Austria – The Alternative Summer Holiday!

Her parents chose the holiday but much to her surprise, 24 year old Leela Jackson finds bliss on her one week trip to Austria….

I was longing for sun, sea and sand, when my adventurous parents surprised my sister and I by selecting Söll, an idyllic resort in the Tyrolean area of Austria, as the destination for our next family holiday. Needless to say, I didn’t particularly embrace the initial idea of snowy mountain treks and goats.

The resort of Söll is best known for its skiing and is situated at the bottom of Hohe Salve peak, the highest point in the area. Busiest in winter, the resort offers plenty of restaurants and après-ski bars and the pretty village is set around a beautiful Baroque style church named Saint Peter and Paul, which dates back to 1764. Summer, as we discovered, is much quieter and attracts older clientele and active holiday seekers.

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First glimpse of Söll

As we walked out of Innsbruck airport, after a short and sweet flight, we were beginning to appreciate some of the stunning scenery Austria has to offer. Kev, our Inghams resort representative for the week, was great and gave us plenty of insight into Söll and the surrounding area, during the transfer to the resort. There were so many activities and places of interest around and I was excited about our week ahead at the Postwirt hotel!

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Postwirt Hotel – a welcome retreat!

On our first full day in Austria we decided to take in some of the breathtaking scenery and catch the KaiserJet up to Scheffau, a lovely little village situated just a few miles from Söll. The KaiserJet is a free bus service that runs four times daily from Söll during the summer season. It’s worth noting that public transport in Austria is very different to that in England, running super efficiently and to the minute! (It was so useful during our holiday and I’d definitely recommend it.) From Scheffau we walked around the picturesque Hintersteinersee Lake, then through flowering meadows, woodland areas and along the River Inn back to Söll.

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Hintersteinersee Lake

This was a really relaxing and peaceful walk, with the only noise being the cowbells coming from the fields nearby – and my sister singing the Sound of Music soundtrack.

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The sound of cowbells…

The next day we decided to go into Innsbruck, the capital city of the Tyrol area. Famed as a winter sports centre, home of Swarovski crystal, medieval streets, and on a backdrop of the scenic Alps, Innsbruck is well worth a visit and easily reachable from Söll. Hop on a bus from the centre to Wörgl, then a train straight into the capital. There are a wide variety of museums and sights to see in Innsbruck and if you are lucky enough to spend longer than a day there the Innsbruck card may be worth purchasing. After browsing the quirky shops and sampling multiple flavours of the Austrian renowned Schnapps, we sat in one of the pavement café’s for Apple strudel. 

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Cafe culture in Innsbruck

On our third day in Austria we woke to glorious sunshine and decided it was the day to get our lift passes and head up the Hohe Salve Mountain. We took a cable car half way up, to Hexenwasser (German for ‘Witches water), Hochsöll. At 1150m, Hexenwasser water theme park is a fantastic place to take children, where they can take part in a wide range of water games in ponds and rivulets throughout the summer season. There are also great facilities for adults, so if climbing mountains isn’t your thing, get comfortable on the reclining benches or in one of the restaurant terraces and soak up some sun.

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Feeling energetic, I decided to climb the rest of the way with my dad, reaching 1828m. It was a refreshing experience to feel the warmth of the sun but walk through snow as we reached the very top of the mountain. Trekking up steep mountain trails and getting lost once or twice, it was tiring but very rewarding to reach the top and have an ice cold beer on the revolving platform at the restaurant on the peak, enjoying panoramic views! Feeling tired, we took the cable car back down to Söll, where I made use of the Postwirt hotel’s pool, sauna and steam room to relax. 

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Panoramic views

Tyrolean night at the Postwirt Hotel attracts guests from other hotels around the resort and was a good traditional night of dancing, music and lederhosen clad dancers. There was yodelling and thigh slapping from the Tyrolean performers and they did a great job involving the crowd. Typically, they chose my dad to join them on stage for a traditional Austrian dance, which was a particularly embarrassing highlight. He enjoyed himself at least!

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Traditional dancing!

On a cloudy and dull day (which were quite common during the latter part of the week unfortunately!), we caught the Hartkaiser-Strandseilbahn cog train from Ellmau station, curving up the mountain to Hartkaiser at 1555m. When we reached the top we were met with what can only be described as a blizzard! Postponing plans to walk along the top of the mountain, we sheltered in the café bar at the top and drank hot chocolate until the snow stopped. We then walked down the cycle path route, back to Ellmau. Cyclists are well catered for in the Tyrol area and you will find good cycle paths around all areas mentioned and bicycle rental shops in each of the towns/villages dotted around the Tyrol region.

The food at the Postwirt hotel, and Austria as a whole, cannot go unmentioned, it really was fantastic. Fresh salads, tempting cakes and warming goulash soups were all popular offerings. This resulted in us eating double what we would normally at mealtimes so the mountains and outdoor activities available came in very handy for working off excess calories! On our last evening in the Postwirt hotel we ordered a cheese fondue between us, it was delicious and the perfect, traditional finale to our Austrian break. (Definitely one to try!). Even if you don’t stay in the Postwirt they also take bookings for dinner and is well worth sampling if you are in the area.

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Loving Fondue!

The hotel staff and the Inghams representatives were all extremely helpful and went out of their way to ensure we had a relaxing and comfortable holiday. Overall, it was a lovely break in a fantastic location with great service and despite changeable weather, I can’t recommend Austria enough!

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