Travel Austria. Day trip Innsbruck: Hiking to gorgeous lakes in Kühtai

When you are in Innsbruck the provincial capital of Tyrol you are always close to nature, to be more precise, you are close to breathtakingly beautiful nature. From most spots in town, one can see the grey peaks of the Nordkette. That means every moment of the day reminds you that you are in the mountains. The town at an elevation of 574 metres is a relaxed one and ideal to take it slow. Did you know that Emperor Maximilian made sure that the old town is still as picture-perfect and colourful as it was back in the 16th century? With introducing fire- and building regulations between 1490 and 1520 he saved the town from possible fire disasters.

Valley views, horses, lakes, sheep and cows while hiking near gorgeous Kühtai in Austria

After you spent your days devouring lots of the regional Tyrolian delicacies, visiting numerous museums and the golden roof, climbing the city tower, and sauntering aimlessly through the old town and along the river Inn, it is time to make your way into the surrounding mountains.

Kühtai – From Cow Alpine Pasture to Mountain Resort

The village, in the municipality of Silz, is located right in the heart of the Stubai Alps in the magnificent Sellrain valley. Kühtai, at an elevation over 2,000 meters, has only ten permanent inhabitants and is one of the smallest villages in the whole of Tyrol and the highest located ski resort in Austria. As far back as 1288, there was a cow alpine pasture, and that is where the village probably got its name from. The idea to design a holiday resort already came up centuries ago. In the 17th century, an old farmhouse was transformed into a hunting lodge and, in later the 19th century, into a hotel.

Kühtai's mountain climate is heaven for allergy sufferers and asthmatics. Pure mountain air, long summer days and the view over the alpine scenery, that is everything one needs to be thoroughly content.

This region is also a paradise for all fans of unchallenging hikes. On the suggested hike, you are going to walk through lush alpine pastures, past crystal-clear streams and green-blue mountain lakes. You can either travel by bus from Innsbruck main station or by car.

I ask a local about where to best see alpine marmots. She laughs, rolls her eyes slightly and tells me that she "has been living in Kühtai for 14 years and has to see one yet." She chuckles once more and adds "I believe alpine marmots are mythical creatures."

Mountain pasture in summer, with some rocks strewn here and there in front of a mountain range that still has a bit of snow on its peaks.

A small wooden bridge leads over a mountain stream that runs through mountain pasture, with some yellow and pink coloured wildflowers and some rocks strewn here and there, in front of a mountain range, under a light grey sky.

Kühtai - Drei-Seen-Bahn (chairlift) - Upper Plenderlessee

The starting point is in Kühtai. Leave your car at the Drei-Seen-Bahn (chairlift) in the centre of Kühtai. Start your hike up to 2,420 meters, just above the Three Lakes Hut. As soon as you reach the stop of the chairlift on the top, you are going to have a view of the "Upper Plenderlessee."

A small oval-shaped green mountain lake on a hilly mountain landscape with some rocks strewn here and there in front of an uneven mountain range that still has a bit of snow on its peaks, under a blue sky.

When in June and well into July, the alpine rose is in bloom, the green pastures are covered in a pinkish-red dyed plant. I see many hikers plucking them to take home. Not sure this is legal though. I can't see the point in taking home wildflowers. Wouldn't they be wilted, and all shrivelled by the time hikers get back to their hotel or residence anyway? Maybe it is a good idea to ask locals which plants are protected by environmental laws.

From “Upper Plenderlessee” wander down towards the "Drei-Seen-Hütte," next to the "Lower Plenderlessee." The mountain hut restaurant is the ideal place for lunch and snacks.

One white large sized female sheep with large ears and large pink udder and a bell around its neck resting in front of a stone cottage, next to her lamb.

A green oval-shaped mountain lake on a mountain pasture, with some yellow and pink coloured wildflowers and some large boulders strewn here and there, in front of a mountain range, under a light blue sky.

Your next stop is going to be the Finstertaler reservoir, easy to reach via a slightly steep tarred small road. Sadly, the tarred road was built right into this mountainous scenery when the water reservoir was created.

A large green mountain lake on a hilly mountain landscape with some rocks strewn here and there in front of an uneven mountain range that still has a bit of snow on its peaks, under a blue sky.

Winding path through a green overgrown mountainous region, under a blue sky.

Winding path through a green overgrown mountainous region with a village in the valley, under a blue sky.

Walk back to the “Drei-Seen-Hütte” and from here follow the signposted way back down to Kühtai village.

If you aren't into walking up the mountain, take the chairlift. Info Drei Seen Bahn: 22nd June to 22nd September, 9am to 4.30pm. The whole walk up and down the mountain takes about three hours, obviously depending on how often you rest and of how many photo-stops you make.

Three adult brown-coloured cows with bells around their neck resting in a group on a mountain pasture.

Part of the bridge of the nose, and the right eye of a dark brown donkey.

Tipps for hiking in mountainous regions

-Wear suitable clothes (bring a spare jumper and raincoat, the weather can change quickly).
-Check the weather forecast before you leave.
-Wear steady shoes (sneakers are not what best to wear on any mountain).
-Calculate enough time, take it easy and rest in between.
-Stay on the designated tracks.
-Close all gates (cattle).
-Wear sunscreen.
-Hands off protected plants.
-Leave grazing cows and sheep alone.
-Take rubbish home with you, all litter, even fruit- and vegetable peel. If you are a smoker, take cigarette buts home with you, and if you blow your nose, take that tissue home with you too (you get it).

A brown-eyed dark brown and a blue-eyed white donkey standing side by side on a lush mountain pasture overgrown with yellow wildflowers.

How to get to Kühtai from Innsbruck

By car: 40 kilometres (roughly 45 minutes) to Drei Seen Bahn, Kühtai 10, 6183 Kühtai, Austria.

By public transport: Innsbruck Central Station (bus station platform G), Bus 4166 towards Kühtai Jagdschloss. 40 stations, travel time is roughly one hour.

What you need to know to travel to Innsbruck


Where to Sleep in Innsbruck

Nala Individuellhotel. The old town of Innsbruck is just around the corner, from here you are at the Golden Roof (Goldens Dachl in English) within six minutes.

No two rooms are the same. Over the years, I stayed in many different designed ones, so I cannot say which room I like the best. There is forever something to look forward to for the next stay. What I cherish and what brings me back here is how eco-friendly this house is run. Following the principle of underfloor heating, the floors and ceilings are brought to the desired temperature; whereas these will be heated in winter and cooled in summer. The all-season covers and pillows are made from renewable raw materials, namely corn and wood fibres. The water in Innsbruck is of high quality and tastes great. Water is drinkable and can be drunk from the tap. 90% of the power used at Nala is green electricity. Detergents used are 100% ecologically based. Cosmetic products offered in the rooms and restaurant are biodegradable.

Nala Individuellhotel, Müllerstraße 15, 6020 Innsbruck, Austria. Visit the website for more information. Stay from EUR 60 to 220/night plus breakfast EUR 30. Fast Wi-Fi is included in the price. Nala Individuellhotel is a member of Lifestyle Hotels, a collection of owner-run hotels that offer globetrotting design-lovers non-standardized luxury.

Interior design and rooms of the Nala Individuellhotel, Müllerstraße 15 in Innsbruck in Austria

Visa requirements for Austria

You can apply for the Austria Schengen Visa, as a Member State of the EU Austria is a member state of the Schengen Area. Visitors from the Schengen countries do not need a passport or visa, only a valid an ID-card or passport. Visit this website to see whether you need a visa to visit Austria.

How to get to Innsbruck

You can reach Innsbruck directly by plane from most capital cities in Europe. Visit the website of Innsbruck Airport for more information. The airport is 3.6 kilometres from the Old Town of Innsbruck. Taxis are metered.

Wi-fi in Innsbruck

Wi-Fi is available in most cafes and restaurants and hotels.

Best time to visit Innsbruck

Innsbruck is a year-round travel destination. Spring and summer are warm and ideal for hiking. In winter, it is all about skiing and having fun in the snow.

Austria – Currency and how to pay

Austria is a member of the European Union. The official currency in Austria is the Euro. Exchange money on arrival at the airport, or get some cash at an ATM. You can pay in cash still almost everywhere in town. Credit cards are widely accepted.

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