Hike the Austrian Alps in Tyrol – Summer in Tuxertal (Zillertal) Mountains
As a side valley of Zillertal, Tuxertal (the Tux Valley) is a hidden gem tucked away in the Austrian Alps beneath the over 3000-metre high alp peaks, where you can experience the real authentic Austrian Tyrol with century-old farming traditions in the mountains. Whether you arrive at the Tux-Finkenberg region by car or by the train ending at Mayrhofen, which is the point of entry to the 13-kilometre long Tuxertal, you will find the local bus 4104 a convenient means of transport to reach walking trails for hikes across the valley. Using the bus will allow you to plan itineraries that are not complete round trips – since you can easily take advantage of the bus to return to your starting point.
There are plenty of exciting things to see and do in the Tuxertal valley. Although probably best known as a destination for winter sports, the valley is also a great option for the summer holidays. Below, some of the most popular summer activities are described, following the bus route from Mayrhofen at the beginning of the Tuxertal and continuing towards the end of the paved road at Hintertux.
Hotel Finkenbergerhof Tyrolean hotel with breakfast buffet located a 20-minute drive from the Hintertux Glacier. The hotel offers a breakfast buffet with regional products. There is a Finnish sauna and steam bath, as well as a terrace with stunning views of the Alps.
Hotel Dornauhof the hotel is beautifully set in the mountains and with balconies. There is a spa centre and relaxation room with water beds. Guests can enjoy a fresh breakfast every morning with local produce.
Already when jumping on the bus in Mayrhofen or Finkenberg, you will from the other passengers get a good hint of what the most popular outdoor activities are in Tuxertal. Locals use the bus to commute to/from work, and visitors (Austrian and a range of other nationalities) use it to reach their desired destination. Some bring hiking poles since one of the top things to do in the Austrian mountains in summer is hiking! Some passengers carry snowboards, ski boots and winter clothing as the Hintertux glaciers have fabulous ski sport options also in summer!
Depending on your preferences – whether to stay in a hotel or an apartment in one of the small Tux alpine towns or villages with shops and restaurants, or rather in quiet surroundings in the middle of the nature, you can either pick Mayrhofen, Finkenberg or Vorderlanersbach to enjoy a small alpine Tuxertal town … or a hamlet such as for instance Innerberg to have the sound of the bell cows right next to your balcony – and the opportunity to be woken up by the cowbells in the morning!
This is where you will arrive if you come to Zillertal / Tuxertal by train – and from where a number of buses depart to the distinct Austrian valleys in this part of Tyrol.
Mayrhofen is the main town of Tuxertal, and the town where you will find the largest selection of special shops, services, restaurants, and even enjoyable swimming pool experiences. Staying here will be a good base for excursions and day trips to destinations located in the surroundings mountains and valleys – with excellent public transport options: trains, buses and convenient cable cars.
Popular cable cars are the Ahornbahn up to Ahorn (providing views to Ahornspitze at 2973 m), as well as the Kombibahn Penken which takes you up to Penken. Ahorn and the valley below (with the beautiful lake Stillupspeicher) is by the way a perfect place to watch golden eagles in Tuxertal!
It is not strange that Penken (Penkenjoch at about 2,095 m) is a popular outing with locals and tourists alike since it is absolutely scenic with a beautiful water reservoir and the Garnet Chapel (Granatkapelle) designed by the Swiss architect Mario Botta. You can have lunch or a drink at one of the restaurants up here in the mountains, and you may even be lucky to have a complete Tyrol experience with Austrian musicians playing Tyrolean music while you have a bite of food!
Penken is also a favourite spot for paragliders – and you will easily be able to watch dozens of paragliders take off from the mountain and soar above the valley below, dotting the sky with their colourful parachutes.
Finkenberg is the next small town in the Tuxertal, also with a small public swimming pool. Like Mayrhofen it is surrounded by steep mountain slopes – and the Penkenjoch tableau is also accessible by the cable car Finkenberger Almbahn.
A main attraction in Finkenberg is the Teufelsbrücke, the Devil’s Bridge, which is an imposing wooden construction placed above the insanely deep gorge. According to the legend, the Devil helped construct the bridge – demanding the first living being crossing the completed bridge to be his reward. The farmers were clever and let a goat pass as the first living creature, and in this way the Devil disappeared with the goat, leaving the people saved behind.
Finkenberg features a beautiful parish church that was extended in 1833. The frescoes inside are made by the Innsbruck artist Wolfram Köberl.
Another interesting sight is the Mineral and Crystal Museum displaying precious crystal stones found in the Austrian Zillertal Alps.
At the hamlet Innerberg, just outside Finkenberg, another remarkable chapel is situated just off the road. It is the Innerberg Chapel which in 1981 replaced the former chapel in honour of St Margaret, erected at the turn of the century, in 1902. The new construction was designed by the Innsbruck architects Heinz, Mathol und Strele free of charge – and it was carried out by a group of volunteers.
As everywhere in the Tuxertal there is a plethora of hiking routes and trails, and you will have terrific opportunities to enjoy a varied landscape and the mountain life: the green soft high-mountain pastures, small farms where you can be lucky to see the bellcows being milked, the farmers working manually in the fields mowing hay in the traditional way using a scythe, a herd of goats far away from all civilisation, spectacular waterfalls, ice-cold melting water running down the mountainside from the glaciers and much more.
One of the popular hikes from Finkenberg goes up to Gamshütte at 1,921 m, a self-service hut where you can stay overnight or come just for an hour or two to enjoy the panoramic views of the surrounding Austrian mountains with snow-capped alp peaks in the distance.
Vorderlanersbach is one of the larger villages that features a larger number of hotels and apartments for tourist purposes. One of the spectacular constructions is the Maria-Hilf Chapel from 1988 which has been erected on the very same location as the former roadside shrine dating from the 16th century.
A bit outside Vorderlanersbach you can visit the old hamlet of Gemais dating from the 13th century in the Middle Ages – and not much has changed since the 17th century. It is a historical Austrian dairy farmstead group of buildings showing the traditional way of operating in the Zillertal mountains. The wooden houses are not publicly accessible inside, but you can view the remarkably old constructions from the outside.
From Lanersbach another popular cable car enables people to reach Eggalm which is also a fantastic area to spend a summer day in Tyrol. One of the absolute highlights up here is a tempting lake featuring various activities to take part in.
At Juns you can go for a lovely 2.5-hour hike up the mountainside to the alpine Stoankasern mountain cheese dairy at 1,984 m. During the summer months there is a daily opportunity to see how milk traditionally is turned into butter and cheese in Austrian Tyrol.
The Tux Mill (Tuxer Mühle) between Juns and Madseit dates back to 1839 and can be visited to gain some insight into the Tuxertal farmstead and rural history.
Another small cultural center is the 300-year-old Mehlerhaus in Madseit with painting exhibitions by the artist Josef Wartelsteiner. Moreover, the Mehlerhaus features old agricultural, farming and household equipment – and hosts a bimonthly Friday farmers’ market.
When arriving at the end of the paved road at 1,500 metres in altitude, you will find yourself at the foot of the Hintertux ski resort. The 3250-metre high Hintertux Glacier can be viewed atop the mountain, and this is the only ski resort in Austria with a full year season.
This explains why the cable cars here are so popular, also in summer – beyond the obvious hiking options, there are also quite unique summer skiing and snowboarding opportunities, a panoramic terrace, as well as an ice palace (Nature’s Ice Palace) for winter sport enthusiasts.
A landmark in Hintertux is the beautiful Maria Himmelfahrt Church, erected in 1952. It replaced the former Dr Engelbert Dolfuss Memorial Church which was bombed in 1941.
Above Hintertux there are also spectacular hiking routes which will take you past impressive waterfalls (for instance the Schleierwasserfall), flowering meadows, green alpine pastures, surprising caves (the Spannagel Cave – an underground experience providing insight into the glacier region, featuring magnificent stalagmites and stalacites) and gorgeous canyons.
One of the spectacular hikes up here is a 3-hour round trip using the first section of the Hintertux Gletscherbahn up to Sommerbergalm (or a 4.5 hour trip if you hike all the way up from Hintertux) – reaching the Tuxer-Joch-Haus, an alpine hut where you can have a meal served and a well-deserved rest at the same time as enjoying magnificent views of the glacier. It is a spectacular itinerary passing both the Schleierwasserfall, alpine pastures with cows – and even a good chance to watch marmots playing around.
In Hintertux you will also find Europe’s highest located thermal sources at 1494 m – which were already mentioned around 1600 AD. Today it belongs to the Badhotel Kirchler.
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Hike the Austrian Alps in Tyrol – Summer in Tuxertal (Zillertal) Mountains
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Austrian Alps Tyrol Tuxertal Zillertal Mountains