Kitzbuhel in the rain – Best rainy day options for travelers
Thrilled for months about traveling to the Austrian Alps of Kitzbuhel, we dreamed of long days on high mountains, hiking between huts, lounging in the sun, and taking in big views with blue skies and puffy white clouds. A cold brew on the deck of a hut with mountains for miles. Sigh…we didn’t expect Kitzbuhel in the rain.
As we know all too well, often dreams don’t match reality when planning vacations in high mountains.
We ended up in Kitzbuhel (spelled Kitzbühel in Austrian or the proper English spelling “Kitzbuehel”) for five nights in mid-summer with unstable weather, including downpours and heavy fog. Not ones to just mope around, we pulled on rain gear and headed out anyway. Still, sometimes you just get dang tired of being wet. The trick is finding rainy day activities in the alps or other high-mountain regions in advance of your travels.
We arrived on a spectacular evening in Kitzbuhel. And we departed on a gorgeous blue-sky morning. Too bad the days in between were a tad damp. What to do? The challenge was in discovering attractions for rainy days that towns such as Kitzbuhel, that put such a high value on outdoor activities, don’t typically call out in tourist brochures or on maps. And we don’t mean shopping or sitting in a café hunched over your computer.
Here are a few mountain activities we found were perfect rainy day options in Kitzbuhel. Certainly, the general topic for each of these – churches, museums, etc. — can be extrapolated to other mountain towns for rainy day activities! And many of these aren’t just for rainy days either.
Churches – Especially in Europe, churches are always worth a visit. In Kitzbuhel, there are numerous churches dating back to about the 13th century, with several grouped right at the edge of town with great views to boot: Pfarrkirche Zum Heiligen Andreas (“Parish church”), Liebfrauenkirche (“Church of our Lady”), and Spitalskirche (“Hospital Church”). All are worth a look as an attraction for rainy days. Even with raindrops, take a gander through the cemetery, and around the Totenleuchte (Lanterns of the Dead), a stone tower where a light at night showed the way to the cemetery.
City Museum – We admit, often, when it’s beautiful outside, we don’t visit local museums. With the rain, it seemed an ideal time to make that happen. And we were so glad. In the Kitzbuhel Town Museum, you not only learn about the history of the town, but also its long and storied history of Alpine skiing. In addition, there is an outstanding exhibit of works by local expressionist and architect Alfons Walde. What a wonderful rainy day activity!
Rasmushof – Although now a legendary restaurant and hotel in town, inside the Kitzbuheler classic Rasmushof is a treasure of historical artifacts – partly because owner Signe Reisch’s great-grandfather Franz Reisch was the first person to ski down the Kitzbuheler Horn in 1893 – transforming the tiny village into a skiing mecca. Not only is Rasmushof a delightful place to have a meal or a coffee with its rustic setting, but if you look around a bit you’ll find a veritable museum: There are old ski artifacts, as well as “décor” that is so much more with old newspapers, photos and postcards of Kitzbuhel and its ski heritage. It is in fact smack at the finish line of the famous Streif downhill race, but you better book a year or more in advance to snag a room during the race! For a summer activity in Kitzbuhel in the rain, take a walk to the Rasmushof just a few minutes from the center of town.
Shops – But we don’t mean shopping, we mean touring a couple of traditional shops (although if your wallet is thick enough you may melt and make a few purchases). One is the Schuhhaus Haderer in the old town, where some of the finest shoes in the world are handmade in traditional style overseen by Herbert Haderer himself for decades. No website needed. But find him in the heart of town. The other is the Frauenschuh shop displaying spectacularly classy yet functional apparel from the Kitzbuhel original. Take some time to enjoy the goods displayed in the store. Don’t blame us if you succumb to some amazing goods at either shop.
You may also want to read The real Kitzbuhel Austria: Visit Kitzbuhel through the eyes of locals
Farmhouse Museum (Bauernhausmuseum) – Although about 1.5 miles from town, this adorable farmer’s house is worth a short visit. If you don’t have a car to not get soaked in the rain, the walk along a narrow country lane is protected by trees so you won’t get soaked. Plus, it’s paved. The museum itself is quaint, not fancy, not overly polished, and filled upstairs and downstairs with artifacts from the life of a farmer over the last few hundred years. Kitchen, smokehouse, farmhand’s bedrooms, tool sheds, animal barns, etc., you could easily spend an hour or so here poking around through the rooms. Although the signage is only in German, an audio guide is downloadable and in excellent English and other languages (although you’ll miss out on the elderly host’s personal stories!).
Copper mine (Kupferplatte demo mine) – After being shut down in 1926 due to the economic downturn, the “Copper Plate” mine reopened is maze of tunnels as a tourist attraction in 1990. Today, it takes visitors on small mining trains into shafts and tunnels where guides explain how copper was mined, its history, about the equipment used, and what the maintenance of tunnels required. It is in an area about 5 miles from Kitzbuhel town center, but there are buses, taxis and shuttles. This is a mountain activity in the rain that takes you INSIDE rather than up on the mountain!
Don’t forget that on a rainy day in the mountains above Kitzbuhel, the cable cars and gondolas will still usually be running. So head up to a high-mountain restaurant or hut where the views will be a lot nicer than the four walls of your hotel. But be sure to pack along any walking or hiking gear because you never know: The way mountain weather goes, you may get lucky and the clouds will part so you still enjoy that great hike with views forever.
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