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Romancing the Snow in Innsbruck

November 11, 2013 Destination Global No Comments Email Email

549261Dreaming of a White Christmas? Innsbruck in Austria brings winter to life with unbelievable skiing, upmarket apres ski and accommodation options and lashings of festive cheer.

Few European cities bring the magic of Christmas to life as beautifully as the picturesque Austrian city known as the Capital of the Alps. Snow-blanketed mountains tower above the roofs and steeples of the quaint and colourful Old Town, and in the cobblestoned city squares, fairylight-festooned stalls tempt browsers with Christmas wares and Tyrolean treats.

Rugging up and enjoying the festive atmosphere on an icy evening is all part of the fun. Give in to the irresistible scent of spicy mulled wine; wrapping your hands around a steaming mug of gluhwein is the ideal way to warm them up. There are five charming Christmas Markets in which to delight in Innsbruck and the nearby village of Hungerburg, and there’s a buzz in the air unique to the Northern Hemisphere at this time of year. Innsbruck is fairly brimming with Christmas spirit.

Skiing heaven

The skiing and snowboarding here are unbelievably good; Innsbruck is renowned throughout the world for its snow and infrastructure.Olympia SkiWorld Innsbruck comprises nine world-class ski areas spread across the three mountains surrounding the valley: the Nordkette to the north, and Patscherkofel and Serles to the south. There are 300km of combined trails, but where to start? The Nordkette area seems like an obvious choice. From the centre of the city, you can be whisked up the mountain in just 20 minutes.

At the top, there are spectacular views of the Inn Valley and the Inn River meandering through its heart. Curves of red intermediate ski trails wind their way down the mountain, carving out a picturesque path to the Nordkettenbahn funicular below.

The village of Kühtai and its ski area is just 20 minutes from the city. It is the highest ski resort in Austria at 2020m above sea level – only the glaciers are higher. Here the ski season runs into spring, and there’s 35km of guaranteed snow cover from December until May. When evening falls, the slopes of Olympia SkiWorld light up for night skiing but if it’s old-world romance you need, cosy up beneath a blanket and go dashing through the snow in a horse-drawn sleigh.

Off the slopes

While the mountains are all about pretty provincial scenes and working up a sweat, the après ski scene takes things up a notch with fine dining and modern bars. Staying at the luxurious Alpenresort Schwarz, just out of Innsbruck, will give you a taste of the best modern Austrian cuisine available.

For decadent dining in Innsbruck itself, Grand Hotel Europa – the only five-star hotel in the city – entices guests with refined versions of traditional Tyrolean fare at its Europa Stüberl restaurant. The Europa Bar, also in the hotel, delights with exquisite cocktails, but for a drink with a view, go toLichtblick Café and 360° Bar at the top of the Town Hall.

If you’d like to take to the Alps with a group, consider hiring the exclusive Schloss Igls, a luxurious castle right at the foot of the mountains. Could there be anything more magical?

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