Kitzbuhel is a medieval alpine town in Austria whose reputation as a hub for winter sports far exceeds its physical size. Its ancient cobbled streets are also a popular destination thanks to the many high-end boutiques and restaurant options.
Roughly midway between Innsbruck and Salzburg, in the Tyrolean Alps of western Austria, Kitzbuhel is one of the largest ski regions in the country. The home of the annual Alpine Ski World Cup on the famed Hahnenkamm Mountain, Kitzbuhel is also the location of the Austrian Open tennis championship, and boasts hundreds of kilometres of cycling and hiking trails.
There is no shortage of things to do in Kitzbuhel.
Things to do in Kitzbuhel, Austria
Explore Kitzbuhel Old Town
There are a huge number of things to do in Kitzbuhel at any time of year. The town’s après-ski scene is second to none and is centred around the Old Town’s picturesque main street of traditional Tyrolean buildings.
At any time of year, though, the brightly painted facades of the buildings add a real charm to the town and are enough to bring a smile to any face.
In the Old Town, visitors will find enough stores and high-end boutiques to keep any lover of shopping busy. Here you'll see the most famous of brands represented - think Louis Vuitton, Swarovski and you get the picture.
But Kitzbuhel is not only for the rich and famous. You can spend your time stopping for coffee at the many outdoor café terraces, grabbing a bite to eat in a bakery or restaurant, or trying to make a fortune at the slot machines and roulette wheels of the elegant Kitzbuhel Casino.
Take a horse and carriage ride in Kitzbuhel
A great way to see all that Kitzbuhel has to offer in the most romantic of settings is to jump onto a horse and carriage for a gentle ride through the cobbled streets. At the very least, be sure to pass by St Catherine’s Church.
Built in the 14th century in the High Gothic style, its tower rises above the nearby streets of the town centre and contains a carillon – a sort of ‘bell piano’ – which strikes up its melodious sounds at 11am and 5pm each day.
The interior is pretty impressive, too.
Play a round of golf
Outside of the medieval town center, Kitzbuhel boasts four golf courses, with a further 30 easily reachable nearby. The Golfclub Kitzbuhel provides fantastic vistas from its PGA-quality greens in the grounds of Kapser Castle.
Green fees for a round of 18-holes starts at around €84. Alternatively, check out the courses at Schwarzsee, Eichenheim, or Rasmushof – all in Kitzbuhel.
Visit Hahnenkamm mountain
Home to the Ski World Cup each January (check out the major events section below for more on this), Hahnenkamm Mountain is one of the premier destinations for downhill skiers and snowboarders looking to try out the now-classic Streif slope course for themselves.
If you’re not quite up to championship standard, there’s also the easier Family Streif course, which has two different gradients to choose between.
Head up to Kitzbuheler Horn
Another major peak in the Kitzbuhel winter resort, Kitzbuheler Horn can be reached either via a panoramic toll road from the town or via several different cable car routes. The mountain is popular with hikers and mountain bikers as a result of its dedicated paths and tracks.
For those merely wishing to enjoy the incredible landscapes from the 1,996-metre peak, there’s also an Alpine Flower Garden (Alpenblumengarten). It’s just a couple of hundred metres beneath the summit, and displays mountain plants from right around the world.
Outdoor activities in Kitzbuhel
We’ve already mentioned the area’s golf courses and the hiking paths of Kitzbuheler Horn, but the region has an incredible additional range of outdoor activities too. They can be enjoyed by summer visitors as well as those coming for the snows of the winter months.
For one thing, hiking trails criss-cross more than just Kitzbuheler Horn, with more than 1000 kilometres of signposted paths in the vicinity. The well-maintained mountain roads make for challenging yet rewarding routes for road cyclists, while there is around 100 kilometres of dedicated off-road tracks through the beautiful countryside.
A nearby town that offers more hiking options - and a beautiful lake - is Zell am See. You can read more about it in this article.
Visitors who like to truly get the adrenaline flowing can also gear up for almost endless climbing and mountaineering opportunities, as well as the chance to try their hand at paragliding and rafting!
If you’re not quite so adventurous, why not take a dip in the forested swimming lake of Jochberg or head to the all-weather indoor pool in the center of Kitzbuhel?
Winter activities in Kitzbuhel
As one of Austria’s largest ski regions, with the ski season lasting from mid-October until around the end of April each year (amounting to 200 days of guaranteed snow), winter sports enthusiasts visiting Kitzbuhel ski resort can make use of almost 170 kilometres of slopes.
There’s a further 65 kilometres of prepared cross-country skiing tracks, including a unique high-altitude track on Thurn Pass, and an illuminated track at Golfclub Kitzbuhel.
Officially Austria’s best ski resort, and also regularly voted as one of the top-ranking in the world, beginners are welcomed on over 100 kilometres of easy slopes, while those of an intermediate and expert standard are also very well catered for.
A wonderful alternative to skiing is winter hiking, whether with snowshoes or simple hiking boots. Kitzbuhel Tourism even offers free guided winter hikes every Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday for those who would like to sample this special way of exploring all the area has to offer.
Other winter sports activities in Kitzbuhel include ice skating and curling at the Sportpark Kitzbuhel, and sledding on the floodlit toboggan run at Gaisberg in Kirchberg.
Christmas activities in Kitzbuhel
Christmas in Kitzbuhel certainly doesn’t disappoint, with the mountainous panoramas, snowfall, and beautifully-decorated shopfronts an ideal setting for the festive season.
What’s more, Kitzbuhel hosts a traditional Christmas market each year (it will run from 27 November until 26 December, 2019), where residents and visitors can do some last-minute Christmas shopping before indulging in the delights of a warming mulled wine accompanied by some regional cuisine.
For more ideas on how to spend Christmas in Austria, read this article.
Revellers can also enjoy the Christmas lights and variety of free concerts that are held during the period. On 6 December, there’s even a chance for children to meet Santa Claus himself.
Admission is free and the market is open every day from around lunchtime until 8pm, except for 24, 25, and 26 December, when its hours of operation are reduced to the middle part of the day.
Major events in Kitzbuhel
Alpine World Cup Skiing
Every January, Kitzbuhel’s Hahnenkamm mountain hosts what is probably the foremost skiing competition outside of the Winter Olympics. The FIS Alpine World Cup has been running for more than 50 years, and still manages to attract the leading skiers from across the globe to what is widely considered the most challenging downhill course on the circuit.
Snow Polo World Cup
January is also the timing for the relatively modern sport of Snow Polo (the World Cup is now in its 17th year), for which Kitzbuhel is one of the leading venues. Like regular polo, teams compete on horseback, but instead of playing on a grass arena, they ride across snow.
The Austrian Open tennis championship (presently branded as the Generali Open) is held annually in Kitzbuhel in July and August. This men’s outdoor clay tournament is part of the ATP’s World Tour 250 series, and has previously welcomed the likes of David Goffin, as well as local favourite, Austrian-born Dominic Theim.
International Kitzbuheler Horn Race
Also in August, Kitzbuheler Horn mountain hosts a 12.9 kilometre foot race which incorporates inclines of 22.4%, with vertical gains of more than 1200 metres.
The race starts in the center of Kitzbuhel, with the finishing post standing on the summit of the mountain. The race record stands at an incredible 29 minutes and 11 seconds, should you fancy taking part yourself!
Weather in Kitzbuhel
As an alpine winter resort, you won’t be surprised to learn that temperatures in Kitzbuhel can drop to averages of -3°C from December to February, with the temperature slowly rising through March, April, and May.
These cold winter temperatures make the Kitzbuhel weather conditions perfect for snow bunnies.
Peak averages of around 16 to 18°C occur from June to August, before the temperature begins to drop again.
Kitzbuhel summer maximum temperatures often reach 28°C, while the minimum temperatures recorded during the winter months are -12°C in January.
Where is Kitzbuhel?
Kitzbuhel sits in the western half of Austria, in the state or province of Tyrol (also spelled Tirol in Austrian German). It lies midway between the major Austrian cities of Innsbruck and Salzburg in the Kitzbuheler Alps, approximately 100 kilometres east of Innsbruck and a similar distance west of Salzburg.
Read more about Innsbruck in this article.
How to get to Kitzbuhel
Getting to Kitzbuhel by car
From Innsbruck or Salzburg, the road journey to Kitzbuhel will take approximately one hour and 15 minutes given standard road conditions. From Munich to Kitzbuhel it takes around two hours by car.
Getting to Kitzbuhel by train
Kitzbuhel has a mainline railway station, with connections to a variety of cities both inside and outside of Austria. The train from Innsbruck to Kitzbuhel (with connections from the airport) takes roughly an hour, with several train services per day.
If you plan to catch the train Salzburg to Kitzbuhel, allow between two and two-and-a-half hours. Some services require a change of train enroute.
All international express trains, such as those to and from Zurich and Munich, and the night jet sleeper train from the German cities of Hamburg, Dusseldorf, and Koln (Cologne) also make stops at Kitzbuhel.
Getting to Kitzbuhel by air
The closest airport to Kitzbuhel is Salzburg’s WA Mozart Airport (73 kilometres away), although Innsbruck (Kranebitten) Airport is just 97 kilometres from Kitzbuhel. Both are international airports with flights arriving and departing from all over Europe.
Most travellers coming from abroad (Australia, USA, Asia, etc). will find Munich Airport to be the most convenient. It is 168 kilometres from Munich Airport to Kitzbuhel, around two hours by train or car.
Getting to Kitzbuhel by private transfer
If you prefer to travel with a chauffeur service, private transfers from Munich to Kitzbuhel are available in both sedans (up to three passengers) and minivans (up to 8 passengers). Click here for details and prices.
Visiting Kitzbuhel on a package tour
There are a number of organised coach tours and package holidays - including ski holidays - that include a visit to Kitzbuhel. Click here for details and prices.
Where to stay in Kitzbuhel
There is a wide range of accommodation in Kitzbuhel to choose from no matter what your budget. Below you will find details of some of the most popular hotels in Kitzbuhel, Austria.
Luxury hotels in Kitzbuhel
>> A-ROSA Kitzbuhel - 5* Built in the style of a Tyrolean castle and set in huge grounds with a golf course, Arosa Hotel Kitzbuhel is just 850 metres from the centre of town. The hotel offers a range of restaurants, including a lovely outdoor terrace and an excellent Wellness centre. The buffet breakfast is exceptional. I chose this hotel for my stay in Kitzbuhel and can highly recommend it. Click here to check current prices.
>> Hotel Weisses Rossl - 5* The ever-popular Hotel Weisses Rossl will re-open on December 5, 2019 after a major renovation. With a good range of luxurious rooms and suites to choose from, a Wellness Centre, excellent dining options and a great location just a short distance from the Hahnenkamm ski run and the centre of town, this is one hotel worth considering for your stay in Kitzbuhel. Click here to check current prices.
4-star Hotels in Kitzbuhel
>> Hotel Kaiserhof Kitzbuhel - 4* Superior When it comes to Kitzbuhel hotels close to Hahnekamm, you can’t go past Kaiserhof Hotel Kitzbuhel. It is located right next to Hahnenkamm cable car station and is only a 5-minute walk from the centre of town. Click here to check current prices.
>> Schwarzer Adler Kitzbuhel - 4* Superior This modern boutique hotel is located in the centre of Kitzbuhel, just a five minute walk to the Old Town. Offering a range of rooms and suites, this Wellness Hotel also boasts a rooftop swimming pool and an indoor spa and fitness centre. Click here to check current prices.
>> Sporthotel Reisch - 4* In the centre of Kitzbuhel, the Sporthotel Reisch offers stylish rooms and suites, a spa room with sauna, a bar and a restaurant serving traditional Austrian cuisine. Click here to check current prices.
3-star Kitzbuhel Hotels
More accommodation in Kitzbuhel
If you’d like more hotel options or would perhaps prefer to stay in an apartment or chalet, you can browse the many choices available on this link.
Whether you plan to just stop for a night or settle in for a few days, there are plenty of things to do in Kitzbuhel to keep you occupied. It may be that you prefer to do nothing except stroll around the Old Town and admire the surrounding scenery - and that's OK.
But if you enjoy long walks in the mountains or countyside, a round of golf or two, more active pursuits like mountain biking or skiing or you would like to spectate at one of Kitzbuhel's world class sporting events, this is the place for you, too.
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