Readers always ask me where is my favorite travel destination, but the answer depends on what your looking for in a destination. I want different things at different times, but if you like winter sports and natural, alpine beauty, it would be difficult to top Innsbruck, Austria. Three times host to the Winter Olympics, Innsbruck has nine ski areas for alpine skiing, snowboarding, and cross-country skiing. Their winter sports menu also includes tobogganing, ice skating, alpine-style curling and even a ride in an Olympic bobsleigh. Today, I toured many of the ski areas as well as the city center and was left wide-eyed, mouth agape at every stop. Here are a few photos from my day.
One of the best viewing spots in Innsbruck is at the top of the Hafelekar, 7,402 feet. The Hafekekarrinne ski run is one of the steepest in Europe. With a grade of 70%, this run is reserved for real experts. Regardless if your skiing skills are up to par or not, Hafekekarrinne is an unbelievable sight. I’m not an expert skier, but I rode the cable car to the top for the sights. At only 20 minutes from the city center, it was worth every second.
Every stop along the way to Hafelekar offers sports for varied levels. At Seegrube, I chatted with a mother of two who was tobogganing with her young children. Since the lifts are accessible for everyone, including parents with strollers, she was able to play with her kids at 6,250 feet. This would be the best spot to enjoy the outdoors with a family. It was more my ski level, a long way down from Hafelekar, and provided a panoramic view of the city and beyond. There was a place to eat, rest, and possibly even sun tan.
I went to Hafelekar for the views but I could have stayed at Seegrube all day.
Still River Bridge from Old Town
Innsbruck lies at the intersection of two important traffic routes, between Germany and Italy and between Vienna and Switzerland. The bridge into Old Town was once the only way into the city. I had heard that the scenery there was postcard perfect so I went for a short walk to find out for myself. When I came out of the narrow streets, this is what I saw. I think it speaks for itself.
Bergisel Ski Jump
Breathtaking views of Innsbruck as well as a fascinating ski jump venue with an Olympic past can be found at Bergisel Ski Jump Stadium. Standing at the top of the Bergisel Ski Jump made Hafelekar look tame. While the views of the city blew me away, my really amazement was with the capabilities of skiers who’ve mastered this jump.
One of the Most Naturally Beautiful Places I’ve Been
To be honest, I though Innsbruck would be at the bottom of my list of places in Austria yet it has come out on top. Nowhere else in the world is the dividing line between an urban area and rugged mountain terrain so thin. I could get use to a life in Innsbruck.