Destination of the Week: Innsbruck
If you want to be in the heart of Austria’s ski resorts this winter season, Innsbruck offers a splash of medieval history to the mountain setting. Blending old and new, the futuristic Hungerburg Funicular and the Bergisel Ski Jump join a huge student population to give the town a fresh, vibrant atmosphere. Whether you choose to ski or not, Innsbruck’s spectacular position in the midst of a ring of mountains guarantees a magical trip, of exploration and strudel-eating.
What to do
Innsbruck’s Old Town is a pedestrian-only area characterised by narrow house-fronts, Renaissance and Baroque architecture and winding, cobblestone streets. Visit the 16th century Golden Eagle inn, the Stadtturn watchtower, the House of the Teutonic Order and the Castle Giant’s House, which was actually built for a court giant in 1490.
Admire the Court Church which is home to the Tomb and Museum of Emperor Maximilian I. Built in 1496, the glorious Golden Roof, or the Goldenes Dachl, is a balcony made of gilded copper tiles, which the court used to watch town festivities. Get a glimpse of court life at the Hofburg, Innsbruck’s old Court Palace, while you explore the opulent royal apartments.
To really immerse yourself in history, Innsbruck boasts internationally acclaimed museums, including the Tyrolean Folk Art Museum, the Tyrolean State Museum and the Tyrol Panorama and Imperial Infantry Museum. Follow the path of the River Inn on foot or by bike, check out the sparkling Christmas markets if you’re visiting in season and end the night with a schnapps at an array of fashionable bars.
Where to stay
If you’re not staying at a ski resort, Innsbruck offers a range of accommodation in the heart of the town, so you’ll never be far from a cosy café and a hit of strudel.
The Grand Hotel Europa (£££)
You’ll be in fine company if you stay at the Grand Hotel Europa, having housed Queen Elizabeth II, Sting and The Rolling Stones. Within walking distance of the attractions, the hotel offers Alpine views, a restaurant serving traditional Tyrolean cuisine, a bar, a Baroque parlour and rooms with marble bathrooms, flat-screen TVs and air-conditioning.
The Weisses Rossl (££)
Located in the pedestrian-only zone in the Old Town, right near the Golden Roof, Weisses Rossl boasts a history-filled restaurant with a terrace and views. The hotel offers a variety of rooms, including family rooms with flat screen TVs and Wi Fi.
Jugendherberge Innsbruck (£)
The Jugendherberge Innsbruck is a youth hostel located 2 km from the centre of town. The hostel offers rooms with both shared and private bathrooms, a TV room, a garden, a ski storage area and table tennis.
Where to eat
Eating out in Innsbruck is nothing short of delicious. With a commitment to organic farming, your meals will be fresh, succulent and full of flavour. Cheese-lovers are sure to overdose, pastry fanatics won’t be able to walk by a café without sampling the menu and, if you love schnapps, this is the place to drink it.
It’s all about the sweeping views over rooftops at Lichtblick, and, of course, the Austrian/European cuisine. Housed on the 7th floor of the Rathaus Gallerien, you can look forward to sleek service and a unique menu of seasonal produce.
Right in the middle of the Old Town, Fischerhaeusl is the perfect spot to eat some cheesy dumplings after an evening of wandering about the Christmas markets. Serving traditional and modern cuisine, you can hang out in the garden if it’s warm or get cosy in the upstairs dining room.
Café Munding (£)
When in Innsbruck’s Old Town, it’s perfectly acceptable to skip your main meal all together and go straight for the cake and hot chocolate. Café Munding is the place to do it, especially if you need a freshly roasted coffee to wash it down with.
Featured image source: (c) istock/thinkstock