Focus On: Innsbruck
In the regional capital, Innsbruck, nature and culture sit side by side, for the city is surrounded by the jagged Nordkette Mountains. The historic centre is picture-postcard pretty, dominated by architectural marvels such as a Baroque cathedral and the Golden Roof, a gothic oriel with a gleaming roof and lavish murals. The lavish Imperial Palace, set in gorgeous landscape gardens, is also worth a visit.
Innsbruck, like Vienna, is known for its coffee house culture, with lots of historic cafés where you can stop for a caffeine hit and an apple strudel. It also has plenty of restaurants, markets and bars, thanks to a young student population, while boutique hotels provide travellers with old world luxury.
The city is also renowned for its fantastic museums. The Glockengiengiesserei Grassmayr is an intriguing bell-making museum, where you can witness the age-old practice of bells being cast. Meanwhile, the Panorama Museum includes telescopes and interactive screens that allow you to look more closely at the Innsbruck of the present and the past.
The city makes for a fantastic winter retreat, with Christmas markets and other events adding some festive cheer. It’s easy to access the nearby mountains to go skiing and snowboarding. The famous Bergisel ski jump – which has been used in several Olympic events – is a popular destination. You can eat at the panoramic restaurant even if you don’t want to brave the downhill run!
But it’s a great summer destination too, and an excellent base for fresh air activities in the surrounding mountains – there’s a programme of free hiking events held from June to September.