A summer of contrasts in Innsbruck, Austria

Summers in Austria are packed with culture, nature, and charm. It’s a place where you can unwind and seek thrills, soak up the great outdoors and have a real holiday, the Austrian way…

Team Wanderlust
24 March 2023
Promoted by
Austria Travel

Main photo: Shutterstock

From the heart of the city…

Golden Roof (Shutterstock)

Thanks to its technicolour architecture, cobbled streets, and dramatic mountain backdrop, Innsbruck is sure to ignite the senses. Look to Golden Roof, a pivotal landmark in its historic old town, for an essential dose of Austrian architecture. While the building itself was built in 1420 to house local royalty, the Golden Roof was built between 1497 and 1500 and is lauded for the 2,657 fire-gilt copper tiles that adorn its gables, reflecting the sun’s glistening rays. This gothic style makes for a fascinating juxtaposition to the city’s modern side too: don’t miss Zaha Hadid’s famous Bergisel Ski Jump.

Museum buffs can get their fill at the interactive Audioversum ScienceCenter, not to mention a triple shot of culture at the Zeughaus Museum (Armoury Museum), Tyrolean Folk Art Museum, and Tirol Panorama. And if you’re worn out after exploring, recharge with some delicious Tyrolean cuisine. As state capital, you’ll find some of the best here; we recommend a plate of Speckknödel (bacon dumplings), washed down with a refreshing glass of cold buttermilk.

To being surrounded by nature

Innsbruck is blessed with a bounty of natural space (Innsbruck Tourismus/ Christian Vorhofer)

One of our favourite things about Innsbruck is its proximity to the great outdoors. You can be exploring the streets one moment, then hiking its peaks the next. That’s the beauty of Alpine cities. That, and how much they love a cable car.

Jump aboard the Nordkettenbahnen at Congress Station – a few minutes from Innsbruck’s Old Town – and in 20 minutes you will be 6,250 ft hight at the Seegrube stop and in Austria’s largest nature park, Karwendel Nature Park. Take the Nordketten cable car up the Nordkette mountain range and into the park, and be sure to look out of the window to spot Bergisel on the opposite side. But it’s the adventure we’re here for, and Innsbruck’s nature-filled environs has it in spades. Indeed, there are some 18 guided tours that take in the panoramic scenery up here, and you can opt for leisurely or more challenging hikes, as well as e-bike excursions through valleys and across mountains. Either way, there’s no better opportunity to discover a slice of hidden beauty.

From getting the heart racing…

Find thrilling adventures (Innsbruck Tourismus/Stefan Voitl)

For those who need more adrenaline than gentle hiking and biking can provide, it’s easy to up the ante. Kick-off the thrills at Muttereralm adventure mountain. Soaring high above Innsbruck, the activity centre provides exhilarating and high-speed go-karting, down a track that twists and turns through the valley.

Pedal power still high on your list? Steep climbs and sweaty sprints make up the region’s mountain biking offering, with dozens of trails, difficulty levels, and elevation gains up to a staggering 2,000m. You’ll be deeply rewarded for all that hard work in the saddle though, as routes here also promise quintessential Alpine huts, dreamy cheese dumplings, and postcard-worthy scenes – rain or shine.

And, speaking of sun, why not cool off on hot days by diving into one of Innsbruck’s natural bathing lakes? We particularly love the refreshing Natterer See Lake, which also boasts an inflatable aqua park for all ages.

To relaxing

Badesee Rossau (Shutterstock)

Wellness is second nature in Innsbruck. In fact, it’s what holidays the Austrian way are all about. Think swimming in natural lakes like the aforementioned Natterer Sea, as well as Mieming and Barwies, or heading to the spa: heritage, Art Noveau retreat, Dampfbad, is arguably one of the best. Steam rooms, saunas, hydrotherapy rooms and pools await and, if you’re feeling particularly ‘kneady’, choose from a selection of massages to help relieve those daily stresses.

The real indulgence, though, comes with the local food. Innsbruck has some of the most exquisite fine dining restaurants, with special mention going to Sitzwohl. It’s the perfect spot to gorge yourself on locally produced dishes, with a regularly rotating menu. You can seek out some great rooftop bars here too, so throw on your best threads and can grab a cocktail (try elderflower Champagne), all while soaking up views across the city.

From the highest mountain peaks…

The Goetheweg hiek offers great views of Innsbruck (Innsbruck Tourismus/ Christian Vorhofer)

Of course, if you truly want to holiday the Austrian way, you can’t miss the iconic snow-capped peaks that tower over Innsbruck. And with high altitudes comes a unique form of relaxation – where you’re free and at one with nature, the wilderness, and all that blissful fresh air the Alps are beloved for.

Got time to spare? Head for the Sellraintal Valley, access point for several high-alpine trails, including the multi-day Sellrainer Hüttenrunde. Then there’s the Rangger Köpfl mountain, which offers bird’s-eye views of the Tirol region and the lofty Stubai Alps from its summit. Or there’s the two-hour hike to Sonntagsköpfl, which affords fantastic views of the Kalkkögel with its mighty limestone towers. Crucially, though, whichever hikes you choose, you needn’t worry about the navigation. With stays of two nights or more, visitors to Innsbruck and its surrounds can apply for a free ‘Welcome Card’, which includes free guided tours of the mountains.

To the greenest valleys

Sellraintal Valley (Shutterstock)

The mighty valleys of Innsbruck are every bit as inspiring as their taller counterparts. They’re often overlooked in favour of the peaks though… which is what makes them all-the-more interesting.

The Hundstal Valley exudes tranquillity, particularly when you reach Hundstalsee Lake – easily one of Innsbruck’s prettiest. For a touch of intrigue, you’ll want to stop off at the Apollon Temple too, crafted by local artists Robert Tribus and Heinz Triendl. In Sellraintal Valley, explore a little deeper and you’ll find the Lüsenstal Valley – tucked away beyond the small, charming village of Gries im Sellrain. While the valley itself is spectacular, and can be explored year-round, its crowning glory comes at the finish line: the 2,997m-high Lüsener Ferner glacier.

Need an incentive for your valley voyage? Head for Brunntal Valley – not only is this picturesque terrain easily accessible via public transport, but it’s also home to Neue Magdeburger hut, where you can meet local wildlife and sample delicious local food too.

Feeling inspired?

For more information and inspiration to help you plan your perfect summer visit to Austria, head to the official website.

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