A holiday in Austria by road bike is one of the most exciting cycling experiences you can have and the routes and climbs in Tyrol are among the most beautiful in Europe. The Austrian Alps near Italy have roads and passes that offer definitive views and are suitable for everyone, from cycling enthusiasts to those who come here to make lighter excursions, whether on road bikes, mountain bikes or electric bikes. In summer the possibilities are really endless, from dirt roads for mountain bikes to the hardest and steepest passes for those with trained legs, or a well-assisted e-bike. Tyrol holds some records in terms of climbs, gradients and altitude of the roads to be covered on the pedals. From Ötztal, the Sölden valley, to the road from Kufstein to Innsbruck, to the Kitzbüheler Horn (the steepest road in Austria), the mountain region has something for everyone. In summer there are also many events and bike races of all kinds, some of them very demanding. And the tourist board has developed and mapped out 10 unmissable routes, named 10 Great Rides, that aficionados can’t miss. In addition, in the towns, where it is easy to find local people who also speak Italian, there are rental services, bike and luggage transport and assistance very punctual, efficient and cheap. That’s why Tyrol can be considered a paradise for racing bikes. Read on to learn about the most beautiful routes to do on racing bikes in Tyrol, and the information to do so.
Holidays in Austria by road bike on the roads of Tyrol
There are bike lovers who ride 40 km a day all on a flat surface. And then there are the real cyclists, those who invest every weekend of the season on expensive bicycle pedals worthy of a professional, those who don’t eat a crumb more than what they need for their performance and who devote their holidays to their passion: they need roads well maintained, safe, scenic and above all many challenging climbs with which to test themselves every day. The Tyrolean mountain roads are a paradise for road cyclists and racing bikes, they put you in front of a series of challenges with their record-breaking climbs.
Austria’s highest pass
In the summer Tyrol seems to be tailor-made for them: throughout the region there are more than 3,800 km of roads and cycle paths and paved paths specifically for racing bikes, for those who love fatigue, there is a climb after every bend. The extreme is reached in the Ötztal, the valley of Sölden and the glaciers, well known by skiers. In these parts, the cyclist can think of cycling towards the Passo Rombo, the highest road pass in Austria on which the national border is drawn and from which you descend towards the Val Passiria and Merano.
Despite the altitude (2474 metres), this is not the highest “pedelecable” road: just outside Sölden, in fact, you can make a detour to the right and take the one that ends between the Rettenbach and Tiefenbach glaciers: there are about 14 km of asphalt (very few hairpin bends, compared to long uphill straights) with an average gradient of 10.5% that reach an altitude of 2,830 metres through the Rosi-Mittermeier tunnel, the highest in the Alps, where in winter you can pass on skis.
In these parts it is normal to pedal between two walls of snow: since at these altitudes oxygen is rarefied, your lungs and muscles will be put to the test and your sporting feat will be even more valuable.
The hardest climb in the world, from Kufstein to Innsbruck
Have you ever been to Monte Carlo? Anyone who enters the Principality of Monaco – by car, motorbike or even by bike – cannot help but take a few bends along the Formula One urban track to see what it’s like. The same applies to cycling enthusiasts who – at least once in their lives – dream of cycling on the roads of champions and great races that have gone down in history: this is true of the côtés of the Roubaix, for some hairpin bends of the Giro d’Italia and the Tour de France.
And, from 2018, it also applies to some climbs in Tyrol, where a memorable edition of the Road Cycling World Championships was held in September.
“The hardest track I’ve ever seen,” our Vincenzo Nibali called it.
The 258 kilometres of the route included the departure from Kufstein and the arrival in Innsbruck, after a relatively quiet stretch of 80 km, followed by a ring circuit to be repeated several times with two extreme passages – the ascent to Igls and especially the Höttinger Höll – “The hell of Hötting” – a climb above the city centre just over 3 km long, with an average gradient of 13% and peaks of 28%!
Since the day this road hosted the worldwide enterprise of the Spanish Alejandro Valverde, thousands of tourists come to Tyrol to imitate his exploits and test themselves climbing it by bike.
The hardest amateur bike race in the Alps
On September 1, several hundred Italians will run the Ötztaler Radmarathon, for years considered the toughest amateur race in the Alps, 238 km long and with 5500 meters of elevation gain: you start and arrive in Sölden, along a ring on the Italian border, with passages over four passes (Kühtai, Brennero, Giovo and Rombo) and through Innsbruck and Vipiteno.
It’s not necessary to do it all if you’re not really trained and ambitious, but even just a piece, with a climb of these, is an experience to do.
The steepest road, the Kitzbüheler Horn
And if all this seems to be unchallenging, all that remains is to climb the steepest road in Austria – the Kitzbüheler Horn, the mountain above the famous winter resort, 950 metres of positive height gain to be consumed in just a few kilometres.
10 Great Rides
There are ten routes in Tyrol that every true cyclist should try once in a lifetime. They call them “10 Great Rides”: among others, in addition to some large climbs already mentioned, there are also the Zillertaler Höhenstraße (only 34 km but 1590 meters of altitude difference spread over five climbs), the hard Olympia Express (the tour of the villages all around the capital Innsbruck, 172 km of continuous ups and downs without a meter of plain), the Tour of the Alpbachtal (117 km and 2500 meters of altitude difference but all below 1200 meters of altitude).
For the less trained there is the more accessible “Bannwaldsee Lake Tour” in the Tannheimer Tal valley (95 km and a little more than 1000 meters in altitude).
Here you will find all the information you need for the 10 Great Rides routes
Bike maps and assistance in Tyrol: how to do it
In Tyrol, technological solutions are also used to help tourists: we think of the most advanced cable cars, efficient online booking systems but also simply GPS tracking of routes for cyclists, easily and free of charge downloadable on the official website www.tirolo.com.
Local professional cyclists have thus created maps of the routes with coordinates and GPS data, adding a series of technical tips on how to tackle the climbs and how to set up the training.