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An insider’s guide to Innsbruck – gliders, gardens and sausage street art

Innsbruck international airport is just 15 minutes from downtown, so you’ll most likely hear a lot of planes overhead. Tourists tend to turn their heads and point at the low-flying planes; locals are a little more accustomed to it.

A good place to spot the planes is from the 360 Grad Bar. From here, you can also see the blinking lights on some rooftops leading towards the airport – an extended landing strip on the city’s roofs.

Best building

An insider's guide to Innsbruck - gliders, gardens and sausage street art
An insider’s guide to Innsbruck – gliders, gardens and sausage street art

Built as a brewery in the mid-1920s, the Adambräu still plays an important role in the city’s architecture, having been transformed into a museum and archive for architecture, called Architektur und Tirol.

Its clean lines and bold design are the work of Lois Welzenbacher, an Austrian pioneer in modern alpine architecture.

And the worst
Beautifully painted buildings are the landmarks of Innsbruck’s inner city centre. But once you reach the Triumphpforte, the city’s Triumphal Arch, pretty much every building is ugly and grey. The Hotel Hilton in particular would fail any sort of beauty contest – although there are plans afoot to turn this disgrace into something new.

Favourite venue

Die Bäckerei is a platform for cultural and social exchange as well as a meeting point for events and workshops. Some are regular, such as monthly poetry slams, Sunday coffee meet-ups or free advice on how to repair your bike . It also has a co-working space and a photography laboratory.

The building itself used to be an industrial bakery, which is still reflected in the name, Die Bäckerei – Kulturbackstube (“Bakery for Arts and Culture”).

Homegrown talent

The one artist you’ll most likely notice when visiting Innsbruck is HNRX, a local graffitist known for his gigantic images of sliced sausages, bananas or mandarins.

He says his sausage images – part of his Save the Sausage campaign, which has run since 2012 – is a way to have a bit of fun: “I like to paint food and other stuff on the streets, to put them out of context,” he says. “It’s the way my stuff works in a system full of profound things.”

Street style

How green is your city?
Most people jump on their bikes all year round: it’s simply the fastest way to get around. Even when there is snow, you’ll see students with skies or snowboards on their backs riding across town to catch the next ski shuttle. Recently, organic supermarkets and shops have proliferated, and residents are becoming more aware of recycling and reusing. The Feld Verein is a club that takes groceries that would otherwise go to waste and offers workshops: for instance, on how to make your own milk products.

What is your city’s most underrated location?

Nature and green spaces surround the city, but if you need a quick break, Hofgarten is just the place. Until a few years ago, visitors were not allowed to sit on the lawns, but that restriction has lifted and the park is a beautiful place to relax.

The gardens are 600 years old, and the latest remodelling, which took place around 150 years ago, transformed them into an English-style garden. In the middle there is an old pavilion with an oversized chess set, which is open for anyone to play.

Best Instagram account

Marika seems to always be up a mountain around Innsbruck – the mountains are a huge part of what makes Innsbruck home for many residents.

Current controversy
Parking. There are very limited spaces, each for a maximum of three hours. Residents can apply for two-year permits, but they don’t guarantee you a parking spot.

In the last few years, the parking zones have grown to include districts quite far from the city centre – but for many locals and visitors alike, this doesn’t make a lot of sense. Parking restrictions run until 9pm on weekdays, which hurts the restaurant trade.

The best option, then, remains to cycle. But there’s controversy there, too. Innsbruck does have city bikes, a la Paris or London, but the rental fees are quite high compared with other cities.

Moment in history

As a mountain city with a strong winter sports culture, the various Olympic games we’ve hosted have been our proudest moments.

Innsbruck hosted the Winter Olympics twice in 1964 and 1976, as well as the Youth Olympics in 2012 and the first ever Children’s Games in 2015. Although there was some controversy surrounding each Games, most locals remember each of them fondly as grand occasions for the city. The Olympics particularly announced Innsbruck, and the Tirol region in general, as a great skiing region – which had a great and continuing impact on winter tourism.

What Innsbruck does better than anywhere else

We have good cultural events, which shouldn’t be underrated, but what we’re really outstanding at is sports.

Living among the mountains is a dream come true for sports enthusiasts – both summer and winter. Besides establishing itself as a freeride city, Innsbruck is now – after years of discussions – welcoming all bikers. Only recently, Innsbruck announced that it will host the Crankworx bike festival, the biggest gravity mountain bike festival in the world.

Many famous sportsmen are from Innsbruck and the surrounding areas: Hermann Buhl, the alpine pioneer; climbers David Lama and Anna Stöhr; ski jumpers Gregor Schlierenzauer and Toni Innauer; ski cross champion Karin Huttery and bike racer Franz Venier.

Top insider’s tip

You haven’t really seen Innsbruck until you’ve seen the city from above. There are several ways to do this: you could hike up the surrounding mountains, take the cable car – or, even better, let the wind power your ride with a flight in a glider.

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