By: Tia S.
Bright pastel colored buildings surround me as I walk through the town square, looking as if they came out of a fairytale, while behind are the towering snow-capped mountains, the Alps. The smell of cinnamon fills the cool air as I walk past the Christmas market; it’s a beautiful day in Innsbruck.
Overflowing with ski stations, Christmas markets, and yes, sauerkraut, this Austrian city has something for everyone. My week here has given me a look on Innsbruck during the holidays, and it truly is a wonderful experience.
The main reason people visit Innsbruck is to ski, and for good reason. The city is surrounded by over 50 ski resorts, but the best one I would say is Stubai Glacier. It is the second tallest ski resort in Austria, and is only about 40 minutes away. Once you get to the site there will only be buses waiting to bring you higher up the mountain. You can take stairs to the highest peak, reaching 3300 meters, and view the amazing panorama of mountains surrounding you. You have a large option of ski runs, ranging from blue (easy) to black diamond (extreme). There’s even a run that’s 10 km long. They also have 2 restaurants, 3 cafeterias, 5 huts and 5 bars. If you want to take a break from skiing, you can always visit the ice grotto (eisgrat) and explore the glacier from below. There you can walk through a cave completely surrounded by layered ice. Other great stations include Axamer Lizum, Kühtai, Mutters, Nordkette, and Tulfes.
As well as ski resorts, Innsbruck is also known for their festive Christmas markets. You can stroll through the main square of the Old Town, where you’ll find an arrangement of twinkling huts all with their own handicrafts, Christmas ornaments, and traditional winter treats. This is the main Christmas market, but there are also others by Maria-Theresein Strabe, Marktplatz, and Hungerburg (all walking distance from the main market).
Food is one of the things Austria is known for, so I would recommend trying all of their traditional dishes. If you’re in a restaurant, you should try Weiner schnitzel, a breaded piece of veal that usually comes with potatoes or vegetables. In the market there is Kartoffelraffer, which is a type of potato pancake you can put sour cream on. There is Rostbratwurstln (hot dog), one of the most common foods to find in Austria. There is Dengg Kiachl, which is a donut made from scratch that you can put sauerkraut or powered sugar and cinnamon on. There is Erdäpfelspiess, which is a potato cut into a spiral, put on a stick, and fried (quite creative, I know). And of course, there’s Glühwein, the famous warm wine made with spices. Trust me, it’s really good.
If you still have time in Innsbruck and aren’t sure what to do, there are always more options! You can go ice-skating at a local rink while sipping rich hot chocolate, you can go shopping, either on the street or in a mall, or you can go see a movie (and don’t worry there are many theatres playing in English).
Innsbruck has something for everyone, so hopefully when you’re thinking about where to go next year during the holidays, Innsbruck will be on your list!