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Call me biased, but an adventure wedding is one of the most amazing ways to get married, and a Tyrol elopement is about as good as it gets. Big weddings aren’t for everyone, and an elopement gives you the freedom to spend the day doing something that feels more right for you.
And for many couples, that place is Tyrol. This Austrian region is one of the most beautiful parts of the Alps, and thanks to its relatively low-key Instagram status, it’s also one of the most undiscovered. Tyrol’s majestic mountain peaks and lush green valleys are every bit as stunning as the Dolomites or the Swiss Alps. But they have the added bonus of being quiet, calm and crowd-less, particularly in the summer.
I’ve been lucky enough to live in this fantastic region for the last 10 years and there is nothing I enjoy more than helping couples create their perfect elopement in Tyrol. So if you’ve always dreamed of having an intimate wedding in the mountains, here is everything you need to know about organizing an elopement adventure in Tyrol.
Planning Your Trip To Tyrol
Where is Tyrol?
Tyrol is known as “the heart of the Alps” and you can see why. It’s a region of Austria wedged in between Germany and Italy, and it is basically 100% mountain. As in, there are no flat parts. Even the capital city, Innsbruck, is surrounded by Alpine peaks and has a cable car station in the centre. If mountains are your happy place, then you will be very happy in Tyrol.
Is it Tyrol or Tirol?
Well, it’s both. In German it’s Tirol, but in English it’s more commonly written as Tyrol. But both refer to the same place.
Is Tyrol the same as South Tyrol?
You may have heard of South Tyrol, particularly if you’ve been looking at the Dolomites for your adventure elopement. South Tyrol is the German-speaking province of Italy, and it shares a border with Tyrol. Back in the day, it used to be part of Austria but then was given to Italy after the First World War. To differentiate it from the Austrian Tyrol, they changed the name to South Tyrol. “Tyrol” = Austria, “South Tyrol” = Italy. To confuse things even further a small part of the Austrian Tyrol in the east was separated from the rest of the state when South Tyrol was given back to Italy. This area, known as East Tyrol (or Ost Tirol in German) is reached from Tyrol by driving via Italy or Salzburg.
In many ways, Tyrol is a quieter, less touristic and less crowded version of South Tyrol. For a magical intimate elopement, this is the place to come.
How to get to Tyrol
The capital of Tyrol is the beautiful city of Innsbruck, which has its own (very small) airport. There are daily flights to Vienna and Frankfurt, plus regular connections to other European hubs like London, Berlin and Amsterdam. If you’re coming from outside Europe, you might want to look at some of the larger airports nearby such as Munich (2.5 hours from Innsbruck), or Zurich (3 hours). From Vienna to Innsbruck the train journey takes just under 5 hours. The Austrian train website OEBB has lots of information and timetables.
Public transport in Tyrol is both cheap and efficient, and you can get to most of the larger towns by train or bus: check the connections on the Tyrol transport website VVT. The more remote parts of Tyrol usually do have a bus service, but these can be quite irregular. So if you’re heading to the wilderness and don’t want to worry about catching the last bus home, it is definitely worth hiring a car.
When Is The Best Time To Visit Tyrol?
This is a region famous for its winter tourism. Many of the biggest ski resorts in the Alps are located in Tyrol: St Anton, Kitzbühel and Mayrhofen to name but a few. Thanks to Tyrol’s five glacier ski resorts, the ski season here starts in October and lasts right through until May. But the busiest period is between Christmas and Easter—come either side of that period and you might find you have Tyrol’s snowy mountains all to yourself. There are also a few quieter weeks in the middle of the ski season depending on when the school holidays fall each year.
In summer, Tyrol turns into a hiking mecca. There are gentle strolls on lush rolling hills, multi-day high Alpine hikes and everything in between. Not to mention an ever-increasing number of bike trails and some of Europe’s most beautiful climbing routes. The best time to visit Tyrol in the summer is between June and October when the snow has melted from the hiking trails and the Alpine flowers are in bloom. It is also a lot quieter in summer, without the huge crowds you get in the Dolomites, for example.
Best Places To Stay In Tyrol
Tyrol has a wide range of accommodation from fancy 5-star hotels to mountain huts (see below). There are also plenty of funky Airbnbs, including mountain chalets and cabins in the middle of the forest. If you’re looking for something particularly fancy, such a sustainable “bio” hotel or Alpine chalet.
Mountain huts offer the ultimate adventure wedding in Tyrol. After all, what is better than waking up on your wedding day to the pink glow of a mountain sunrise? You can find these basic mountain huts throughout the Tyrolean Alps. Some are accessed by cable car, while others require a 2-day hike or ski tour. But all of them offer an unforgettable mountain experience and an adventure elopement to remember.
The Austrian Alpine Club owns most of the huts in Tyrol. You can search for huts on their website but if you’re hoping to plan a hiking elopement, schedule a call with me and I’ll advise you on the best locations.
Getting Married In Tyrol
The great news is that getting married in Tyrol is possible as a foreigner. But like many things in Austria, having a civil (legal) ceremony it can be quite a bureaucratic process.
Alternatively, you could do what many of my couples do: sort out the legal stuff at home and just have a symbolic ceremony in Tyrol. That way, you are free to spend your elopement day exactly how you want to, without bureaucracy getting in the way!
Legal Marriage Ceremonies In Tyrol
Before taking part in a legal marriage ceremony, you have to apply for a marriage license. If neither you nor your partner is an Austrian citizen or resident, then officially this has to be done in Vienna (the Austrian capital). However, if you know where you want to get married, most of the time you can contact the local registry office directly and they will confirm if the paperwork needs to be sent via Vienna or if they can process it directly. In some cases, hiring a wedding planner can make the process of submitting documents smoother.
Depending on your countries of residency and citizenship, the exact paperwork may vary but for most people it includes:
- Birth Certificate (original or certified copy)
- Driver’s License or similar document with proof of address.
- A residence registration form (“Meldezettel”) issued by the Austrian authorities after arrival, unless the applicants are staying at a hotel, youth hostel etc.
- Documentary proof of dissolution of previous marriage(s), if any, e.g., final divorce or annulment decrees (Mexican divorces are usually not recognized in Austria) or death certificate(s) of previous spouse(s). The marriage certificate(s) of such previous marriage(s) is/are also usually required.
- U.S. certificate of no impediment to marriage (Ehefähigkeitszeugnis)
Documents (other than passports and driver’s licenses) issued in languages other than German must be accompanied by certified translations done by an Austrian court-approved translator. Some documents may also require an apostille. If you don’t speak German, you may also need a translator for your ceremony.
If you’re American, check out this website Austrian Embassy Marriage Information Site for more detailed information.
Civil marriage ceremonies in Tyrol usually take place in the local Standesamt town hall building and in most towns there is only one person licensed to conduct the ceremony (except in the bigger cities). However, in some areas of Tyrol, the officiant will come to a pre-approved location such as a mountain hut! That means it is possible to get married at the top of the mountain and come away with the legal documents to prove it.
The main religion in Austria is Catholicism. While many Austrians do have a church wedding, they are not legally binding, so to be legally married in Austria, you must first go to the Standesamt.
Can LGBT couples get married in Austria?
Yes! Austria legalized marriage for LGBT couples in 2019. The process to get legally married is the same as detailed above. Italy and Switzerland: take note!
If you don’t choose to have a legal ceremony in Tyrol (spoiler alert – many of my couples don’t), then you are free to have the ceremony you have always dreamed of. Maybe that’s saying your vows on one of Tyrol’s many glaciers. Maybe it’s enjoying a sunrise hike together before having an early morning ceremony under a beautiful pink sky. Perhaps your adventure is simply relaxing on the shores of a crystal-clear Alpine lake. With a symbolic elopement ceremony, there are no rules. You can simply spend your wedding day doing what you both love best, or planning something completely new that’ll take your breath away.
Elopement Locations In Tyrol
In my 10 years of living in Tyrol, I’ve come across so many jaw-dropping locations. Mountain peaks, turquoise lakes, glaciers, flower-filled meadows, the lot. And the best thing about Tyrol (particularly in comparison to the Dolomites) is that it’s not Instagram-famous yet. That means uncrowded locations, no queues for photos and you can have an intimate elopement ceremony without any onlookers. Bliss.
Of course, many of these amazing locations are local secrets and should stay that way. In fact, I only share my very favourite locations with couples after they have booked me. But here are a few inspirational ideas for your intimate elopement adventure:
Mountain Elopement Locations
Tyrol’s mountains are absolutely stunning in both summer and winter. For dramatic, craggy peaks, try the south of the region, such as the Stubaital or Gschnitztal valleys. The eastern side of the region is known for its lush rolling hills and stunning meadows, ideal for a summer elopement. In the west of Tyrol, the valleys get narrower and the mountains get higher—try the Kaunertal valley for great mountain views without the crowds.
Glacier Elopement Locations
Tyrol is up there with Switzerland for stunning glaciers, and the Hintertux, Pitztal and Stubai glaciers are open most of the year for visitors and can be accessed by life. For amazing glacial views, the Sellraintal valley has many smaller glaciers and almost no tourism, so you can say your vows completely undisturbed against a gorgeous glacier backdrop.
Lake Elopement Locations
When it comes to Alpine lakes, Tyrol goes for quality over quantity. The jewel in the crown is the Achensee lake, Tyrol’s largest at over 9km long. But there are plenty of smaller, more hidden lakes such as the Obernbergersee or Piburgersee lakes, which take Alpine charm to the max.
Adventure Hiking & Climbing Elopements in Tyrol
Personally, I think Tyrol is one of the best places in the Alps for a hiking elopement. Not only is the scenery sublime, but the well-marked trails and network of mountain huts make it very easy to go hiking here. You can enjoy your adventurous elopement, without worrying about getting lost or being disappointed at the quality of the food (which is usually basic but delicious).
Tyrol has some fabulous long-distance hikes, such as the 6-day Karwendel Höhenweg or the 33-day Eagle Walk. Of course, you can also just do parts of these hikes, depending on how much time (and energy!) you have.
But summer isn’t all about hiking. There are also many amazing climbing routes, via ferrata tours and bike trails. The Tyrol website has some great inspiration for a whole range of other summer activities and the places you can do them.
Winter Elopements in Tyrol
Winter tourism is big business in Tyrol. But the good news is that is concentrated in just a few areas. Outside of the main tourism valleys—Zillertal valley, I’m looking at you—you can find plenty of quieter spots that are ideal for an intimate winter elopement.
And winter doesn’t just mean downhill skiing. You could enjoy a snowshoe hike, go ice climbing (for experienced climbers only) or have a multi-day ski tour adventure. Areas like the Tannheimer Tal valley, Leutasch or the Pillerseetal valley have gorgeous winter scenery without the mass tourism you get in some Tyrolean winter resorts. Whether you’re both nuts about skiing or just like snow, you can create your ideal winter elopement in Tyrol.
Tyrol Elopement Packages
Having an amazing elopement adventure also means have an amazing photographer to document it for you. Not only am I multi-award winning wedding photographer, but I am based right here in the heart of Tyrol. I know the peaks, crags and huts of this stunning region like only a local can, and I guarantee to find the elopement location that is exactly right for you and your partner. What’s more, I’ll be there by your side throughout the planning stages to answer any questions you might have about travelling to Tyrol and how to elope. I’m here to make your elopement adventure is as awesome as it can possibly be.
My Tyrol elopement photography packages range from €3500 to €10,000 and include my unlimited support throughout the planning process as well as access to my extensive list of elopement planners, florists, makeup artists and other wedding professionals, should you need them. Together we can create the adventurous elopement you have always dreamed of, in a Tyrolean location that is beyond your wildest dreams. Let’s do this!