Kitzbuehel Travel Guide

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Pfarrkirche St. Andreas

Pfarrkirche St. Andreas

Vincent Nédélec

Kitzbühel is an impressive name to drop in the pub. Every Ski Sunday viewer knows that the Hahnenkamm racecourse is the most challenging on the World Cup circuit, helping the resort to cultivate a reputation as a rather special place. But the racecourse is untypical of Kitzbühel's slopes - and there is nothing very special about coping with icy, slushy or bare slopes. We have visited Kitz countless times, and rarely found decent snow on the lower slopes. It does of course get good snow at times and has invested serious money in snowmaking. But Kitzbühel's low altitude means that its problems won't go away.

The resort is very far from exclusive. It has its expensive, elegant hotels, but it also has a huge amount of hotel and guest-house accommodation that is quite inexpensive - and not surprisingly attracts quite a few low-budget visitors, many of whom are young and intent on a good time. To experience Kitzbühel at its best, go during the Hahnenkamm races, which are the most prestigious downhill events on the World Cup circuit. They are held in the later part of January each year. During this internationally renowned downhill event, the town is decked out in its fanciest attire as it hosts the best ski racers in the world and the fans that flock to see them compete.

The festive mood of this town during the Hahnenkamm race is contagious, and it's easy to get caught up in the excitement of one of the most important race events in Europe. Celebrities dot the crowd and world-class athletes like the "Hermanator" (Hermann Maier) and members of Olympic teams stroll down the street, rubbing elbows with tourists and locals.

Located 80 kilometers (50 miles) from Innsbruck and 120 kilometers (75 miles) from Munich, it is easy to get to by car, bus, and train, and if you stay in a hotel in town, an automobile isn't really necessary since there are free buses and most things are centrally located. There is a full range of accommodations, from four-star hotels and swank ski lodges to inexpensive pensions and charming rustic inns. Kirchberg shares the same slopes with Kitzbühel and the other towns on the "ski circus" umbrella.

The actual village of Kitzbühel dates back to the 13th century. Its charm is accented by painted medieval houses, colorful sidewalk cafés, and stylish shops. Festive flags and buntings adorn the streets and buildings of this little Austrian town, which plays host to international athletes, ski fans, and the rich and famous from all over the world.

Located at the southern foot of the Kitzbüheler Horn (elevation 6,548 feet/1,998 meters), this village was chartered in 1271 and held as a fief by the bishops of Regensburg and Bamberg under the dukes of Bavaria until 1504, when it became part of the Tyrol. The town has many brightly painted and gabled houses trimmed in gingerbread, and several medieval castles that have been converted into hotels.

This world-famous ski resort is also a health resort with a busy summer tourist trade centered on the Schwarzsee, a warm mountain lake. This area offers a wide variety of activities all year long. There is even an Olympic ski jump with a breathtaking view.

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