When you travel away from home, have you ever felt homesick? As much as I love experiencing new things, I miss home if I am away for a long time. Of course, the word “long” is subjective. For my mother especially, when she is away from home, of course, she misses her husband. Plus, her cows, my dogs, and our plantation is what she recalls. Hailing from small towns, both of our hearts belong to small towns. Hence we decided to snooze in the town of Kirchberg in Tirol, Austria.
Let me take you to a Tyrolean village, a bit away from tourists, where we will walk for kilometres together.
- What and Where is Kirchberg?
- Why Visit?
- How to get here
- Where to stay
- How many days to spend here?
- Things to do here
- In praise of “Doing Nothing”
Where is Kirchberg?
I (and everyone else) mention Kirchberg “In Tirol” because there is one more Kirchberg in Luxembourg. So while you book tickets or read more on Kirchberg, you must ask Google aunty specifically – Is it Kirchberg in Tirol you are looking for or Luxembourg?
Austria is divided into nine provinces. The Tirol region is home to the Austrian alps and dolomites. It is the alpine region at the meeting point of Austria, Switzerland and Italy. The alpine city of Innsbruck is Tirol’s capital. Kitzbuhel can be called as “skiing” capital of Tirol. Somewhere between these two giants, a hamlet of Kirchberg with approximately 5000 residents sits calmly.
What is Kirchberg in Tirol famous for?
In general small villages and hamlets is Tirol’s exemplary character. Several hamlets bedded into a rolling terrain surrounds Kirchberg. So Kirchberg is a hamlet within a hamlet. The rugged peaks on the horizon border the rolling meadows, along with smaller lakes dotting the land mass.
The fields you roll (if there are no cows) become the slope for skiers in winter. So, Kirchberg is a low-slope skiing town in winter and a surreal village for hiking in summer.
So how is Kirchberg different from the other Austrian Hamlets?
If only I had hiked in ten other Tyrolean hamlets, I could compare it with Kirchberg and tell you. But I know Kirchberg is special. A famous German poet called Tirol as –
“Here, finally, I have found a place of quiet – a place of peace the like of which I could have only wished for.”Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
As an ordinary tourist, I totally realised his words in Kirchberg.
Austria may not receive zillions of tourists like France, Italy and Switzerland. But there are always wanderers like us lurking in most parts of the country. With a very less actual Austrian population and large floating population travelling in Austria sometimes feels like a “phase of chasing.”
Hofburg, Mozarts, Archbishops, World wars, palaces, museums, lakes, summer slides and an infinite number of cafes – We had been seeing and experiencing a lot of Austria every day. But in Kirchberg, we could pause. Among its surrounding famous ski places like Kitzubuhel, Alpach and Innsbruck, Kirchberg isn’t the skiers’ primary choice. The same thing happens in summer too! So you can take things at the local’s pace and admit Goethe’s words.
I may not be a “Tirologist, but I know better than before clearly because I spent two days at Kirchberg.
How to get to Kirchberg in Tirol
The cheapest and fastest way to get to Kirchberg is by train. I booked Einfach-Raus-Ticket (Disocunt ticket) by paying 35 Euro for the two of us a day before departure from Salzburg. Railjet and OBB trains frequently run between Salzburg and Innsbruck, with a stop at Kirchberg. Because of the town’s small size, the railway station has just two platforms. So, there is nothing to get confused about or hard to find. The station has no office and no luggage locker. Only a ticket vending machine for spot booking is there.
Taxis should be your last choice because it is a rip-off! Innsbruck is 85km from Kirchberg. For which the cabs charge you more than 125 Euros!
How to get around Kirchberg?
Every registered guesthouse/pension/hotel in Kirchberg provides with Brixental guest card. This lets you take trains for free on the Kitzbühel Alps region lane. Furthermore, you can take your bicycles and pets on the trains throughout Austria.
Where to stay in Kirchberg in Tirol?
In this helmet, there is nothing to discuss neighbourhoods. There are modern hotels near Zentrum (the city centre). But I recommend staying in a traditional Tyrolean house within walking distance of the railway station.
Another good news is Kirchberg accommodation is the cheapest among all the places I stayed in Austria! Of course, the prices may be higher during winter. But, in general, it is cheaper in summer.
The tyrolean hotel I stayed in was why I ditched all my plans to enjoy the “Sweetness of doing nothing.”
The land hotel Lechner was perfectly cosy for that (This isn’t a paid post). With fewer guests, the hosts weren’t too busy. So I could talk to them and learn a lot about the pretty hamlet and its festival.
How many days to spend here?
Our host Barbara was surprisingly asked why we were staying just for a night in her hotel. People usually stay here for a minimum of three days!
If you are exploring the Tirol region with Kirchberg as the base, spend a minimum of three days. I spent a total of four nights in Tirol. Out of which I stayed 3 nights in Innsbruck.
Best time to visit Kirchberg in Tirol.
Winter is the best time to visit for skiing. But summers were equally awesome. Kirchberg never gets hot. But they were shocked to witness the highest temperature of all time, 32*C, in July 2022. Considering other regions of Austria, Kirchberg was the coolest during hot-hot summer.
Best things to do in Kirchberg in Tirol
Before coming to Kirchberg, I planned to do a few things over two days –
- Go to Alpine flower garden
- Visit Wilde kaiser cheese farm
- Hike on easy trails to lake Badesee or Hike to the Geographical midpoint of Kitzbuhler alpine in Aschau.
In Praise of doing Nothing
As mortals with a limited number of days to travel, I often plan things meticulously. It is not that I print an itinerary saying spend 2 hours in X and head to Z., But I jot down my preferences. It saves me a lot of time when there.
Travelling by myself teaches me a lot, and I prefer it that way. But sometimes, the pressure gets us. For example, the train delays (which never happened in Austria) or standing on the wrong road to catch the bus as we did in Saint Gilgen gets me tensed. These may become nice stories to tell you all later. But, at that moment, it is anxious.
Experience is what you gain from travelling.
When you do many things on holiday, it is satisfying. I feel- “I got the best out of my energy/money/time spent.” Though we say, “I travel for my own pleasure.”, there comes a pressure to show off our holidays. It may make us cram in as much as possible. The more I see and take photographs, the more ‘successful’ our holidays seem. With overpacked plans and a never-ending to-do list, we become addicted to ‘what’s next.
Once mom and I entered the hamlet of Kirchberg, things started to unfold.
When our host picked us up from the train station at Kirchberg, we could feel the host’s warmth. In general, Austria is laid back. However, Kirchberg was one step ahead in it. The conversation started in the car with Barbara, and she asked us why are staying just for a night in my hotel. Then I explained my plan of experiencing four days of Tirol from Innsbruck. She said I was one of the first guests staying at her hotel for only one night!
My mother is 58 and can’t keep walking 12km daily with her arthritis. And I needed to take a break from following google maps to check the bus timetable.
The roads and meadows hugged each other in Kirchberg.
The smell of dried hay was often combined with a cow dung smell en route! Some may call it gross. But as a Hindu from India, having cows at home, I know how much my mother loves cows. Then there were other nice things too – Pretty traditional wooden houses with lots of flowers. They were prettier than Saint Gilgen’s. We passed through a few small bars and cafes which looked cosy.
After entering our room with the prettiest view, I realised we had to take a step back and think deeply about what we were about to do in Kirchberg! To truly unwind, I needed to let go of itineraries. Mom looked so content sitting on that easy chair on the balcony while she munched on the Avalakki we had got it from home.
As a movie lover, I had heard of Italian saying ” “Dolce far Niente – Sweetness of doing nothing” a lot.
I had done this multiple times, too – At Chettinad, Mirissa and Firostefani. So I told my mother, let us forget everything and walk and try to find pretty cows and sexy horses as much as possible!
The place where I was staying was magically ideal for doing nothing.
We felt the hamlet breeze. Enjoyed the wonderful view of Tyrolean chalets and their flowers. Fleckalm and the Kitzbuheler Horn stood there majestically. Every time we say right “Mountains are calling” – But, this time they spoke – Take your time and relax! After eating too much Avalakki and catching up with family gossip, my mother said she heard the horses neigh. So we decided to leave and get our late afternoon dose of caffeine.
Barbara was busy preparing the guest cards on the ground floor. She smilingly handed over the Tirol region brochure to us. She expected me to ask where to rent the bicycles. Instead, I asked her where are the horses!
This is one of the best learning sessions in Kirchberg.
She said Tyroleans believe, ” Every hour spent on a horse saddle is gratifying.” So Kirchberg people take this seriously. Irrespective of gender, jockeys compete in horse races held in Germany and Austria whenever held. This leads to a series of events in Kirchberg.
“Antlassritt” in Tirol’s Kirchberg.
The “Antlassritt” festival takes place in Brizen valley. More than 50 horsemen from the village of Kirchberg and surrounding hamlets decorate their horses beautifully and go on a procession through the Brixen valley!
This event is traditional and has a history of more than 300 years! Both guests and locals enjoy the festival in the 1st half of June yearly!
Well, I arrived at Tirol’s Kirchberg almost 1.5 months late for the Antlassrtit festival!
When I grieved over this, she smilingly continued saying what other things I was missing in Kirchberg. I told her my initial plan was to visit alpine flower valley. So she described another event that mom and I would have loved!
Blumenkorso flower parade in Kirchberg
On August 2nd week, a huge number of cars get decorated with a surplus amount of flowers. And they drive through Kirchberg! Later in the day, live music and even night discos happen! OK – I was a month early to this festival in Kirchberg!
I didn’t want to know what more I would be missing. But the list continued!
Farmers festival – Almfest
The cattle left in alpine pastures are brought back to the meadows in town, usually in early August! The farmer’s family wears traditional attire to celebrate their herd’s arrival. The cows get decorated beautifully, and they go on a long walk through the valley to their owner’s meadow.
So this meant – We were missing one more local event, and we won’t even get to see the cows in the town now because they were in the mountains!
Usually, Almfest happens in early July. But due to rising temperatures, the cows are left in the higher altitude until July end now!
Partially disappointed but happy to be learnt something new, we sighed in relief. Barbara must have understood our state of mind and complimented my mother’s bright red salwar Kameez and asked about our customs. After explaining, what saree and salwar kameezes are, she said she would wear her classic dress, Drindl, the next day.
Tracing the cow dung smell
We headed out. Having our sweet time, mom touched as many plants as possible, wondering if we could grow the same thing at home. We admired Tyrolean garden sense and how they designed their home entranceways.
We rarely encountered any humans. The tourists were either in the mountains or in local cafes. Kirchbergians minded their own business in their lovely abodes.
Charming Chalets – Tyrolean houses
The wooden houses of the region dominate the rural landscape. Wood is readily available here and easy to handle. Barbara says hardly any professionals involve in building these traditional house. Instead, the farmer’s family makes these abodes with the help of their neighbourhoods – Ain’t this the charm of a small town?
Tyrolean houses are National Identity.
The modern Tyrolean houses are modified a bit to suit – We could see that. Some places didn’t have wooden panelling on the lower floor. Others were actually built totally of wood.
Wandering slowly, we saw horses grazing.
We settled on the raised sidewalk and watched them until sunset! We may have missed the festival, but we could see Kirchberg ladies brushing the horses and getting them ready to get inside the shed. A girl from that nearby wooden house came on her scooter to get the farm chicken inside. Finally, the three women closed their day of work and left home.
The little girl was curious – She looked at us with a faint smile. Then, after the two women talked to her something in German, she came to us with a broad smile.
Hi, hello, where are you from? Questions were asked and answered. We asked her about her school and how she is trained to look after chickens and horses! A 10 minutes chat ended, and she left for home. We walked uphill on the road with no humans but plenty of houses. The lights were on in the places, but we could hear zero sound.
The silence was so dense that it felt like an abandoned village!
We could hear the wind blow. Of course, the birds chirped happily with no interference. We walked back because mom felt she needed to be with some humans. The little girl was there at the same spot, looking for something! She was looking for us. When asked why she wanted to know about my mom’s nose piercing and the attire, this time, the conversation went on long. I hoped she would invite us to her beautiful, gran wooden tyrolean house so that I get a sneak-peak of Tyrolean home interiors too. The kid left again with a broad smile. And we continued to walk to the city centre, witnessing the sunrays changing mountain colours.
The beer with locals
What started as a walk to Badesee got halted at a charming town square. Unfortunately, most places in Kirchberg shut. A cosy local bar became our place for evening coffee. Definitely, we both stood out among the locals.
While we sipped coffee and had fried cheese, an old man came to us with his beer mug. He was a veteran of the Austrian airforce who visited India three decades ago. His questions revolved around how India has changed from what he had seen and what it is now. Like most other foreigners, he was shocked to know how we have progressed in IT and infrastructure.
The biggest challenge he posed in India was crossing the street and how an Indian policeman stood watching him struggling and never helped him! He even suggested who we should vote for in our next election. When I explained to him how Mahatma Gandhi Ji’s bloodline is not involved in Indian politics, he was surprised!
Enlightened by a foreigner on which leader we Indians must choose, we walked back to the room. This time, we took side lanes and ended up near a shed, only to see the cow dung processing place without cows.
The Traditional Tyrolean Dinner
In our hotel, Barbara made the most delicious meal in Austria, Kasespatzle, for us. That one bite took me to heaven! No wonder why Tyrolean cheese, AKA alpine cheese, is the most renowned cheese in Austria. The chef suggested we buy grey cheese from the supermarket the next day, and we even got names of certain.
The balcony called us again, and we laid back until late at night, discussing how complicated German windows are. And where to buy flower seeds!
The morning walk and Mpries
Visiting a supermarket where household items are sold tells you a lot about local life. Like small kids waiting for candies, mom and I stood outside Mpries even before they opened. Their outdoor cafe chairs felt like a place with landscape Vista. Once it opened, we grabbed many flower seeds and checked out multiple kinds of cheese.
The locals came and asked for the thinnest slices of sausage. I am a vegetarian, but watching the staff slice a big chunk into the slimmest portion was so satisfying. Some cheese, lots of flower seeds and some local herbs – We left Empries after almost an hour! Austria is running low on employees. If there were a lot of workers in Mpries, we would have spent more time bugging the ones who were free and bought more.
Healthy breakfast with the finest milk
The cheese, croissants, fruits and berries – Fresh, healthy and scrumptious describe that day’s breakfast. Wandering continued to digest the milk with many more shots of caffeine in a local restaurant.
And we spent the afternoon totally on the balcony chatting about how those tower cranes working are noiseless and when to plant the seeds back home. My baseless argument over why eating cheese doesn’t help you gain weight to convince my mom continued as the birds chirped and the sun hid behind the clouds.
That evening, while Barabara’s daughter dropped us to the railway station, she explained how much she loves that 1m deep snow in Kirchberg during winter. A hug and we left to Innsbruck.
Did I encourage you to praise the sweetness of doing nothing at Kirchberg in Tirol? Or are you going on an adventurous day out there? Let me know in the comment section below.