Ever heard the popular pipe tune “The Green Hills of Tyrol”? When you trek up the Alps in the Tyrol region the music seems to be playing all around. It is only inability that will stop a tourist from yodeling out aloud. From the snow covered peaks of the winter months to the lushness of the green during the summer months, Tyrol – the key to discovering the Alps, is also the key to finding your peace of mind in this otherwise crazy world. The perfect spot for skiing is also a great place for hiking, sightseeing, or catching a great cup of coffee in a quaint little café facing the Alps.
Innsbruck – The capital of Tyrol
Innsbruck is the most exciting town and the capital of the federal district of Tyrol. It has hosted two Winter Olympics, in 1964 and 1976. So beautiful are the ski slopes in Innsbruck that the town offers a snow guarantee. There are more than two hundred trails to choose from here. The white roof of Axamer Lizum and Glungezer, the year round skiing in the Stubai Glacier, Patscherkofel, Nordpark and Muttereralm are all extremely popular ski resorts. This eight hundred year old city has much more than skiing to offer. The Stadtturm, a 14th-Century-structure, also known as the Innsbruck Town Tower, offers an extraordinary view of the picturesque town with the magnificent Nordkette Mountains rising above to form the perfect backdrop.
The Schloss Ambras, a castle from the 10th Century, houses a museum and a Habsburg Portrait Gallery and also holds weekly summer concerts. The Golden Dachl or the Golden Roof is a sparking awning made of gilded copper tiles that is a must see for every tourist. The Bergisel jumping stadium is another of the Innsbruck highlights. On top of the Bergisel Tower is the Panorama platform. At the height of fifty meters above the ground, a comprehensive view of not just the city but of the entire Inn Valley and the Alps surrounding it. If the view whets your appetite just sit down on one of the tables of the tower top restaurant Café im Turm and enjoy anything from a light cake to a full local or international entrée. Visit the Olympic Village and the Tiroler Volkskunstmuseum or the Innsbruck Tyrolean Folk Art Museum which has, on display, Tyrolean weapons from the Independence war period along with classic paintings. The old history of the town ensures extraordinary architectural examples like the baroque Cathedral of St. James. There are several music, dance and theatre festivals to choose from during the summer months.
Other villages in Tyrol
St. Anton lives up to its reputation of being the ‘liveliest ski resort’ in Europe. Though there are ski runs to suit all abilities, St. Anton probably has more of the spine chilling variety that the extreme skiing enthusiasts seek than any one ski resort anywhere else. After skiing, with your muscles all tired, there are some of the best places to eat home cooked Austrian food, great fondue, and really great wine at inexpensive prices here. Ischgl and Galtur are lesser known in popular sectors but are great skiing destinations in the Austrian Tyrol. In Imst, at three and a half kilometers, there is the world’s longest Alpine roller coaster. Fifteen minutes of peaceful viewing of the natural Alpine beauty, to get to the beginning of the coaster will be replaced by a heart pounding ride where nature jumps up and fills up all your senses. It is almost certain that no tourist will be satisfied with just one ride.
If speed isn’t your thing go instead to the little town of Hungerburg where you can ride the Bergbahn, a modern cable car that drives through spectacular views and bring the Alps within touching distance. Ausservillgraten is a small town straight out of a picture postcard. With its water springs, and sloping hills and indigenous music festivals Ausservillgarten is the perfect spot for de-stressing. The little town of Kufstein is home to the Riedel Glass Factory where you can see how glass and crystal is made all the way to the mouth blowing process. And when we are talking about crystals how can you miss the Swarovski Crystal world in Wattens. It is not just crystals, the multimedia gallery includes works of artists like Salvador Dali and Andy Warhol. The Bruck Castle in Lienz is a castle, a history museum and an art gallery all in one. When aesthetic pursuits and athletic expeditions are all done, visit the Casino Innsbruck in Innsbruck or the Casino Kitzbuhel in Kitzbuhel for a fun evening.
Everything considered, the federal state is much more than just Tyrol- a key to the Alps. With museums and rides and ski slopes and historic towns Tyrol has something for the every tourist, whatever their interest may be.
Top 3 hotels in Innsbruck, Austria
- Hotel Bär – 3-star hotel in Stubai Valley – double room from €78,00
- Hotel Batzenhäusel – hotel in Igls, Innsbruck – double room from €92,00
- Hotel-Pension Leitgebhof – hotel in Igls, Innsbruck – double room from €90,00
Photo of a room view of the Alps in Völs, near Innsbruck, by Moe.