Welcome to Innsbruck
Circled by mountains and crossed by rivers, Innsbruck, the capital of Tyrol, is an enclave of charm. Its old town is a fairy tale illustration of cheerful cafes, churches and neatly polished shops, and the riverside houses are all painted in different ice cream shades, trees bowing down to the water, with the mountains rising like drifts of caster sugar in the distance.
Founded over 800 years ago, between the Northern limestone Alps and the Central Alps, much of the city was shaped by the Hapsburg Emperor, Maximillian 1 and his sons, who built the glorious Hofburg Imperial Palace by the Old Town, where medieval houses crouch at its walls like supplicants. The Old Town, too, is home to the city's most famous architectural treasure, The Golden Roof, built by Archduke Friedrich IV in the 15th century.
The city expanded from the 18th century, hence its gilded, neo-classical architecture, alongside the chic serenity of its modern, wood-clad buildings, where every angle looks like a shoot for Wallpaper* magazine. The view down the splendid Maria-Theresien-Strasse towards the medieval old town offers a theatrical backdrop of the majestic Nordkette mountain chain, which can be reached by a very chic and modern funicular railway, the Hungerburgbahn designed by Zaha Hadid.
Innsbruck is also a huge sporting destination, having hosted the Winter Olympics three times. Everybody skis, though just breathing the air is enough to impart a sense of unexpected fitness and well-being. Perhaps it's not surprising that the city is home to an unusual number of Centenarians.
Bergisel Ski Jump & Tirol Panorama At The Tirol Land Museum
Strudel Cafe Kroll
Grand Hotel Europa
The Penz Design Hotel
Artwork by infamous Tyrolean painter Max Weiler (1910-2001) is often found in the most unexpected places such as shrines along Hallerstrasse, on a column adorned with mosaics at the entrance to a clothes shop, or murals painted on hotel facades and the Innsbruck Casino.
In nearby villages, there is a May custom where they erect a tall pine tree and put sausages at the top. Villagers then have to climb up them to claim them. On the eve of the festival, neighbouring villagers try to sabotage each others sausages...
Most food is seasonal- nobody eats sauerkraut in Summer. Local wines and beers are good and not too expensive.
There's a very long life expectancy in the region, with 40 people over 100 alive at the time of writing.
National costume is not considered to be hilarious. Many older people wear dirndls and lederhosen. So avoid sniggering.
Most shops are closed on Sundays, or have limited opening hours.
Innsbruck isn't a large town and it's easy to walk around. However it has a very efficient public transport system with buses, trams and the funicular railway.
There are various ticket options available such as 24 hour or 4 day passes. Children under 6 go free (up to 2 children per adult).
There are plenty of car-parks in the city, which cost about £2 per hour.