The Ötz Valley, or the Ötztal, opens up at its northern end near the town of Sautens, just off the A12 Autobahn, and finally peters out at Obergurgl some 41 slow-driving km south. The region’s young, energetic clientele comes to climb, ski, hike, and bike – and there’s plenty of opportunity for all. Skiers come year-round to the glacial slopes, climbers head up the Klettersteig wall near Langenfeld, and mountain bikers take to a magnificent trail running 80 km along the length of the valley.
Although several stops along the Ötztal road merit year-round tourist attention, the favored winter bases here are Sölden – the region’s largest, loudest, rowdiest resort – and Obergurgl, at valley’s end, a quiet little hamlet with a life all its own.
First, moving south from the northern mouth of the Ötztal, stop at Umhausen. The Tyrol region’s largest waterfalls, the Stuibenfalls, rise 150 m in height and are less than an hour’s hike east of town. Nearby, the new Ötzi Dorf open-air museum takes you for an archeological stroll through the Stone Age. Several huts demonstrate long-dead methods of handicraft, fishing gear, and baking techniques; a herd of farm animals (alive and well) entertains kids; and much is made, of course, of Ötzi, the valley’s favorite prehistoric son.
Farther up the valley at Langenfeld, the Ötztaler Heimat-und Freilichtmuseum shows off historical buildings, tools, and traditions from a more recent age.
More popular with kids is the nearby Ötztaler Fun Park, a climbing, jumping, swinging, skating kind of place – a playground paradise.
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