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Tyrol (or in German: Tirol), is a state in Austria. There are two parts, seperated by the state of Salzburg, and the Italian province of Bolzano. The largest part is North Tyrol, which is made up of 7 districts and the city of Innsbruck, and the smaller part is East Tyrol, that only has the district of Lienz.
Tyrol has borders with the small Austrian state of Vorarlberg, in the west, with Germany in the north. The state of Salzburg in the east, and East Tyrol also has a border with Carinthia in the east. In the south it borders with Italy and Switzerland. Tyrol is known for it's mountains, (Alps), and there are a lot. The mainridge follows the border with Switzerland and Italy, and in the east it is the border between Salzburg and East Tyrol. The larger towns you will find in the valleys, predominantly along the Inn river. The highest mountain is the Grossglockner and at 3,798 metres it also is the highest mountain in Austria. The group of mountains around the Grossglockner and the Grossvenediger are part of the Hohe Tauern, the largest national park in Austria, which spreads over three states.
The largest and capital city of Tyrol is Innsbruck. Other towns in the province are:
Almost every town in Tyrol has good hiking paths. It's often worth it to pay a visit to the local tourist office, as they can give you maps and suggestions for routes suitable for you. In winter skiing activities can be found almost everywhere.
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The city of Innsbruck is not the biggest city to visit, but there are a couple of monuments to be found in the city center, including the Golden Roof, the Hofburg and the Hofkirche. From the centre it is also possible to take a ride up to the Hafelekar, with a very nice view on the Inn valley, and towards the higher mountains in the south.
The Schwaz silver mine dates back to the middle ages, and was then the biggest mine in the world. This mine is now open for visitors.
In the Pitztal you can take a ride with the Pitztaler Gletscherbahn, the cable car will take you to the highest skiing pistes in Austria. The Gletscherbahn is also opened in summer.
On the 4th of January it is Innbruck's turn to host a round of the Vierschanzentournee, as ski jumping event held in 4 towns in Germany and Austria. The ski jump from Innsbruck is notorious among the jumpers as from their starting point they have a very nice view at the cementary grounds. The events draws massive crowds, and it also aired on television.
Skiing is the national sport in Tyrol and Austria, so it's not a surprise that the most famous of all races are being held in Tyrol. The Hahnenkamm race that is being held on the mountains just outside of Kitzbühel on the 3.3-kilometre-long course called the Streif .This is one of the most notorious races in the world championships. In the weekend of the races there are three events, but the main event is the Downhill on Saturday. The last couple of years the races are held in late january.
In autumn, when the snow starts to fall at lower altitudes, the farmers bring their livestock back to the valley. This is called Alm abtried. This often happens in an organised way, and with the cows decorated, it looks like a long parade of cows, coming down from the mountains. In a lot of places there are other festivities planned, like music and dance events.
Innsbruck has an airport that is situated to the west of the city. It has direct flights from Vienna, London and Frankfurt. The airport is also used by chartercompanies, mainly in winter.
The station of Innsbruck is the most important trainstation in this part of the country. There are connections to Germany and to Italy, as part of the north-south railway that takes it route across the Brennerpass, just south of Innsbruck. There are also connections to Switzerland. The station also acts as a regional hub. From here you can reach most other towns, at least the ones that are linked by rail, in Tyrol.
The car might be the best way to get to, and explore Tyrol. Tyrol can be reached in many ways. From Vorarlberg you can get to Tyrol through the Arlbergtunnel, or over the Arlbergpass. If you have more time, take the scenic route of the Silvrettapass. From Germany you can enter either over the Fernpass (at the end of Germany's number 7 autobahn), the Achenpass, but the most common route is following the motorways from Munich and Rosenheim to Kufstein. This also is in most cases the fastest way to get to the heart of Tyrol, but not necessary the most beautiful one. At the eastern end of the state there are many possibilities to get to Salzburg, and from East Tyrol into Carinthia.
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By train you have access to the Inn valley, and some of the smallervalleys, like the Zillertal (until Mayrhofen), the Achental (until the Achensee), and the Brixental (Kitzbühel and onward to Zell am See). In East Tyrol, Lienz is connected to Italy and Carinthia by the railway that lies along the river Drau.
The car might be the best way to get to, and explore Tyrol. If you have to get to small places, and hike in remote valleys the car is the most practical way of getting around. It is however recommended to have some experience in driving in the mountains if you want to go off the motorways and the bundesstrassen. In winter some passes will be closed and snowchains can be manditory.
Busses connect most of the places in Tyrol, and are a good way to get around if you don't have a car.
If you plan on going to the Zillertal (or Ziller Valley in English) a good choice for a quality stay would be the Gaspingerhof in Gerlos. Besides that it's a great hotel (as a building) they've got some very competent in-house tourguides who can show you round activity-wise.
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