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Innsbruck is a town I don’t totally ‘get’ yet – it seems to have a tendency towards large crowds and gray skies. The historic center does have great architecture, and perhaps is at its best in the winter. 

The only hotel I’ve stayed at is the Hilton Innsbruck, which was just gross, frankly. The only thing it had going for it was parking. 

Sites and Dining:

  • The “Nordpark.” I’m not sure the term park does the area justice; it’s essentially the entire mountain range above the town. Innsbruck’s main claim to fame is that it has hosted two winter Olympics, and it’s easy to see why the area was selected. Great views, fun even in summer.
  • On the outskirts of town, **Schloss Ambras is more interesting conceptually than in person. It’s considered the first museum in the world that is still found in the same place it was established (and one of the most popular attractions of the Tyrol). Built in the 16th century on the spot of an earlier 10th-century castle, Archduke Ferdinand II (1529–1595) had it renovated to serve as his family’s residence from 1567 to 1595. He accommodated his collections in the Lower Castle, built specifically for display. The collections themselves are okay and a little odd (and not complete; much of the contents are now in other places), but it’s still interesting to see what he cared about. The upper, residential castle has a gorgeous hall (Spanischer Saal), a notable example of German Renaissance architecture, which contains an intricate wood-inlay ceiling and walls adorned with 27 full-length portraits of the rulers of Tyrol. We also liked the elaborate indoor bathroom, complete with sauna and pool.
  • The **Goldener Adler is one of the oldest guest houses and hotels in Europe to be preserved in its historical form. Located near the river in the old town, it dates back to 1390. We had lunch – pretty good, traditional dishes, in a pretty setting. It’s very popular, reserve in advance.

Schwaz

We had lunch here on Rick Steve’s recommendation. Large town, old town pretty dead, not worth stopping at.

Wattens

On the outskirts of Innsbruck, the *Swarovski Factory is AWFUL! On a pretty epic tacky scale. Skip.

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