The town of Schwaz in the Lower Inntal Valley is the cultural hub of the Karwendel Silver Region and is still known today as the “silver town” thanks to its long history of copper and silver mining.
Schwaz is home to around 13,000 inhabitants and lies at 545 metres above sea level, at the foot of the Kellerjoch mountain. Traversed by the Inn river, Schwaz still has many buildings dating back to the period when this small town was a hub of copper and silver mining in the Middle Ages. The Maria Himmelfahrt parish church with its two bell towers is the largest Gothic church of its kind in Tirol and the only four-span church in Europe. The Franciscan monastery dating back to the 16th century has a number of Gothic frescoes. Perched high on a hill overlooking the town is Schloss Freundsberg, a castle whose mighty tower houses the town’s local history museum.
Apart from the pretty medieval oldtown, other highlights include the famous “Haus der Völker” museum, the Zeiss Planetarium and the mining museum, where visitors have the chance to follow in the footsteps of miners who worked in this region centuries ago by travelling 800 metres down into the underground tunnels. The Stadtgalerien shopping centre is a good place for a little bit of retail therapy. Away from the town centre, the surrounding region offers many activities such as hiking, mountainbiking, tobogganing and skiing in the Tux Alps and the Karwendel Mountains. In the run-up to Christmas Schwaz holds its own advent market, just one of many activities going on throughout the year. Schwaz is also home to two music festivals: the Klangspuren festival of modern music and the Outreach Festival organised in cooperation with the local music academy.
- 1 Old Town (Altstadt). Historic town centre with many architectural gems from the 15th and 16th century when Schwaz was an important silver ore mining town in Tyrol.
- 2 Silver mine (Schwazer Silberbergwerk), Alte Landstraße 3a (bus stop Silberbergwerk), ☏ +43 5242 72372, fax: +43 5242 72372 4, ✉ email@example.com. 09:00—17:00 daily in summer, 10:00-16:00 in winter, closed from mid November until Christmas. Silver mine, documenting over 500 years of ore mining in the area. A 90-minute tour takes visitors underground into the depths of the mountain with a miner train, explaining the harsh mining conditions miners faced throughout the centuries, and its importance in Medieval Austria. With a constant temperature of 12° round the year, warm clothes and gloves are recommended. Adults €17, students and seniors €15, children €10.
- 3 Planetarium (Zeiss Planetarium Schwaz), Alte Landstraße 15 (bus stop Silberbergwerk), ☏ +43 5242 72129, ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. W-Sa 11:45-17:15 Su 10:30-18:45. Planetarium with 360° projection cinema, showing documentaries on astronomy and earth sciences. Adults €10, students and seniors €9, children €8.
In nearby Stans:
- 4 Schloss Tratzberg, A-6200 Jenbach, ☏ +43 5242 63566. Adult €13.50, 13-17 years €9.50, up to 12 years €8.00, 2 adults + 2 children €37.00.
- 5 Ethnological Museum (Museum der Völker), St. Martin 16 (bus stop Hirschenkreuz), ☏ +43 5242 66090, ✉ email@example.com. Th-Su 10:00-17:00. Among the top ethnological museums in Europe, the Museum der Völker exhibits artistic and religious artefacts collected by famous photographer, journalist and author Gert Chesi. The museum hosts collections of Gert Chesi along with the Schell Collection and Lindner Collection, all illustrated with photographic work by Gert Chesi. Adults €11, elderly and children €6.
- 6 Rabalderhaus, Martin-Wintersteller-Gasse 9, ☏ +43 0650 8704184, ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. On request by appointment. Museum for religious art. Visits must be booked by telephone in advance. €5.
- 7 Firefighting Museum (Feuerwehrmuseum Schwaz), Münchner Straße 21 (bus stop Markstrasse), ☏ +43 5242 62371, ✉ email@example.com. A tribute to firefighters and firefighting, displaying stories of heroism alongside firefighting equipment and antique fire engines. There is a special guided tour for kids.
The Karwendel region offers many activities for hikers, mountain bikers and tourists wanting to see the country side. In 2019, and a few years prior, the Transalp mountain bike race has gone through the Karwendel silver region. You can ride the biking trail from Hinterriss to the Falkenhütte, into the Eng and on to Schwaz, and go to Weerberg via the Geiseljoch. E-biking is also an option. Schwaz has companies offering e-bike rentals for the city and e-mountain bikes for the countryside.
It is also a part of the Nordic Walking routes. The area around Schwaz has the largest Nordic walking network in Tyrol.
- Klangspuren Schwaz Music Festival. Annual new music festival that has established a name for itself in central Europe.
- Four-day Karwendel Loop (Biking). This mountain bike tour covers about 300 km through the Alps and is generally split into four segments – one day per segment. Day 1: Kufstein – Achensee. Day 2: Achensee – Scharnitz. Day 3: Scharnitz – Schwaz. Day 4: Schwaz – Kufstein. The tour is mainly intended for experienced cyclists in good condition.
Schwaz has a few ski lifts on the southern Kellerjoch mountain. It has a relatively low altitude, so skiing is only possible during winter months immediately after intense snowfall.