Innsbruck, the ‘capital’ of west Austria, is nestled between mountains and ski slopes that give its locals amazing views every day of the year. It’s therefore no surprise that so many roads surrounding the city offer amazing trips whether by car, motorcycle or bicycle.
This classic yet challenging tour goes from Innsbruck to Kühtai and include ascents into the mountains that require both strength and endurance. Along the way, you’ll be rewarded with fantastic panoramas, rapid descents and idyllic villages.
The route begins on the tarmaced Innradweg in Innsbruck itself and from there heads west. After the airport continue along the highway on the northern banks of the Inn towards Telfs, after which it’s across the river in a southerly direction towards Ötztaler Höhe. Turn right at the roundabout and then head towards Ötz, from where the challenging ascent to the highest point in Kühtai begins, passing through Ötzerau and Ochsengarten. The steepest section contains a gradient of 18% that has to be conquered and Kühtai itself is a peaceful place in summer with a few restaurants offering their fare. From this point the route then veers downhill towards Kematen, along a quiet road, although other road users will need to be respected. The route then flattens out from Kematen to your return destination of Innsbruck, for which we recommend leaving the highway at Zirl to join the Innradweg.
Day trips departing from Innsbruck
1. Visit the Kaunertal Glacier Road, a route that will take you to the glacier at up to 2,700m and for which a round trip is 240km. The Kaunertal Glacier Road is a real highlight for road bikers and one of the most spectacular climbs anywhere in the Alps. From the village of Prutz it winds its way through 29 corners and up 1,900 vertical metres to a peak altitude of 2,750m. It has featured several times in the Tour of Austria and also hosts the annual “Kaunertaler Gletscherkaiser” race for the fastest rider from bottom to top.
2. Visit the Ötztal Glacier Road, a 13.5 kilometre stretch that has an average gradient of 10.5% and leads to the highest point in Austria accessible by road bike – 2,829 metres above sea level. Built in 1972, the road is a challenge for even the fittest of riders and starts out from the village of Sölden before going through the spectacular Rettenbachtal Valley and up to the glacier ski resorts at the end of the Ötztal Valley. After 14.5 kilometres and after passing through the Rosi-Mittermeier-Tunnel, the highest tunnel in the Alps, riders reach the Rettenbachferner and Tiefenbachferner glaciers. The total trip is 180km.
3. Make your own Ötztal Cycle Marathon. At 238km in length and with altitude differences of 5,500m, the Ötztal Cycle Marathon is the most revered marathon amongst road cyclists: it is, quite simply put, legendary. However, if you split the distance into two full days of cycling, you can savour an intense, yet more enjoyable experience of all of the high points of the “Ötztal” Tour, such as Kühtai, the highest intra-Italian mountain pass and, of course, Austria’s highest pass itself, the Timmelsjoch. The trip includes four mountain passes and in total is 240km long.