips to these fascinating cities at reasonable prices. We did use the Inghams Tours and had a beautiful day out at the Eagles Nest which is the house that Martin Bormann had built for Adolf Hitler. A fascinating experience plus the afternoon was spent in glorious sunshine at Berctesgarten which is a typical picturesque town with frescos on almost every building. The Inghams tours are well organised and good value for money and if you are a solo traveller this is a lovely way to meet people and get out and about to see this beautiful countryside.
Many people think of Austria as a winter sports holiday, but please don’t be misled. Spring and summer are beautiful times to visit. If you do not want to walk every day, take a bus down to the Lido, this is a public swimming pool between Oberau and Neiderau, but remember that it is a children’s paradise in the school holidays. Two large pools plus a small cafe are pure joy on a warm spring/summer day. If its mountains you wish to see take the transport down to the next village Niederau and go up in the cable car.
Inghams provide guests with a Guest Pass that gets you into the Lido and on the cable car free plus various other reductions to the Farmers Museum, the Silver Mine at Tierbach to name a few. The Markbachjoch Cable Car in Neiderau the next valley down from Oberau is excellent and well used and at the top of the cable car you can see how popular the mountains are. Walkers stride out on the paths that are well-signed and well-trod. People who do not wish to go too far can visit the tiny church which is beautiful and still used. Cows and goats frequent the hills and cannot be missed because of the sound of their bells. There are two restaurants not too far from the cable car exit and I can strongly recommend the Austrian goulash soup that went down a treat. One of the reasons people go up the mountain is to watch the sky divers set off and soar up into the sky on the thermals. Whether you walk down or catch the cable car, a welcome site at the bottom of the lift is the terraced restaurant of the Witch Alm run by Englishman Joe, who has a wealth of knowledge about the area, plus excellent tea, coffee or hot chocolate.
As you can see Austria isn’t just for winter sports, spring and summer is a beautiful time to enjoy the magnificent mountains and valleys and Inghams have holidays for all tastes and pockets. Ours was good value for money, varied and interesting. One couple had come back this year to bury their brother’s ashes in one of his favourite areas. They had visited 37 times and for many people we met this wasn’t their first visit, so Inghams are certainly doing something right.
Boots were made for walking and the sound of boots are everywhere, but if you just want to go on the bus, down to the Lido, up the cable car or just sit in the sunshine on the hotel terrace looking at the stunning scenery, then this is for you, it certainly was for us and we didn’t want to come home, that’s how good it was!
This holiday was booked through Travelzoo and Inghams. It was a budget deal costing approximately £349 per person including flights and transfer, meals and packed lunches, plus the guest passes. A perfect Silver Traveller break.
Silver Travel Advisor recommends Inghams