Explore the wonders of frozen water this winter, in the Austrian Tirol

While many people associate the Austrian Tirol with mountains, there are also more than 600 lakes dotted around the region. As winter sets in, these various lakes often freeze – creating sparkling landscapes of ice and snow.

Read on to find out how to make the most of these glittering pools.

Go ice skating on Lake Piburger See, in Ötztal

There are eight lakes in Tirol that freeze over in cold winters to create natural ice-skating rinks. There is nothing more magical than gliding across ice under the open sky with mighty mountains on the horizon. One of these frozen lakes is the idyllic Piburger See near the entrance to the Ötztal Valley. Situated in the middle of a forest, it has a two-kilometre-long and eight-metre-wide skating track on the frozen surface, which is kept in excellent condition throughout the winter. Skates can be rented from the nearby Gasthof am See, which also has all the equipment needed for curling. For those who don’t feel comfortable on skates, the lake is also accessible for winter walking. The two shoreside eateries, Restaurant am Piburger See and Gasthaus Seehäusl are good places to warm up and enjoy a bite to eat.

For more information, please visit: www.tyrol.com/ice-skating-in-tirol

Try ice diving at Urisee Lake, in Naturparkregion Reutte

One of the most beautiful lakes in the Außerfern region of Tirol, the Urisee lake near Reutte, invites brave visitors to have a go at ice diving. Taking the plunge in the icy waters of this lake, up to 38 metres deep in places, is an unforgettable experience even for experienced divers. Professional guides are on hand to support guests every step of the way. This is a real challenge for body and mind that tests limits – but will leave guests with memories for a lifetime!

For more information, please visit: www.instagram.com/tauchbasisurisee

Check out the cross country skiing around Vilsalpsee Lake, in Tannheimer Tal

The snow-covered meadows and forests around the idyllic Vilsalpsee lake, in the Tannheimer Tal Valley, make this area popular among cross-country skiing enthusiasts. The 13-kilometre cross-country skiing trail runs from the village of Tannheim through the Vilsalpsee Nature Reserve and is designed for afficionados of both the traditional Classic technique as well as the more modern and dynamic Skating technique. On arriving at Vilsalpsee lake, it’s worth stopping for a moment and taking in the spectacular views. Directly next to the shore guests will find the Gasthaus Vilsalpsee and the Café Bistro Haubentaucher – perfect for a little rest and refreshment before heading back down to the starting point in Tannheim.

For more information, please visit: www.tyrol.com/cross-country-skiing

Take the plunge into Hechtsee Lake, in Kufsteinerland

Fancy swimming in an ice-cold lake as the water temperatures hovers around freezing? Visitors keen to try something a little different this winter can do precisely that at Hechtsee lake. The largest lake in the Kufsteinerland region, Hechtsee, enjoys an idyllic location in the heart of the Brandenberg Alps and is a well-kept secret, especially in winter. As well as winter walkers, the region also attracts hardy bathers who swim in the lake all year round. One such brave soul is Horst Karrer, who goes swimming in the frozen Hechtsee every day in winter – and even breaks a hole in the ice when the water freezes over. There are several spots along the shore where you can enter the water in winter. And after completing the ultimate challenge, head straight to the lakeside Seearena Hechtsee to warm with a hot drink.

For more information, please visit: www.kufstein.com/en/tyrol-nature/summer/bathing-holiday/bathing-lakes/hechtsee-kufstein.html

Hike to Lake Möserer See, in Seefeld

The Wildmoos Nature Reserve near Seefeld is home to unspoiled nature and unique mountain panoramas. The winter hike to the Möserer See lake leads through this beautiful and peaceful landscape, with plenty of great spots for photos. The frozen lake is lined with trees dotted along the shoreline, and after fresh snowfall, visitors can only guess that there is a lake hidden under the thick white blanket. On the shore, guests will find the charming Möserer Seestub’n, a traditional hut offering hearty local food on its large sun-soaked terrace. Another place well worth visiting is the Lottenseehütte, where homemade cakes are available every day, plus every Saturday, they serve Kiachl, a special Tirolean delicacy perfect for filling the stomachs of hungry hikers. The hike normally takes around three hours to complete; if that’s too much walking, there is the option of using the local shuttle bus or a horse-drawn carriage to complete part of the route.

For more information, please visit: www.tyrol.com/winter-walking

For more information about winter holidays in Tirol, please visit: www.tyrol.com/winter-holidays