Summer and winter – Filzmoos in Austria has something for everyone

In this article, guest author Claire Palmer shares with us her family’s favourite holiday choice of Filzmoos, Austria, the perfect destination for summer walking or winter skiing, your choice for a gentle or full-on family activity holiday!

The traditional mountain village of Filzmoos has been a much-loved destination for my family in both winter and summer since we first discovered it when my 19 year old son was a 19 month old! Building and development is strictly controlled so it has retained its alpine chocolate-box charm with no high-rise buildings to mar the breath-taking views of the Bischofsmutze (Bishop’s Mitre) peak and the Dachstein glacier range. There is no shortage of things to keep our two teenage boys occupied and the village has kept pace with their requirements as they have grown.

The mountain village of Filzmoos, Austria

The mountain village of Filzmoos, Austria

Uncrowded slopes meet the needs of any ski enthusiast

The whole family learnt to ski (snowboard in my younger son’s case) in Filzmoos, including my father who learnt at the ripe old age of 74 and still holidays with us 19 years later, an inspiration to us all! All the instructors in the excellent ski schools speak very good English. Filzmoos is only known to one UK tour operator which means the slopes are uncrowded and the lift queues short, even in the school holidays. We love that the gentle nursery slopes are right in the middle of the village and the more challenging runs finish in the middle of the village so, if some of us have been on the “red” runs and others opted for a leisurely cruise on the wide, well-groomed “blue” pistes, we can all easily meet up in one of the many restaurants and cafes for a warming hot chocolate (Gluhwein for me, please).

Skiing for all the family in Filzmoos, Austria

Skiing for all the family in Filzmoos, Austria

Speaking of restaurants, the typical Austrian mountain food is delicious and filling. My sons never tire of the local specialty dessert – Germknodel – a yeast dumpling filled with plum jam and served with vanilla custard. When they were younger it was a whole meal in itself, now it follows a huge Tiroler Grostl, a sizzling cast iron pan of diced potatoes, bacon and eggs fried with herbs.

Activities abound in any season

At Christmas our “must-do” outing is a sleigh ride up to the Oberhofalm and Unterhofalm for the “Advent Idyll” walk around the frozen lake featuring fire pits, candle-lit decorative scenes and huts selling spiced Gluhwein. Watch out for the trick-playing Perchten, horned beasts from folklore dating back to pagan times.

Campfire around the lake at Filzmoos, Austria

Campfire around the lake at Filzmoos, Austria

On Christmas Eve Father Christmas arrives in the village square by sleigh and he and his angel-helpers give out sweets and sparklers to the children. Gluhwein is, as always, on offer for the adults!

Father Christmas comes to Filzmoos

Father Christmas comes to Filzmoos

Our favourite summer outing is also up to the Oberhofalm and Unterhofalm inns but this time by hiring electric-assisted mountain bikes to ride through the woods, arriving in time for lunch outside on the terrace under the sun umbrellas, gazing at eagles circling in the bright blue sky and the majestic snow-capped peak of the Bischofsmutze, now so much closer.

The electric bike will take you up to Unterhofalm

The electric bike will take you up to Unterhofalm

On the way up our refreshment stop is a trough with a spout that gushes pure mountain spring water straight from the ground at an amazing 5 degrees C. Bliss! These electric bikes are amazing machines! The fittest in the party can pedal just as on a normal bike and I can choose how much assistance to have from the battery power, enabling me to go up slopes I could only dream about otherwise!

Inside the Oberhofalm

Inside the Oberhofalm

Discover local flora and fauna

Once up at the mountain inns there are numerous marked walking paths across the high alpine pastures and around the small lake. In fact Filzmoos has 200km of marked walking trails and I love to see the wild mountain flowers in spring and summer. I’ve found gentian, carlina and many others that I can’t identify but no edelweiss yet, sadly.

Filzmoos has 200km of marked walking trails

Filzmoos has 200km of marked walking trails

Another favourite walk of ours is the Marmot trail where we take the Wanderbus high up into the mountains where one can see marmots (although the only ones we’ve seen so far are on postcards!) then walk back down to the village, admiring the incredible alpine scenery and views at every turn.

Take the Wanderbus up the mountain with stunning views at every turn

Take the Wanderbus up the mountain with stunning views at every turn

Plenty to do for the adventure seeker

For something a little more adrenalin-fuelling for our teenagers, we take the Wanderbus to the neighbouring village of Ramsau where there is a summer toboggan run. Riding the toboggan down on spiralling metal rails that loop out on stilts over the valley is certainly exhilarating, as is going up the mountain on the chairlift and hiring a mountain scooter to ride back down. A completely new experience for all of us! Ramsau also has a bathing lake, archery, hang-gliding or a long cable car ride up to the Dachstein glacier for skiing or to visit the ice caves. A walk out on the Dachstein Sky Walk, a platform overhanging the valley 250 metres straight below, gives a spectacular panorama but I prefer to look out not down!

Teenagers and speed lovers enjoy the Ramsau toboggan run

Teenagers and speed lovers enjoy the Ramsau toboggan run

Despite only having 1,450 inhabitants, Filzmoos village has everything we have ever needed and so we relish not having to use a car and therefore not having to worry about how much of the refreshing “golden nectar” we have drunk!

There's everything you need in the village centre at Filzmoos, Austria

There’s everything you need in the village centre at Filzmoos, Austria

As well as indoor and outdoor swimming pools, a bowling alley and tennis court, there is a well-stocked supermarket, butcher and delicatessen, a wonderful bakery with coffee shop, pharmacy, doctor’s surgery, indoor and outdoor swimming pools, bowling alley and, most importantly, numerous restaurants and cafes serving scrumptious coffee and specialty cakes such as Viennese Sachertorte or apple strudel and cream. After 18 years of holidaying there we have still not run out of things to do and there are many excursions we have still not taken.

You can rent Claire's apartment in Flizmoos, Austria

You can rent Claire’s apartment in Flizmoos, Austria

Two years ago we realised our dream of buying a one-bedroomed apartment in the village, within five minutes walk of ski slopes and restaurants. This sleeps up to 5 and is available for hire. Please email Claire Palmer at for more information.

14380197632_4dfeab4859_qAuthor Bio: Many thanks for this article to Claire Palmer, who has loved to travel ever since she was a child touring Europe by caravan for the summer (her parents were teachers) and spending part of her childhood in New Zealand. Since having her own children she has travelled extensively as a family both in Europe and back to New Zealand. She loves Austria and, since realising a long-held dream of buying a property there, is taking German lessons in preparation for spending much more time there when her sons have left school.

For more Austrian adventures:

May Day at The White Horse Inn on Lake Wolfgang, Austria
Lost in the Hohensalzburg Fortress in Salzburg
Riding the steam train – on the Schafburgbahn at St Wolfgang

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Take a closer look at Crete

The Greek island of Crete is the largest island in Greece and as the fifth-largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, it’s one of the most visited areas for holiday makers. With reliable sunshine and gorgeous beaches, it’s no wonder that Crete, as a holiday destination, has been growing in popularity over the last couple of decades.

The beautiful landscape of Crete

The beautiful landscape of Crete

History and hiking in Crete

Once the centre of the Minoan civilization, Crete is steeped in history with a smattering of its own cultural traits aside from the cultural heritage that being a Greek island brings.

The name of Crete is probably taken from Mycenaean Greek, ancient texts of which first referred to the island of this name. It is an island with a high mountain range spanning the country from east to west providing a popular destination for hikers, thanks to the stunning views and interesting landmarks.

View over the beautiful valley Greek near Patsos in Crete Photo: Thomas Munter on Flickr

View over the beautiful valley Greek near Patsos in Crete

A variety of climates

A big consideration when visiting Crete should be the temperature at the time of your visit – while many will enjoy the hot sun and beaches, others may want to visit at a time of year when things are altogether a little cooler. Crete is located on two climactic zones: the Mediterranean and the North African. The atmosphere is usually quite humid, getting less so the closer to the sea you are and winters tend to be refreshing and mild. From November to May, it is not uncommon for snow to fall on the mountains, but it rarely happens in the lower areas. In summer, temperatures can reach as high as 30 degrees Celsius, sometimes more. Crete resorts and hotels will offer air conditioning, but these temperatures can sometimes be a little much for some people.

Venetian Fortress of Koules in Heraklion, Crete Photo:

Venetian Fortress of Koules in Heraklion, Crete

Getting Around in Crete

There are three large airports in Crete – being Niko Kazantzakis at the capital Heraklion, a smaller airport in Sita and the third being the Daskalogiannis at Chania. There are also plenty of ferries from mainland Greece to Crete, most of which come from Athens, so you can put together a holiday to include the mainland.  There is, however, a lack of modern highways and a great deal of under-serviced roads. Nevertheless, there are often reliable bus services and while there are no train lines in Crete, you won’t find it too difficult to get around.

Harbour at Heraklion in Crete Photo: bebopeloula on Flickr

Harbour at Heraklion in Crete

Something for everyone

Regardless of your interests, there’s plenty to see and do in Crete. If you are on a family holiday, the Aquaworld Aquarium in Hersonissos is a must. Open since 1995, it’s a given for the to-do list thanks to the wealth of activities for children and the beautiful marine life to see. There’s also the Amarillis Stable in Stalis, where you can go and enjoy the beautiful scenery from horseback. Treks can be long or short depending on what you want to do; it’s a fantastic way to see the island.

Aquaworld Aquarium in Hersonissos, Crete

Aquaworld Aquarium in Hersonissos, Crete

For something fun, if a little bit childish, there’s the Happy Train at Elounda, in which you get a guided tour of the island from the comfort of an open-topped train. The scenery is beautiful from the hills. There are also a large number of historical and archaeological museums for those of you with a passion for history, including the Nautical Museum of Crete and the fascinating Archaeological Museum of Agios Nikolaos.

Where to Eat & Drink in Crete

On the cheap: Mojo Burgers – Keeping it simple and very reasonably priced, this burger bar wouldn’t feel out of place in Shoreditch. With prices starting from a couple of euros for a hot dog, and under five for a burger, this is a definite stop for a bite to eat in Rethymnon.

Best of both worlds: The House – Steak House Restaurant – A must visit for steak fans, and pretty much anything else. A mix of Mexican, Italian, English and much more, this steak house offers a massive menu and very reasonable prices. Set just outside Malia, it’s within easy reach from most of the major resorts.

The House Steak House Restaurant in Malia Photo: The House

The House Steak House Restaurant in Malia

Blow the budget: Ta Dyo Rou – Set in the old town of Rethymno this wine and cooking shop, or inomageirio, puts an emphasis on quality over portion size. Look out for the traditional Greek meatballs, a real speciality. The shop is also a great place to pick up bulk buys of local wine and organic beer.

Best Cocktails: New York Beach Club – Set right on the sand, this all night long bar serves up excellent cocktails, but some do come at a premium. A great place to relax and watch the sunset, or stay until it rises again!

If this has whetted your appetite for Crete history and culture, you can usually get cheap Greece holidays from Cosmos Holidays without looking too hard!

For more Greek island experiences:

Shipwrecks or Turtles? – taking a boat trip on your Greek holiday to Zakynthos
Three days, three beaches on Zante
Highlights of a trek through Crete

Photo Credit: View over the beautiful valley by Thomas Münter , Crète 2014 – Heraklion by bebopeloula , Aquaworld Aquarium -Hersonissos Crete ,Greece by 4652 Paces, The House Steak House Malia from SteakHouseRestauranttheHouse , Crete Anogeia from , Venetian Fortress of Koules in Heraklion, Crete from

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Activities for the family in and around St Ives

Most people have childhood memories of going to a beach, building sandcastles and eating ice-creams and fish and chips by the sea. If you fancy re-igniting your memories and starting some new ones for your family then head to the beautiful beaches of St Ives in Cornwall.

St Ives, Cornwall Photo: RStacker on Flickr

St Ives in Cornwall

Beautiful beaches abound

There are a number of coastal resorts in Cornwall but St Ives is one of the most popular, being voted the “Seaside town of the Year” by Guardian readers. St Ives is nestled on the northern Cornish coast that keeps its traditional fishing roots but blends them seamlessly with modernity. It is somewhere that will be able to entertain the whole family whether you want relaxation or adventure.

The beach at St Ives Photo: Uncle Bucko on Flickr

The beach at St Ives

One of a major attraction with any coastal resort is the beach. St Ives has various beautiful sand beaches all of which are close to the town centre. St Ives Harbour beach is sheltered due to its proximity to the harbour and has sand even at high tide. Its central location is ideal if you want to combine being at the beach to being close to shops and eateries. If sitting watching the boats come into or leave the harbour isn’t enough you could always embark on a boat tour.

Water sports from passive to active

Porthemor beach is also very popular. If you fancy taking your four legged friend on holiday then Porthemor is ideal as it is dog friendly for part of the year and allows plenty of opportunities for long walks. If you fancy venturing beyond the sand and into the surf then there are life guards on hand throughout the summer. Perhaps a little paddle isn’t enough and you fancy doing some water sports? Surfing, kayaking, paddle boarding and coasteering are all on offer at St Ives.

Cornwall is renowned for its surfing and with lessons ranging from a beginner’s taster session to advanced classes you will have every opportunity to catch a wave. Sea Kayaking is a fun alternative to surfing and you’re likely to spot local wildlife such as seals, dolphins and sea birds. Some companies may even take snorkels so you can explore the clear waters fully. Paddle boarding is increasing in popularity thanks to celebrities such as Pierce Brosnan and Rihanna who have been snapped completing the activity. Coasteering will appeal to adrenaline junkies everywhere as it combines climbing rocks, jumping into the sea and swimming into and exploring caves and gullies.

Sea Kayaking in St Ives Photo:

Sea Kayaking in St Ives

Culture from theatre to art galleries

If you can drag yourself away from the beach and all the fantastic water sports on offer, there are a variety of activities in St Ives town itself. If you fancy an evening activity (whatever the weather) there is a quaint little cinema or alternatively see what plays are showing at St Ives Theatre. If the weather is good you could visit The Minack Theatre which is one of the most famous outdoor theatres in the UK and well worth a visit.

The Minack Theatre Porthcurno Photo: Martin Hartland

The Minack Theatre Porthcurno

If museums or art galleries are where your interests lie then you may be surprised to learn that there is a Tate Gallery at St Ives. As well as showcasing a variety of modern art it also houses the Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Gardens. Due to its popularity the gallery is being extended in 2014 so even more works of art can be brought to visitors. The St Ives museum will help you better understand the local area with exhibitions on local subjects such as mining and boat building. The museum has excellent reviews so is worth a visit if you want to better understand the local culture.

Barbara Hepworth Museum, St Ives Photo: Matt Brown

Barbara Hepworth Museum, St Ives

People watching and cafe life

To complete your relaxation you could enjoy a relaxing drink in one of the various cafes or book a table at one of the beachfront restaurants like the Porthmeor Beach cafe and watch the stunning sunsets that the area is famous for.

Porthmeor Beach Cafe in St Ives Photo: David Bleasdale on Flickr

Porthmeor Beach Cafe in St Ives

St Ives truly does cater for everyone as all these options are available without even getting in your car. If you want a relaxed beach holiday with the perfect blend of activities and culture then you really need look no further. St Ives will provide a memorable holiday for everyone involved and give memories to cherish in years to come.

This article was brought to you by Aspects Holidays who provide self-catering accommodation throughout Cornwall and have a large selection of stunning properties in St Ives ranging from traditional cottages to modern beach front apartments.

Photo Credits: St Ives harbour by RStacker, St Ives beach by UncleBucko, Sea kayaking by , The Minack Theatre by Martin Hartland, Barbara Hepworth Museum by Matt Brown, Porthmeor Beach Cafe by David Bleasdale 

More things to see in Devon and Cornwall

Primroses and Daffodils – a spring weekend in North Devon with Premier Cottages – video
Is this the perfect sea view? Our luxury weekend at St Mawes in Cornwall – video
Take an Autumn break in Cornwall – Coastal walks, surfing and you might see a basking shark

This article is originally published at - Read the original article here

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