Tag Archives: Innsbruck

INNSBRUCK – hanging out the welcome signs for us

Even McDonalds make their yellow arches fit the local style.

Our epic Alpine expedition finished in Innsbruck. I suspect that, like us, most visitors expect Innsbruck to be no more than a place to stay between more extreme adventures.

Innsbruck has a long history with the Hapsburgs, a university, an Alpine Zoo and a lot of suits of armour in Ambras Castle. There are shops selling Tyrolean steins and lederhosen to tourists, rides in hose-drawn carriages and a couple of interesting museums.

But we just wanted a place to relax. Innsbruck’s old town has been preserved with businesses working hard to attract and charm us. The signs are good. Continue reading


Filed under Art, Hiking

PERTISAU, ACHENSEE – pretty as the pictures

Pointy church, pointy mountains.

We thought we were finished with hiking when we arrived in Pertisau, but there was one more adventure left. The 10km walk along the Achensee to catch the ferry at Achenkirch sounded like a very tame event after the dangers we had passed, but there were some surprises.

Continue reading


Filed under Hiking

KARWENDEL, AUSTRIA Stage 2 – We won’t die wandering

A little mountain mist adds magic and mystery.

We have few regrets about the decision to abandon our hike over the high Karwendel cols. It was simply too hard and too dangerous for most of us, and the weather was looking threatening.

We can choose another route, though the fear when we leave the peaks and cols is that we’ll spend a few dull days walking through the valleys, sharing tame, flat roads with the cars.

This is Austria, however. There are far more interesting hiking trails than tame roads. The route from the village of Scharnitz to the tourist town Pertisau is not life-threatening but still spectacular and challenging – an excellent five day trek, in other words. Continue reading


Filed under Hiking

HIKING KARWENDEL, AUSTRIA – know thy limitations

One slip here and you’ll be several hundred metres lower in a very short time. Not worth the risk, was the assessment.

Hiking is a hobby and supposed to be good for your health, not something you should risk your life for.  So I’m grateful to have walking companions with cool heads.

The six of us are sitting on a comfortable patch of grass, somewhere over 2000 metres, in the Karwendel region above Innsbruck. We have a week’s route planned out and accommodation booked in mountain huts (thanks for organising all that, Kees). But we’re still shaking slightly from the twenty metre track section we’ve just crossed. Continue reading


Filed under Austria, Hiking

OUT OF OFFICE REPLY – Hiking in Alps. Back soon.

This is as far as I got last time I went hiking in Austria. This week we’ll be going further, into those mountains behind me. They look cold.

I’ll be taking a week off blogging, while I join my Dutch hiking friends on an expedition into the Austrian Alps, above and beyond Innsbruck.

It sounds exciting, it looks beautiful and I can’t see any wifi points out there.

The weather forecast is for rain every day. A good story starts with something going wrong, I tell my writing students, though the stories I like usually have happy endings.

Back soon, probably with a tale or two to tell.


Filed under Austria, Hiking

INNSBRUCK, AUSTRIA – Cheap hiking deals in the summer

The view from the top of an Olympic Ski jump. How does anyone do it for the first time?

When the snow melts in a valley dependent on winter sport tourism, hotel managers naturally abhor vacuuming those empty rooms, so brilliant deals are available at a fraction of the cost of a skiing holiday. The Tyrolean Alps are no less beautiful in spring and summer, with their greenery, wildflowers and warmer weather, and they’re considerably less crowded.

In Innsbruck, Austria, home of the Winter Olympics in 1964 and 1976, between June and September, as little as EUR179 buys three nights’ bed, breakfast and dinner, with entrance to all attractions, unlimited use of cable cars and buses, plus guided mountain walks. An Innsbruck Card offers all the above, excluding accommodation and meals, for EUR25(24hrs) EUR30(48hrs) and EUR35(72hours).

Innsbruck could hardly have a more spectacular location. The milky green river Inn (“Innsbruck”, the bridge on the Inn) cuts through a wide glacial valley, with snow-capped mountain ranges rising on both sides.

Regular buses shuttle out to Innsbruck’s holiday villages, notable for their old farmhouses, all exposed wood and geranium boxes, with peculiarly Tyrolean decoration – elaborately painted window and door surrounds. Churches all seem to have been supplied in kit form from the same warehouse; identical size, cream and salmon colours, with a choice of two steeples – pointy spire or onion dome. They look incredibly cute against those brilliant mountains.

Innsbruck itself is relatively small, but the university gives the place a lively student buzz. Brightly coloured houses line the river bank and the old town has been tastefully preserved. And thanks to the money lavished on Innsbruck over the past five hundred years, since outdoor enthusiast Emperor Maximilian I moved his court here from Vienna, there’s no shortage of historic buildings and museums.

That suited me perfectly, because on the day I arrived winds were lashing the mountain peaks at 100km per hour. It was no weather for playing outside, but fine for scuttling between the town’s attractions. I particularly enjoyed Castle Ambras, former home of the megarich Hapsburgs and, for a view of how the poorer half lived, the Folk Museum, displaying among other things wood carvings Tyrolean farmers made when they couldn’t play outside either.

By mid-afternoon the weather had cleared enough for me to take the funicular railway, then two cable cars, up onto the 3000metre high Nordketten range. It’s wild and rugged limestone country. Those who enjoy life-threatening experiences could join the mountainbikers tackling the downhill runs, or try the high climbing course of chains and ladders along the ridges. An extremely good head for heights was needed, I was warned, so I settled for just admiring the scenery.

Igls village, just above Innsbruck

The next day was made for walking; cool, still and with sun breaking through on Patscherkofel mountain, towering over Innsbruck. Local expert Evelyn, who runs a ski hire business in the winter, and in summer works for the tourist office, guiding walks for visitors, suggested we take the cable car to save ourselves a 1500metre slog up from the village. That was fine by me. The view from the top was breathtaking enough and we had time and energy to take it in.

Walking above Innsbruck

Once over 2000metres we could make it as easy or as hard for ourselves as we liked, walking a few hours on the signposted trails leading along the ridges and over the peaks. Then at a mountain hut we drank beer and tucked into a huge lunch of sauerkraut and heavy dumplings – potato balls studded with ham and herbs. Perfect walking food, in a perfect walking spot.

Staying a night in the area makes you an automatic Innsbruck Club member, entitled to free daily guided hikes in the mountains. At the tourist offices each morning, guides assign people to groups appropriate to their levels of fitness and masochism, then take them up the hill for three to five hours. On Tuesday evenings ‘lantern wanderings’ lead visitors up to a mountain inn for some jolly Tyrolean music.

BONUS: For those needing one final thrill, the Olympic ski-jump ramp is open to the public – to look at, not to fly off. I teetered at the top and realised legendary Olympian Eddie the Eagle had the right approach to ski-jumping: slide down the slope as slowly as possible, cling to the sides by your fingernails if you can, and when you reach the bottom, try not to sail too far out into space. It’s an awfully long way down, and directly beyond the landing area is a cemetery.

DETAILS: Easyjet flies from London Gatwick to Innsbruck from around GBP125 return. See easyjet.com.

For accommodation and other activities, see innsbruck.info

The writer was a guest of Innsbruck Tourism.

First published by Sun-Herald, Sydney


Filed under Austria, Budget travel, Hiking, Travel, Travel- Europe