Innsbruck, located in the centre of the Tirol region in Austria, is a mountain lover's paradise. The Tirol region is surrounded by huge mountain ranges in three directions, and whether you love winter sports or summer hiking, you're sure to be satisfied with the choices available.
Although Innsbruck makes a wonderful starting point for an extended exploration of the Tirol region, it would be a mistake not to spend some time enjoying the city's own attractions. In recent times it has become an important centre for winter sports, and has staged the Winter Olympics twice in the last fifty years.
Innsbruck is tucked into the valley of the Inn River, with mountain ranges to the north and south. It seems that in every direction there are stunning mountain views. The city itself, however, has some beautiful buildings to look at, when you can take your eyes off the mountains.
The Goldenes Dachl (Golden Roof) is certainly a good place to begin. Covered with over 2,500 gilded copper tiles, the roof shimmers and shines and provides lots of beautiful reflections above a Gothic oriel window. There is also a small museum inside, mostly devoted to Emperor Maximilian.
The Hofburg (Imperial Palace) is fascinating to explore, with both baroque and rococo styles in evidence. Close by is Dom St Jakob (St James' Cathedral) which has a completely amazing baroque interior. No expense spared, and it's hard to find an inch of space not covered by art and stuccowork.
Another interesting church is the Hofkirche (Imperial Church), which contains the sarcophagus of Maximilian I. The tomb itself is magnificent, but it is the sight of the twin rows of giant bronze statues on either side that remains in the memory.
There are many more baroque facades to be seen along Herzog Friedrich Strasse and around the centre of town, so taking a stroll is the best way to take it all in.
If you like to see wildlife up close, then it's worth travelling the couple of kilometres to the Alpenzoo (Alpine Zoo), where you can explore a substantial collection of alpine animals, including elk and wolves.
In the end, though, it's impossible to ignore the call of the mountains, which is what makes Innsbruck so special. It also makes Innsbruck a great place to stay while you explore the surrounding region. There is good transport to nearby skifields, or if you feel adventurous, you can even ski on a glacier!
If you have plans to visit Austria, then make sure you include Innsbruck and the Tirol Region in your itinerary. There is so much to enjoy and admire, and something to suit everybody's taste. Except of course if you don't like to either look at or visit mountains!