Innsbruck: A cosy winter getaway with charm and history

Nestled in the Inn river valley, between scenic mountain ranges, Innsbruck strikes the perfect balance between relaxing remoteness and urban culture. 

Innsbruck is the historical capital of Tyrol, in Austria. It’s especially famous as a prime winter sports location, has something to offer for every taste, from perfect snow for avid skiers and snowboarders, to a sizeable selection of museums and churches, to the dazzling Ambras Castle adorning the hills above the city. 

Innsbruck is well connected via its railway station, as well as the international airport located just three miles from the centre. 

Depending on your budget, there are various options for where to stay, either in or near the city. Located centrally in the old town, hotels can be booked from less than £30 per night per person, with more luxurious 4-star and 5-star accommodation being just as readily available. 

Holiday apartments range in style from rustic to modern and offer a good alternative to staying in a hotel.

If you prefer being closer to the mountains, you might choose to stay in one of Innsbruck’s neighbouring villages, such as Völs, Rum, or Ampass. If the central locations are fully booked, privately owned bed and breakfasts can sometimes become free at the last minute!

Sports and outdoor activities
The former host city of two Winter Olympics, Innsbruck is a paradise for winter sports enthusiasts. With a single ski pass, visitors can access up to nine ski resorts covering over 160 miles of snowy pistes, accessible by the free ski bus or cable car. 

Cross-country skiing, snowboarding, and even ice climbing are becoming more and more popular, with many tour operators offering courses for beginners and experts alike. 

Stunning hiking trails meander through the mountains, leading up to small farms, chapels, and summits of 8,200 feet.

To enjoy the outdoors in a less extreme way, an idyllic horse-drawn sleigh ride provides a special treat!

A vast variety of restaurants, bars, and cafés invite the hungry traveller inside to warm up over a glass of mulled wine or a cup of delicious Viennese coffee. 

Trendy cocktail bars stay open late for après-ski, and modern rooftop venues offer spectacular views to complement traditional Austrian cuisine. Popular favourites include the famous Wiener Schnitzel or the renowned dessert Palatschinken: hot pancakes dusted with icing sugar and filled to one’s taste with jam, chocolate, fresh fruit, or ice cream. 

A particular highlight is the Seegrube Restaurant. Although at 6,200 feet above sea level, atop the Northern Range, its unique flair is not just accessible to aspiring mountaineers: you can reach it within 20 minutes from the centre by cable car. 

Culture and events
Innsbruck’s rich history is still reflected in many of its architectural masterpieces, such as the castle Schloss Ambras. Associated with Ferdinand II, Archduke of Austria, it now doubles as a museum. You can also enjoy attractions such as the unique Golden Roof, dating back to 1500, or the Triumphal Arch in the south of the city.

If you’re on a budget, a simple stroll through the old town can turn into a sightseeing tour. Interesting museums such as the Tyrolean Folk Art Museum or the Alpine Club Museum offer insights into local traditions, customs, and influences over the past centuries. 

If you’re visiting during the Christmas season, the Christkindlmarkt, illuminating the city with its cosy golden glow, is not to be missed. 

As you’d expect, you should bring warm clothes, as temperatures can fall below freezing in winter. On New Year’s Eve, colourful fireworks are displayed against the backdrop of majestic mountain ranges at the impressive Bergsilvester – an ideal getaway to start the new year in style!