My quest for adventures can often takes me to lesser known locations. I knew leaving Italy wouldn’t be easy. It never is, so I was looking for a destination with something fun to do. Enter Lienz, Austria with its windy 2.7 kilometer alpine coaster. To some it may seem crazy to travel hours out of the way just to ride an alpine coaster. To to me it makes perfect sense. What better way to spend a few days than in an Austrian valley flying down a mountain?
The easiest way for us to get to Lienz was renting a car in Innsbruck and driving a few hours. Normally I try to stick with trains because renting a car is not generally the cheapest way, or the quickest, to get somewhere. However, the journey to Lienz by car looked so exceptional I couldn’t resist.
J. and I took the train from Italy (which ended up running so late we had to spend the night in Innsbruck, booking a hotel last minute). To those of you who travel by train in Italy this shouldn’t come as a big surprise. The train ride through Italy, with the dolomites and small villages dotting the landscape, was extraordinary. To date it is at the top of my train experiences.
The next morning as we took in the majestic mountains our journey to Lienz began. For the next few hours we wound through valleys, over mountains and into long tunnels on our way to Lienz. It is no exaggeration when I say that J. was driving so slow our journey took almost double the time. Each twist and turn offered a new and spectacular view of waterfalls, jagged mountain peaks, snow in the end of June and gorgeous villages less populated than the average neighborhood street in America. Even though we were completely behind schedule we just couldn’t move faster. We were afraid of missing one of the most spectacular drives of our lives. On most of the journey we were alone on the road, left to gawk in wonder. The journey felt as if everything was put there just for us.
Once we arrived in Lienz finding our out of the way Airbnb was quite easy. Driving up to it was a different story. As J. white knuckled the steering wheel and I sat giggling we wound up the mountain on a road barely wider than our car. J. was hoping no one was coming down the mountain. Our reward was an adorable apartment complete with a creek, chickens, and crisp mountain air.
The town of Lienz is very small, a fifteen minute walk and you have exhausted the place. But it is full of charm. Flowers overflowing from window boxes and stunning displays along the sidewalks, fantastic food, good beer and welcoming locals. The river runs from the lush green mountains right through the city. Then the lush green mountains give way to the grey stone dolomites, black rocky mountains and then again to lush green mountains. Together they create a perfect barrier to protect the charming town of Lienz from the rest of the world.
The Osttirodler Coaster
I had scheduled two full days in Lienz but one was lost due to the train situation in Italy. So our only full day in Lienz was devoted to finding the Osttirodler and taking a ride. For all of my American readers the first thing to understand about Europe in general is they are not as paranoid as we are about putting railings everywhere and protecting themselves from liability. Europeans rely on people using their common sense to keep themselves safe. I know this, and am very comfortable with this attitude. BUT as I sat in the toboggan to ride down the alpine coaster a little instruction on how to put the seat belt on, and apply the brakes would have been comforting. Alas, left to my own devices I quickly figured it out as I started rolling forward.
Full disclosure here: I love speed. I love twists and turns, drops and climbs. In that respect the Osttirodler didn’t disappoint. Unlike American coasters on the Osttirodler I was able to control my own speed and once I figured it out I was off to the races. As much as I wanted to take in the gorgeous surroundings of evergreen trees, mountains, lush green grass and fresh mountain air, the desire for speed took over. What a rush!!! The twists and hairpin turns, loops and drops down the out of season ski slope did not disappoint. I laughed and screamed while I flew down the tracks.
That night as we sat bundled in blankets on our beautiful deck, J. trying to rile up the chickens, we both decided a trip to Austria wouldn’t be complete without a stop in the tucked away valley of Lienz.
The Osttirodler alpine coaster is located just outside of Lienz on the main road, Iseltaler Str. 27. It is one of the longest alpine coasters in the world. There is more to do there than just the alpine coaster though: a kids play area, climbing park, petting zoo and gondola ride.
This is was where we stayed in Lienz. It honestly couldn’t have been more perfect.
Drive time from Innsbruck is 2.5 hours (unless you get caught up in the scenery like we did, then figure on double that time. In my opinion not having a car in Lienz would be a mistake. It would be hard to get in and out of the town when coming and leaving, and many of the accommodations are about half a mile or more outside of the main town, hidden up the mountains.