Kufstein is the second largest town in Tyrol after the capital of Innsbruck and has a population of just over 18,000. The town itself lies on the river Inn and is surrounded by the Northern Limestone Alps and edges onto the Bavarian Alpine Foreland.
Settlements and human presence has been dated as far back as the Stone Age, and also traces of the Roman Empire have been found. In later history, Kufstein saw many different rulers owing to its important position and the large fortress that remains an important part of the town’s culture today.
With a traditional Austrian feel and such beautiful streets as the Romerhofgasse, coupled together with the multitude of outdoor activities, Kufstein is a true tourist gem.
Let’s explore the best things to do in Kufstein:
1. Kufstein Fortress
This imposing hillside fortress is without a doubt the most visited attraction in Kufstein and it is easy to see why.
Looming over the small town, the castle is hard to miss and has been an important site in the region of Tyrol for hundreds of years.
Conquered by the Emperor Maximillian II in the 1500’s the fortress saw much expansion with the inclusion of its outer walls and the huge iconic round tower.
The amazing location of the castle, its outstanding design and striking white walls, plus the views it offers over Kufstein make it a brilliant tourist attraction.
Inside the castle is a museum and the fabled open air organ which earns a slot in this article in its own right.
2. Totenkirchl Mountain
There is many climbing and hiking opportunities around Kufstein owing to the array of mountain ranges that dominate the landscape.
The Totenkirchl Mountain is one of these grand places and is possibly the finest rock climbing area in Austria, featuring over 50 different UIAA grade climbing routes.
The impressive limestone chimneys and epic rocky mountain scenery provide a stunning backdrop for climbers.
Start your adventure at the Stripsenjoch Haus which serves as the starting point for most routes and challenge yourself to one of the most rewarding climbs you will endure!
3. Kaiser Mountains
Part of the Northern Limestone Alps, the Kaiser Mountain range is one of the most impressive and visually stunning in Austria.
The whole range is located in the Tyrol region and is split into two main sections – The Zahmer Kaiser and The Wilder Kaiser.
The characteristic limestone rock and alpine forests that make up the mountain range create some amazing areas of natural beauty and make the Kaiser a spellbinding place to hike and climb in.
There are many different peaks, routes and paths to traverse in the range and you can see some fantastic sights like the secluded Hintersteinerse.
This area is truly a hikers dream and you could spend weeks exploring the ranges and countryside.
There are certain memorable streets in the world that just grab your attention and make you feel like you are in an old film – The Romerhofgasse is one such street and is a mesmerizing place to walk through in central Kufstein.
The buildings have a certain magical feel almost like a nursey rhyme or fairy tale with overhanging arches, cobbled pavements, wrought iron railings and wooden beams – Simply take a walk down this street and take it all in, or go in one of the shops selling souvenirs.
Furthermore at night time the Romerhofgasse is lit up with a soft golden light and becomes even more dreamlike.
5. Listen to the open-air Organ in Kufstein Fortress
The Kufstein Fortress offers many memorable moments, one of which is the music from the one of a kind open-air Organ.
This monumental musical construction has 4948 pipes in total and the music that resonates from it can be heard throughout the town of Kufstein.
The organ is played daily at 12 noon and also 6pm in July and August.
As the world’s largest outdoor organ you have to listen to it to understand how beautiful and magical it sounds; simply listening to a clip on YouTube doesn’t convey the magnitude of the organ.
This small secluded lake is on the northern side of the river Inn approximately 15 minutes from the centre of Kufstein.
There are several parking bays on the main road for accessibility and then it takes a short walk through the woods to get to the lake.
The whole immediate area is surrounded by woodland and has many trails to hike through.
Pfrillsee itself is magical – The gorgeous ring of trees, the lush colours and the reflective low-lying water are a natural treasure and a perfect place to relax and be at one with your thoughts.
7. City Museum of Kufstein
Our final feature from the Kufstein Fortress complex is the City Museum of Kufstein and the Former Cell Wing in the Kaiserturm Tower.
Revamped in 1998 the museum features many detailed and visual displays of the history of the local area and the fortress.
Its exhibitions are quiet stimulating and give a great overview of what makes Kufstein such a special place.
8. Riedel Glas
Ever wondered how wind glasses are produced? Or wanted to watch the art of Glass Blowing? The Riedel Glas Company is a world-renowned wine glass produced and has partnered with such businesses as Lindt, Coca Cola and Celebrity Cruises.
At the companies factory in Kufstein you can have a detailed guided tour to see how they create their glass – This is a really interesting tour and gives you a remarkable insight into the craftsmanship that goes into each glass/decanter.
There is also a shop in the grounds and a restaurant where you can enjoy a glass of the regions famous wine.
9. Kaiser Maximilian Funicular
A fun part of visiting the Kufstein Fortress is the remarkable Kaiser Maximillian Funicular that takes you up to the top of the castle grounds.
This incredibly steep railway climbs up the side of the rock base that the castle resides on and travels through a grand archway opening up to the immense round tower.
The carriages only hold a few people at a time but the Funicular provides a memorable way to reach the impressive fortress and it should definitely be used at least once as opposed to walking up the accessible paths.
10. Mariastein Church
This charming snow-white church lies in the quaint village of Mariastein which is approximately 15 minutes’ drive from Kufstein town centre.
Built in the 14th century and the supposed site of a religious miracle, the chapel became an important pilgrimage site in the 18th century.
The different levels of the chapel are accessible by a series of 142 steps and parts of it are incorporated into the carved out rock face.
The interior has a unique character and contains different paintings and ornate altars, furthermore the small chapel windows give you fantastic views of the surrounding mountains.
11. St. Vitus Church
One of the main churches in Kufstein and nestled near the slope of the hill leading up to the Fortress, the St. Vitus Church was constructed in the 1400’s but has had other forms dating back further.
It has undergone restorations to bring back its former baroque style and retains its elegance and definition.
The interior has many columns and stained glass windows that let plenty of light in, and at the far end of the church is a large golden altar framed by marble columns and containing a relief of Christ.
The church is a nice place to enjoy some artwork and also fine religious architecture.
12. Tischofer cave
To try something different and experience a different part of nature other than forests and hiking routes, why not travel to the Tischofer Cave situated in the Kaisertal Valley? This enticing cave is located to the east side of Kufstein leading away from the Kaisertal road and is accessible on foot through some gorgeous forests.
Used as a weapons cache during the Napoleonic Wars, and also bearing remains of bears from the Stone Age, Tischofer has a vast history.
Enjoy the walk along the Kaisertal trail and see the beauty of this cave for yourself.
13. Egger Braeustueberl restaurant
Come for the local Egger Beer and stay for the excellent food and ambience! Located a short distance from the fortress hill, the Braeustueberl restaurant and bar is in a great position and is well known in Kufstein for its traditional comfort food, reasonable prices and friendly atmosphere.
You can enjoy a stein of the excellent Egger Beer and gouge on a tasty Bratwurst or a hearty Schnitzel, or even just a good old steak!
14. Hechtsee & Stimmersee
Two more stunning lakes which are both larger than Pfrillsee but equally as enticing and are both excellent natural places to explore.
Located in the same area as Pfrillsee on the northern side of the river Inn, both lakes are surrounded by forest and have walking paths to saunter through.
Hechtsee has a promenade and pier at the eastern shore and also a café with plenty of parking spaces.
Stimmersee is smaller in size but still offers plenty of hiking opportunities.
15. Try your hand at Skiing at one of the Kaiser resorts
Part of the Kaiser Mountain Range has an expansive Skiing network, which is one of the largest in Austria and offers many slopes of varying difficulty.
Some of the well-known Skiing resorts include Sudelfeld, Tirolina, Vorderthiersee and Unterberg which have a mix of family orientated facilities and more challenging slops for the experts.
Whatever your experience, the possibilities are endless so if you are in Kufstein in the winter months, it is worth checking out what Skiing packages are available