Precious commodity: Discover & experience Tirol’s watery treasures
Last updated on 05.06.2023
Water is not only a precious commodity, but also the foundation of many natural wonders in Tirol. From mountain lakes to waterfalls and gorges to healing springs: Tirol offers many opportunities to discover and experience the diversity of water.
While water is elsewhere becoming an ever increasingly scarce commodity in times of climate change, Tirol can consider itself lucky that water shortages have not yet become an issue. Quite the contrary – with over 10,000 natural springs, Tirol is not only home to an abundance of this valuable natural commodity, it is also of an incredibly high quality. Thanks to the province’s geological conditions: water penetrates the rock layers in the mountains, becoming filtered and enriched with minerals during the process. Around 90 % of Tirol’s drinking water comes from natural sources, meaning it is possible to drink what comes out of the tap almost everywhere in the province. Around 732 litres of the purest drinking water gush every second from the Blue Spring in Erl near Kufstein – one of Tirol’s best-known natural heritage sites. There are numerous mountain springs in the mountains themselves that serve as natural water sources. But that’s not all: in addition to drinking water, Tirol’s water is used in a myriad of other ways, for example, to create energy.
The fact that Tirol enjoys an abundance of water is also reflected in its natural surroundings: 600 lakes, ponds and pools can be found in the heart of the Alps, almost all of them with drinking water quality. There are also spectacular waterfalls, gorges and canyons, as well as Kneipp facilities and healing springs. Opportunities to get closer to the element of water on a holiday abound. Here, an overview:
Excellent bathing lakes
What could be better on a hot summer’s day than a refreshing cool dip? 29 bathing lakes in Tirol entice with their inviting waters, the quality of which is comparable to drinking water. A fact confirmed by Tirolean bathing lakes water quality, which has been subject to regular and rigorous assessment since 1992.
Although lakes in the province share the same excellent quality, they differ in terms of temperature. For example, the marshy Schwarzsee in Kitzbühel is a balmy 27 degrees in the summer months, whereas the water temperature of Lake Achensee, Tirol’s largest lake, rarely rises above 18 degrees. Nestled betwixt the peaks of the Karwendel and Rofan mountains, this “Tirolean Ocean” is a sailing and surfing paradise and, with shallow bays and child-friendly facilities, also ideal for families.
Lake Piburger See in Ötztal is not only a popular bathing lake, it is also known for its abundance of fish and is well suited for angling. The Lottensee and Wildmoossee lakes on the Seefelder Plateau, however, are a true natural phenomenon. As aperiodic lakes, they only appear every few years, so anyone who witnesses the lakes for themselves can count themselves lucky. It is not only bathing enthusiasts and water sports fans who are well catered for in Tirol. Divers also find excellent conditions, for example at Lake Blindsee in the Tirolean Zugspitz Arena. Even in Osttirol, guests can sample the delights of lake swimming at Lake Tristacher See.
More information on Tirol’s bathing lakes can be found at www.tyrol.com/swimming.
In addition to bathing lakes, Tirol’s waterfalls are also a popular day trip destination on hot summer days. Not only are they a spectacular sight, visiting them can often be combined with a scenic hike.
Grawa Waterfall in Stubaital is the widest waterfall in the Eastern Alps, spanning no less than 85 metres. The water, which cascades down a whopping drop of 180 metres, is not only an impressive natural spectacle: studies have shown that a visit to the viewing platforms and spending time in the associated mist can even alleviate symptoms of asthma and allergies. The “open air spectacle” with comfortable wooden loungers at the foot of the waterfall is also the ideal starting and finishing point for a leisurely hike along the “WildeWasserWeg – Wild Water Trail”.
The 159-metre-high Stuibenfall Waterfall near Umhausen in the Ötztal valley is no less spectacular. It is the largest waterfall in Tirol and well developed and easily accessible via an established hiking trail. This leads over 700 steps and an 80-metre suspension bridge, past five viewing platforms and the thundering waters to the starting point of the waterfall in Niederthai. The family-friendly via ferrata along the waterfall also enjoys great popularity.
More information on Tirol’s waterfalls can be found at www.tyrol.com/waterfalls.
A hike to one of the many Tirolean mountain lakes is the perfect choice for those who like to combine being active with refreshing entertainment. Depending on personal preference, you can choose between a short, family-friendly hike or a challenging tour encompassing some 1,500 metres in elevation difference. One recommended hiking destination for families, for example, is the idyllically situated Lake Obernberger See in the Wipptal Valley, whose water flows underground. But no matter where you go in Tirol: hikers can look forward to idyllic waters in an impressive mountain setting. Tips for hikes to mountain lakes can be found at www.tyrol.com/hikes-to-mountain-lakes.
Those wanting to embark on a multi-day waterside tour, can sample the delights for example of the Isel Trail in Osttirol, or the Lech River Trail in Tirol’s Lech Valley. The first leads along 76 kilometres of one of the last free-flowing glacial rivers in the Alps from its estuary to its source. The second follows one of the last wild river landscapes in Europe, the Lech, for 125 kilometres from its source close to Lake Formarinsee to the Allgäu region in Germany.
As both long-distance trails do not involve any major technical challenges, they are also easy to negotiate with children. However, those who prefer one-day family hikes and excursions to mountain lakes and gorges will find what they are looking for at www.tyrol.com/family-walks.
Gorges and canyons
Hikes to Tirol’s most beautiful gorges and canyons are also well suited for families. They were formed over time immemorial, as water cleaved its way from the mountain down to the valley. Nowadays, these mystical places of natural beauty are particularly popular day trip destinations on hot summer days and well accessible – thanks to an array of manmade walkways and steps. Ranging from Schanner Gorge on the Arlberg to Tiefenbach Gorge in the Tirolean Lowlands and Galitzen Gorge in Osttirol, these popular day trip destinations can be found all over Tirol.
More information on Tirol’s gorges and canyons can be found at www.tyrol.com/gorges-canyons.
Kneipp facilities and healing springs
It is a long-established fact that water also possesses healing properties. Tirol therefore offers perfect conditions for treatments and therapies in the wellness and health sector. In addition to numerous Kneipp facilities, which are often located directly in town centres or along hiking and cycling routes, there are numerous healing springs with proven benefits – for example the waters at Längenfeld Thermal Spring, which soothes rheumatic disease and symptoms of degeneration, as well as healing injuries. Guests can enjoy the beneficial thermal water in the popular Aqua Dome spa. A comprehensive range of therapies from the Bad Häring sulphur spring is available in the eponymous resort and spa centre, while guests can also find certified healing water to drink at several healing springs and public fountains in Tirol.
More information on Tirol’s healing wells and springs can be found at www.tyrol.com/blog/b-recommendations/the-ways-of-water-in-tirol-healing-wells-and-springs.
Themed hikes and nature parks
Many Tirolean regions are highly conscious of their precious water resources and make them accessible to guests on various themed trails and hikes. The Umbal Waterfall Trail, Tux Water World and WildeWasserWeg – WhiteWaterTrail in the Stubai Valley are all rewarding hikes. There are also numerous family-friendly options for discovering the element of water in the form of Hexenwasser Söll, the Lanser See buggy-friendly walk or Nature’s Ice Palace on the Hintertux Glacier. Hikes and excursions to the lakes, rivers and themed trails in the Tirolean nature parks and Hohe Tauern National Park are especially nature-oriented and authentic: www.tyrol.com/nature-parks
Further information on summer in Tirol as well as hikes and excursion destinations focusing on the element of water can be found at www.tyrol.com/summer-holidays.