Kitzbühel: Jet-set in Tyrol
Every summer, the snobbiest and worst of Austria′s and Bavaria′s inbred upper-class gathers to a summit called "Salzburg Festival". Upon that occasion, a lot of playing golf, going to parties, exhibiting trophy wives and breeding of more twats is going on - alongside with the inevitable bits of opera and classical concerts.
As the uninvolved observer from the side, one wonders if our civilisation could go any further downhill - and it can: to Kitzbühel. Take all the decadence, shallowness and snobbism of Salzburg, multiply it by a factor of ten, add even more Russian millionaires and - dang! - you got Kitzbühel.
The place once started as a small Tyrolian mountain village and is now Austria′s most expensive skiing resort. Kitzbühel attracts the snow-loving crowds and sparks their obsession for the white stuff (snow on the slopes, I mean, not cocaine - I wouldn′t dare to imply…).
Apres-ski & Jet-Set
The town is said to offer the best après-ski facilities and events in Austria. At the Salzburg Festival, you get great music for stupid snobs. In Kitzbühel, you get great mountains for stupid snobs. The main difference is age: It′s old folks in Salzburg, whilst Kitzbühel is dominated by yuppie crowds.
In both cases, you are probably well-advised to concentrate on the real attraction (music and mountains, respectively) and simply ignore the people around you. The real underdogs will go to Kitzbühel during the summer. This is the time when the nearby mountains offer great hiking routes (I recommend in particular the Wilder Kaiser region) and the clientele of the town is much more bearable.
During the summer time, the attentive visitor might also recognise the beginnings of the town: Kitzbühel was once a village that grow into a town due to silver mining, not dissimilar to Hall or Schwaz, but on smaller scale. The medieval houses in the style of mountain cabins mingle with pastel-colour burgher houses and blend into the Tyrolian landscape perfectly well.
Hiking & Skiing - plus some Sightseeing
Hikers create a summer season, but on the flanks of that - in May and September, for example - you might be able to get a really good deal in one of the many luxury hotels in Kitzbühel. Some of them date back to the 1920ies. It was between the two World Wars that the town earned itself a reputation as a great tourist destination and rapidly developed its skiing industry. A pleasant side-effect: The culinary offerings of Kitzbühel′s restaurants are remarkable for a provincial town of its size. Beyond hiking, skiing and going out, you could also do some proper sightseeing.
The attractions are limited, though. Enjoy the general prettiness of Kitzbühel, which is divided into Vorderstadt and Hinterstadt ("front town" and "back town"). Check out the Heimatmuseum or Town Museum for some local history, including some references to the omnipresent skiing culture and the previous mining business.
There is a total of three churches worth noting in the town: The parish church dates back to the 15th century and has the usual Baroque interiors with some nice bits and pieces. The Katharinenkirche Church is dedicated to the dead of the two World Wars and has some more Baroque interiors, alongside with a Gothic altar which is worth a closer look. The Liebfrauenkirche has interiors in Rococo style, which applies in particular for its stucco work.
Skiing, Hiking & Watching Sports
The most important attraction of Kitzbühel, however, is probably the Hahnenkamm. This mountain or very steep hill is not only a bitch to ski on (my dad did it once), but also the site of an annual race ever since 1931. This race, called "Hahnenkammrennen" is the most famous ski race of Austria and marks the peak of the "snobs in snow" season.
You will recognise soon that the Hahnenkamm (which means "cock′s crest") is not the only mountain in the region. In fact, there are plenty, offering great hiking routes in the summer and good skiing opportunities in the winter. Stick with the local tourist information centre for detailed information on both - but stay away from the yuppies!
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