- Hiking 86%
- Biking 81%
- Other mountain sports 70%
- Summer spirit 93%
- Families 70%
- Food 84%
Kitzbuhel is even more beautiful in summer than winter. In July and August its mountains are flushed with green, and its stout medieval streets have a relaxed, take-your-time atmosphere. It’s also brimming with activities: 1000km of footpaths, 800km of MTB trails, and the best choice of golf courses in the Alps.
Lifts open in summer: 31
Walking trails: 1000km
Cycle paths: 1200km
Lift pass: 46.50€ for 2-day Summer Card
Table of Contents
- 1 Essential Advice for the Perfect Holiday
- 2 Where to Walk
- 3 Climbing and Trail Running
- 4 Mountain Biking and Road Cycling
- 5 Watersports: from wild swimming to aqua-fitness
- 6 Golf: two championship courses
- 7 Tennis
- 8 Other summer activities: from horse-riiding to archery
- 9 Where to Stay
- 10 Where to Eat
Essential Advice for the Perfect Holiday
Medieval Kitzbuhel, with its cobbled streets, frescoed buildings and heavily buttressed walls is renowned for being the most scenic ski town in the whole of the Alps. It’s not an accolade that is solely confined to winter.
This is very much a year-round resort. Summer here is sensational, with hiking, biking, golf, and watersports at the top of the daily menu of activities – which tend to be invigorating rather than genuinely white-knuckle in character. Mind you, it’s not all about ridge-top walks, riverside picnics and wild swimming. Take a walk down the famous Hahnenkamm ski-racing course, and you’ll discover the other, hell-for-leather side of Kitzbuhel’s personality.
Where to Walk
Here, in the northern Tirol, the mountains are softer, greener and prettier than they are in the south, along the main Alpine ridge. As a result, Kitzbuhel has some of the finest easily-accessible hiking terrain in the Alps – and over 1000km of signposted trails of between one and seven hours long. But not all of the terrain is verdant meadow. As well as gentle walks besides streams and lakes, you can tackle long ridges at 2000m, with the craggy Wilder Kaiser mountains, the glacial peaks of the Hohe Tauern, and Austria’s highest mountain – the Grossglockner – all part of the scenery.
On your walks you’ll come across mountain huts where you can taste and buy local produce such as bacon, cheese, and brandy. The tourist office also organises free daily guided hikes on weekdays during the summer.
Looking for a Challenge?
Walkers wanting to try something a little different can conquer the Hahnenkamm in summer. The name means ‘Rooster’s Comb’ and in winter it’s the most exciting downhill of the Alpine Skiing World Cup. On race day each January the top athletes take around 1min 52secs to complete the 3.3km racetrack through 860 vertical metres – or you can tackle it in three hours, on foot, in summer when all the major race landmarks are clearly signposted on the way down.
Both seasonal descents are fraught with hazard, although in winter the stakes are much higher. Falling at 144km/hour can easily earn you a heli-ride to hospital. In summer, negotiating a herd of cows on the Steilhang is the biggest danger.
“Never split the herd,” was the advice from our hiking guide Susanne Cufer. “Always detour around the edge. Alpine cows can turn on a dog, and the person on the other end of the lead is vulnerable. You can end up as collateral damage”.
In summer, even more so than in winter, you can only wonder at the mindset of the racers. It takes us a full seven minutes to slither on a precipitous path round the Mausefalle, the first infamous jump where the racers are airborne for 80 metres. The gradient here is 85% (40.4 degrees). Incredibly, in summer, mountain-bikers and trail runners climb up it. In winter, it’s all over in a second – blink and you will miss the man in the catsuit.
When you reach Brückenschuss & Gschöss, the gliding flats in winter, racers tuck tightly to maintain their speed, but walkers will just be glad to be on level ground again. Because of the steep gradient, even hiking the Hahnenkamm is prone to injury…bruised toes!
Is That Snow?
But what’s that at the top of the Hahnenkamm – in August? As the winter season draws to a close, Kitzbuhel’s pisteurs put a mighty 36,000 cubic metres of snow under wraps as a starter pack for the next season. ‘Haystacks’ of snow at strategic points on the course are wrapped in a thick layer of insulation and white plastic sheets.
Incredibly around 75% of the snow survives the summer heat. When the piste-machines return in November the residue from the previous season gives Mother Nature a helping hand and provides the base layer before the first fresh flake falls.
Climbing and Trail Running
At Salewa KletterKitz in the Sportpark Kitzbuhel, adults and children alike can learn the basics of rock climbing. Keep fit on a 850-m² climbing wall that is 17 metres high or on the new climbing wall next to the main hall, which is seven metres high and features three climbing towers and a 100-m² bouldering area.
Trail running has a long pedigree here too. The 12.9km Kitzbuhel Horn run has been held in the valley since 1979 and is now part of the Salomon Running Tour. The flat valley floor, long ridges and stiff climbs offer plenty of variety too: the resort has laid out 170km of trails with 11 different marked starting points. They’re designed for nordic walkers as well as runners.
Mountain Biking and Road Cycling
Kitzbuhel’s rollercoaster landscape of green is perfect for mountain bikers, and the resort offers a 800km network of trails. There’s no need to struggle uphill under your own steam, either. A pedestrian lift pass comes as part of the Kitz Alps Summer Card (which also includes discounts at museums and swimming-pools, and free guided walks). Bikes can be taken free of charge on all the gondolas.
Tuition here is top notch, too. The Bike Academy in Kirchberg is run by former Austrian mountain bike team trainer, Kurt Exenburger. From May to October, for almost 20 years, Kurt has been running technical courses and camps from his pro-shop and training ground situated beside the Fleckalmbahn gondola. When the snow comes you’ll find him ski coaching in Sun Valley, Idaho.
Kurt and his team run pure mountain bike courses, but also ones for e-bikers. “There’s no great difference between handling a classic mountain bike and an e-bike,” he says, “except an e-bike is much heavier.”
Mountain biking and Alpine e-biking come with a health warning: a helmet is essential. If you want to tackle the rougher stuff, protective elbow and knee pads and even full body armour also make sense. A two-hour Individual Riding Skills workshop is divided into separate sections: you learn how to go up and how to go down, and also around a corner, and – most importantly – how to stop.
Meanwhile, road cyclists will appreciate the well-maintained roads and 14 detailed routes that have been put together in a small guide book available from the local tourist office. These include cycle routes to Kirchberg, St Johann in Tirol and along an easy path on the valley floor to Westendorf and beyond. Each route has its own level of classification and in total there are 1200km of cycling routes to explore.
Competitions and Festivals
The mountain bike festival, KitzAlpBike has taken place each year since 1996 and the mountains provide a gorgeous backdrop to the variety of competitions. Highlight of the weekend is the KitzAlpBike Marathon on the Sunday. More than 1,000 mountain bikers take part.
Similarly, each summer 1,000 bikers race not down – but up – the Streif on the Hahnenkamm ski race course. Incredibly around 20 of them, professionals with perfect technique, manage to stay on their bikes to the top of the Mausefalle.
Kitzbuhel Triathlon (swimming, cycling and running) takes place in mid-June and is open to individuals, companies/clubs, and juniors.
Watersports: from wild swimming to aqua-fitness
For wild swimming head to Schwarzsee, the famous forest-fringed lake where the water temperature can reach 27C in summer, despite a depth of 7m. It’s set between Kitzbuhel and Reith, a bus- or car-ride from the medieval town centre. The greenish water is said to have powerful healing properties from the minerals in it.
The Schwarzsee also offers other recreation such as beach volleyball, mini-golf, children’s water-slides, a diving tower, fishing, rowing and electric boats. You can join a fitness course, walk around the lake, or have a drink or a meal on the terrace of the Alpenhotel. The modern lakeside campsite has a spa and indoor swimming-pool.
On rainy days families in particular will enjoy the indoor Aquarena where you can relax at the swimming complex until 9pm. It’s conveniently located in the village centre. There’s a 25-metre sports pool, an adventure slide and waterfall, and a children’s play area. Add to this an adjoining spa area with sauna, Turkish bath, infrared cabins, treatment rooms for massage, and a bar.
Weekly Aquafitness classes are held in the pool and there are beginner swimming lessons for children from three years old, freestyle training for adults, swim training for triathletes, and video analysis – all available with the local trainer Heinz Bédé-Kraut.
Golf: two championship courses
Kitzbuhel is a top golf destination, with four courses including two of championship level. Courses are on offer for both newcomers and seasoned golfers, whilst many of the hotels have golf packages that include green fees.
The 18-hole Kitzbuhel-Schwarzsee Golf Course first opened in 1989 is and for players with a handicap of 45 or under. Golfers of all levels will enjoy the well-balanced terrain and ideal playing conditions. It has lovely panoramic views, tricky water hazards and flat fairways. In addition there’s an on-site restaurant with a terrace.
Kitzbuhel Golf Academy is based at the Schwarzsee course and employs three PGA pros, who provide lessons based on state-of-the-art instruction methods.
The 18-hole Eichenheim course, designed in 2000 by American Kyle Phillips, revered in Scotland for his modern classic links at Kingsbarns near St Andrews, takes no prisoners. From the first hole, a precision hit through a narrow gorge to the green, to the last, a well bunkered uphill dogleg, this is a roller coaster ride.
The lookouts are dramatic, with holes that involve majestic cliff-top tee shots and precipitous ascents. All but the super-fit should take a buggy, not least for the winding mountain trails from green to tee. You can visit the pro shop and stop for lunch at the on-site Golf Bistro, which serves classics from the world’s most famous golf restaurants.
Kitzbuhel Golf Club was originally founded 50 years ago, and reopened in 2006. The A-Rosa Resort is located on the 9-hole course with a clubhouse/restaurant, and the course incorporates lakes with two island greens, and the old castle wall.
The Rasmushof 9-hole golf course is located near the finishing line of the Streif downhill. The course is difficult enough to give handicap players a challenge, whilst offering beginners a good introduction to the game. There’s a covered driving range and a chipping and putting green, too. On-site Hotel Rasmushof is the place for lunch.
The annual Kitzbuhel Golf Festival in June attracts nearly 1,000 international golfers and is played as 12 tournaments including The Streifabfahrt (Streif Attack) where you begin at the downhill race’s start house. Ten holes have to be mastered – via the Mausefalle to Seidlalm, and from there over the steep slope to the Rasmushof.
There are 26 additional courses within 100 minutes’ drive of the resort, including the 18-hole Mittersill-Stuhlfelden Golf Course where a handicap of 54 or under is needed to play. Although surrounded by mountains, the greens are nice and flat and the course is dotted with old hay barns.
The first tennis tournament was held here in 1889 and the Austrian Open Kitzbuhel (originally known as the Austrian International Championships) is part of the ATP World Tour and has taken place in the resort since 1969, attracting the greats of world tennis. Arthur Ashe, Ivan Lendl, Boris Becker, Pete Sampras, Rafael Nadal and many other big names have made appearances throughout the history of the tournament.
It is based around the Kitzbuhel Tennis Club, where there are three indoor and six outdoor clay tennis courts. The club places a lot of importance on children’s and youth training.
Other summer activities: from horse-riiding to archery
Kitzbuhel offers a blend of traditional Tirolean hospitality and a distinctive urban vibe. Everything is open as usual throughout the summer – ranging from the famous Cafe Praxmair to gourmet restaurants, and all the shops, boutiques and art galleries. The only difference is that sports shops sell mainly biking, hiking and camping gear at this time of year – 16 of them in all. The Kitzbuhel Music Festival takes place in August, featuring open-air concerts.
There are daily children’s tours through the Alpine flower garden on the Kitzbuheler Horn in July and August. Every Saturday, Sunday and during school holidays children have the opportunity to feed the animals – from donkeys to more exotic species – in the Streichelstadel in Aurach wildlife park.
Aside from the swimming, tennis and walking there is horse-riding available for beginners to experts and children can ride Haflinger ponies (a small, Austrian breed of horse). Adults and children can join one of the archery courses at the Alte Wacht guesthouse in Jochberg. The Great Hunt archery tournament is held annually on the second weekend in October and there are weekly beginner classes. Kitzbuhel also offers opportunities for canyoning, paragliding and rafting.
You can also visit the old copper mine at Pass Thurn to the south of Kitzbuhel. Jochberg first came to prominence as a mining village in 1447, and by 1830 there were 16km of working galleries and 2km of shafts on different levels. In its heyday, the mine employed 160 men and over 30km and 134 tons of copper ore were extracted each year. Until 1874 the ore was also smelted in Jochberg. The last shift was run in July 1926 when the Kupferplatte finally closed down. In 1990, the old gallery was made into the Kupferplatt mining museum, where visitors can descend 500m by pit railway.
For those wanting to improve their German in beautiful surroundings, there are two language schools here, both offering intensive courses: Apple Languages and Languages Abroad. These are for all ages, have a small number of students per class, include accommodation in local guesthouses, and also offer 50+ classes for more mature students.
Where to Stay
First of all, settle on your priorities. Do you want to be in the Vorderstadt (the pedestrian centre), or are you looking for something more rural? Do you fancy lounging in a garden after a cup of tea – or will a balcony be enough? Do you need childcare? Decide on issues like these and you’ll find navigating the almost limitless accommodation options in and around Kitzbuhel a lot easier. There are, for example, 11 hotels in the resort offering packages that include green fees. But some also sit right next to courses.
Kitzbuhel has lots of guesthouses as well as lovely hotels with prices considerably lower in summer than in winter. Sporthotel Reisch is central but just outside the old city walls, and offers various summer packages: an e-bike one and Mountain Pleasures (with guided hiking). Another is a Motorbike Special with a tour starting in Kitzbuhel, continuing to St Johann and Fieberbrunn, onwards to Saalfelden and Hallein, then to Berchtesgaden and Ramsau. The last kilometers are via Waidring, and back to Kitzbuhel via St Johann.
Tennerhof Gourmet & Spa de Charme Hotel has individually decorated rooms, an indoor and outdoor pool, and offers transfers to the golf courses.
Relaxing in a Spa
Most of the top hotels have their own spas. The best include the A-Rosa Resort with a 3000-m² spa. Whether or not you spend the night here you can still visit the day spa with its pool, six different saunas and steam baths, pilates, yoga and aqua fitness courses. You can also book beauty and wellness treatments. The hotel has a kids club, a large garden, and is located on a golf course.
At Hotel Zur Tenne is bang in the centre and has a gym, whirlpool, Finnish sauna, steam bath, tropical showers, water beds and infrared cabins. Try the Swing Your Feet massage treatment for a post-hiking pick-me-up.
Former hunting lodge, Hotel Schloss Lebenberg, is set above the town which is a 20-minute walk away. Hotel Tiefenbrunner is in the pedestrian centre, has a spa with small indoor pool, a children’s playground, and a garden with pond and jetty. Hotel Maria Theresia has a newly-built spa and its interior blends old with new.
The Golf Hotels
Kitzbuhel has 11 golf hotels offering packages with green fees. These include the A-Rosa Resort, which is built in the style of a Tirolean castle, right on one of the 9-hole golf courses. Sport-Wellnesshotel Bichlhof is adjacent to the Eichenheim Golf Course, which can be reached using the establishment’s own golf carts. It also has a day spa and offers treatments for both adults and children.
Cordial Golf & Wellness Hotel has direct access to the Kitzbuhel-Schwarzsee course. The family-run Hotel Rasmushof is a few minutes on foot from the town centre and set on the 9-hole Rasmushof golf course.
Where to Eat
There’s plenty of gourmet dining, with more than 70 eateries in town, and mountain huts such as Bichlalm and Seidlalm open during the summer months. Stefan Lenz at Tennerhof Gourmet & Spa de Charme Hotel has two chef’s toques and 16 points from the Gault Millau guide, as well as Lois Stern (for Asian cuisine) and Jürgen Bartl of Hotel Zur Tenne both of whom have one chef’s toque and 14 Gault Millau points.
Other restaurants worth targeting in town include Jürgen Nentwich’s traditional Wirtshaus zum Rehkitz, which has one toque and 13 Gault Millau points, and Hotel Rasmushof (with Kitzbuhel’s largest wine cellar) at the bottom of the Streif, which has great food and a Tirolean atmosphere. 1st Lobster offers fresh fish and seafood, as well as Argentinian steak cooked on a hot stone. For good-value Austria cooking, try the Huberbrau-Stuberl and Restaurant Centro for delicious wood-fired pizzas.
See our winter entry for more information on Kitzbuhel.