Innsbruck

It’s impossible to resist the charm of Innsbruck during the Christmas season. However, there is more to this picturesque town than just Christmas markets, with modernist architecture and an unexpectedly lively nightlife. Here’s our alternative guide to Innsbruck, for travellers looking for something a little different.

Cozy Christmas Markets

Breathe in the warming spicy scents, hug your hands around a steaming mug of gluhwein, and allow yourself to melt into the festive spirit at one of Innsbruck’s Christmas markets. Austria is famed for being an all around pro at all things seasonal, and the markets in this city never fail to raise Christmas cheer. One of the best and most traditional takes place in front of the iconic “Golden Roof”—a building gifted by the Emporer to his wife in Austria’s Imperial days—and sees clusters of wooden stalls selling a variety of handcrafted treats and trinkets and serving a variety of homemade dishes.

Uncover cultural gems

Although Innsbruck doesn’t have quite the same artistic flair as the Austrian capital, Vienna, if you look closely, there are some unusual gems to be found. The ART Innsbruck International Fair takes place annually, seeing some of the hottest creative talent arrive in the city. There are an enormous array of prints, paintings, sculptures and installations on show, with over 90 exhibitors from 10+ nations.

If urban art is more your thing, don’t miss the work of HNRX, a local urban artist, who has splashed a little colour across the city’s streets. See his 37-metre high mural ‘Matches’ on the facade of a camp tower. The artist, who is originally from Austria, has produced work all over Europe.

 

Discover the co-op for creatives

On Dreiheiligenstraße, you will find Die Bäckerei, a non-profit cooperative for creatives, offering studio space and access to a variety of lectures, workshops, clubs and networking events. Self-described as ‘a lively platform for social and cultural exchange’, Die Bäckerei is right in the heart of Innsbruck’s creative scene, encouraging new artists to showcase their work.

Dreiheiligenstraße 21a, +43 0680 2472260

 

Curious architecture

Although there is much magnificence in the Baroque architecture that dominates the city centre, if in search for something a little out of the ordinary look to the Adambräu. Originally built as a brewery in the mid-1920s in the Wilten district, this unusual building is now considered a monument, and is used to archive pieces of architectural work from the University of Innsbruck.

Cultured cuisine

Austrian food is worth checking out in Innsbruck, but if you’re looking for an alternative to the ubiquitous schnitzel and strudel for an evening, try Himal Nepali Kitchen Restaurant, on Universitätsstraße. It’s a charming family-run restaurant serving delicious, low-cost Nepali cuisine. Or, if looking for something a little more fitting with the Alpine surroundings, Stiftskeller offers a ‘Tyrolean Snack Platter’ comprising smoked bacon, horseradish, gherkin, tomato and spread.  

Himal Nepali Kitchen Restaurant, Universitätsstraße 13, 6020 Innsbruck,  +43 0512 588588

Stiftskeller, Stiftsgasse 1-7, 6020 Innsbruck, +43 0512 570706

 

Top places for a tipple

Although it seems unlikely given its cozy size and quaint atmosphere, Innsbruck has a surprisingly thriving nightlife, which is quite student-focused. Cafe Bar Moustache is a trendy, conspicuous joint that serves a brunch buffet by day and tasty cocktails by night (the pisco sour is a must-try). For a quieter tipple, S’Culinarium has an excellent variety of Austrian schnapps, wines and snacks, and Bar Kir Royal has a warm and calm ambience.

The vast, sprawling market, Markthalle, on the banks of the Inn has been in existence since 1406. Here, you’ll discover local farmers selling regional fruit and vegetables and a variety of more modern stands. Must-try foods include the Tirol-style sausages, red venison bacon, faschingskrapfen (warm doughnuts), or nut or apple filled strudel.

Cafe Bar Moustache, Herzog-Otto-Straße 8, 6020 Innsbruck, +43 0680 2163908

S’Culinarium, Pfarrgasse 1, 6020 Innsbruck, +43 0512 574903

Bar Kil Royal, Sillgasse 11, 6020 Innsbruck, +43 0650 9495338

 

Winter Sports

In 1964 and 1976, Innsbruck hosted the winter Olympics, and the city has always been a honeypot for snow sport junkies. Skiers flock to the surrounding Alps for weeks of gliding down perfect mountains and hikers populate the many mountainous trails. One of the most frequently visited resorts around the city is the Patscherkofel region in the Alps, and 1,400 meters above Innsbruck and the Hafelekar Run is one of the steepest ski runs in Europe.

The Cable Car

Designed by architect Zaha Hadid, the Nordkette cable car lifts you high into the sky and into the wilderness, giving unobscured panoramic views of awe-inspiring Alpine landscapes that hug the city. Located in the center of Innsbruck, the journey takes you across unique views of the city below and then transforms over time to become idyllic countryside.

Epic Hikes

Hiking is a great way to experience Innsbruck and become acquainted with its awe-inspiring natural surroundings. The many trails in the outskirts of the city (here are 50 of the best routes) take you around a variety of stunning landscapes—glittering rivers, soaring mountains, and some of the most stunning views you’ll ever see. The Arzler Alm to Hoettinger Alm is a favorite route, leading you through thick forests and lush meadows.

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