Lienz? Do you mean Linz? Nooo, these are two different cities in Austria in very different parts of the country. Lienz is the biggest city in Osttirol, which lies in south Austria and borders on Südtirol in Italy. It was our first time in this region and boy were we surprised – the views of the mountains here are sooo beautiful and spectacular, the small city is charming, the neighboring villages are like from a fairytale, the ski slopes are still a hidden gem (great conditions, no crowds) and the food … ooooh the food is soooo good here. Another thing, which surprised us in a positive way were the prices – very reasonable even in the ski resorts (the best prices we saw this winter). Ok, enough, let me show you what you can do and see 😉
How to get to Lienz in Osttirol?
Lienz is a town in Osttirol, not far from the border with Italy. The nearest airports are Klagenfurt, Innsbruck and Bolzano in Italy. If you arrive by car, plan around 2,5 hours from Ljubljana, 3,5 hours from Maribor, around 3 hours from Graz, 3 hours from Münich, 2,5 hours from Innsbruck and around 3 hours from Venice. Good connections, hey? You should also know, there are frequent train connections to major cities in Austria and around.
Where to stay?
We stayed in Wildauer’s Haidenhof hotel, which is a little bit outside the main city center but in walking distance to the ski resort Zettersfeld. The hotel has a brand new wing with beautiful panoramic rooms, monstera carpets and alpine wooden design. On the top floor is a lovely wellness with 3 saunas, a panoramic relaxing room and a terrace. The house has tasty food, but what was most important for us were their vegetarian (and vegan) options. Not to forget – they also run a craft brewery with delicious beer. In summer you can relax in their outside natural pool with a view of the mountains.
What to do?
Lienz has 2 ski resorts, one on each side of the city. Zettersfeld is on the north side, has mainly chairlifts and one t-bar lift (the slopes around the t-bar are AMAZING). They also created a fun park, they have a magic carpet for the youngest and beautiful off the slope huts with mouthwatering food. More on this later – keep an eye open for “Terrassenskilauf” 😉
The second resort Hochstein is on the south side of the city and it is famous for the FIS ski world cup race for women. A veeeery looong slope keeps you busy for 7 km almost from the top of the mountain all the way to the bottom. To reach the top you have to take 3 lifts – first a gondola, then a chairlift and at the end a T-bar. Although it sounds like there are not many slopes, it’s still a great option for a one day ski adventure.
A daypass for Zettersfeld and Hochstein is 49€.
Adrenalin rush with the Osttirodler
At the foot of Hochstein (just next to the entry point to the ski resort Hochstein) is Osttirodler – a fun Alpine-Coaster as the locals like to name it. It is supposed to be one of the most spectacular coasters in the alpine region with panoramic views and guaranteed adrenaline rush. It’s 2,7 km long and open in summer and winter, with a few weeks in between for maintenance. Unfortunately, it was closed during our stay because of heavy snowfall which resulted in fallen trees on the coaster. But next time we’ll make sure we will try it.
Italy is near and this is visible or even better tasteable (is this even a word?) in the food here. As mentioned above the Terrassenskilauf is a great way to taste great food. In both ski resorts Zettersfeld and Hochstein are huts which have Tyrolian (and Austrian) specialities on the menu.
And guess what – you don’t have to ski to visit the restaurants (not applicable for all). There are many huts, you can reach by walking/hiking.
We visited 3 huts and tried 3 dishes: Kaiserschmarren, oven potatoes with grilled vegetable, goat cheese and sour cream and the most typical dish here: Schlipfkrapfen – they look like ravioli filled with potato (or other fillings) and garnished with tomato, butter, greens and cherry tomatoes. YUM ❤
As we had half board in our hotel Wildauers Heidenhof, we tried their vegetarian menu as well. We were treated by delicious risottos, pasta, a lemongrass soup … and the deserts were sooo good.
Visit charming downtown Lienz
The pedestrian zone is sooo beautiful, I walked around with my mouth open – the main square has colorful houses on one side, opposite is the town hall with almost playful architecture and when I turned around and saw the white topped mountains glowing in the setting sun behind a unique small yellow church with a special dome roof I was hooked. We walked further to discover another lovely square, the shopping street Rosengasse is worth a look (pssst they have quite good shopping here, I got a new skiing jacket) and stop in one of the lovely cafés for a delicious Italian-like coffee. Also don’t miss the beautiful and modern tourist information center, where you’ll get free maps, tips on things to do and interesting information about the region.
Go on a night walk with the last nightwatchman in Austria
Not far from Lienz is the village Obertilliach. The village is quite special, as there are still so many old but restored wooden houses. And because of all the wood so close together, they have a nightwatchman, who does his turns at night around the narrow streets to prevent fires (and in the old times to guard their cattle from the Italians). He’s a fun 70-year old man with a uniform and a spear. He told us, he had to use it only once – we all were wondering what was it: a wild boar, a bear? – when he told us it were some drunk Englishmen. 😊 He even sang a traditional nightwatchman song to us. After the walk I was really happy I had the luck and honor to meet such an interesting and historical man. If you also want to experience this, visit thetourism website of Obertilliach for bookings.
But Obertilliach has more to offer:
We visited the local restaurant/bar Unterwöger to try their home made “Zirben-Schnapps” (a very renowned and traditional schnapps in Austria made of a special pine tree zapfen) and they showed us the beautifully renovated cellar.
Night caught us, so we drove just 2 min further to the big field just under the village to see the modestly illuminated shepherd’s huts.
Go winter hiking
I know, not everyone is for skiing, but you would also like to enjoy the winter wonderland Osttirol? Well, maybe you should base yourself in the alpine village Kartitsch on 1.356m from where you can go on 9 different winter hikes. They are different in length, difficulty, some are circular, the other combine a bus transfer. They are suitable for all types of hikers and ages. In our short time we didn’t manage to go on a hike, as we concentrated on skiing, but as I already mentioned, we’ll make sure we’ll be back as we really like the region.
It was our first and surely not our last time in this region. The region is great for families as well as for couples, sports addicts and relaxers. We really enjoyed the atmosphere and the food and the slopes and … Next year we’ll try to visit during Christmas time – can’t believe we don’t have this hidden gem in our Christmas collection yet. 😀
If you have any questions, fell free to message us, we can help you with planning or advise you to the right addresses in the region.