When we traveled to Alpbach for our ski holiday, we had to go through Innsbruck to get there. Since that’s how we were returning to London as well, we decided to tack an extra day onto our vacation and spend some time in Innsbruck before heading home. Boy, am I glad we did, because I loved Innsbruck even more than Alpbach – partly because there was no skiing involved, and partly because Innsbruck is one freaking awesome city!
Innsbruck is located in western Austria in the heart of the Alps. It’s the capital of the federal state of Tyrol and a major ski town due to the surrounding Nordkette mountain range. The Olympics have been held twice in Innsbruck, in 1964 and 1976. Besides being an ideal spot for winter sports fanatics, Innsbruck also has a colorful, historic Old Town that’s definitely worth a visit, and one of the most stunning river views in the world. Purely my own opinion, but I’ll let you judge for yourself after you see the pictures.
Our hotel was located just a stone’s throw from Old Town which made it extremely easy to get out and see the sights on foot. Most of the city’s most popular sights, like the Hofburg Imperial Palace, the Hofkirche (Court Church), and the Goldenes Dachl (Golden Roof), are all within walking distance of each other, so we did ourselves a favor by staying where we did. With its cobblestone streets, quirky shops, and lively atmosphere, Old Town completely stole our hearts.
See what I mean? Innsbruck is perfect. Walking through Old Town is like taking a trip back in time. Instead of cars, the cobblestone streets are filled with people on foot and riding bicycles. The city was exceptionally clean, even free from graffiti. People were genuinely friendly and never once made me feel bad for my lack of knowledge of the German language. Innsbruck, at least the side I experienced, is like an Austrian Mayberry. (If you didn’t watch The Andy Griffith Show growing up, you’ll have to look that up.) We say this often when we travel, but both Cory and I agreed that we would be very comfortable and happy living here.
As if the buildings in Old Town weren’t already colorful enough, many of them also have been decorated with baroque stuccos and have vivid characters and scenes painted on their exteriors. I didn’t realize it until I got home and used Google Translate, but the German words painted on some of the buildings were actually describing the sorts of services that had once been offered within their walls. We found a holzschnitzer (wood carver), a brillenmacher (glasses maker), and I wasn’t able to figure out what a doglsanger is. (Was I the only one who glanced at that and saw dog-slayer?)
Excuse me while I pick my jaw up from off the floor. That view – the colorful houses along the Inn River with the mountains as a gorgeous natural backdrop – is going to be hard to beat. I know I’ve only traveled to like .000001% of the world so far, so there’s almost 100% of the world that I haven’t seen, but I don’t know if I’ll ever find a place whose beauty speaks to me the way Innsbruck’s does. (Feel free to prove me wrong in the comments. I love pretty pictures!) It’s a postcard city, by which I mean practically everywhere you look, a postcard-worthy scene is waiting there to greet you. I’m so anxious to return again someday!
A FEW FACTS ABOUT INNSBRUCK
Innsbruck, translated, means the bridge over the Inn. The name dates as far back as the 1100’s when there was an important bridge here allowing access to either side of the Inn River.
Innsbruck has been populated since the early Stone Age, but it really flourished under the reign of the Habsburgs, beginning in 1363. Many of the architectural marvels built during this time remain, like the Golden Roof and the Hofkirche.
There are 2,657 tiles on the Golden Roof, but they’re not made of gold, much to the chagrin of the fellow who once stole one. He later, anonymously, returned it when he realized it was made of fire-gilded copper.
Only three places have had the honor of hosting the Olympics more than once – Innsbruck is one of them.
Tourism in Innsbruck is a year-round affair, attracting skiers and snowboarders from December to early April, and mountaineering enthusiasts the rest of the year.
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