When most folks think of Innsbruck and the Tirol they think of winter holidays and skiing in particular. But Innsbruck also makes the perfect year round destination thanks to stunning Alpine scenery, gorgeous lakes and action sports in abundance. There’s no shortage of culture in the old town either.
There’s literally a mountain on your doorstep
OK there’s a lot of mountains on Innsbruck’s doorstep, but the Nordkette range is accessible directly from the city centre via a funicular and then two cable cars. So efficient is the service that it’s actually possible to reach the city from the airport and then be whisked to the “Path of Perspectives” at 2000 meters and watch the flight you arrived on taking off again from the airport.
There’s a cafe at 2000 metres with a terrace overlooking the valley and city below. So if you just want to soak up the views then sit with a drink and watch the birds fly by. But if you’re feeling more energetic there’s endless from the easy- 40 minute- Path of Perspectives to serious mountain climbing and hikes toward the summit above. A second cable car is also included in the ticket that will get those of you eager to reach higher to 2300m.
As you’d expect with a number of mountains on the doorstep there are bucket loads of adventurous sports to chose from in and around Innsbruck. You’ll find world class terrain and facilities for mountain biking, climbing, paragliding, canyoning and more. Innsbruck works particularly hard to make hikers welcome and- from June to October -the city employs qualified mountain guides to run free mountain treks to some of the most impressive viewpoints in and around the city. For those travellers who prefer two wheels to two legs mountain bikes can be rented at many locations across the city, including electrically assisted ones for those of us who are more athletically challenged or just too hung over.
Lakes and watersports
Being a landlocked country there is no sea in Austria, but what it lacks in coastline the surrounding Tirol more than makes up with its lakes and consequently its water sports. Many of these clear mountain lakes are easily accessible by public transport and are perfect for swimming, sunbathing and water sports. If you fancy an adrenaline filled day away from the city then hop on a train to nearby Ötztal where you will find Area 47, an outdoor water park with high speed water slides- one of which is like an aquatic version of ski jumping. You’ll also find a ten meter diving platform, a bouldering wall over water for “deep water soloing” and endless other high octane activities.
But let’s not forget the River Inn- which gives the city it’s name. Source to Sea offer white water rafting and kayaking trips including one of the most unique city tours I can think of, touring the city centre’s water front by a “white water style” raft.
No shortage of culture
There’s no shortage of historic pedigree in the city centre’s old town for visitors who need their culture fix. For starters there is the Imperial Palace, one of Austria’s most important cultural buildings and a testament to when the city was at the heart of European politics. Prestigious orchestras perform here free of charge throughout the month of July in a beautiful open air setting. There are many other gems in the compact old town, of course, including the Cathedral of St James, an important stop along the eastern section of the Way of St James, the five hundred year old Ambras Palace, originally home to an archduke and now home to hundreds of masterpieces of art. If you’re looking for something completely different then nearby Swarovski Crystal Worlds is visually stunning and unique, with bizarre crystal encrusted sculptures including a Giant’s Head and a Crystal Cloud- made from 800,000 floating crystals.
It’s perfect for a twin city break
With Salzburg and Munich both being less than 2 hours away these are the obvious choices for a twin city break but there are also direct trains to Verona that only take three and a half hours too. For those hiring a car the world famous Neischweinstein Castle and the Bavarian Alps are less than 2 hours away, as is Berchtesgaden and the notorious Eagle’s Nest.
Rooms in the four star Hotel Grauer Bär cost from as little as £123 per night, including breakfast. The hotel is excellently located in the city centre just steps away from the Imperial Palace and the Nordkette funicular station. There’s even a rooftop pool and hot tub overlooking the old town and the Nordkette mountains.