Getting Oriented

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Getting Oriented

Innsbruck makes a good starting point for exploring western Austria. It's a city that preserves the charm of ancient times and has lots to offer: culture, stellar restaurants, and trendy nightclubs. But Tirol's gorgeous geography precludes the convenient loop tour. You must go into the valleys to discover the charming villages and hotels, and a certain amount of backtracking is necessary. It will allow you to discover a cross section of Tirol's highlights: the old and the new, glossy resorts, medieval castles, and, always, that extraordinary scenery in these breathtaking valleys. On the western side of the Arlberg range, you have the wide-open spaces of Vorarlberg with Bregenz, a city the Romans built up with a harbor for warships, which today is used for cruise ships zigzagging across Lake Constance to Switzerland and Germany.

Tirol is famous for the beauty of its valleys, radiating from the center Innsbruck: To the northeast you find one of Austria's most famous folk-music regions. On the road to Kitzbühel, the sunny valley has plenty of snow in winter and golf in summer. Posh resorts and a renowned ski area make Kitzbühel the region's number one holiday destination. To the west, located in the very heart of Tirol, the villages of Telfs and Imst are known for tradition and culture. Then there is the Ötz Valley, with its long trekking routes and outdoor facilities. The western part of Tirol is a winter heaven: steep and challenging slopes along with well-trained instructors made St. Anton famous, whereas high in the mountains in a valley towards the south are the snow towns of Ischgl and Galtür.

And over the Arlberg range (or through it, in winter), you have the Vorarlberg, with the mountain villages of Lech and Zürs as havens for high-class, expensive skiing. On the other end of the spectrum is the Montafon region, a winter and summer resort for the cost-conscious—especially families.

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