Innsbruck: Where old world charm abounds
Innsbruck is a gem in the Tyrolean region of Austria that is often overlooked by travelers. Though Vienna and Salzburg attract the crowds, this little city that nestles peacefully at the foot of the Alps, is worth discovering. The River Inn flows through Innsbruck, hence the name. Pastel buildings line the banks, and the jagged mountains rise not in the distance but right up close.
Known as the capital of the Alps, Innsbruck dates back about 800 years. Imperial and Gothic architecture with elements of Baroque can be seen throughout this city, and the Eastern influence is apparent in the domes dotting the skyline.
A prime ski destination, Innsbruck also offers fair season travelers a quiet, lovely town to explore. The Alps provide skiing adventures in the winter and pleasant hiking trails in the summer. The town itself gives visitors a variety of sights to explore.
One famous Innsbruck landmark is the Golden Roof located in the center of the old town. It boasts more than 2,000 copper tiles and was added by Maximillian around 1500. The square under the roof was the scene for public burnings but is now buzzing with tourists enjoying their day.
A place you’ll want to visit is the Castle Ambras, which was built into an old fortress in the 16th century. This castle and palace complex occupies prime land on a hill overlooking the colorful town. The regal castle is open to the public, and you’ll appreciate not only the elegance of the architecture but also displays of art collected by Habsburg ruler Archduke Ferdinand II. The extensive display of armor, weapons, and regalia for horses is quite shiny and impressive.
Becoming the host of the 1964 and 1976 Winter Olympics was Innsbruck’s recent claim to fame. One resulting architectural wonder is the Bergisel Ski Jump, which includes a cable car up the hill to the top of the Olympic Ski Jump and an enclosed viewing platform and café. Not only can you stand at the top of the jump and look down at the dizzying drop, but you can also look out across the valley to the Alps on the other side of Innsbruck. Add in a lush forest alongside the jump, and you have beautiful views for miles.
Other Innsbruck highlights include the Imperial Palace, the Tirol Panorama Museum, the City Tower and Wilten Abbey Basilica. Even in The Hotel Goldener Adler spoke of the centuries of history here, as it first opened its doors in the 1300s.
To journey up into the mountains, you can ride the Nordketten cable cars and be whisked above the town in just minutes. Summer days are perfect for getting in the cable car and grabbing a snack at the little restaurant.
Once you’ve been fed, hike along the lush paths and take in the panoramic views of Innsbruck far below. You may meet some wooly mountain sheep along the way.
Another summer delight is dinner at a sidewalk café. On a pleasant evening, you can bask in the ambiance and enjoy good food. Stroll along the river bank at sunset for picture-perfect memories. Top off the day with a gelato, and you may find yourself wondering if life can get any better.
Visit Innsbruck’s website to help plan the details of a memorable trip to the capital of the Alps.