Innsbruck Mountain Adventures – summer routes for a multi-activity alpine holiday

With autumn here, it’s time to consider your next summer holiday. You love the outdoors and like to try a variety of activities rather than just a single activity trip, but you also enjoy experiencing some culture, some history, perhaps an evening out in a city rather than a small, limited resort. Innsbruck has the perfect mix – it’s a vibrant city with easy access to the mountains, which makes it an ideal candidate for a Cicerone guidebook – Innsbruck Mountain Adventures.

Innsbruck is fondly known as the ‘Capital of the Alps’, and understandably so. Its superb geographical location means that Innsbruck is a mere stone’s throw from a long list of European hotspots: the Dolomites, Lake Garda, Munich, Graz and Salzburg to name but a few.

In her Innsbruck guidebook, author Sharon Boscoe bubbles with enthusiasm for the region…

Innsbruck is a sports enthusiasts’ paradise. It has everything that the mountains should offer, from sport climbing to running, and from mountain biking to hiking. Whether you are a casual hiker, a biker, a keen runner, a mountaineer, an adrenaline junkie, an energetic family, or are simply content to find a beautiful spot to eat lunch and read a book, there is something for everyone.
Via Ferratas connect the summits of the Nordkette
Via Ferratas connect the summits of the Nordkette

Unlike many areas in the Alps, the Inn Valley has a number of subsidiary valleys leading out of it, making it both accessible and providing a lifetime of opportunities to explore within a compact area. The main valley running east to west is the Inntal and running south from Innsbruck is the Wipptal, linking the region with Italy via the Brenner Pass, while to the north lies the impressive Nordkette chain and nearby Karwendel Alpine Park. To the west of Innsbruck, the major valleys are the Ötztal and the Stubaital, and to the east of the city lies the Zillertal. The Zillertal and Ötztal valleys provide some classic sport climbing areas on high-quality granite, however, the majority of the rock surrounding Innsbruck is limestone with some dolomite, and the landscape is varied and interesting, much of it carved out by the glaciers in the ice age.

Innsbruck and its surrounding areas are largely non-glaciated, making it a great location for relatively stress-free and more accessible mountaineering. However, the nearby Stubai Gletscher at the head of the Stubai Valley is home to 20 spectacular glaciers, the highest peak being the Zuckerhütl (meaning ‘sugarloaf’), standing at 3507m, with many more peaks over 3000m in the area.

A view south to the Stubai Alps from the slopes of the NordketteHabicht (3277m) is an accessible alpine peak in the Stubai valley with several scrambling ascents from different directionsThe Tux Alps to the south east of Innsbruck offer delightful walking in quiet valleys

The region is also a popular trekking area with an excellent network of mountain huts. The Adlerweg (Eagle’s Way) traverses the Tyrol for 300km along the north side of the Inntal, passing through Innsbruck roughly half way along the waymarked trail, with some sections featured in this new guidebook, while the Zillertal and Stubai offer more hut-to hut opportunities, the most popular being the Stubai Rucksack route and the Stubai Glacier Tour.

Mountain biking is arguably the most popular summer sport in Innsbruck, with new state-of-the-art downhill mountain bike trails and bike parks developing, the main ones located at Nordkette and Arzler Alm on the north side of the city, and at Axamer Lizum, Götzens and Mutters on the south side. Thousands of kilometres of designated mountain bike tours crisscross their way through the mountains, and the region boasts superb mountain biking terrain for everyone from beginners to experts.

If you prefer to cycle on more streamlined machines and flatter surfaces, then you’ll be in good company. ‘Throughout Tirol the terrain for road cycling is varied, interesting and endlessly beautiful. Uphill exertions are very much available to those who seek them, but there are less strenuous options, with the River Inn providing the perfect landscape for virtually flat, picturesque rides.Many of the cycle routes around Innsbruck are off road, and many travel along quiet back roads, making Innsbruck an excellent place to give road cycling a go.’

Unlike many other alpine regions, Innsbruck has its own local airport, well served by a number of airlines including Lufthansa, British Airways and EasyJet, and several low cost airlines direct from the UK. It is also an easy train or bus ride from Munich international airport, so it’s little wonder that the fantastic combination of accessibility and varied landscapes is why Innsbruck is hosting both the 2018 IFSC Climbing world championships and the 2018 Road Cycling World Championships in September, and has also hosted two Winter Olympics.

To sum up, author Sharon writes ‘Innsbruck is a wonderful destination for outdoor enthusiasts, and this new book aims to highlight some ideas for those keen to try out a variety of sports, whether you are a couple, a group of friends or travelling as a family.’ The guide is divided into sections for each activity, with a detailed description at the start of each chapter, along with practical advice on safety, equipment and further information such as maps or further reading.

The Karwendel, just to the north of Innsbruck, is a wild haven for walking, running, scrambling and mountain bikingThe limestone summits can be accessible with a little easy scrambling
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