Valley Love: Why Innsbruck is the ultimate ski city

Sponsored post: With nine ski resorts on its doorstop, it’s no wonder that Mary Creighton was lured in by Innsbruck, the capital of the Alps

I moved to Innsbruck two years ago, and I fear it may have spoiled me for life. When I walk around the city I don’t navigate by streets but by the mountains that loom above it; green traffic light men bearing skis tell me when I can cross the road and I think rocking up to a fancy restaurant in merino wool baselayers is socially acceptable. It’s a city that lives and breathes skiing, with nine ski areas and 300km of pistes making up the surrounding Olympia SkiWorld. Pre-, post- and even mid-work ski sessions are perfectly plausible.

Possibly what amazes me the most about living here, is that before my move, I didn’t really consider it a ski destination at all; just a very convenient spot for an airport. I knew there was a ski lift in the city, Nordkette, but I didn’t realise how impressive the skiing there was, with some of the most testing ski routes leading off the top cable car.

Innsbruck City Centre with the mountains of the Nordkette in the background | Innsbruck Tourismus/ Christof Lackner

Across the valley is my personal favourite ski spot, Axamer Lizum. Home to the Olympic alpine skiing events back in 1964 and 1976, it is now a hotspot for locals and freeriders alike. Families and intermediates, meanwhile, can cruise the tree-lined slopes of Schlick, Muttereralm and Patscherkofel. Altogether, nine ski resorts make up the area, all of which are included on the Olympic World Skipass, and are easily reached by free bus. 

Off the slope you have all the attractions of a seriously photogenic and vibrant city, with a few added twists (our pick: the Olympic Bobsleigh Run in Igls). From the end of November until early January you can combine a trip to the Christmas markets — there are six in Innsbruck alone, each as atmospheric and Glühwein-filled as the next — with an early-season ski break to high, snowsure Stubai Glacier, just a 45-minute drive away.

That same glacier also makes a handy back-up on lean seasons, and offers some of the best spring ski conditions I’ve ever experienced, including an early-June powder day. This year it’s being updated with the 3S Eisgrat cable, the world’s longest tri-cable gondola, making access better than ever before.

But maybe the best thing has to be the almost non-existent transfer time, which make it a viable weekend trip. And this winter things have got even easier with British Airways and Monarch offering flights from Heathrow and Birmingham. The only downside? You may just want to up sticks and join me here…

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