Kitzbuhel – something of a sheep in wolf’s clothing because of its feared hahnenkamm downhill. But the rest of the skiing is fairly benevolent and its town centre is gorgeous.
The medieval walled town of Kitzbühel forms the centre of what is probably the most charming and beguiling ski town in the world. Quite simply nowhere else on the planet can match it for a sense of history and tradition. Among ski racing fans Kitzbuhel is world famous as the home of the classic Hahnenkamm Downhill course on which the World Cup Men’s Downhill is held each January.
Most of the centre is now more-or-less car-free. The main streets are lined with hotels, shops, restaurants, bars and cafes, some of which have been standing for centuries and others that have just been made to look as though they have. When there is snow on the ground the old town can be especially enchanting at night when it assumes a real fairy-tale image.
From some locations it is necessary to take a shuttle bus to the bottom lift stations on either side of the town.
There have been significant improvements in Kitzbuhel's infrastructure in recent years and many old lifts have finally been replaced by more up-to-date ones. The 30-person gondola link between Pengelstein and Wurzhohe was a big development for 2004/2005 and 2005/2006 saw a high-speed eight-person gondola running from Aschau to Gampen link Kitzbuhel's ski area with that of Westendorf.
Finally, charming though the small town centre is, it must be remembered that Kitzbuhel is not a typical little Tyrolean village, but rather a valley town with all the facilities and occasional frustrations one would expect.