Innsbruck

Arriving in Innsbruck I had high expectations for the city that proudly proclaims to be the Capital of the Alps. Austria’s fifth largest city sits in the broad valley surrounded by dramatic snow capped mountains. The city’s natural beauty and picturesque views had me mesmerised and truly do leave a lasting impression, so I couldn’t wait to check into my hotel, grab my camera and go and explore this wonderful city.

Where to stay:

I was staying at the Addlers hotel; a contemporary hotel which is just a five minute walk from the train station and the old town. The hotel itself offers panoramic views over Innsbruck from its 12th floor bar and restaurant whilst each room offers views of the Alps. There is also a spa located in the hotel offering different types of massage, multiple saunas, an infra red cabin, and an amazing relaxation room with a view. You also get a free pass for the mcfit gym located next door to help you keep on track with your fitness goals. My room was superb, I was on the tenth floor with a view of the Alps and overlooking the town. The room was modern, clean and spacious and the rocking chair in front of the window is an invitation to relax in the evening gazing out the window at the magnificent view. The bathrooms are large in size whilst offering a fabulous shower and heated floor.

Alternatively why not book a room at STAGE 12? This elegant hotel situated in the very heart of the city boasts a spa, fitness centre and a terrace with views of the mountain landscape where you can enjoy a cocktail in hand as you unwind of an evening. With its contemporary, minimalist feel, this hotel close to the city train station and many of its attractions is a fantastic option for your stay in Innsbruck.

If you’re looking for a hostel for your stopover in Innsbruck then look no further than Hostel Marmota; located on the outskirts of Innsbruck, this modern hostel offers clean, spacious, rooms with eye-catching mountain views all for a very reasonable price.

With my check-in now complete and my day bag all packed, the first stop on my Innsbruck itinerary was a trip to the old town. On entering the old town you will feel like you have taken a step back in time. The 800 year old city centre is full of stunning architecture and lined with medieval houses painted in a variety of pastel colours. Cobbled streets with narrow winding alleyways filled with shops, cafes and restaurants connect together whilst providing the city with plenty of unique charm and character. I was visiting during December so the town was filled with charming market stalls offering you a chance to sample some of the local drinks and cuisine. The streets were sparkling with lights and decorations with the perfectly decorated tree taking centre stage in the middle of the old town. Sat above the Christmas tree is the famous golden roof. Constructed in the 15th century and the once royal box to Emperor Maximilian I and now a major tourist attraction.

Just a stone’s throw away from the Goldenroof is the city tower, built between 1442-1450 as an observation point for sentries who announced the hours of the day. The guards also maintained civic order at night whilst keeping a watchful eye over the city for hostile intruders. Take a walk up the 148 steps to the viewing deck and take in the fantastic 360-degree view of the city and its surroundings.

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The imperial palace and the court church are both just a short walk from the Goldenroof and are both worth visiting so you can witness their spectacular architecture and delve into the city’s history. Likewise the Triumphal Arch is a 10 minute stroll away. Along the way take the time to indulge in some shopping in the many shops and Christmas stalls on offer in the town centre. The Arch itself is located at the southern end of the Maria Theresien-Straße and was built on the occasion of the wedding of Archduke Leopald to Maria Luisa on 5th August 1765. Due to the death of Leopald’s father Francis Stephen shortly before the wedding a memorial motif was worked into the Triumphal Arch when he died. Its south side portrays motifs of the wedding whilst the north side commemorates the death of the emperor.

Complete your journey around the old town with a stroll along the river inn. Here you can take in the the wonderfully picturesque pastel coloured houses set against the jaw dropping backdrop of the imposing mountain scenery.

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Next on my list of attractions to take in was the Nordkette cable car ride. The ride takes you from Innsbruck to the top of Nordkette one of the higher peaks overlooking the city. The ride takes around 20 minutes and offers spectacular views along the way. You can hop off at any one of the stops along the way or travel all the way to the top. I recommend going all the way to the top as the views are simply breathtaking and something that you don’t want to miss. The majestic scenery and tranquil silence once you reach the top are something to behold and I could have sat up there for hours taking it all in.

Whilst making your way back down from the top of Nordkette why not take the opportunity to stop at the popular Alpenzoo. Located at the foot of the Nordkette mountain range and accessible via one of the stops on the cable car ride itself the  zoo offers you the chance to see around 2000 animals from 150 animal species and is a great way to spend an afternoon for animal lovers.

Across the opposite side of Innsbruck lies the must see attraction that is the Bergisel ski jump. Designed by Zaha Hadid and towering above Innsbruck, take a walk up the 455 steps or alternatively you can take the funicular ride to the main tower where there is a cafe, restaurant and a viewing platform with a 360-degree view of Innsbruck and its mountain scenery. You can also take a look at the ski jump starting ramp and see what the athletes witness before they start their jumps. Innsbruck is a city that is renowned for its winter sports and steeped in history. It played host to the Winter Olympics in 1964 and 1976 ,as well as the 1984 and 1988 Winter Paralympics. It also hosted the 2012 Winter Youth Olympics. I have to say that you get a feeling of that history when you visit the Bergisel ski jump, there’s a feeling of greatness left by the athletes who have competed and graced this great venue in years gone by. It really is a must see when visiting Innsbruck.

If you’re interested in delving into history and museums then you won’t be left disappointed as this grand city has a host of them on offer for you to indulge in.

Why not try the Audioversum, an interactive science centre museum about hearing? This gives you the opportunity to experiment with new ways of listening and explore how we perceive sound.

Or maybe you would like to see how Tyroleans lived in years gone by? If so be sure to stop by the museum of Tyrolean folk art to see a collection of cultural treasures from local history including arts and crafts and traditional costumes.

Round off your tour of museums with a fascinating history lesson at the Tyrol Panorama museum. Here you will have the chance to take a journey through the history of Tyrol.

By now you have probably worked up an appetite and one of the fun things about visiting a new city is that it presents you with the opportunity to try new restaurants and for the chance to sample some excellent vegan and vegetarian cuisine, I would highly recommend that you try olive-a casual, contemporary, restaurant with a cool decor, this splendid restaurant has a nice welcoming atmosphere with friendly staff who speak multiple languages including English. Most importantly the food is excellent.

For travelling around Innsbruck I would recommend walking to most places as they are easily accessible by foot with most being only a short walk away. It also presents  you with the opportunity to snap away with your camera, discover and explore hidden new places and take in all the sights that this wonderful city has to offer. There’s also multiple trams to hop on, or buses to take if you don’t feel like walking. If you’re travelling to Innsbruck via plane then a connection to the city centre is straight forward as there is a bus stop right outside the airport that takes you to Innsbruck centre within 15 minutes. If you are arriving by train, Innsbruck main train station is only a 10 minute walk from the centre of Innsbruck.

I’d highly recommend the purchase of an Innsbruck card this will allow you free access to museums, visitor attractions, public transport, cable car rides and many of the cities other attractions whilst providing you with generous discounts. The 24 hour card costs-€43 with the 48 hour card costing €50 and the 72 hour card €59.

I’d arrived in Innsbruck with high expectations and left with the capital of the Alps having stolen a place in my heart. A beautiful city with spectacular views and lots to offer, Innsbruck is a small city that punches well above its weight and I for one am counting down the days until my return.

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