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Austrian mountains’ Summer paradise: cut price luxury and adrenaline adventures

Ultimate luxury at bargain prices. Temperatures breaking 30 Centigrade. Dare-devil thrills for adrenaline junkies. Hundreds of miles of biking and hiking trails. So, why do the herds head for the Med in summer? No queues at the ski-lifts, no jostling crowds at the bar, no battling for restaurant tables with a view. Civilised airports, lower airfares and open roads. So, why, once the snow begins to melt, do the crowds flock to the Costas – ignoring the pull of Austria’s stunning lakes and mountains landscape? This could be your Sound of Music moment – just you and the mountains. Far from the Madding Crowd. What’s not to like? Hotels Take a look at the prices for the 5* Austrian mountain hotels in January and February: those luxurious regal establishments, with lake frontage, indulgent spas, relaxing saunas, gourmet food and sumptuous suites with incomparable mountain views. Compare those peak-season prices with what you would pay in June, July and August for a sophisticated slice of Alpine hedonism. If you really need to pay silly money you can fry on a costa beach with all the other oiled-sardines. Adrenaline junkies “But there’s no skiing!” chorus the cynics. In Summer the mountains offer just as many breath-taking adventures. Some say thrilling paragliding is even more exciting than skiing and snow-boarding. The 2,500 metre zip line at Stoderzinken where you descend 700 metres reaching speeds of up to 70mph, dropping from far above the tree line, provides spectacular views of the valley below. Biking and e-biking There are hundreds of miles of beautiful trails running through Austria’s spectacular scenery. In the 228 square mile Solktaler Natural Park there are just 1,500 inhabitants. No gas, no electricity, no phone reception – the ultimate de-tox for high-tech, high pressure contemporary life. Hard-core lycra-clad cyclists who masochistically endure long 1-in-4 ascents can still hire traditional bikes – for steep ascents too barbaric for even the Tour de France. But increasingly e-bikes, taking the sweat out of cycling, are becoming very popular. Electronic motors provide the momentum for riders to ascend to some of the more spectacular high-altitude routes and see more of the mountains in a day’s cycling. Walking The Austrians have made the most of their mountains. Take the streams and roaring waterfalls of Wildewasser where trails are rated by their degree of difficulty and there are plentiful maps. Morale-boosting treats are frequent: there are strategically placed viewing platforms for a water-fall or breath-taking gorge. Walk with a guide who’ll spot wild blueberries, mushrooms, raspberries and strawberries at a 100 paces. A guide who will re-tell the story of farmers clinging to their farmhouse roofs, awaiting helicopter rescue, during a devastating cloudburst and subsequent flood. Coffee-breaks Austria specialises in world-class coffee-breaks. No skinny almond milk lattes for the Austrians. When you’ve used up a thousand calories since breakfast climbing, cycling or yomping into the cloud level, some carbo-loading and a sugar burst is well-deserved. Mountain huts, often by a lake, tables with graffiti from generations of visitors, are often located in surprisingly remote locations. Ice cave Take the cable car up to Schlaming-Dachstein’s glacier and walk onto the Stairway to Nothing. A frightening step onto a gallery with a commanding view through the peaks to the valley below. There’s a touch of Game of Thrones to the next scene. You walk into the heart of a glacier and The Ice Cave: a succession of caves and surreal ice sculptures are lit by ever-changing lights. There’s even an Ice Throne. Can it get any more Westeros? Rural life Long before the snows arrive, the farmers and their bell-clanking cattle leave the valleys for more sheltered winter bases. Now, in summer, you can boost your LinkedIn curriculum vitae with an Agricultural Diploma. It’s a light-hearted introduction to baking in a farmhouse kitchen, identifying the local flora, milking a virtual cow, sawing logs and enjoying a hearty farmers’ lunch. Blas Musik For the last two decades the Schladming Blas Musik Festival has grown and grown. Last year over 2,200 musicians, from all over the world, partied for a week in July demonstrating what brass instruments are capable off. Unfortunately, the Irish contingent, outside my hotel window, partied longer and harder than most. In 2017 there were five stages showcasing blues, classical, jazz, pop, swing and a wide spectrum of music. On the mid-summer night of music, the bands were playing past midnight and the audiences were still dancing. But in true Austrian fashion, by 7 o’clock the next morning, the streets were immaculately clean.

Michael Edwards

Michael Edwards is a travel writer from Oxfordshire, UK. Although Michael had his first travel pieces published nearly four decades ago, he is still finding new luxury destinations to visit and write on.

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One Comment

  1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the beauties of an Austrian summer holiday. As a native Austrian I took my family to the lakes and mountains of Carinthia last summer, and also to visit an elderly aunt of mine in Klagenfurt. We were so busy with swimming, electro boating, mountain go-cart riding, visits to Hochosterwitz Castle and Alpine predator bird shows, and hiking and biking. Having said that were were quite lucky with the weather. For me, the unpredictability of Austrian summers with rains and cold spells is the only caveat, and reason to sometimes head elsewhere.

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