In the Tirolean ski area, you’ll find one of Austria’s largest resorts, Ski Juwel Alpbachtal Wildschönau and close by is the hidden gem, the village of Thierbach.
In what used to be two separate resorts (hence the name), are now a fully connected under one ski pass. It’s a family-friendly beautiful ski resort. There’s a huge variety of skiing, snowboarding and tobogganing on offer, and I recommend you also read our article SkiWelt in Tirol: The Ultimate Guide, which tells you everything you need to know before you travel.
Village of Thierbach
If there was one ‘stand out’ place from my time here, it was the village of Thierbach. The main reason it stood out for me is that it truly is a hidden gem. You must work for it, take time to find it, ask around with the locals, and then follow instructions on how to get there (and get back).
Thierbach is a small village of only 400 people, it’s stunning, traditional and very quaint. At 1,150 metres above sea level it’s the smallest village in the Wildschönau, and the highest place in the Kitzbühel Alps. As soon as you arrive you feel the peace and quiet of a small-time Austrian village in the Alps, and a vibe of community which has been here hundreds of years.
As you take a stroll through the village you’ll notice the Parish Church with its onion shaped dome, an iconic figure in the middle, and Gingerbread houses covered in snow. It’s an idyllic looking place. There’s a tiny school and nursery, and just a handful of places to stay. If you chose to sleep here, expect serenity, tranquillity and a very peaceful stay, somewhere to truly get away from the hustle and bustle of modern day ski resorts.
So how do you get here? Well, to keep it a hidden gem maybe we should not tell you! Firstly, the route is suitable for skiing, snowboarding or tobogganing, but it’s narrow and a little challenging so perhaps not the best for beginners (please check with a guide).
You can get to Thierbach from the Schatzbergalm gondola, and the route is marked on the ski map. It’s not commonly used as once you get to Thierbach there’s no chairlift or gondola back to the slopes. But don’t let that put you off, with your WildschönauCard you can ride the Bummelbahn to Auffach for free. The route passes the ski park and gradually descends into a peaceful run, away from the crowds. As you get to the end of the run you turn a corner and can suddenly see stunning Thierbach in all its glory. Its then that you realise this trip was all worthwhile.
If you’re not confident of getting to Thierbach on your own, then consider hiring a guide. We skied with Johann Schneider who is a local guide and instructor for skiing and snowboarding. He’s also a very interesting character with a fascinating past. Johann is from the beautiful town of Alpbach (another place you must visit), and holds 3 official Guinness World Records, was a karate champion and a “nunchaku” world champion. All of this and one of the most down to earth individuals I’ve met with a great outlook on life. If you want a lesson or guided tour with a difference, I highly recommend having a chat with Johann.
Eating and drinking in the village
Once you arrive in the village, you’ll want to stop for a drink or a bite to eat. We had lunch at the nearly 350-year-old guest house of Sollererwirt, which has hotel rooms too. It’s a beautiful Inn to visit in summer or winter and located right next to the Parish church.
While you’re here I recommend you try a local tradition; Krautinger Schnapps.
The Schnapps is only distilled by local farmers, after Empress Maria Theresia bestowed exclusive distillery rights to the region’s farmers in the 18th century. It’s uniquely distilled from harvesting white beet or turnips in the summer, they’re then mashed and mixed with yeast. The digestif is known locally as a “cure-all” ailment, and trying it is unavoidable when you visit the Wildschönau, but you don’t necessarily have to enjoy the taste!
We came here in winter, and if you chose to visit in summer there is just as much to do, and the look and feel of the village is completely different. Surrounded by lush, green fields, and imposing mountains, the Gratlspitz is a popular hiking mountain and a real landmark of Thierbach. Alternatively, you can rent mountain bikes or e-bikes and take a tour to Schatzberg.
To get to Ski Juwel Alpbachtal Wildschönau, most fly to Innsbruck and drive 40 minutes, however you can also drive 90 minutes from Munich.
Travel tip shared by Scott for Travel Dudes.