AUSTRIAN ALPS: classic climbs 2021AUSTRIA
VÉLOSKI AUSTRIAN ALPS BICYCLE TOUR: INNSBRUCK TO SALZBURG // AUGUST 28TH TO SEPTEMBER 11TH, 2021
Austria literally means the “Eastern Realm” and it forms the western link to what is commonly considered “Eastern” Europe. This German-speaking wonderland for cycling spans from Switzerland to Hungary and encompasses a vast range of scenery, terrain, cuisine and culture…all of which we’ll have ample opportunity to explore at length.
We’ll travel centuries-old trade routes across breathtaking mountain passes, and along valleys connecting ancient Tirolean villages, as we ride this land famous for family meals, colorful flower boxes, enthusiastic music, Alpine skiing and hiking. Our route will traverse Tirol, Carinthia (Kärnten), and Styria (Steiermark) stringing together climbs and valleys from Innsbruck to Salzburg.
The Tyrol! The very name evokes a magnificent vision of beauty: emerald valleys with rushing mountain torrents rushing untamed, ancient towns and tranquil villages resting on meadowy slopes; above the villages, dark forests, white, grey and red rock faces towering up from their shade; above these rocky pinnacles, a shimmering, sparkling awning of ice and eternal snow…this is our destination and our journey. Known from medieval times as the “land in the mountains” the Tyrol is today comprised of three distinct regions; Tirol, Sud-Tirol, and Osttirol.
The mountains beckon us to explore the high peaks and glaciers of the Grossglockner-Tauern, Lienzer Dolomiten, Kitzbuhler Alps and Zillertaler Alps and the Hohe Touern National Park. The Hohe Tauern is comprised of classic alpine landscape and farming culture; it is by far the largest nature protection area in Central Europe. The Hohe Tauern National Park extends over vast expanses of pristine Alpine landscapes—glaciers, rock faces, plant communes, glacial and mountain streams, and the summer pastures that have been carefully tended for hundreds of years. Three Austrian provinces – Carinthia, Salzburg and Tyrol – share the park; the inter-province nature protection area represents a mission for the present and future responsibility. These provinces will be the backdrop for our two-week cycle tour of Austria, with a bit of the Julian Alps in Slovenia too.
As we traverse the Inns, Drau, Pongau, and Gail river valleys we are treated to sights that remind us of the past and point us to the future. We invite you to join us for this very special exploration of the culture, heritage, flavors and sights of the Austrian Alps – Tirol and OstTirol. Carinthia occupies a favored geographical situation on the southern side of the Austrian Alps in the Alps-Adriatic region, so it is especially spoiled by the sun and enjoys a mild, yet snow-filled, winter climate. And, of course, this also has an effect on the people who live here. So, it is no surprise that Carinthians are regarded as being especially fun-loving. Arrive and come alive – nowhere else is this promise fulfilled with more relish than in Carinthia.
Our tour will then arrive in Salzburg, one of the most popular destinations for visitors. Castles, cathedrals, the Sound of Music, Mozart and Steigl brewery all create welcome diversions suiting a host of interests. From ski resorts, national parks, and cycle paths to delightful pastries, glaciated peaks and traditional Austria cooking…there is something for everyone on our ride from Innsbruck to Salzburg.
Day 1 – Innsbruck arrival
We will meet you in Innsbruck for the short transfer to our hotel in the heart of Innsbruck’s historical town center. After assembly of bikes and settling into our rooms we will go for a ride along the Inns river thru berry fields and farmland to shake out the kinks of air travel.
Day 2 – Zell am Ziller 70km, 600m
An urban ride along the Innsradweg (bicycle route) downstream takes us away from the hustle of this traditional tradecenter and onto the farm roads above the Inns. The pastoral vistas of the Bavarian Alps are postcard perfect. The narrow roads leading to the high meadows are tranquil with only the sounds of the bells on grazing cattle and distant cascading streams. The Zillertal is one of many glacial valleys (tal) where locals love to ski. Our hotel in Zell am Ziller will welcome us with typical Austrian hospitality and delicious meals.
Day 3 – Kaprun 92km, 1100m
Leaving the Zillertal below us we climb over the Gerloss pass amid meadows, streams and peaks to begin our long descending ride along the Salzach river thru Krimmel, Mittersill and Kaprun. The stunning Krimmeler Wasserfalle is the fifth highest waterfall in the world at 380m; enjoy the views and snap a few images. Mittersill is strategically located near major ski destinations, so it is natural that the Blizzard ski company is headquartered in town. Most of the ride after Krimmel utilizes paved farm paths thru pastures until we arrive in Kaprun.
Day 4 – Lienz 82km, 2400m or 115km, 2900m
The stunning Grossglockner High Alpine road will challenge your legs and lungs thrilling your soul with the stunning vistas of glaciers, waterfalls, and imposing peaks. From the entrance of the National Park the average incline of 9.7% for 12km is the biggest challenge of our tour, but perhaps the most visually rewarding. The bonus climbing up to the Franz Josef Hohe takes you to a breathtaking overlook high above the Grossglockner glacier.
Day 5 – Lienz loops 112km, 2000m or a variety of shorter loops
A rest day may be the perfect antidote to a megaday of climbing, so we scheduled a stayover day in the wonderful Karnten town of Lienz to relax, walk or pedal easily to nearby sites. Of course, for those who just cannot get enough riding we have a few options available that will take us into the HohenTauren. Either way, the day is yours to explore and enjoy Lienz; the heart of the Lienzer Dolomitien.
Day 6 – Tropoloch 60km, 400m or 102k, 1500m
Karnten (Carinthia) is a province of Austria that is off-the-radar for non-Austrians. Yet, it is well known for spas, resorts, hiking, cycling and great food. We propose two diverse routes that converge in the Gailtal valley leading to our lodgings in Tropoloch. The The experience is uniquely Austrian; the “bar” for luxury lodgings will certainly be raised. Enjoy!!
Day 7 – KranjskaGora 92km, 2305m or 62km, 615m
Slovenia and the Julian Alps-Adriatic are our destination at the end of the day. Route options abound; river valley routes or alpine mountain passes, it’s your choice. The three lands of Austria, Italia and Slovenia come together in Tarvisio; all of our route options will merge in the center of town. A recently completed cyclepath takes us off the more trafficked roads as we cross into Slovenia and pedal downstream to KranjskaGora. Our host is a former professional mountain biker who now manages his family’s hotel. As a skier and cyclist Gregor knows exactly what we need and appreciate for our visit. Welcome home!
Tropoloch departures – we again must choose our route immediately upon leaving the hotel parking lot. The climbing route is nothing short of stunning in terms of vistas and scenery, but it is a rather abrupt climb over Nassfeld pass right from the start. The non-climbing route is a wonderful river grade cruise toward Tarvisio on the borders of Austria, Italia and Slovenia. The routes converge at Tarvisio for the final kilometers into Kranjska Gora.
Day 8 – KranjskaGora loops
Today we traverse the Julian Alps and the Triglav National Park over a road that was built in the tracks of ancient traders between the Adriatic and Black Seas. Cobblestones, dramatic peaks, light traffic and steep roads are features of our route. Do not worry about the steep part too much; it is mostly on the downhill side of the park. We will once again ride thru Tarvisio for our return to KranjskaGora.
Day 9 – Murau 125km, 2400m
We leave our wonderful Slovenia hosts today and return to Austria over a small pass with a very steep descent to Villach. Riding thru Villach highlights the varied cultures, colors and cuisine of this region. The ride is one of longer ones, and one of our more diverse topographic journeys.
Day 10 – Schladming 76km, 1589m
We continue our journey toward Salzburg on quiet roads, rolling terrain amid grazing sheep and cattle. Climbing over the Sokl Pass takes us to the Dachstein Alps with ski resorts seemingly around every corner.
Schladming is world famous in the ski world for it’s annual World Cup Night Slalom races. The old town is perfectly suited for relaxing at a sidewalk cafe to enjoy local taste treats.
Day 11 – Schladming loop 65km, 1200m
The Dachstein mountains form the backdrop of our riding exploration of villages and ski towns. The Pongau region is home to one of the most prominent ski manufacturing companies-Atomic at Altenmarkt. Our route includes quaint villages, classic cathedrals and grazing cattle. OR A tram ride high above Schladming to hike for lunch. You might also enjoy lift-served mountainbiking. Or simply relax and rest after the past few days riding over beautiful mountain passes.
Day 12 – St Wolfgang 112km, 907m
Mozart balls, Sound of Music, Salzkammergut lakes region…our tour switches gears as we leave ski resorts behind in favor of lakes and hills. I discovered a “secret” passage without cars between two valleys while scouting roads. It is as if we ride thru a portal in time from the glamour of skiing to the serenity of hiking along lakeshores. We too will sleep by the shores of the Wolfgangsee after riding along the shores of the Hallstater See. Truly a picturesque day of cycling.
Day 13 – Salzburg 56km, 722m or 85km, 1542m
Mozart balls are everywhere in Salzburg, the birthplace of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Castles, cathedrals and music abound in Salzburg. Of course the Sound of Music featured villages and churches near Salzburg. Walking thru history is the perfect end to our tour.
Perhaps the best way to celebrate our travels thru time and place will be to ride high into the mountains where we may just see that “lonely goat herder” and hear the music of our wheels rolling along scenic mountain paths. Then again, you may want a more leisurely entrance to Salzburg. Whatever you choose; you will enjoy a wonderful journey to the Salzburgland.
Day 14 – Salzburg – reflect and relax
Salzburg almost demands a day of sightseeing and leisure walking to embrace the significance Austrian heritage. Immerse yourselves in the vibrance of an old city filled with modern inner-workings; deep beneath the hills holding old castles and family estates there are cavernous modern parking garages. State of the art espresso machines making perfect cups of espresso in delightful cafés with delicate pastries to enjoy. Lovely gardens to wander or perhaps a visit to the Steigl brewery for a mid-day toast to an amazing cycletour. Of course, there are loads of roads to ride as a wind-down of our two weeks too.
Day 15 – Salzburg or Innsbruck or Munich departures
Departures direct from Salzburg or transfer to Munich or Innsbruck for flights the next day.
Comfortable family operated B&Bs, inns and hotels well situated to enjoy local culture and flavors.
Group breakfasts and dinners featuring typical local flavors and dishes prepared individually for our enjoyment. Breakfasts provided by our lodging partners. Dinners generally include a variety of choices for each course (starter, first course, main course, dessert); paired with wines, beer and after dinner coffee. Most dinners served from the kitchens of our hotels, others taken in nearby restaurants.
14 nights, 14 breakfasts, 12 dinners, daily road snacks/picnics, maps and route descriptions, luggage transfers, on-the-road ride guides, van support (sag wagon).
Lunches, 2 dinners, tips & gratuities, airfare, museum entries, trams or lifts, trip insurance
Arrive into Munich, Germany by August 28th. There are two airport shuttle transfer options:
1. Four Seasons Shuttlevan (perhaps the easiest to manage). More info: HERE.
2. Train from Munich airport (Franz Joseph Airport) to Innsbruck (fastest & least expensive choice). More info: HERE. We have hotel space reserved for earlier arrival dates, so let us know your flight itinerary to confirm extra room nights. The VeloSki van will be available from the 27th.
Depart from Salzburg, Austria September 11th. Later departures may be arranged. Primary gateway airports is Munich with same options as arrival.
Salzburg is a secondary option, but has similar limitations as Innsbruck for flights. The VeloSki van will leave for Castelfranco-Veneto the morning of the 12th.
— $4750 double occupancy per person — $5500 single occupancy per person
RESERVE YOUR SPACE
Download the VeloSki Reservation form HERE. Spaces are reserved on a first reserved, first confirmed basis. Please call or email if you have questions!