Families visiting Innsbruck, the capital of the Tyrol region, will be awestruck by its combination of alpine and urban elements. Nature and culture co-exist here in splendour. You only have to take in the view down the splendid Maria-Theresien-Street toward the medieval Old Town crowned by the majestic Nordkette mountain range.
Innsbruck’s glittering landmark, the Golden Roof, stands out in the centre of this alpine city. Built by Emperor Maximilian I in the 15th century, it has shaped the image of Innsbruck ever since, along with the beautiful Renaissance Ambras Castle.
The connection to the mountains is nowhere more visible than in the city’s Nordkettenbahnen Cable Cars, which have a station within the old town. Kids will love the 20-minute ride up to an altitude of 2,000m for summer hiking.
Once up, the interaction between city and mountain is also a theme at the Alpine Zoo, Europe’s highest-altitude zoo, which nestles up against the Nordkette mountain and is home to more than 2,000 European Alpine native animals, including bears, eagles and lynx. Wolves howl in sync with nearby church bells, and in the barnyard, little ones get to pat the piglets and lambs. A special attraction is the redesigned ibex enclosure, where visitors can stroll freely among these majestic beasts.
The outdoor adventure world playground of Muttereralmpark is a much-loved hiking and mountain-biking paradise just south of Innsbruck. Families can explore Zauberwasser, with its fun water wheels, streams and ponds, where kids can splash and paddle to their hearts’ content.
The Baumhauser is a series of castles in the air with wooden walkways through the treetops, and Geocaching is also available here. And best of all, families can whizz back down to the valley on a gravity-propelled mountain cart.
The opposite mountain in the south can also be accessed by the cable car. Innsbruck is renowned for its Summer Festival. The distance between mountaintop restaurants and theatre boxes is shorter here than anywhere else in the world.
Highlights this summer include The Tanzsommer dance festival (20 June–14 July), with performers STOMP, and The Innsbruck Promenade Concerts, where marches and waltzes ring out for free in the courtyard of the Imperial Palace on warm summer nights (3-30 July).