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When you hear the word winter, what comes to mind? Skiing, cross-country skiing and Christmas markets? We offer all that and more. That’s why, we’ve put together this collection of top tips for anyone who prefers to stay away from the ski slopes and steer clear of the markets. This alternative programme features a diverse range of fun, cosy, charming and fast winter activities. Special winter experiences that take you away from the mainstream.
Traditional, cosy and welcoming
Mountain huts and guesthouses in winter
Cosy, warm and welcoming in winter. You don’t need to sprawl out in front of the fire on a bearskin rug – simply visit a traditional mountain hut and enjoy the rustic atmosphere as a fire crackles away in a traditional tiled Austrian stove and friendly groups sit around wooden tables chatting away merrily. Mountain huts aren't just popular in summer – they are open in winter too. We have compiled a list of several huts and guesthouses located close to the city that are ideal for winter hikes, tobogganing or enjoying a tasty bite to eat with friends.
Dining, tobogganing and entertainment
With delicacies such as fluffy chopped blueberry pancakes and special cordon bleu with the intriguing name of “Eiterbeule” (Abscess), as well as what is probably the most cosy and welcoming dining room in the whole of Innsbruck, the Buzihütte is a true institution. Students, senior citizens, families, locals and tourists: everyone loves this place and its friendly atmosphere. The Umbrüggler Alm, on the other hand, is more modern. The stylish wooden hut offers delicious food and wonderful views – and is just a short hike away from the Hungerburg district. Alternatively, visit the Enzianhütte mountain hut near the village of Rum. Be sure to take your toboggan so you can whizz back down the mountain afterwards!
These and many other mountain huts and guesthouses welcome guests in winter. Why always meet up in the city centre when mountain flair is just a short walk away? Check out the following selection of mountain huts that are open for visitors in winter.
Fireplaces and cafes
Treat yourself to a cosy coffee break! Here you’ll find our tips for cafés that provide a warm and welcoming retreat on cold winter days. The ideal ingredients: a cup of hot chocolate, a good book and a winter day. For example at Café Crema. This wonderful café is located in the heart of Innsbruck and is a true insider tip. You can find it in a small side street leading off Maria Theresien Street. Visitors to Café Crema can enjoy delicious cakes and a cosy atmosphere. Would you rather treat yourself to freshly baked focaccia from a wood-fired oven? Many other tips can be found on the following page.
From the top to the bottom in record time
Do you always want to go a bit faster? If so, you’ll love our special activities for speed freaks and adrenaline junkies! How about a bobsleigh ride down the Olympic ice track in Igls? A professional pilot handles the steering while passengers sit at the back and enjoy the ride. Or if you're feeling extra daring, you can even go down head first as a guest on a skeleton ride.
If you prefer to ski off-piste, Innsbruck is the perfect place for you. Four freeriding areas located close to the city offer amazing slopes and great powder. The Nordkette mountain range in Innsbruck can even be accessed directly from the city centre on the Nordkettenbahnen lifts and cable cars. Freeriding is also available in Axamer Lizum, on the Stubai Glacier and in Kühtai.
Adventurous fun for spectators
Would you rather watch other people tackle the big jumps? If so, you'll love our adventurous events for spectators. Check out the Bergisel ski jumping competition – a legendary ski jumping event that is part of the Four Hills Tournament and a permanent fixture of every winter sports calendar. Or is the Air + Style Festival Innsbruck-Tirol more up your alley? If so, watch the best snowboarders in the world as they do impressive jumps off a huge ramp and enjoy the great atmosphere as top bands perform before, during and after the snowboarding competitions.
Do you need inspiration for things to do and places to see away from the world of skiing and snowboarding? If so, you’ll love our collection of ideas for your alternative winter programme.
Classic and traditional
When winter draws in, Innsbruck starts to shine. The sparkling trail begins at the market square, which is a real feast for the eyes in December. The Christmas market there is a popular tourist attraction thanks to the festive Christmas lights and a contemporary illuminated Christmas tree. Just a short walk away on Maria Theresien Street, sparkling trees lead all the way to the Swarovski store on Erzherzog Friedrich Street. This stunning world of beautiful jewels is just a few metres down the road from the Golden Roof – Innsbruck’s famous landmark that is adorned with shiny golden tiles. Here a dazzling world of crystals becomes an alpine Christmas setting.
Winter traditions and customs
Traditions and customs are what make the winter season in Innsbruck and its holiday villages so very charming. Tyrolean specialities such as “Kiachl”, “Zelten” and “Blattln mit Kraut”, for example. A “Kiachl” is fried dough served with a sweet or savoury topping – a traditional feature of Christmas markets and folk festivals in the state of Tyrol. Tyrolean “Zelten” is a winter fruit bread that has been a traditional baked delicacy in the local region for centuries. You can see how to make it in our blog. Another delicious treat is “Blattln mit Kraut”, savoury fried pastry served with hot sauerkraut: the perfect winter treat.
The “Tuifl” and nativity scenes during Advent
The Christmas season brings several of the most wonderful Tyrolean customs. Visiting nativity scenes is a popular pastime during Advent. Lovingly designed and artistically crafted Christmas nativity scenes can be found in many museums, churches and private households and are a prime example of the history and craftsmanship of the local region. In contrast, Tyrol is also home to a more unconventional custom: the “Tuifl”, also known as “Krampus”. During the Advent period, men dress up as these horned folklore figures and participate in impressive Tuiflllauf parades through the holiday villages.
The carnival season in Innsbruck is just as unique as it is in Rio. Parades and festivals feature stunning figures such as “Wampeler” and “Muller” – all with special costumes and unique acts. The carnival parades and contests also feature characters such as “Matschgerer”, witches, people dressed up as bears with bear handlers, “Schellenschlager” cowbell ringers and many more. These bright and colourful celebrations are certainly well worth a visit.
Another old custom is “Goaßlschnöllen”, artistic whip-cracking using long whips. This activity is only permitted at certain times of the year and is celebrated during the carnival season.
Even more winter fun
Are you still looking for the perfect winter activity for you? If so, take a look at our other winter suggestions. You’re sure to find plenty of fun holiday adventures. Simply click on the image to find out more.