Innsbruck, the capital of the Austrian Tirol province, is dressed so fine and looking so pretty during the holiday season
Nestled in the Inn Valley amongst jagged snow-capped peaks of the Austrian Alps, Innsbruck has been the capital of Tirol since 1429. It sits at a crossroads of European cultures, as well as being at the epicentre of some of the best skiing on the planet.
From Innsbruck airport (where the approach is an experience in itself!), resorts including St Anton, Ischgl, Sölden, Kitzbühel and Mayrhofen are just a short transfer away. But the charming city, and the resorts that are right on its doorstep, shouldn’t be overlooked. Particularly during the often fickle pre-Christmas season, when exploring the Christmas markets that fill the alleyways and squares throughout Innsbruck perfectly complement the on-snow action
Innsbruck Christmas Markets
World-famous markets in Cologne, Nuremburg, Munich, and Vienna have long appealed to British visitors, and rightfully so. Cities are transformed as row upon row of wooden stalls spread outwards in a labyrinth of handcrafted Christmas decorations, intricately detailed nativity scenes, yuletide sweets, and an abundance of alcoholic beverages… the sort that warm from the inside out.
Beyond the major cities, market towns and villages throughout the Alps have their own festive markets and unique traditions. The largest (some would say only) city in the Tirol region, Innsbruck has a distinctly cosmopolitan air, with well-heeled locals, fine-dining and nightlife alongside the traditions of the Christmas markets. What makes Innsbruck unique, however, is the snowy spectacle of the Nordkette mountain range, looming high above Innsbruck’s colourful buildings and dominating the skyline. The nooks and crannies of the compact and cobbled Altstadt hide plenty of festive surprises, but it’s necessary to head beyond the city centre for the best vantage point.
The Hungerburg market can be easily reached via the funicular railway, which rises 300m up above the city for views over the entire valley. From here, it’s easy to appreciate the deep connection between this city and winter sports, with a panoramic view that takes in Patscherkofel and Axamer Lizum, where events were held during the 1964 and 1976 Winter Olympics. World Cup bobsled and skeleton events are still held on the track at Patscherkofel (Igls), while the Berg Isel site (also visible from Hungerburg) hosts World Cup ski jumping during the annual Four Hills tournament. Luckily, the nine ski areas surrounding Innsbruck have plenty to offer the punters as well as the pros…