The first thing that you realise when you pull into Innsbruck is just how high it is. The sky feels like the ceiling of a bungalow, hovering just above your head, and the snow-capped peaks of the nearby Alps seem near rather than distant. The second thing that hits you is the legacy of the Olympics; the Bergisel Ski Jump serving as an iconic symbol of the city for the past 80 years or so.
Checking late into the magnificent Adlers Hotel, we had just enough time to grab a quick bite to eat before watching the sunset from our 10th floor room. While the majority of Innsbruck follows suit with the rest of Austria with a distinct limit on the height of it’s buildings, Adlers towers above the surrounding area. The outcome? Sweeping views from the Aldtadt in the west all the way across to the Nordkette that towers several hundred metres above the city to the north. That evening was a little subdued and so we ordered food into the room. A great opportunity to watch day turn into night and the plethora of twinkling lights steadily grow in the city below us.
The next day, we had a full itinerary planned but first stop was breakfast on the 12th floor. The food itself was excellent but, as we watched a cloudy morning grow steadily clearer, we were itching to discover what Innsbruck had to offer. Walking through the Aldstadt, our eyes darted in every direction as we spotted picturesque shop signs, facades and rooftops within the mazy streets. It was an eventful and scenic walk to our first stop: the Alpenzoo in the shadow of the Nordkette.
Now, living very very close to London Zoo at home, a trip to see animals may not sound like the most original or exciting thing to do in Innsbruck. However, this place was incredible. The zoo itself looks out over Innsbruck, which is a big enough attraction, but the presence of Austrian bears, lynx cats and the most incredible array of mountain goats and other fascinating animals means that I highly recommend a trip to the Alpenzoo. It is an animal sanctuary built out of love, with every animal provoking a real sense of awe and wonder. Before we knew it, it was lunch, and almost three hours had elapsed since we entered its gates. We made our way out of the zoo via a very impressive aquarium and headed to the funicular.
That afternoon was spent at higher altitudes, via the funicular and then the cable cars to the highest peaks of the Nordkette. The views were even more breathtaking at the top; real snowcapped valleys directing your eyes to the city of Innsbruck in the basin below. It was very surreal experiencing twenty-degree temperatures on the cobbled streets below and then single-digit snow just twenty minutes later in the mountains, but it highlighted the versatility of this city; summer and winter in a single afternoon. We could have spent hours on the mountain, but our summer attire and lack of properly thick skin just would not stand up to the elements. A quick snack and a couple of Hugos back under the blazing sunshine in Norkette village below did warm us up a little, but it was time for one last tour of the Aldstadt before a trip to the Adlers Spa and dinner in the panoramic restaurant.
Dinner in the Adlers restaurant was an experience in itself and, even if you don’t choose to stay at the hotel, I highly recommend enjoying a three-course dinner as you watch the day turn to night. The food itself was sumptuous; a starter of Cream of Coconut Soup followed by an immaculately prepared Fillet Steak. Washed down with a deep red local wine and a fruity dessert, it was the perfect way to say goodbye to Austria, and to Innsbruck, before we flew back home. Our time in this great Central European country had shown us so much, but left us wanting to head back to discover so much more…