advertisement

Alpine views are around every corner and ski slopes just a funicular ride from the center. A medieval Old Town is home to imperial palaces, world-class galleries and Zaha Hadid's avant-garde designs. With all this, it's no wonder the Innsbruckers are rather stoltz (proud) of their lot. Sophisticated, good-looking and affluent, the Tyrolean capital walks a fine tightrope between the urban and the outdoors, the historic and the cutting edge -- and pulls off the act beautifully.

Things to Do

The Old Town's centerpiece is the Goldenes Dachl, a glittering Gothic oriel built for Emperor Maximilian I dappled with copper tiles. Nearby, wallow in Hapsburg majesty in the Hofburg imperial palace and the Hofkirche where Dürer's King Arthur statue solemnly guards the emperor's empty tomb. The works of Paul Troger, Klimt and Kokoschka draw Austrian art enthusiasts to the Ferdinandeum. Take in the Alpine views from Zaha Hadid's futuristic Bergisel ski jump and storybook Schloss Ambras castle.

Nightlife and Entertainment

Jovial locals gather for freshly tapped brews and animated conversation in the Old Town's vaulted taverns and traditional beer gardens. For a livelier scene, there's the Viaduktbögen railway arches, harboring pubs, clubs and live music bars. DJs play to a fashion-conscious crowd in the chestnut-shaded Hofgartencafe and in former warehouse Weekender Club. Like all Austrians, Innsbruckers take classical music seriously and nowhere does it in grander style than the neoclassical Landestheater -- dress up to join them.

Restaurants and Dining

Innsbruckers are an indulgent lot, rivaling the Viennese with their lingering-about coffee house culture. Try chandelier-lit Cafe Sacher for rich chocolate cake and Cafe Munding for creamy tortes. Wood-beamed taverns hide in the charming lantern-lit Old Town, where Tyrolean fare like Gröstl (potatoes and pork or veal topped with a fried egg) satisfies. Universitätstrasse serves world flavors from Italian to Indian. For fusion cuisine with a far-reaching view over Innsbruck to the Alps beyond, book a table at glass-walled Lichtblick.

Active Pursuits

In a city that does Alpine views like others do skyscrapers, you'll be itching to head up into those mountains. In just 20 minutes the space-age Hungerburgbahn funicular whisks you from the center to the Nordpark for winter skiing and summer hiking through cow-nibbled meadows. The fast-flowing River Inn is the backdrop for rafting, bike rides and scenic strolls. More action? Feel the pure adrenalin rush as you pinball down Igls' Olympic bob run at 62 miles per hour.