Relax up a sweat

Sauna culture in and around Innsbruck

“Glacier ice” (ice with menthol or camphor crystals) sizzles as it melts on the hot stone and the room is filled with the scent of local woody oils (Swiss stone pine, spruce and mountain pine). Every so often, the sauna attendant rhythmically waves a towel in the air in a complex series of movements. Then the session comes to an end and it’s time to cool off under the waterfall. In Tyrol, sauna culture is a fine art with a long tradition, popular both as a spontaneous conclusion to a normal day and as a carefully planned spa break. As is customary in any well-maintained sauna culture, respect forms the basis of the shared sauna experience. In Tyrol, you will often hear your fellow local sauna-goers wishing each other a “guat schwitz” (good sweat) before settling down for their relaxing session. The veteran sauna attendant Adi and I are both huge fans of the sauna experience and its friendly and respectful atmosphere and have teamed up to provide you with a list of some of our favourite sources of relaxation in and around Innsbruck.

An athletic treat for all of the senses – spontaneous relaxation

In Innsbruck, virtually every fitness studio is also home to a spa and beauty area for spontaneous relaxation. These areas, which boast a surprisingly impressive range of pampering highlights, are the ideal place to enjoy a relaxing start to the evening after a long day of skiing and hiking, to lie back and release the tension of day-to-day life or to simply enjoy a brief break from the norm. Particularly attractive spa and beauty facilities can be found in the "fitness triangle" on Mitterweg, which is home to Body&Soul (with a herbal, bio and Finnish sauna, tepidarium, steam room and infrared cabin), Happy Fitness (open 24 hours a day and featuring a naked roof terrace, a bio sauna, two Finnish saunas, infrared cabins, sun loungers, a waterfall shower and special sauna infusions poured onto the hot stones by sauna assistants every hour) and the Alfa Sports & Spa (home to an indoor pool, whirlpool, fitness courses and infrared cabins, as well as a women’s only sauna, Finnish sauna, saunarium, steam room and fresh-air zone). All of these locations offer a complete pampering experience for the price of a day ticket, so there’s really no excuse not to grab your towel (or hire one there for a surcharge) and treat yourself today! 

Read more about the fitness studios

Vintage relaxation – Salurner Straße

If you want something a little more exclusive, you’re sure to love the historic Art Nouveau sauna spa (based on plans drawn up by the city’s Urban Planning Director Fritz Konzert in 1929) on Salurner Straße. The interior alone is a true treat for the senses, featuring red marble, elegant turquoise and ultramarine tiles, bright stained glass windows with mosaic designs and stunning wall paintings. This sauna spa is sure to take your breath away the moment you walk through the door. So much so, in fact, that we don’t want to spoil the surprise by revealing anything else about the design. What we will say, however, is that this “Städtischen Hallenbad” is a top location for anyone wanting to enjoy urban sauna culture similar to that of days gone by. It offers a number of facilities for a stylish sauna experience in an Art Deco setting, for example a Roman saltwater steam room, two infrared cabins, one eucalyptus sauna and two Finnish saunas. Visitors can then cool off in the pool, fresh-air zone, ice-cold Kneipp basin or plunge pool. The facility is also home to a variety of relaxation zones (featuring waterbeds, heated loungers and free tee) for the perfect power nap – but be warned, the echoing interior isn’t exactly ideal for snorers.

Art Nouveau sauna on Salurner Straße

Naturopathy – the Lans side of life

If you want to relax a little higher up, the village of Lans near Innsbruck offers a wide range of ways to unwind. Discover the beautiful enchanted Lanser Moor lake (which is particularly poetic on magical misty days), and venture along the idyllic forest trail that connects it to the Lanser See swimming lake. At the lake, you can enjoy a revitalising combination of hot and cold activities during the summer months, for example volleyball, table tennis or stand up paddle boarding followed by an acrobatic leap from the diving platform into the cool water below. If you take the forest trail from Innsbruck, which leads past Ambras Castle, the fitness trail and the forest playground at Tantegert, you will even come across a free open-air Kneipp facility located just south of the Lanserhof health centre. The Lanserhof itself is the ultimate exclusive highlight when it comes to spa and beauty facilities south of Innsbruck. Guests are required to stay for a minimum of seven days, but in return they can enjoy a programme of customised pampering by experienced Tyrolean relaxation experts. To round off a day in Lans, we highly recommend the delicious delicacies served at the traditional Isserwirt guesthouse. And if you’re too full to walk back down into the city afterwards, you can always take the bus. In short: the area south of Innsbruck is home to the sunny side of life, also known as the Lans side of life.

Images  ©Alexander Haiden

In Lans

Nature in its element – green relaxation

If you like to go all out when it comes to relaxation, you’ll love Mieming. This idyllic sunny mountain plateau sprawls out among the Alps slightly north of Innsbruck and is a top destination for relaxation seekers. The plateau offers a little slice of paradise away from "big city life", for example at the Holzleiten Bio-Wellnesshotel, which is an organic spa hotel with a focus on deep relaxation and sustainability. The hotel’s organic approach is a labour of love and extends from the architecture right through to the gourmet dinners. It is also thoroughly reflected in the hotel’s brand-new spa and beauty area, which not only offers impressive facilities (a saltwater steam room, bio sauna, women’s soft sauna, Finnish panoramic sauna, larch herbal sauna, infrared cabins and fire pits by an outdoor whirlpool) but was also constructed using nothing but regional resources. This enables the elemental power of nature to flow freely through the hotel interior, providing lasting strength for body and mind. The hotel’s traditional restaurant uses its wealth of experience to successfully meet its guests’ culinary needs, serving delicious treats with ingredients that are, of course, sourced from local farms.

Mieming Holzleiten

Schwarz spa perfection – the art of seduction

Another location that definitely deserves a mention is the age-old Alpenresort Schwarz holiday resort, which is also located in Mieming. The old manor house has a long tradition of hospitality, with foundations dating back more than 300 years. It has since undergone a multitude of developments and been transformed into an incredible destination that words can barely describe. The resort’s extremely comprehensive range of spa treatments and facilities is mainly reserved for guests. However, you might be lucky enough to get your hands on one of the popular evening tickets if you phone in advance. Then you can take advantage of the extensive pool facilities, water worlds, outdoor spaces and indoor rest areas (including the fireplace lounge!) for an ideal getaway from the stresses and strains of everyday life. The spa is also home to a panoramic sauna with stunning views of the hotel’s very own natural swimming lake, a “Jägersauna” (hunters’ sauna) and a “Heustadl-Sauna” (hay sauna), as well as a “Tiroler Zirbenstube” (Swiss stone pine room) with waterbeds for daydreaming and a welcoming tea bar with nuts, dried fruit and beneficial beverages to warm body and soul. On top of all this, you can also treat yourself to the multitude of different themed infusions available daily in the various saunas and steam rooms or simply lie back and enjoy a well-earned nap in one of the many cosy nooks. There’s so much to discover up here that you can’t do it all in one go. The solution: come again or extend your stay for a few more days! 

Images: ©

Alpenresort Schwarz - Mieming

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