2 Exciting Reasons to Visit the Austrian Alps in Summer with Kids
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I love the movie “The Sound of Music”. The opening scenes where “Maria” is dancing around on an emerald green hill, with forest and mountains in the background, always give me a longing to travel to that part of Europe! So while road tripping through Austria and Germany, we wanted to take in the breathtaking beauty of the Austrian Alps in summer, first hand. What better way to do that, than to find really cool experiences that would take us up, up into the clouds!
Narrowing down the list of potential excursions to 2 was not an easy process, but we had time constraints to consider. In the end, we chose visiting Zugspitze in Tirol and riding the Alpine Coaster in Imst, Austria.
Zugspitze – Tirol
Visiting the Austrian Alps in summer, does not mean you can’t head up into the mountains for an adventure! And if you are going to climb only one mountain, why not make it the highest one! Zugspitze, at 9,718 feet, is the highest peak in Germany.
How to Get to Zugspitze
Located in the Bavarian Alps, Zugspitze is bordered by both Austria and Germany. However, on a nice clear day, you can also see both Switzerland and Italy from the peak!
If you are travelling from Germany, you can get to the base of the mountain by car or by train. For example, it takes approximately two hours to travel from Munich to Zugspitze by car.
By train, you’ll need to travel from Munich to Garmisch-Partenkirchen and then take the rack railway to Zugspitze from there. This trip will take approximately three hours, but trains from Munich to Garmisch run every hour.
Since we were travelling on the Austrian side of the border, through Tirol, we ascended by way of the Tiroler Zugspitzbahn Gondola. As it happens, it is both less expensive and less busy to get to the peak from the Austrian side. There is also plenty of free parking!
Tickets can be purchased at the base of the mountain, a short walk from the parking lot. If you purchase round-trip tickets for the Zugspitzbahn, as we had, the gondolas arrive every 20 minutes or so to take people up, and back down to the base.
At 45 Euros per round trip, it is well worth it for you to stay awhile, and take the time to explore all areas of the summit, including the various museum exhibits.
Riding the Zugspitzbahn
The kids really enjoyed riding the Zugspitzbahn! Each fully panoramic car holds 100 people. We only had a few others sharing the gondola with us during our ascent, so we had plenty of space to move around and take photos.
The 10-minute ride to the top was amazing! I found it hard to believe that we had actually ascended 1,725 meters in that time! The trip up is both smooth and at a good pace, so perfect for kids who may otherwise be nervous on rides.
The good-weather gods were not smiling down on us, however, so we did have some cloud cover. We still enjoyed some fantastic views, both on the ride up, and for a short time at the summit.
What Should You Wear?
Even in June, there was still snow at the peak. So you really do need to keep this in mind and dress appropriately. We layered up, so it was easy to make adjustments for how warm/cold we were feeling. We decided to wear long pants, sweaters, and jackets, which ended up being perfect.
You should also wear shoes that are appropriate for hiking or walking over uneven ground.
What to Do at the Summit
Once at the summit, there are 2 viewing areas, one for each country, which are connected by a passageway. You are able to move freely between the two sides, which is nice, as they both offer great photo ops.
You can also find restaurants, museums, and gift shops at the peak.
Unfortunately for us, we weren’t on the peak for long, before the cloud cover rolled in, and obscured our view. The ticket booth where we purchased our gondola passes actually warns you of bad weather conditions, but since we were only in Tirol for a day, we took our chances.
No worries though, we got some great photos before the clouds set in. Once our amazing views were obscured, we headed into the museum and browsed in the giftshops. Mr. Bump also located the pressed coin machines pretty fast!
The Snow Crystal Exhibit
Did you know that snowflakes change their shape depending on the temperature? This fascinating exhibit is all about the formation of snow! And considering how important snow is for tourism and winter sports in the area, this is the perfect location for this museum.
Fun Fact: there are only two other exhibitions in the world dedicated to snow crystals, one being in Japan and the other in the USA.
The only area we chose not to access during our visit to Zugspitze, was climbing to the “official Peak” marked by a gold cross. The path to this peak is much like a Via Ferrata, where you are climbing on chain ladders and walking across very narrow walkways.
More so because of the kids (who were 8 and 10 at the time), rather than the cloud cover, we decided against this short trek. Although the path is relatively safe to traverse, one wrong move could put you in a perilous position.
We really enjoyed our time at Zugspitze. We would definitely recommend visiting when the weather is ideal, as it is on the more expensive side for a family excursion. And definitely dress for the weather! It gets pretty breezy up there!
The Alpine Coaster – Imst
Our second adventure in the Austrian Alps in summer was the Alpine Coaster. At 3.5km of sheer excitement, the Alpine Coaster in Imst boasts itself to be the longest of its kind.
It takes about 10-12 minutes to ride from the summit station (with a 1500m altitude) to the base of the Alps (a 500m change in altitude), along a rail that curves, jumps and winds.
How to Get to Imst
An hour and a half from Zugspitze, in the town of Imst, the Alpine Coaster awaited! I’m not gonna lie. Between the road closures, construction and some really steep and narrow roads – and while driving a larger-than-compact manual shift vehicle – getting there was a little bit of a challenge. But OMG was it ever worth it!
Imst is a town in the Austrian federal state of Tyrol. It is located approximately 50 kilometres west of Innsbruck and is at an altitude of 828 meters above sea level.
You can reach Imst by car or by train from Innsbruck, in less than an hour.
Tickets for the coaster are purchased at the base of the mountain and are available in a variety of options. We purchased a Coaster + Lift single ride ticket for 13.90 Euros per adult and 10.50 Euros per child (7-15 years).
You could also purchase a 3-ride or 10-ride bundle, as well as not opting for the lift.
One look at the steep hill told me we did not have the time to hike to the top. And to be quite honest, I was pretty happy sitting in the lift, while enjoying the views on the way up.
After all, what better way to see the Austrian Alps in summer, than by ski lift! Lol.
What to Expect
Children ages 3-7 are allowed to ride the coaster but must be seated with an adult. Kids 8 and older can choose to ride alone. Kids 14 and older are allowed to have a passenger.
Mr. Bump was a little nervous, so he chose to ride with Miss Sunshine. Miss Somersault, Hubby and I all rode separately.
The coaster is fitted with a handbrake, so you can control how fast you want to go, provided there isn’t anyone in front of you. Our timing was perfect, as we had an open track to
speed ride safely down the mountain.
We all found the coaster easy enough to control. Even Mr. bump would have been ready to ride on his own, had we decided on a second trip down.
I think the most challenging sections of the ride for littles, would be the 450-degree corkscrew, or the sections where the track is actually lifted 10 meters above the ground.
My only regret was not having a Go-Pro to document the experience! Also, purchasing a 3-ride pass would definitely have been worth it… Hubby’s regret!
With restaurants, hiking trails and a children’s playground, we could have easily spent the day there. Definitely something to consider, if you are planning your own fabulous family adventure at the Alpine Coaster.
Final Thoughts on Visiting the Austrian Alps in Summer
Even though we crammed both activities into the same day, we didn’t feel rushed. Our family thoroughly enjoyed visiting the Austrian Alps in summer – both climbing to the highest peak and zipping down the fastest rail.
Are you daring enough to try the most awesome Mountain Coaster in the Alps??
These are perfect reasons to visit the Austrian Alps in the summer with kids…or even without! The mountain coaster looks especially fun!
WOW! This looks so beautiful! Great views to capture!
Wow! What an adventure!!! Thanks for sharing!
Wow-what a cool adventure! I bet the views at the peak are incredible. Too bad about the weather, but it looks like you got some good pictures regardless. I’m not sure if I’d be brave enough for the coaster… maybe I’ll get to find out one day!
I’d love to visit the Alps! The coaster looks so fun.
Those views of the mountains are beautiful. I don’t think I would come back down. It’s really awesome you are able to move back and forth between the two countries.
I’d love to visit the Austrian Alps at any time, but you do make summer sound perfect!
I love The Sound of Music, too! It’s a dream of mine to go to Salzburg and the Alps. Your adventures look amazing! I’d love to see the summit of Zugspitze one day. I’ll add it to my dream list!
I love The Sound of Music also! Love these reasons to visit the Austrian Alps with children.
I would love to visit this area. Maybe I will add it to our next trip.. we will have 4 kids so it might be a little pricey!
I love that the kids also had a good time! That coaster though!!! How fun!
Simply beautiful. Too bad you didn’t have clear weather for the entire trip.
I must admit that the idea of sending my kiddos on that coaster by themselves is a bit nerve-racking for me. But it seems like a once-in-a-lifetime experience so I would probably do it. Looks like a fun and beautiful place to visit!
This would be so fun! The coaster and the lift both look like a great time.
wow wow wow!!! Look at how GORGEOUS this is!
Your pictures are awesome! The coaster is so cool! I would definitely love to view the Alps the way you did in the cable car of sorts. The coaster add a fun and exhilarating element! Thanks for sharing!
What gorgeous views! We keep saying we’re going to do one of the mountain coasters that we have closer to home, but we haven’t tried it yet. Looks like we need to get on that!
This looks so amazing! I need to remember these ideas for later!
Looks so beautiful!
That looks like so much fun! It’s going on my list for when I visit!
By the smiles on your faces it looks like you had an amazing experience! I would love to visit one day!
Such beautiful sights! I’d love to spend a day in the Alps!
Ahhhh! This trip looks amazing! Thank you for sharing it with us! Very informative.
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