With a cemetery called the “stomping ground”, men wearing lederhosen and carrying guns and ski jackets at the bar, some things in Innsbruck seem a little different to elsewhere. This is why we’ve decided to tell you more about some of Innsbruck’s very own oddities so that you know what awaits you when you visit. Who knows, they might even help you to pass for a local!

No marksmen, no party!

When you see a multitude of artistic hats featuring tufts of chamois hair and feathers, it’s a clear sign that the marksmen are back in town. If you happen to come across a horde of Tyrolean men wearing lederhosen and traditional Austrian dress and carrying firearms, there’s no need to worry! The Tyrolean shooters form an integral element of every folk festival and are VIPs at every celebration. They parade through the streets, give gun salutes and bring traditional Tyrolean charm to every event. Virtually every village in the local region has its own marksmen’s club. This tradition dates back hundreds of years, back to when the shooters were actually responsible for defending the land. This was also the case in the Battles of Bergisel, a key location connected to the legend of Andreas Hofer. Nowadays, you can discover the story of the famous freedom fighter in a historic setting: the  Giant Panoramic Painting at the Tirol Panorama Museum shows the Battle of Bergisel in an impressive piece of 360° artwork. In the present day, the rifle company’s traditional dress, hats and firearms are no longer a sign of being ready for battle but instead being ready to celebrate. The shooters have a party spirit like no other and you can enjoy it live at a multitude of marksmen’s festivals, church celebrations and ceremonial parades. The rifle companies tend to be rather male-dominated groups but are always joined by a few women dressed in beautiful Dirndl dresses. These female helpers work as sutlers, selling shot glasses of schnapps to the crowds to keep up their energy. 

A shooter from the Sellrain Valley
A shooter from the Sellrain Valley
Warning, gun salute! Be sure to cover your ears if you’re standing directly next to them!
Warning, gun salute! Be sure to cover your ears if you’re standing directly next to them!

Please be friendly!

Unlike the peaks of the local mountains, Tyroleans can sometimes be rather blunt. Once they get out into nature, however, they’re always in a good mood and on their best behaviour, giving a friendly greeting to any hikers, bikers or mountain climbers who happen to cross their path. In return, they are also, of course, wished a good day too: “Griaß di!” for a hiker on their own, “griaß enk!” for a group of hikers or a simple “Hallo” are the normal way to say hello. There’s no need for any formality up in the mountains. 

The sounding of the bells – the music of the Alps

Every day, the church bells ring out over Innsbruck. While their melodies are music to the ears of many local residents, they often surprise visitors. Be sure to take time to listen to the chimes that are so familiar to the Innsbruck locals: in the morning, at midday and in the evening. In rural locations, the bells normally sound out at as early as 6 o’clock in the morning while in the city, it's a bit later at around 8 o’clock. This tradition stems from the calls to prayer of times gone by. When the bells rang in the past, people would always stop what they were doing and say a prayer before returning to work. You can also hear the church bells ring every Friday at 3 pm, when they mark the hour of death of Christ. If you consider the significance of such bells, it comes as no surprise that church bells have been cast in Innsbruck for many centuries. In fact, the famous Grassmayr Bell Foundry  produces these melodious creations for customers all over the world. If you’re lucky enough, you might even get to witness the birth of a bell up close and in person.

The birth of a bell: a science requiring a lot of love and care
The birth of a bell: a science requiring a lot of love and care
The bells in the church tower in Ellbögen ring out every day.
The bells in the church tower in Ellbögen ring out every day.

Dining out on a Sunday

Sundays are all about relaxing and recharging your batteries. This also applies to many families running cafés and restaurants in Innsbruck, who close on Sundays in order to spend time with their loved ones. We think they deserve the break! This does, however, mean that only a small selection of restaurants and pubs are open on Sundays. You can take a look at the restaurant profiles to find out which ones are open. A traditional Sunday meal in Austria is roast pork with dumplings, but you can, of course, choose whatever takes your fancy! Our tips for anyone wanting to try some local delicacies: the “Tiroler Gröstl” potato dish, “Schlutzkrapfen” ravioli, “Kalbskopf” baked calf’s head or the wide variety of dumplings on offer.

More oddities on our blog

The ski jacket – a fashion staple

The ski jacket – a fashion staple

In Innsbruck, you can be standing at the bar, dressed up to the nines and ready to enjoy the local nightlife, when suddenly someone wearing hiking boots or a ski jacket comes and stands next to you. Don’t be alarmed; this is actually rather normal! After all, Innsbruck is a place where the mountains and the city come together in perfect harmony. It’s highly like that your neighbour has just returned from a trip to the mountains or maybe they love the alpine way of life so much that they simply can’t go without their trusty ski jacket.

The fact is, the local scene in Innsbruck is often full of people dressed like they’re ready for a trip to the mountains, other than on the fine dining scene. Although sportswear is frequently seen in and around Innsbruck, there’s one thing to remember when it comes to enjoying the city’s nightlife: you’ll be doing everyone a favour if you take a shower after completing a long and sweaty tour.

Because although the people of Innsbruck are athletic, they still like to scrub up well for an evening out!

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