ATLANTA: While coping with the midsummer heat and humidity of Atlanta, your thoughts may naturally turn to fantasies of a cool, refreshing mountain getaway. If the north Georgia mountains aren’t far enough for you, consider a vacation in Innsbruck, Austria. Delta Airlines offers direct flights daily nonstop from Atlanta to Munich, Germany for approximately $960, and Innsbruck is easily reachable from Munich by a 1-2 hour train ride through the surprisingly beautiful Bavarian countryside. Similarly, as Austria is a relatively small country, Innsbruck is only a short train ride from Vienna or Salzburg, if your travels should take you there.
Innsbruck is clustered around the Inn river — the town’s name translates literally as “bridge over the Inn.” The city has hosted the Winter Olympics twice, in 1964 and 1976, and in 2012 it will host the first Winter Youth Olympics. As a consequence, skiiers can choose from over 250 ski runs in the surrounding mountains. In the summer, the mountains serve as a refuge for hikers of all ages.
The town itself has much to offer, with a postcard-perfect Old Town featuring museums, riverside cafes, churches, and public gardens. However, keep in mind that Innsbruck, like many European towns, takes the “work to live, not live to work” approach to life, and therefore Sundays are reserved for spending time with family, meaning that many businesses and tourist establishments may be closed. Still, the amazing views from the mountains are available any day of the week.
From the train station in Innsbruck, it is a short walk to the stop for the bus which will take you to the Nord Park cable car for your mountain adventure. If you are planning on seeing the museums and sites of Innsbruck, you may wish to purchase the Innsbruck Card, which can be purchased at the tourist information office for either 1, 2, or 3 days of free entrance to the historic sites and museums and free use of public transportation, among other benefits.
The cable cars provide a thrill of their own as you leave the main town behind and rise slowly over 2,000m into the mountains. At the top of the lift, a panoramic cafe provides truly breath-taking views of Innsbruck and all the surrounding villages. The only sounds you will hear are the low mooing and jingling of bells from the cows loitering on the hills. Whether you feel energized for a hike or prefer to take a relaxing stroll, it is worthwhile to take a break for a hot chocolate or cappuccino and enjoy the serenity of one of the world’s truly unspoiled natural beauties.
Innsbruck has something to offer at any time of year, but August and September are particularly hospitable for hikers, given the average high temperatures in the mid-70s. Delta is currently offering discount fares for European travel during the fall, so what are you waiting for?