If you are looking to go sowhere differnt and find a place that it is not over crowded and still has it's natural charm then visit the Tannheimer Valley, Tannheimer Tal in Tirol.

This valley high in the Austrian mountains should be called the hidden valley as there are no tour operators that offer it as a destination and only accommodates individual travellers. Besides the beautiful landscape it offers, which incidently is very different in winter then it is in summer it is also extremely cheap. Accommodation in a very decent 3-4 Star Hotel or Pension starts from around £15 per person and that includes breakfast.

 With regards to Food, the places there really know how to serve an excellent meal and there is quiet a variety, though if you are looking for Chinese or Thai food, don't bother, as said it is completely unspoilt and there are no chains there yet. Look for a Gasthof to enjoy local cuisine.

 The valley consists of 5 villages, Nesselwaengle, Graen-Haldensee, Tannheim, Zoeblen and Schattwald. Schattwald is right at the German border and my favorite and the most unspoilt village is Zoeblen. If it is skiing in the winter or walking,sun bathing, hiking or swimming in the summer, this is the place. There are 2 lakes in the valley and apparantly there are so deep that nobody's knows how deep they are. There are also a number of local attractions in the area, one of them is the famous Schloss Neuschwanstein, the king Luddwig castle which draws tourists from around the world and is only a short drive away across the border to Fuessen in Germany. Once you see it you will immediately receognise it is it was used as the template for the Disney Castle.

 Access is easy too, there are several airports to fly to such as Munich, Zurich, Innsbruck or Stuttgart. The most convenient one is Stuttgart and from there it is around 1 1/2 hours drive via mostly motorway and the local roads are in excellent condition.

 Accommodation is plenty on offer and varies from Self Catering to B&B's and 5 Star, the best is to stay in a Pension or a 3 star hotel to really absorb the local hospitality and customs.

 So if it is somewhere off the beaten path you are looking for, try and find this very undiscovered valley, the Tannheimer Tal in Tirol.

 Tirol can be quite touristy in certain locations. If you want to avoid the worst crowds on a hiking vacation, go there in September. This is when the weather is usually still nice (check the local weather reports!) and the "Almabtrieb" ceremonies are held. This is when cows are decorated like christmas trees and taken from the mountains to lower pastures or stables, where they spend the winters. For background information and "behand the scenes" travelling, see this guide to Innsbruck and wider Tirol.