The Tyrol is a veritable kingdom of water: there are about 600 lakes, ponds and lakes alone hidden in the heart of the Alps (almost all with drinking water), and that’s without considering the dozens of waterfalls, gorges, ravines, Kneipp paths and healing springs. Tyrol offers a wide range of opportunities to experience and discover the many forms of water.
A precious commodity, water, especially in times of climate change, which leads many places to have great shortages of it. Tyrol, fortunately, is rich in nature, thus allowing the area to be healthy and alive, and visitors to have a cool summer. More than 10,000 springs bathe the mountains of the Tyrol, and it is even more precious water because as it penetrates the rock layers of the mountains, it is filtered and enriched with minerals.
And Tyrol’s water is also drinkable, about 90 percent: almost everywhere you can turn on the tap and drink. And these precious places from which water flows can also be visited, such as the Blaue Quelle (“Blue Spring”) in Erl near Kufstein, one of Tyrol’s most famous natural monuments.
Taking a dip in the bathing lakes of the Tyrol
If you think swimming in the sea is the best way to survive a hot day, try diving into an alpine lake. Tirol boasts as many as 29 bathing lakes for cooling off, with water quality so pure that it is comparable to drinking water (quality has been monitored regularly since 1992).
And if you’re worried about temperatures, don’t worry: Tyrol’s lakes vary in temperature. for example, the Schwarzsee marsh lake in Kitzbühel in the summer months reaches up to 27 degrees, while the water temperature ofAchensee, the largest lake in the Tyrol, rarely exceeds 18 degrees. But it is definitely worth it: nestled between the peaks of the Karwendel and Rofan mountains, the “sea of Tyrol” is a paradise for sailing and surfing and, with its shallow bays and child-friendly offerings, is also ideal for families.
Other lakes not to be missed include Piburger See in the Ötztal valley, a swimming lake also famous for its abundance of fish, and Osttirol’s Tristacher See, where you can spend splendid days swimming. Instead, they represent a true natural phenomenon-the Lottensee and Wildmoossee on the Seefeld Plateau: being periodic lakes, they appear only every few years, so being able to see them with your own eyes is a real stroke of luck.
And if you love underwater sports, the Tyrol manages to please in this regard as well: divers will find the best conditions for truly impressive dives, such as at Blindsee in the Tiroler Zugspitz Arena.
Hunting for spectacular waterfalls
Lakes are beautiful for swimming and relaxing, but there is nothing more exciting than standing at the foot of an immense waterfall.Not only do waterfalls offer spectacular views, but in many places they can also be combined with a scenic hike.
Tirol is brimming with breathtaking waterfalls. Don’t miss the Grawa Waterfall in the Stubai Valley: at 85 meters, it is the widest waterfall in the Eastern Alps. The water plummeting from a total height of 180 meters is not only an impressive natural spectacle, but also gives benefits to the body: studies show that visiting viewing platforms and lingering in the mist of water can even relieve symptoms of asthma and allergies. The “open-air cinema” with comfortable wooden loungers at the foot of the waterfall is also an ideal starting point and destination for a leisurely hike along the “WildeWasserWeg” route.
No less spectacular is the 159-meter-high Stuibenfall near Umhausen in the Ötztal. It is the largest waterfall in the Tyrol, well-developed and easily accessible via a hiking trail dedicated to adventure-seekers: traversing 700 steps and an 80-meter-long suspension bridge, you pass five viewing platforms next to the rushing masses of water, reaching the waterfall’s starting point in Niederthai. A very simple via ferrata, also suitable for families, has also been organized along the waterfall.
Water hiking among gorges, ravines, Kneipp trails
For visitors who enjoy walking but don’t want to miss out on cooling off, Tyrol offers a range of water-friendly hikes to suit all needs, from leisurely family walks to more challenging tours. A recommended hiking destination for families, for example, is the idyllic Obernberger See in the Wipptal, whose water flows underground, while a route suitable for the more trained, which also lasts more than a day, is on theIseltrail in the Osttirol or the Lechweg in the Tyrolean Lechtal. The first leads 76 kilometers from the mouth to the source along one of the last wild glacial rivers in the Alps. The second follows one of Europe’s last wild rivers, the Lech, for 125 kilometers from its source near the Formarinsee to the Allgäu.
Of great fascination is a visit to the Tyrol’s most beautiful gorges and ravines, true canyons formed hundreds of years ago by the action of water making its way from the mountain to the valley. Today the mystical natural sites are an especially attractive destination on hot summer days, and in many cases are easily accessible by paths, wooden walkways and stairs. From the Leutascher Geisterklamm on the Seefeld Plateau to the Tiefenbachklamm in the Tyrolean Unterland to the Galitzenklamm in the Osttirol: these popular hiking destinations can be found everywhere in Tyrol.
Or you can opt for real water-themed trails, organized by many regions in the Tyrol to enhance the area’s most valuable asset. For example, hiking the Wasserschaupfad Umbalfälle, the Wasserwelt Tux or the WildeWasserWeg in the Stubai Valley is worthwhile, while theHexenwasser Söll, theLanser See stroller hike or the Natur Eis Palast on the Hintertux Glacier are recommended for families.
And how can we forget the healing effect of water: Kneipp paths are now widespread throughout the Alps, and Tyrol has thought of organizing a series of parks in which to experience the effectiveness of this particular treatment. They are usually found in the centers of towns or along hiking and biking trails, and are a real boon to both mind and body. Also worth trying are the many healing springs with proven effects: the thermal water at Längenfelder Thermalquelle, for example, helps treat rheumatic diseases and heal wounds. Popular for relaxation are the famous Aqua Dome spa, and for a variety of therapies the waters of the sulfur spring Bad Häring in the town and spa center of the same name
For more information: www.tirolo.com