The cuisine of the Austrian Tirol is both varied and delicious. Combining the exceptional food with the environment that inspired it, a group of experts have selected their favourite hikes that marry the region’s natural beauty with its fantastic food.
The selected routes cover artisanal Alpine dairies nestled in the hills, high-altitude haute cuisine in the mountains and family-friendly walks through the woods; embodying the universal appeal of the Austrian Tirol.
The team of experts who selected the routes were chosen to cater to different types of traveller. Alexander Fankhauser, an award-winning chef, was tasked with selecting hikes to the best fine-dining experiences. Irene Prugger, an author and journalist who is well versed in the Austrian outdoors, has chosen walks that promise to have visitors leaving with backpacks full of appealing, locally-produced goodies. And Kathrin Siller, an editor at the local Tiroler Tageszeitung plus lover of food and mother of three, shares her great insights into the best hikes for families in search of tasty morsels.
For fans of homemade produce
Artisanal dairies, bakeries and charcuteries are abundant across the Tirolean Alps, and those willing to hike to them are rewarded with tasty, homemade produce. Ranging from creamy-Alpine cheeses and freshly-churned butter to succulent-cured meats, the delicacies are at their best in the mountains. The hikes have a maximum ascent of 500 metres and are never more than two hours; enough to work up an appetite but won’t leave visitors reaching for the crampons.
A functioning Alpine dairy, Burgeralm, in Rettenschöss, Kaiserwinkl, uses milk from cows grazing in the surrounding paddocks to make award-winning cheeses. Aside from the ‘Adler Gold’ soft cheese that the dairy is famed for, the Burgeralm is a designated ‘Erlebnisalm’ where visitors can learn about the farming process used to create this moreish produce.
Alternatively, Gampe Thaya in the Ötztal valley, provides an intimate insight into the production of the ‘Gampe Kaas’, a unique cheese made from grey cow’s milk produced by Jakob Prantl, the landlord of the hut. Behind a glass screen, guests can see the intricate process that goes into producing the cheese as well as the care and attention of the chefs working there. Visitors can sample the delicious product in one of the traditional dining rooms, which makes the experience even more authentic.
With dishes as stunning as the mountainside they are made in, the high-altitude restaurants and cabins are a foodies’ haven. Award-winning chef, Alexander Fankhauser, has selected three hikes for visitors in search of exquisite food and wine. Whilst visitors can hike to the restaurants, all are accessible by cable car (always good for the way down on a full stomach).
Built in 2009, the Wedelhütte in Zillertal boasts the title of being the Tirol’s only five-star hut. Its exciting menu and extensive wine cellar attract plenty of guests who are drawn in by its unbeatable ambiance and brilliant cuisine of Manfred Kleiner (Manni). The terrace offers stunning views of the mountainside for al-fresco dining and basking in the Austrian sun. Starting at the Hirschbichlalm, the hike is a six-kilometre ascent of the Zillertal High Alpine Road, climbing 500 metres and taking a little over three hours.
Exchanging Savoyard decadence for suave sophistication, the ice Q offers fine dining at altitude, 3,048 metres to be exact. The avant-garde architecture of the restaurant led to it being featured in the 2015 James Bond film ‘Spectre’. If the dramatic peaks of the surrounding mountain range, many of them exceeding 3,000 metres, are not enough, the Bond-themed cinematic installation ‘007 Elements’, which opened in 2018, offers alternative (and interactive) entertainment. The hike begins at the bottom of the Gaislachkoglbahn and finishes at the top, meaning those who do not fancy the two-kilometre hike have convenient access via the cable car.
To balance the two contemporary dining options with something more traditional, Fankhauser’s third recommendation is Angerer Alm in St. Johann in Tirol, which enjoys a wine cellar as rich and varied as its culinary options. The rustic wood and stone construct is traditionally Savoyard and the menu muses on this aesthetic. The most challenging of the three hikes; the path reaches 9.4 kilometres with an elevation of 655 metres and takes most guests the better part of five hours.
The hikes selected for their appeal to families with children are no more than an hour long and do not ascend more than 200 metres; enough to work up an appetite but not too much for little legs. Encapsulating the relaxed-mountain atmosphere, the walks offer a fantastic way to be active together as well as enjoying an un-fussy meal surrounded by nature.
Having begun the journey by cable car, guests venture through the Triassic Park (complete with life-size replicas of dinosaurs and a prehistoric underwater world) before reaching the Kammerköralm. Touring some of the most beautiful scenery of the Steinplatte region, the trail was once covered by the Tethys ocean and still has remnants visible to this day. The restaurant offers indoor and outdoor dining options as well as a versatile menu.
Passing an idyllic Alpine lake as well as an exciting adventure park, the Mutterer Alm hike is wonderful option for adults and children alike. The circular route returns hikers to the restaurant where they are met with friendly service and delicious food, think chicken skewers with fresh salad.
Finally, families taking on the hike to the Seealm Hög are in for a real treat. Comprising a large adventure playground adults and children as well as the Six Senses Trail, which runs along the banks of the artificial lake. For those interested in local culture, a visit to the Familien-Lichter-Kapelle promises pretty stained-glass windows and intricate brick work. Although technically considered a mountain hut, the Seealm Hög’s glass panelling and stylish interior make it seem decidedly more sophisticated whilst remaining welcoming to children. After an active morning, settle down and order from a very large, varied menu, that focuses on fish, vegetarian and vegan food.
For more information about these hikes for foodies, visit: www.tyrol.com/things-to-do/sports/hiking/taste-the-region-hikes-for-foodies-in-tirol