If you are looking for somewhere different to go this summer, why not head over to the Austrian Alps and the beautiful city of Innsbruck?
Innsbruck lies in a lovely valley alongside the river Inn with mountain ranges on either side. It is part of the Tirol region of Austria, probably most famous for “The South of Music” which was filmed at nearby Salzburg.
If you enjoy the outdoors it is a wonderful destination, with skiing in the winter and endless trails for hiking and biking in the summer. There are Alpine lakes and ponds for swimming and it is a great place for families, especially if you have had enough of sweltering in the Southern Med during the school summer holidays. Innsbruck itself has a charming old town with plentiful shops, restaurants & cafes as well as museums, galleries and the theatre.
We spent a week in Innsbruck in late June / early July and we went primarily to hike. It turned out to be a fabulous destination and we have every intention of hurrying back just as soon as we can get away again. Before we went, I struggled to find the information I wanted on day hikes in the region so have put together some information to help out anyone considering a similar trip.
As with other places we have hiked in Austria, we found the paths and trails around Innsbruck to be clear, well maintained and well marked. The bright yellow signposts are easy to spot and plentiful at junctions.
The various cable cars and lifts start to open by the end of May, although many have restricted hours until the start of July. The Innsbruck Tourist authority publishes a very useful booklet in English that has all the cable car opening details as well as lots of other helpful information.
The Innsbruck Card is a great way to save money, especially if you are in town several days. You can buy a 24, 28 or 72 hour card and it gives free access to the major tourist attractions, public transport within Innsbruck centre and one trip on any of the cable cars. We brought two 3 day cards and used a different cable car on each of the 3 days. This saved a lot of money.
It is also worth dropping into tourist information and picking up the leaflets for Patscherkopfel, Norkette & Mutters as well as the free Innsbruck Hiking & Fun map, which you can also view and download online. We found these really helpful to identify our planned route and the Hike & Fun map has several options for hiking routes on the back. In addition to this the Kompass series of maps is very good for hikers. Number 036 covers Innsbruck and surrounds.
There are endless trails and paths in the mountains that surround Innsbruck and good hiking to be had in the valley itself if you don’t want to get up high. I have written about the trails we did in a separate blog piece if you want to get a feel for what is out there. To read this click here.
Innsbruck airport is a few miles out of town and is well connected to the UK with direct flights from London, Birmingham, Bristol , Newcastle and Edinburgh. If you are coming from the US, you can get a direct flight from several US hubs into Munich or Vienna and either catch a train or drive through to Innsbruck.
There is a range of hotel and apartment accommodation in the city itself, or in one of the many outlying villages, popular with skiers in the winter and hikers / mountain bikers in the summer. If you wish to stay in Innsbruck itself, make sure you check the location of any accommodation carefully as many of the villages are just listed as “Innsbruck” but may be several miles out of town.
There is no need to rent a car. The public transport in Innsbruck and around the Inn Valley is excellent. This makes doing linear hikes really easy and allows you to take advantage of the mountain restaurants with a well deserved beer, without having to worry about falling foul of the strict drink driving limit.