I was determined to feel festive and see the snow one last time before I head back to South Africa and escape winter. It’s been a dream of mine to jump in a car and drive through the Alps, stopping off at Christmas Markets in various towns along the way. Visions of snow storms and isolated wooden cabins; burning log fires and real swiss hot chocolates. With a little bit of planning and an awful lot of favour, what I had seen in my mind came true.
I flew into Zurich where I met Elan, a fellow photographer and all round creative from Cape Town. We drove through Liechtenstein and into Austria. We spent 2 nights in Innsbruck, capital of Tyrol, famous for it’s winter sports and incredible Christmas markets.
What to do:
Where: In front of the Golden Roof, in Innsbruck’s historic city centre
When: 15th November 2016- 6th January 2017
Opening hours: Open daily from 11 am till 9 pm, trading until 8 pm
Carols bellowed from wall to wall as bands entertained from the balcony. The warm scent of Gluhwein and cinnamon encompassed the Old Town’s Christmas tree where people were huddled, wrapped in thick winter coats, hats and knitted mittens. The hustle and bustle of an Austrian Christmas Market is something not to be missed.
We took the cable car as far as we could, all the way to Hafelekarspitze (I believe the station is called Hafelekar). It’s really easy to find and departs from the station on the perimeter of the Old Town. Once the 2,300m summit is reached, you can hike along the entire breadth of the mountain, with incredible views as far as Italy. This was truly some of the most spectacular scenery I have witnessed. You are totally engrossed in the north-chain mountains and there’s even a ski route at the top section throughout winter but it’s well worth exploring just for the hike.
Where to stay:
We stayed at the aDLERS hotel during our time in Innsbruck. It’s a beautiful, modern hotel with 12 floors and a balcony bar showing off an impressive view of Innsbruck. The best thing about staying here is it’s close proximity to the town centre. Everything is within walking distance, with the Innsbruck Train Station just a few minutes away. It seemed in each room we entered, we were given the opportunity to marvel at the overwhelming scale of the surroundings, be it breakfast or in the rooms. The aDLERS hotel perfectly epitomises what an alpine city is all about: enjoying the true spectacle of being engrossed in the mountains. Together with pleasant and attentive staff and smart, quality rooms, I’d return to the aDLERS hotel in a heartbeat.
Cost: €33 for 24 hours
If you manage to get an Innsbruck card and really make use of it, you can save a lot of money. Included on the card are: the cable cars, public transport, Wi-Fi in Innsbruck and bike rentals. You can also get free entrance to museums in the city too, if you are into that kind of thing. For us, having an Innsbruck card just made our travel in and around Innsbruck so much easier and far less hassle. We left the car in the hotel car park and didn’t get it out until we left for Italy a couple of days later. Austria is graced with a great public transport network so it’s worth making use of it!
Where to Drink Coffee:
Innstraße 2, 6020 Innsbruck, Austria
Haepinest was such a great little find. I was pleasantly supprised to come across a café in Austria offering ‘third wave coffee’ and it certainly didn’t dissapoint, with a whole variety of choices from V60 filters to Cortados and Flat Whites. We were both genuinely impressed by the quality of the coffee served at Haepinest and what’s more, the baristas loved coffee and for me, that’s always the key. Austria in general is rather limited in the number of ‘third wave cafés’ on offer but Haepinest is definitely one to remember. They have a super healthy breakfast and lunch menu and there’s a very warm, cosy and inviting atmosphere as you walk in. Is it the kind of place I could relax in, read a book or do some work? Absolutely.
Photos by both Elan and myself. Check out Elan here: