Sunday, March 4, 2012

Innsbruck



Innsbruck is the sleeping heart of Tyrol, and this late mediaeval city offers visitors a lot. We loved the architecture of the city, but we loved the friendly Austrian welcome we got in the local hotels and pensions. This area relies on tourism, particularly during the winter months, but it’s worth spending a day of your skiing holiday exploring this historic city.

The Imperial Palace (the Hofburg) has nothing to do with David Hasselhoff or Darth Vader. Instead, it was the seat of government for the Tyrolean region. Rococo features and furnishings grace this palace, and you should experience this incredible piece of Austrian history.

Once you’re filled up with culture, why not visit the Goldenes Dachl, the golden roof, that overlooks the main street of the old town where the emperors used to issue their proclamations. In addition, Innsbruck offers museums on bells, Tyrolean history, folk art, and renaissance homes. The Tyrolean history museum was fascinating, and it explains a lot about Innsbruck.

Of much more interest to us was the Innsbrucker Tanzsommer, the summer dance festival held in mid-June to early July. A series of dance events, ranging from classical styles to modern dance, are available, so it’s a great opportunity to enjoy something different.

For great views, you have to travel up to Seegrube, where you will see the Inn valley from 2,000 meters (6,500 feet). There are also a lot of scenic walks up there, and the two towering mountain ranges just add to the majesty of the city.
The city’s major winter attraction is the snowboarding and skiing runs that grace the slopes around the city. There are regular events that attract experienced snowboarders and skiers from around the world, such as the Billabong Air and Style event. This is a chance to meet alpine heroes and marvel at their sheer skill.

The nightlife in Innsbruck is surprisingly good. For something different, look under the railway bridge, known as the Viaduktbogen. This area offers great drinks, a very relaxed and friendly atmosphere, and very late opening times. To be honest, we’re not sure if they actually close. For something less club-like, try Theresienbräu, a pub in the center of the city. It makes its own beer and the food is rather good.

While winter is one of the best times to go to Innsbruck, there is much to do all year round. If you’re ever stuck for something to do, ask your hotel staff to recommend an activity. It could be walking, drinking, eating, or seeing the local sights. We found that everyone is really friendly in Innsbruck, and it’s a great place to explore.

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