Imagine massive mountains, masses of snow lying around and picturesque traditional wooden houses. Now add some superb food, kilometres of groomed ski slopes and a warm and cosy room (and for the spoiled ones also a nice wellness). Sounds like a great holiday, hey?
I was describing the area Wilder Kaiser in Tyrol, Austria – this is where we spent the past weekend in winter wonderland. Another good example, how beautiful and unique this area is: the famous Austrian TV series “Bergdoktor” is filmed here, but more about this later. 😉
Because it was our first time here, we want to give you an overview of everything that might be important for your visit.
How to get here
With its location Wilder Kaiser is a perfect destination for Austrians and Germans – only 1,5 hours from Munich (and you don’t even need to pay the road toll sticker “vignette”, because you leave the highway early enough), 1 hour from Innsbruck and 1 hour and 20 minutes from Salzburg, Wilder Kaiser lies like a nature oasis amidst these big European cities. As all these cities have major airport, this information might be also interesting for everyone arriving by plane. As for us from Graz – we nedded around 4 hours.
Another easy way to arrive is by train – for example there’s a direct train from Graz (where we live) and from all the other big cities you can find great connections as well.
Where to stay?
Wilder Kaiser is a region lying next to the massive Wilder Kaiser mountains. There are 4 villages, all connected by ski slopes. We stayed in Ellmau, which is as mentioned before famous because of the TV series. Just 25 minute walk away is Going, another picturesque traditional Austrian village. The other villages are: Scheffau and Söll. You can find different accommodation possibilities for every need and budget in all these villages.
As mentioned we stayed in Ellmau in the Hotel Kaiserblick. It’s a fabolous hotel with a gourmet restaurant (awarded by Gaulet Millau), numerous wellness areas (for adults 18+, for families, on certain days only for women etc.) with an indoor pool, 2 outdoor pools, a spa and of course different saunas. A big plus is the garage, heated ski lockers and of course the ski in/ski out possibility. Oh and the rooms are just perfect – not too big, not too small, with a big terrace and everything you need. We really enjoyed the hotel, it was just a shame we didn’t have time to enjoy it more – so maybe plan a day to relax at this great hotel.
What to do?
As we visited Wilder Kaiser in winter, I’ll write about winter activities we did or saw others doing. But keep in mind that this area is in summer as stunning and interesting as in winter.
Our main goal was skiing. We just love skiing in Austria as the resorts are among the best in the world. And the Skiwelt Wilder Kaiser Brixental is sure one of the better ones – 288km of groomed slopes, 90 lifts and infinite jaw dropping views are waiting here for you. You can enter the Skiwelt from all the mentioned villages and also in Itter, Hopfgarten, Brixen im Thale and Westendorf. A fun thing to do is the Skiwelt Tour, where you visit all the villages in one day by skis. It sure is a challenge and not a piece of cake, but it’s possible to do as we showed you in the first vlog from Wilder Kaiser. On the slopes are different highlights like speed tracks, freestyle areas… And for everyone who didn’t have enough during the day, you can go night skiing in Söll, which is the biggest night skiing resort in Austria. The ticket prices are lower than in some other Austrian resorts although they offer so many slopes.
Cross country skiing
Actually we really enjoy this activity, but during our recent stay in Wilder Kaiser we didn’t have time for this. The slopes? They are well maintained and the views are again just marvellous.
Another very popular winter activity in this region is ski tour, mainly because there’s enough snow almost the entire winter and the slopes are perfect for this activity. Of course you still have to be careful and keep an eye on the snow reports, weather forecast and of course avalanche warnings, but you can always hire a guide if you’re unsure.
OMG, this was so fun (until I crashed). The very long track is open during the day and in the evening, making it a great evening activity for adrenaline junkies. Why? Well, let’s just say – this is not a baby hill for sledding. 😊 You drive up the hill by a chair lift and descent the winding and sometimes pretty steep track by sled. And believe me – some parts are quite tricky, but if you’re more careful than me also very fun. You’ll get a stomach ache from all the laughing 😉
The area around Wilder Kaiser is so picturesque, it would be a shame if you wouldn’t explore it also on foot. This is an activity suitable also for families with small children and people who travel with dogs. We did the hike up to Biedringeralm, a plateau just under the dramatic peaks of Wilder Kaiser. It’s an easy 5 hour round trip walk first through a traditional village, then through the woods, before you come into the clearing and where you’ll enjoy the amazing views. The descent is again through the woods back to Ellmau. The entire path is groomed and well-marked, but you can also use the map from the Wilder Kaiser tourist board.
You can go ice skating in the village Going. There’s an ice rink in the middle of the village. But check the opening times before. Unfortunately it was closed the day we planned to visit because of too much snow.
Visit the “Bergdoktor” filming locations
As mentioned before Wilder Kaiser is home to the famous Bergdoktor, a popular Austrian TV series about a doctor living and working in these beautiful mountains. In winter you can visit the Practice (Ordination) but only from the outside, the actual restaurant from the series, which is in Going and the main square in Going. The doctor’s home is closed for visitors in winter, because it’s an actual mountain farm and people live there.
What is a vacation without food? And in Ellmau you can choose from two excellent award-winning restaurants. We indulged in an 8 course gourmet dinner at our Hotel Kaiserblick, which was hands down a real treat. Another award-winning restaurant is at Hotel Kaiserhof. When you’re on the slopes and would like to enjoy some food and drinks, we can recommend the Kaiserlounge on top of Hartkaiser. We had the Kaiserschmarrn and we can say it was one of TOP 3 Kaiserschamarrns we have ever had (and we had many 😉 ). The scoop of ice cream and the caramelized nuts make this dish here a real treat. Not to forget the cosy sitting arrangements; we really loved the sun facing baskets as they also protect you from the wind. Another lovely hut is the Brenneralm – here we had some delicious gnocchi with spinach in a creamy sauce.
Visit the highest pilgrimage St Mary church in Austria
Yes, you read right – right in the middle of the ski resort is the highest pilgrimage church in Austria at 1829 meters above sea level. You can access this also on foot, or by using the cable cars from Söll or Hopfgarten.
Eat at the rotating restaurant on Hohe Salve
Next to the church is this cool rotating restaurant – well actually just the round terrace is rotating, but still it’s such a cool thing as this way everyone gets to enjoy the breath-taking views of the nearby mountains.
Take a picture at the top of Fleidingbahn
When you’ll arrive to the top by the modern chair lift and you come out of the station, you’ll be amazed – trust me. The views that open up here are heaven-like. Here’s also a viewing platform with a nice photo spot, where you can snap a photo for a lasting memory.
Who is Wilder Kaiser for?
For everyone – it doesn’t matter if you’re on a romantic weekend, a family vacation, a friends party vacation or just want to get away from everything. Here you can find it all. And during our short stay we just scratched the surface of this lovely region. When we were skiing, we passed some farmhouses, we had to cross roads and saw some farm animals. This is when we realized that all this gives the experience a romantic note – at least for us. It’s so nice to see how the local community is part of the tourist industry and how they go hand in hand. It feels good vacationing in a region which gives so much emphasis on sustainability.
It was our first time in Wilder Kaiser and we sooo enjoyed our time here, we can’t wait to be back. The ski resort is among the biggest and best in Austria (and probably in Europe) with numerous other winter activities for young and less young.