A remarkable village in the upper part of Austria, historically wealthy from the sale and production of salt, a valuable resource put the small village Hallstatt on the map in 1595. Salt production still plays a major role in the economy by attracting tourist from around the world to see the oldest pipeline in the world today. Its said that the pipeline was made using 13,000 hollowed out trees 400 years ago. Another aspect of the tiny village set at the edge of a giant mountain lake, is that in centuries past there was not much room for burials and the bodies of those passed would be exhumed every 10 years to make room for newly deceased. You can find the evidence of this in the old chapel near the village centre, where there is on display a collection of meticulously decorated skulls that have details of their owners etched on them.
At 975 m above sea level in the Western part of Austria, tucked away in the state of Tyrol lays hidden Alpbach. The quaint village that has a recorded history dating back to 1150 and known human settlement even before then near the year 1000. Being so isolated from the world, the village has uniquely designed architecture and furnishings that are well preserved, almost frozen in time so to say. Due to its minimal environmental footprint, the incredible village earned its title of having "the cleanest air in all of Austria" giving new meaning to a breath of fresh air. The incomparable architecture combined with the lovely mountain backdrop gives you a view that you have most likely never seen before. Now in these days the village is also host to two ski resorts that provide skiers and snowboarders with well-groomed runs ranging from beginner to intermediate without compromising the villages one of a kind splendour.
A small place holding true to old traditions that ward away the winter weather embraces its arrival now with ski resorts taking precedence. The village known as Fiss in Austria has a carnival every four years that only men can partake in (its a very old tradition) to ward off the winters snow, during which a tree trunk of pine is dragged through the village decorated. Its told that evil spirits do everything in their power to hinder the age old tradition. These days the village has made way for some modern theme parks and ski resorts. The ski resorts are first class; set on the villages surrounding mountains, overlooking the old farming village. The village started booming after a great fire in 1972 leaving the village desolate wiping out the farming industry. Today the village is home to a plethora of summer and winter activities, from paragliding to flying model airplanes.4. Going am Wilden Kaiser
Uniquely named Going am Wilden Kaiser, a village commonly referred to just as "Going" is a tourist destination filled catering to skiers. It is believed to be that in the early 16th century the village was predominantly a Celtic settlement that made its harvest from the mountains mining copper and silver. The deepest of the hand dug mine shafts extending as far as 800 meters down. Going as of date is now well known for its breath-taking landscape and seasonal activities. In winter the village is ideal for skiers looking for challenging slopes and during the summers it is perfect for those looking for stunning nature hikes, biking trails and postcard like scenes among other things. Going is one destination that holds true to its traditional style and hospitality. The spectacular open air bathing waters are idyllic of a picturesque Eden, where lush greenery and out of this world backdrops blend the unspoiled landscapes.
Resting on the calm easy waters of Lake Achensee, the largest lake in the Tyrol region is the small village of Pertisau. The village has almost 52 km of pistes for skiers of every calibre during the winter and world class ski resorts to house them as well. Adding to the solidarity of Pertisau is that there is no through traffic to the village, so crossing the street is always a safe venture. The picturesque village is located in the Karwendel Alpine Park, one of the oldest, cross-border, protected areas of the Eastern Alps. The village church is actually the work of the brilliant Austrian architect Clemons Holzmeiser. Pertisau is also the location of the Fürstenhaus, a countryside residence of Emperor Maximillion I of Austria. Pertisau is truly a one of a kind village in Austria that earns its following of visitors being one of the most beautiful villages in the countryside.6. Ellmau
Located just below the extraordinary Wilder Kaiser lays the quaint VIP village of Ellmau. The cozy little village is perfect for skiers and snowboarders alike being that the ski runs lead directly to the village centre. Amazing architecture comes in many forms in Ellmau along a few uniquely designed fountains throughout the village. Ellmaus fountains are actually built with natural flowing spring water that you can drink without worries, the water is actually better than any mineral water you can buy. All the amazing views and stunning mountain backdrops compliment the wondrous little towns green pastures. Hospitality and friendly songs fill their air as the locals welcome you to their piece of paradise in Ellmau. The friendly rural atmosphere itself can define your whole stay. Traditional area cuisines can be found in small family owned restaurants, where you are sure to find a taste like no other. A trip to Ellmau is always an original one.7. Tulfes
Tulfes is a magical town set at the top of the Glungezer Mountain, 2,677 m above sea level. The towns name is derived from the Latin "Tellovo" meaning cultivatable soil, which is very true of the rich soil. Tulfes has beautiful trails to hike in the summers and Glungezer Mountain gives you the opportunity to capture unlike any other postcard like photos. Tulfes is also home to the largest Swiss pine forests in the Alps. The quintessential village is a top destination for skiers and nature enthusiasts, having well groomed runs in the winter and natural landscapes that are to die for in the summer months. In the village centre there is a naturally designed and decorated sauna, complete with solarium and a boutique massage parlour to top it all off. Tulfes is a place to relax your body, free your mind and get in touch with your calmer side.8. Hintertux
Highest up in the Tux Valley of Tyrol is a really magical village at the base of the Hintertux Glacier and actually the name of the town is Hintertux too. The quiet little gem of a town is surrounded by giant glaciers and mountains. The town actually consists of hotels, guest homes and farmhouses that are scattered about. Having a hot soak in the town is a unique experience; Hintertux has the highest thermal baths in Europe having many different mineral springs. Just South of Hintertux near the Spannagelhaus, which is a tourist information centre with a lot of history, lies the Spannagel Cave, which is over 10 km in length. The cave is the largest natural cave in the Austrian Central Alps and because the cave is under preservation it may only be visited as part of a guided tour offered by the Spannagelhaus. Its definitely a marvel of the area.9. Gnadenwald
Just a stones throw away from Innsbruck in Tyrol is a remarkably landscaped village named Gnadenwald. With sprawling open pastures and beautifully Mother Nature decorated forest surroundings its the perfect place for a soul releasing getaway. Some of the sites adding to the uniqueness of Gnadenwald are the four old age powder mills and an intriguing marble quarry. The village is also birthplace to a famous Tyrolean freedom fighter in 1767; his history can be found in the town. Aside from hiking the town is filled with numerous activities mainly outdoors, such as skiing in the winter and hang-gliding in the summer, you can find classes for either in the town. Another great spectacle adding to Gnadenwalds originality is the Saint Michael Parish Church, which was actually built in 1337. The style has changed a bit as it was converted to more of a Baroque style in the 18th century.10. Heinfels
Having views reminiscent of fantasy movies Heinfels is an amazingly stunning village located at the outlet of the Villgratental valley. The name of the village was actually derived from the castle that overlooks Heinfels. The massive castle that keeps a watch on the village was actually constructed in part by the Huns and was formerly known as "Hunnenfels" in past centuries. The western part of the giant castle was added on in 1500 AD and is set slightly below the rest of the castle structures. There is actually a legend that there is a secret hidden treasure below the castle, where the tavern Heinfels rests. There is a subterranean tunnel leading to the castle, its said that if you enter the tunnel alone on a full moon night that two dogs with red eyes will deliver you a set of keys to open an iron gate that holds behind it the treasure.