Tucked away in her isolated mountain valleys, Tyrol remained remote from other regions of Austria for centuries, and so developed a distinctive sense of identity, with its own culture, politics and customs. Regional pride still holds strong and national costume is worn at every opportunity: wide-brimmed black hats adorned with flowers plus white blouse and embroidered waistcoats and dirndl skirts for the women; leather leiderhosen and loden jackets topped with jaunty feathered caps for the men.
Music and dancing runs deep through every Tyrolean vein, and celebrations always include enthusiastic dancing accompanied by accomplished displays of zither and alpenhorn music as well as yodeling, clapping and the tinkling of cow bells.
Visitors to Innsbruck can sample the famous Austrian Sacher torte at coffee houses throughout the city, but to experience an authentic night of thigh-thumping, shoe-slapping Tyrolean fun, book an evening’s entertainment at the family-run Sandwirt Restaurant. Here country dances and jigs passed down through generations are performed nightly in a rousing musical show. Join in the action for the woodchopper’s dance and afterwards sample a typical local three-course menu of garlic soup, Weiner schnitzel and apple strudel complemented by local wines.
To enjoy a typical Tyrolean gourmet dinner – which could be knödeln (stuffed dumplings), gröstl (fried onion, pork or veal, and potato cakes) or schnitzel – without the musical accompaniment, take the Nordkette cable car up 6,250 ft (1,905 m) to the panoramic Alpenlounge Seegrube Restaurant for a romantic dinner à deux as the sun sets over the Austrian Alps.