There are few requirements, we aim for in our family holidays:
1. Let it be active. We have three young boys. If there isn’t some energy-expending outlet then one of them might not make it home.
2. Let it be beautiful. Europe is filled with outstanding nature, glorious cities, and world-famous historical sites. This one should be easy.
3. Let it be memory making. Parents, you literally have a handful of years for dedicated family time - make them good.
Luckily the Ötztal Valley, Tyrol, Austria meets all the above and surpassed our wildest expectations. With so much to see, taste and experience- all anyone can do upon arrival is… explore.
Explore by foot:
The mountains aren’t only for the winter holidays. With 1600 km of hiking trails, walking paths and 850 km of mountain bike trails, the lush green Alpine scenery is a perfect destination to escape hot, dry summers. Experience the nature as you stroll through peaceful meadows, refreshing forest trails, and ascend picturesque peaks.
After several hours, give your tired bones a rest. Depending on your destination, you will be rewarded not only by spectacular views but also fantastic cafes or restaurants. Two of our favorites were:
Restaurant Tirolerstube: Traditional Tyrolean dishes as well as savoury and sweet dumpling variations.
Restaurant Gampe Thaya: Owned by the Prantl Family. Tasty, memorable dishes made from fresh ingredients. All products are sourced from surrounding local farms. Look forward to fresh salads, hardy potato dishes and you can’t leave without trying the local favorite dessert Kaiserchmarren (a sweet omelet served with apple and cranberry sauces).
Explore by water:
Crystal lakes, a gushing waterfall and a hot thermal spa means there is no shortage of spectacular spots to get wet. We loved the Stuiben Waterfall and Lake Piburg.
Another option is to bathe in the warm waters of the Agua Dome, Tyrol’s first thermal spa resort and the region’s biggest water world.
13 pools, which reach up to 36 degrees Celsius, provide a little slice of heaven for day trippers and hotel visitors, especially after sore, sports-strained muscles have set in.
Kid’s aren’t left out of paradise either and can enjoy the water fun at Alpen Arche Noah which includes a pool, funnel slides plus a play area.
Explore to the extreme:
Adrenaline junkies beware - you have met your match. Area 47 is an extremist Disneyland.
Located in Ötztal-Bahnhof, this adventure lover’s playground includes a 20,000 m2 swimming lake, wakeboarding, high ropes course (the world’s highest), rafting, canyoning, caving, climbing, blobbing, canon ball launch and a free slide where daredevils can reach up to 80km/h.
Rent a Go-Pro onsite and make your own adventure/ thriller movie to prove to your friends that you actually did this stuff!
The family favorite was the kid’s white-water rafting. We set off on turbulent waters to battle our way downstream in one piece. Thank you, Huw for being the best guide we could ask for. Huw was so entertaining that we came back again the next day for another round.
Many activities require kids to be at least 12 years old. So, you can be sure we will come back for more heart stopping fun in the future.
Feeling hungry? All those sports are sure to work up an appetite which is why Area 47 has two outstanding restaurants on site. Sit on the deck of the Lakeside Restaurant and have your lunch while watching eager participants blob into the nearby lake- depending on their landing, this can be a very entertaining way to pass your afternoon or head to the River Haus Bar & Grill and event location where great food, cold drinks, and entertaining shows await.
Regarded as one of Europe’s top ski resort locations, during the summer months Sölden still commands a fun and entertaining spirit.
Once again, we chose the Das Central @dascentral_soelden. to accommodate our family. Known for its picturesque setting and overwhelming hospitality, this was a no brainer. But don’t take our word for it. Upon arrival, you’ll clearly see how this 5- star luxury hotel not only knows how to spoil the parents but also their kids too.
Beautifully decorated with spacious rooms overlooking breathtaking mountain ranges, indoor and spa area, bar and lounge area and fantastic outside terraces, the Das Central is a vacation within a vacation. Parents can truly decompress and relax while they soak up the inviting atmosphere.
And don’t worry about the kiddos. They won’t even know you’re there. The Kids Club, which includes daytime and evening activities will have them fully entertained. Kids can choose from hiking, biking, art projects, games and so much more each and every day. The club also hosts special education themes each week. We were there during science week and our 9-year-old ended up teaching us a thing or two!
Another star feature of the Das Hotel is its half board option which serves an exquisite morning buffet including omelette station, fresh juices and an array of healthy and yummy options to start your family’s day off right. In the evening, unwind, and get pampered with an ever-changing 3 course meal prepared by top chefs plus a fabulous wine selection.
Super tip: Stay overnight in one of 300 partner accommodations (including Das Central) and receive the Ötztal Premium Card which gives you access to free actives including Gondola rides, the Agua Dome, entrance to Area 47’s water area, and standard bike rentals. This is a major compared with other family vacation locations and one that you should definitely keep in mind when booking.
Explore Up High:
Did you know that the latest James Bond film Spectre was filmed amongst the snow cap peaks of Sölden? To mark the location, there’s a a newly constructed James Bond cinematic installation at the peak of the Gaislachkogel (3.050) called
007 Elements. The exhibit takes you on a journey through a series of galleries, each distilling a signature element that defines James Bond films.
Don’t forget to end your adventure at the Ice Q restaurant, also a central point of the film. Here you can channel your inner secret agent by dining 5-star style thanks to head chef Klaus Holzer and sipping on cocktails all the while enjoying the spectacular panoramic views of the mountain peaks. Artfully crafted food is paired with the legendary PINO 3000 to give you a top gourmet experience.
There are several reasons to take the Gondola up the mountain and one great reason to skip it on the way down… go downhill mountain biking instead.
Our family took a Bike Taster Course with Bike Republic Sölden down the twisty and narrow bike paths, through trees, over tiny streams and avoiding rocks. It’s an adrenaline sport that will have you gripping the handle bars and smiling ear to ear the whole way down.