Hochpustertal which lies on the south side of East Tyrol is often described as the garden of the Dolomites. Hochpustertal is a region full with lush green fields, blooming flowers and crystal clear lakes – typical post card scenery. With virtually unlimited possibilities for families, from alpine roller coasters to a small zoo, you can be sure you’ll have plenty to see and do. Another insider tip is the area known as Villgratental – unspoilt nature and traditional charm like nowhere else.
Whoever has been cross country skiing in Hochpustertal will rave about it for a long time. A total of 120km or prepared cross country routes make this a real gem. There are also natural places of interest including the Pragser Wildsee located to the south of Hochpustertal. In Toblach there is an annual International World Cup race over 120km to test the best cross-country skiers in the world.
Hochpustertal is a region full of customs and traditions. Century old traditions such as handwork and hat makers are still practiced today. Here it is strikingly apparent how connected the inhabitants still are with their history.
Hochpustertal also has something to offer culturally. The artist Gustave Mahler makes the setting of his summer festival in Hochpustertal. The festival is now a fixed event taking place every year in July. Festival highlights include a concert in Toblach as well as the Alta Pusteria International Choir Festival.
The Pustertaler high road is situated in one of the nicest alpine regions in Austria with impressive views regardless whether you are travelling by car, bicycle or motorbike.
Through its south side location adjacent to the Drau Valley, it can be described as a sunny terrace and offers excellent opportunities for leisure as well as being a favourite area for mountain bikers.
Animal lovers must certainly pay a visit to the animal park in Assling. This small zoo is the home to over 100 animals native to the region and includes marmots, racoons, wild pigs and snakes. Small animals such as rabbits, goats and sheep can be stroked and touched by children and an adventure playground and summer toboggan run make this an ideal family stop.
The Villgraten Valley, one of the northern valleys of the Hochpustertal region, at first seems to be nothing more than a sleeping backwater. But tourists exploring the area will soon realise that this hidden gem is a favourite with active holiday makers such as touring skiers, cross country skiers, hikers and climbers all of whom find the leisure and free time options, away from the mass tourism, a huge attraction.
When you drive in summer from Ausservillgraten to Innervillgraten, you drive through landscape likened to a painter’s masterpiece – green fields, thick forests, herds of sheep and cows and every now and again a farmhouse clutching to the side of a hill, which incidentally have gradients of up to 70%. Mass tourism here does not exist. The Villgraten Valley is the only valley in Tyrol that doesn’t have to this day a ski lift, hotel or holiday homes. Insiders who come to this region enjoy the idyllic countryside and nature along with the friendly locals.
In the village of Innervillgraten there is a 12km cross country track and for families there is a natural toboggan track. In Innervillgraten you will also find the last “Venetian” saw works, far and wide. Thanks to the work of the local care association, which received an environmental prize, one can observe and wonder at this unique building to this day.
The charming Tyrolean hospitality is well documented in Innervillgraten. In the local guesthouses traditional Tyrolean food is served in traditional and original surrounding guaranteeing to make your experience an authentic one.
From Lienz follow the Drau Street towards Italy. Shortly before the town of Sillian turn right and head towards Villgratental.
Four uprooted spruce trees are the coat of arms for the district of Lesachtal which incidentally gets its name from the valley it lies in. The word ‘Lesach’ which comes from the Slovenish language and literally translates to forest. The untouched natural region offers many possibilities for sports and leisure.
The Lesachtal is ideal for hikers and mountaineers with valleys full with lush fields up to the tree line level and offers a variety of possibilities for the active holiday guest. The unique and stunning nature nestled in between the Lienzer Dolomites in the north and the Karnischen in the south, will be sure to impress. Hikers have complete flexibility – you can choose just about any village in Lesachtal as your starting point. Climbers and hikers are attracted to the well-known route of the Hochweiß, Steingruppe and more experienced climbers may wish to take on the mighty Steinwand – Nordwand.
Accompanied by a gentle splashing stream, a hiking route between St. Lorenzen and Wiesen is recommended. The big mill wheel is the starting point where you can get to know a little about the power of water. The path then takes you past an old iron forge which is still in use and then past the oldest church in Lesachtal, which the holy Radegundis is dedicated to. This hiking route is also suitable for children.
As the name suggests the region of Lesachtal is shaped form the forest as well as its economy. The wood here is an important trading commodity and most of which is exported to Italy. Next time you visit Venice and see the Gondolas there, there is a good chance that they were made from the wood coming from Lesachtal.
Valleys with running rivers make for an enjoyable cycling experience due to the gentle downhill decent along the river and its flowing water. Through the whole of Lesachtal and the neighbouring Kärntner Gailtal the river Gail flows. The starting point for the Gailradweg is the town called Kötschach-Mauthen. From there it’s 85km to Villach along mainly dedicated cycle paths (no roads) through romantic and beautiful landscape.