SIGHTS in Innsbruck:
There's a whole lot of history here: Herzog Sigmund extended the grounds, Maximilian enlarged it once again, archduke Ferdinand II brought the renaissance to the castle, empress Maria Theresia built a baroque castle out of it and the crown prince Ludwig brough in bavarian furniture, which disappeared quickly again after Napoleon's defeat. Then everything was redesigned in rococo style and Sissi was even there! A visit to the Hofburg is a must for those who want to know the whole story. It is clear that you won't make your way out of here too quickly: as it takes a lot of time to cross the giant hall alone. Sporty types might even make their way to the Audienzsaal (audience chamber), the Kapitelzimmer (chapter room), Sissi's study and emperor Franz Joseph's bedroom. Once you've made it that far, we recommend that you take a break for cake at Café Sacher. You can even rent parts of the emperor's apartments for stylish occasions. It's not cheap, however, the grand rococo ambience overseen by ceiling frescoes comes at a price of ?3000 a day.
Action! This international film festival in Innsbruck celebrates the smaller yet finer celluloid films and inspires its audience year after year with independent pieces from all over the world. But Austria's own film scene has gathered some more wind under its sails. It started with Haneke and reached its climax with Christopher Waltz, whose career is still on the up. So it's no wonder that film festivals in Austria are booming events: finally the alp country can celebrate Stefan Ruzowitzy's Oscar instead of mourning the loss of its former superstar Billy Wilder. In Innsbruck however, the Jury has concentrated on international films and has pulled in stories from around the world. In fact, only films from Latin America, Africa and Asia feature here. This year there are even a few films from North Korea, Brasil and Tajikistan. There are also plenty of short films, specials and panel discussion to round off the festival.
Seeing the sense of hearing at the Audioversum in Innsbruck. In the room of bone conduction the visitors discover how hearing-impaired people sense sounds in their heads through their bones. Over-sized headphones elucidate what noise pollution feels like. The Kritzelfon surprises the kids: they can hear their drawings. Apart from the Kritzelfon also the Soundlab is the playground of the young. Here they can experiment with sounds on tablets. And if you happen to be angry or if you want to know how voluminous your voice is you can head to the Scream Room. 1,000 square metres cover the different stations of the Audioversum. Initiators of this unusual museum which is close to Innsbruck's central station are Ingeborg Hochmair and Erwin Hochmair, director and researcher of Medical Electronics. MED-EL is a globally acting company for hearing implant systems.
STAY in Innsbruck:
So what is romantic? A walk along the beach for many. For others it's the tale of Romeo and Juliet. For the Japanese it is Sissi and Franzl. But for the couples staying at the romantic hotel Schwarzer Adler, the Swarovski crystals really get the sparks flying. It's not just the bride that is radiating here, but also the bathroom. It is a world of crystals. The precious stones laid into the black tiles twinkle in the light, and the crystals next to the basin glitter and the double-headed eagle laid into the flooring shines in brilliance. Whatever you didn't see in the Swarovski World of Crystals is sure to be seen here in this crystal dream. There's also a whirlpool grotto and massage shower too. Those who can't really warm up to Swarovski could however get in the right mood with Versace. The Versace Deluxe Suite attracts it's guests with piano black and gold, with a fitting bathroom decked out in red lava rock. And the Empress Maria Theresia Suite has it all: Sissi plus versace and Swarovski. Those who are a bit overwhelmed by so much romance didn't understand the film. Double rooms can be yours from ?150 per night.
The Grand Hotel Europa goes international and pairs Tyrolean parlour style with Italian design. The Europa suite was designed in the name of tradition, holds a very comfortable atmosphere and is completely made out of wood. Hundred-year old carvings and a corner bank around a traditional fireplace remind one of a rustic east Tyrolean farmer's room, but nobody has to go to work on the fields here. Room service and the shoeblack are here to relieve you of all the hard work. On the contrary to the Tyrolean style, the other rooms boast modern Italian style. Architect Botti went to town and impresses guests with warm colours, noble use of wood and marble stone. Those who drop in at the restaurant however, mustn't guess where they are at all. The Andreas Hofer and Max Weiler parlours again command the classic Tyrolean style. There's wood as far as the eye can see and an excellent 'Haube' honoured restaurant with a excellent international wine list to boot. And that is exactly what makes the Grand Hotel Europa what it is - the motto may scream international luxury, but scratch the surface and the Tyrolean traditions aren't hard to find. Don't forget the nostalgia that comes with it. Double rooms are available from ?149 per night.
Innsbruck isn't exactly the design centre of the world. In Tyrol, traditions are more important than the trappings. Those who are looking for that big city flair are really at the wrong address here. But the BinderS hotel attempts to change that. The art hotel has set a new accent in old Innsbruck and makes quite a splash with its 15 different designs. The Sleep Colour room contains twelve colours, the Sleep Loft provides an urban feeling with its water bed and bright, expansive rooms, not to mention the bathroom that simply screams lifestyle. As an added extra, the Smart car fleet provides those without a car the opportunity to explore every nook and cranny of the city with the perfect city explorer on four wheels. And after an exhausting day in the mountains you can permit yourself a beer or even a schnaps in the hotel bar. No need to do this on an empty stomach however: although BinderS doesn't offer a three course meal, the snacks on offer are enough to keep you on the safe side of tipsy. Double rooms are available from ?78 per person.
EAT in Innsbruck:
The sitzwohl didn't earn its name because its guests are so well seated, as the name would imply, but because one of the owners is called Irmgard Sitzwohl. Nonetheless, guests at this noble restaurant feel anything but unwell. Olive tones, dark wood features and tall windows create the right setting for a sophisticated culinary offering, which could only be described as mediterranean with an Austrian influence. The constantly evolving menu features such delights as mozzarella and rocket lettuce along with grilled chicken and beef broth. There is a bar which serves diverse dishes at lunch time for the hurried business people and comforting cocktails at the end of the day. And for those who can't wait around at all, the fine delicacies are also available for take-away at the Geislerei, so they can be enjoyed at the workdesk. And apropos Geislerei, it is named after the second boss, Elisabeth Geisler. All the dishes here are prepared with love, which often has a noticeable effect on the stressed work crowd who frequent this restaurant for a brief slice of heaven.
It's a situation we are all too familiar with: You've been out for the entire night, you've danced your feet off and you're mega hungry. Most doors close at midnight on the dot in a town like Innsbruck - meaning you've got little chance of finding a late-night snack or an early breakfast. But we are here to save the day. When you come out of the club with a hole in your stomach at 5am, then drop on by at Café-Bistro Tyrolis. From 5.30am onwards, they serve a killer farmer's breakfast, after which you will no doubt have to lie down anyway. If that's too much for you then you can always enjoy a champagne breakfast with salmon. The Tyrolis is there for those times where 'so late already?' and 'way too early' start to blend and feeds partied-out night owls and senile bed escapees. There's also an excellent midday menu and fantastic desserts to die for.
Those who experience a watery mouth as soon as they hear the words 'Amuse Bouche' und 'Petits Fours' are either French or simply like to eat good food. You wouldn't expect to see this sort of food served in Innsbruck: instead of the customary bacon dumplings, Nicolas Curtil serves light and fine Nouvelle cuisine riddled with light provencial herbs and melted brie cheese. Fans of earthy cuisine may be a bit puzzled by the rosewater mousse. You might also be surprised by the karfoil and saffran on the menu. The celery fudge with dandeloins, artichokes, herb pesto and parsnip puree may also cause you to run for the exit. But every guest here has been entralled by the offerings here, even though exotic food has its price: the dinner deluxe costs no less than ?45. By the way, Nicolas decided to change his nutrition in 2010 and changed the menu to suit: instead of scallops and duck burgers all dishes are strictly vegetarian.
SHOPPING in Innsbruck:
House of Tea
The Pearl of the Nile. The Star of Africa. Desert Flowers. Sound like kitschy novel titles? Precious stones? Or types of tea? In case you are asked on Who Wants to be a Millionaire, the last answer is correct. These types, and many others, such as Elbfeuer, Schlectwetterhexe, White Monkey and the entire palette of creative names for blends are available in the House of Tea & Coffee. It doesn't matter if it's herbs or fruits, black, green or white, Indian or Tyrolean, the House of Tea & Coffee has the right blend, the right kettle and even the right fasting teas for Ayurveda fans. The store also has heaps to offer on the caffeine side of things. Next to Attibassi and Mesta you will find Helmut Sacher along with Mocca and Wiener blends. Don't forget the Jamaica Blue Mountain. This place is so rich in coffee you will get lost in the roasted aromas. Those who don't quite understand the lure of the bean just yet are sure to be converted after visiting this store.
The Golden Path
It's all about the colour of gold in the old town. But don't go and blow your savings straight away! The products called "Schindeln vom Goldenen Dachl" or "Goldschindeln" (golden shindles) should not be taken literally when found at the Konditorei Mundig (Kiebachgasse 16) and the Konditorei Zimt & Zucker (Herzog-Friedrich-Gasse 9), as sweet nibblies lay beneath the golden beauty. If you are disappointed, then maybe Vinothek's Culinarium (Pfarrgasse 1) would be the place for you, where you can find wines, liquors, marmelades and the "Goldenes Dachl" sparkling wine, which contains golden leaves. Are you already inebriated? Then let's part ways with gold fever and go where it gleams in a much different way: at Speckschwemme (Stiftgasse 4), the fat of Tyrolean Speck (cured bacon) gleams in all it's glory and it's wonderous scent makes your mouth water. And since we are pretty much there, drop in at the Tiroler Wachszieher und Lebzelter (Pfarrgasse 3) for an equally crucial cornerstone of the Tyrolean culinary platter: the Lebkuchen. Now we've mapped it out for you, it's up to you to follow the golden path.
It's time to hit the slopes - the most fun you will find in Tyrol in the colder months. But what if you don't have the necessary gear to make your way down the mountain? Before you head up the mountain, pay a visit to the Börse (stock market). They've got the stuff that powder dreams are made of. Völkl, Head, Salomon und Nitro all mean something to you? You will find all these great brands in the Börse. And for those that already have their slick boards will find Alpinestars, Billabong and Capp3L suits and jackets to cruise down the mountain in style. But the stocks are also high in summer, as downhill and BMX bikers will find the Börse as the perfect one-stop shop for all their two-wheeled desires. Another highlight is the mountain-bike rental service. If you don't want to bring it with you, then you can simply hire it out, that way you can make your way up the mountain for a sensible sum.