Europe

An Evening Walk Through the Hofgarten in Innsbruck

Visiting a local park is something we like to do in every city we visit. So far we’ve seen Vondelpark in Amsterdam, the Jardin du Luxembourg in Paris, and now we can add the Hofgarten in Innsbruck to our list.

The Hofgarten (Court Gardens) is a lovely public park covering about 25 acres on the outskirts of Innsbruck’s Old Town. Back in the 16th century, the Hofgarten was considered one of the most elaborate formal gardens north of the Alps. It has been “revitalized” quite a few times since then; Maria Theresa, the empress we learned about at the Hofburg Imperial Palace, even had her hand in reshaping it during her reign. A few plants supposedly remain that she planted herself, although, if they are marked, we did not see them. The Hofgarten is now an English garden with large, old trees, a small pond, a greenhouse, and pretty, winding walking trails.

We dropped in to take a walk before dinner one evening. Being that it was February, we knew we wouldn’t be sticking around too long after the sun set, but we had just long enough of a stroll to burn off the calories we’d be getting back as soon as we sat down for our meal.

The Hofgarten In Innsbruck, Austria

The Hofgarten In Innsbruck, Austria

The Hofgarten In Innsbruck, Austria

The Hofgarten In Innsbruck, Austria

The Hofgarten In Innsbruck, Austria

The Hofgarten In Innsbruck, Austria

The Hofgarten In Innsbruck, Austria

Even though it was very much still winter in Innsbruck, the grass in the park remained green and quite a few early spring blooms were already showing off their colors. We saw the most unusual tree that was growing not only upright, but also along the ground like a gigantic, twisting serpent. I tried to get a picture, but I couldn’t even fit it all in the frame. There was a “No Touching” sign in front, so I assume it’s something pretty special.

Besides a few dog-walkers scattered throughout the park, we pretty much had the place to ourselves. In warmer months, I’d guess the Hofgarten to be a much busier place, given its location right next to the river and all the major sights of Innsbruck. The lack of people was something I couldn’t help but notice while we were visiting, and not just at the park, but everywhere else we went as well. Given the city’s popularity among winter sports enthusiasts, I figured there would be a lot more tourists in February, but we were pleasantly surprised at how uncrowded the restaurants, sights, and even the streets were!

The Hofgarten In Innsbruck, Austria

The Hofgarten In Innsbruck, Austria

We covered quite a bit of ground in the Hofgarten in the hour we had before sundown – I’m sure we would have made much quicker time, too, if I weren’t stopping to photograph something new every two dozen steps.

We found a pond with ducks that seemed rather miffed at us for not bringing them anything to eat. (Next time I’ll remember that if I want better pictures, I ought to bring bread, otherwise all I’ll get is tail-feathers.) They also didn’t like it when I tried to pick them up. Odd bunch, those ducks.

My favorite thing we stumbled across on our walk was the giant chess boards on either side of the pavilion in the park. There were pretty intense games being played on both of them, and people standing by watching looked just as fixated on the game as the players themselves. I don’t even play chess and this was still fun to stop and watch.

The Hofgarten In Innsbruck, Austria

Maybe I spoke too soon about my favorite thing – it was definitely the mountains. They were easy to pick out in the park, always peeking over the tops of the tall pine trees. I’ve never lived anywhere with scenery like this, so any time we’d get a glimpse of the snow-covered peaks, my heart would skip a beat. The mountains, even though they aren’t the same range or even on the same continent, made me feel a bit closer to my sister who is living in Colorado. This must be the same sort of landscape she sees every day. What an amazing view to wake up to!

The Hofgarten is located across the street from the Hofburg Imperial Palace and right next to the Tyrolean State Theater. The main entrance to the park is on Rennweg. This is the closest entrance to the children’s play area and the only place in the park where people and animals are permitted on the grass. (I never saw anyone around enforcing this rule, but there are signs up throughout the park.) Entrance is free and the gates are open from sunrise to sunset!

Hofgarten: Website
Address: Rennweg, 6020 Innsbruck

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The Hofgarten In Innsbruck, Austria

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  • Mandy Southgate
    April 24, 2014 at 6:39 PM

    What a lovely post! As you know, I share your love of walking and really enjoyed joining you in this one. Your photos are great! The duck part was too funny and I also love giant chessboards.

    • Sarah Shumate
      April 25, 2014 at 8:38 AM

      I have done more walking in this past year than I think I’ve done in all my years combined! A good thing, since the extent of my “working out” lately has been to run once every two weeks. :)

  • Emmymom
    April 8, 2014 at 6:21 PM

    Love those upside down flowers- almost look like tulips. Looks like an awesome park

  • Irene @ Away from Tenerife
    April 8, 2014 at 11:37 AM

    Oh, I LOVE giant chessboards in public spaces though I don’t think I would ever dare to make move – I’m too bad of a chessplayer for that hehe.
    The park looks very cosy in your photos and those early blossoms are just beautiful!

  • Alyx
    April 6, 2014 at 3:54 AM

    Oh, man! Gorgeous!!

  • kayleigh maryon
    April 4, 2014 at 5:35 PM

    I love playing with the giant chess boards, so much fun and your outside enjoying nice weather as well.

  • Katrin
    April 4, 2014 at 5:59 PM

    Oh wow, that definitely is a pretty park! I especially love the duckies and the chess board! So cool! And your pictures are always fantastic!

  • Emma @ AdventuresofaLondonKiwi
    April 3, 2014 at 10:46 PM

    How beautiful! There’s a chess set like that in Holland Park which is a little closer to travel to in case you guys fancy a game sometime soon…

    • Sarah Shumate
      April 4, 2014 at 9:06 AM

      I’d have to be a spectator. I never learned to play chess, mostly because I never knew anyone who knew how to play. I doubt I’d be any good though – chess requires too much future planning for me. ;)

  • Melanie Fontaine
    April 3, 2014 at 3:21 PM

    English-style gardens are definitely my favorite gardens – especially because they still look nice in the winter! I feel French gardens, while super elaborate, often seem a little bit soulless to me and I only find them impressive if they’re really big as in Versailles. :) But an English park also has so much character! :) I think it’s interesting that there are so many plants that were planted by Maria Theresia herself – it’s crazy to think just how old some plants can be!

    • Sarah Shumate
      April 4, 2014 at 9:04 AM

      I love English gardens, too! When I was younger, my dad turned half of our backyard into an English garden – it was so beautiful! And I loved how it still looked nice in the winter, too. Everything else in Tennessee was dead that time of year except for my dad’s garden!

  • rorybore
    April 3, 2014 at 6:42 PM

    I would be in my glory if I had a 25 acre garden. there might be ponies even! LOL What a beautiful place. I love that gnarly, twisted tree – Nature makes the best art.

  • Dannielle @ Chicadeedee
    April 3, 2014 at 11:03 AM

    We always visit parks as well, and I always wish I knew how to play chess when I see those giant boards!

  • Sammy @ Days Like This
    April 2, 2014 at 5:55 PM

    Beautiful Sarah. You always take the best pictures. I love parks. I could laze around all day in one. The last pic seriously looks like a painting!

  • Robert Wareham
    April 2, 2014 at 5:54 PM

    Beautiful photographs! This really makes me want to get outside in the sunshine and take some pictures! :)

  • Ashley | Domestic Fashionista
    April 2, 2014 at 10:06 PM

    I do not blame you one bit for loving the mountains! I love how they are peaking through your photos. And seeing the season change isn’t bad either. Those beautiful little buds. Simply lovely. Austria is stunning.

    • Sarah Shumate
      April 4, 2014 at 9:02 AM

      Spring is my favorite of all the seasons, so I get pretty exciting when the first little buds start coming out! It’s kind of neat traveling through all seasons, too, instead of just the typical summer travel season. I really enjoyed how quiet Austria was while we were there!

  • Stacie Stamper
    April 2, 2014 at 1:14 PM

    Such beautiful pictures!

  • Steffy
    April 2, 2014 at 5:08 PM

    Beautiful garden and stunning photos!

  • Keith Wynn
    April 2, 2014 at 11:40 AM

    That giant chessboard is freaking amazing!!!

  • Tina @ Girl-Meets-Globe
    April 2, 2014 at 11:18 AM

    A beautiful place to take a stroll!