My View on Innsbruck: The Aegean Inflight Magazine

5. März 2024

Published in Blue, the Aegean Inflight Magazine Jan-Feb 2024

Innsbruck, a magical mountain getaway

I grew up in Vienna but have lived in Innsbruck – capital of the West Austrian region of Tyrol – for the past 12 years. I never get sick of its mountain views and always make sure to get a window seat whenever I fly into or out of the city.

Innsbruck combines urban vibrancy with natural beauty. It is com- pact yet diverse, o!ering a wealth of cultural activity and nightlife, while the surrounding mountains a!ord other captivating experiences. Its unique location, with those majestic mountains, o!ers a lifestyle for visitors and residents that any other city would find hard to match. Nature’s charm here is closely tied to the whims of the snowfall. With the arrival of the first snowflakes, Innsbruck is transformed into a magical wonderland and playground for winter sports.

The old city centre dates back to the Middle Ages; its main attraction is the Goldenes Dachl, or Golden Roof, a landmark structure whose balcony roof is decorated with 2,657 fire-gilded copper tiles. It’s a pretty sight, particularly with the mountain backdrop; if you look closely, you may spot the Seegrube and Hafelekar peaks. At 1,905 metres, Seegrube provides visitors spectacular views, while Hafelekar, at 2,334 metres, is one of the highest points in the Nordkette mountain range, and it’s only a 30-minute cable-car ride plus a 15-minute hike away. Weather permitting, do not miss this trip. You may find yourself sharing your cable car with skiers or climbers, as the steep couloirs are much loved by the local freeriders (o!-piste skiers) and mountaineers.

Bergisel Hill is renowned for its unique ski jump – designed by architect Zaha Hadid – as well as for a panoramic, 1,000-square-metre painting that depicts the Third Battle of Bergisel, which took place on August 13, 1809; this artwork is the main attraction at the Rundgemälde Museum. Stop by at the Ferdinandeum Museum, too, for more local art and temporary exhibitions. The Swarovski headquarters and the Swarovski Kristallwelten museum, whose collections include crystal creations by renowned artists such as Salvador Dali, Andy Warhol and Keith Haring, are just a 20-minute bus ride from the city.
Innsbruck is surrounded by 14 ski resorts. Some are so close that the city’s university students bring their skis to class in the morning, then hit the slopes during lunch breaks. Axamer Lizum, Kühtai and Seefeld are my favourite ski resorts. I also enjoy ski touring at Sattelbergalm or, at nighttime, heading up to Birgitzer Alm for hot soup and hearty cheese dumplings before riding back down again. You can also cover the downhill route on a sled. They are easy to rent, and I strongly advise using helmet and proper snow boots.

Culinary Adventures

Futterkutter, in the centre of the city, is my favourite spot for lunch. It serves freshly made soups and regional cuisine. The food cart delivers its dishes in glass jars, which diners may take home with them and reuse. As a result of its proximity to Italy, Innsbruck also has some very good pizza places, and La Trattoria is the best of them all. Here, Luca Ottaviani, an extraordinary pizzaiolo, makes the most incredible Neapolitan pizza I’ve ever had.

For a traditional, very local culinary experience, put on your boots and set o! on the short hike up to Umbrüggler Alm, which serves exceptional Tyrolean fare with a modern twist. If you’re not much of a hiker, drive to Wilder Mann, an excellent restaurant in nearby Lans that serves local cuisine. If you like sweets, Tante Ina’s is a confectionery shop in Innsbruck that serves cakes and other baked delights. If you’re looking for something more traditionally Austrian, head to Café Central, whose atmosphere resembles that of the historic Viennese cafés.

Fuchs & Hase is my go-to bar. It is owned by two friends who come up with the most delicious drinks. All ingredients are carefully selected – or even homemade, like their Aperol version. Alternatively, you can order the Paloma cocktail, my all-time favourite drink, made with tequila, grapefruit-flavoured soda and lime.

Shopping in Innsbruck

For shopping, Feinheiten is a superb store in the city centre where you can buy jewellery, clothing, cards and small gifts. If you’re into great design and high-quality products, make sure you visit Resort B, selling well-crafted hats, beautiful tableware, and quality cosmetics. There’s also ONE, possibly the top concept store on my list, which sells sustainable clothing and accessories, primarily Scandinavian brands. Want something truly special from Innsbruck? A good idea would be to buy a handmade pair of wooden skis or a snowboard. The craftspeople at SPURart can custom-design skis and snowboards, or you can spend a weekend taking part in a ski-making or snowboard-building workshop.

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