This isn’t a quaint ski village.
It’s a full-blown city in the middle of Europe’s most renown mountain range.
With a cosmopolitan feel and all the modern amenities, this winter sports metropolis is unrivaled in the Alps. Perfect slopes and openness to snowboarding has dubbed Innsbruck “The Boarder’s City.”
A Metropolis in the Alps
Innsbruck has almost 130,000 residents and is the fifth largest city in Austria. Only Grenoble in Switzerland has a bigger population in the Alps.
Sitting in a historical pass between two huge mountains, it has been inhabited since pre roman times. It was the pioneering location for snowboarding and today remains a haven for boarders looking to get their X Game fix.
A Snowboarding Paradise
There are nine resorts within 45 minutes of the city center, five of which have fun parks with half pipes, rails, kickers and jumps. With free transport to any of the resorts and reasonably priced tickets that can connect you to all of them, you could easily spend a week or two snowboarding in a diverse paradise.
Where to Snowboard in Innsbruck
Ask any avid boarder and they will tell you that Axamer Lizum is the place to be in Innsbruck. It’s not big, or flashy, meaning the crowds go elsewhere while you thrash on one of the best fun parks in the world. Many days there are more boarders than skiers, all taking advantage of the natural pipes and jumps.
Credit: ch images
Nordpark- Seegrube is called the “The Snowboard Mecca” for a reason. It is insane. Not for the faint of heart, this resort towers above Innsbruck with some very steep slopes that can be dangerous to those who are less than skilled. If you are an expert however, this park with its 400 foot (120m) Superpipe has all the challenges you could want and the thrill of speed is never far away.
Stubai Glacier is the biggest, boldest and highest resort around Innsbruck. It takes 20 minutes in a cable car just to get to the top at 10,400 feet (3,150 m). Because of its elevation and location it has skiing year round, but unfortunately this also draws the huge crowds. If you can get there early, there is a good snow park with a great halfpipe and some fast, wide open bowls. Otherwise, long lines and busy slopes await you.
Schlick 2000 is a free riders mountain and comes with a “ride at your own risk” tag. A short hike from Kreuzjochbahn Mountain Station gets you to this all but secret park, however, it’s a big avalanche area so you will need to pass the safety inspection before you ride. If you are allowed, fresh powder, a natural half pipe and lots of fun are ahead of you.
Best of the Rest
There are also two small funparks in Muttereralm and Kühtai, and another which is great for kids and beginners at Rangger Kopfl. Igls has a renovated resort open to snow boarders, but there is no funpark or natural elements for great boarding.
Being a big city, Innsbruck offers more than your traditional ski village. The Apres Skiing is great with loads of bars and restaurants, but with the added cultural value of museums and art galleries, something mostresorts don’t have. Otherwise, the usual extras such as cross-country skiing, sledding, ice skating, and bobsledding abound.
Snowboarding is an activity that is very popular with people who do not feel that regular skiing is lethal enough. - Dave Barry
When To Go
The slopes are usually open from late November until early March, but it depends on the weather. The best time to go is before or after the the Christmas holidays, when the resorts are crowded and prices go up considerably.
The average temperature in winter is 32°F (0°C) during the day, and in the evenings it can drop below 5°F (-15°C).
Getting There & Around
The closest airport is Innsbruck International Airport located 2.5 miles (4km) away from the city center. Frequent shuttles take you to Innsbruck city center in 18 minutes and from there, buses and shuttles go to all the Winter Sport areas.
- Mid-range accommodations: $100-120
- Week pass: from $200
- Meals: $10-20
- Beer: $3
- Use Innsbruck’s full-service ski rental. The rental shop sends a car to pick up visitors at their hotel for fitting, returning them with their equipment. When they are finished, they collect it from the hotel.
- Visit the casino in Innsbruck.
- Go for the Air and Style Ski Jumping Competition in December.
- Austrian businesses typically close for lunch between 12 and 2 pm, and shops are closed on Sunday.
- Don’t forget to carry change if you are driving a car. There are several toll roads around Innsbruck
- Go without checking the weather. Avalanches are frequent and roads in the Tyrol are prone to being closed due to heavy snow.
- Innsbruck hosted the 1964 and 1976 Winter Olympics as well as the 1984 and 1988 Winter Paralympics.
- Innsbruck is the European home to Burton Snowboards, the largest and most famous manufacturer in the world.
- Innsbruck is the headquarters for the International Snowboard Federation, the governing body for snowboarding.
Feature Image Credit: Kara Allyson