We decided to step out of our comfort zone of capital cities for our summer destination in 2014. What sparked the idea was that we had never been to the mountains during the summer season and after doing some research with our budget in mind we chose Innsbruck, Austria as our destination.
We started our first few days in the Basic Hotel Innsbruck, keeping in mind our budget and to explore the city for the first few days on a cheap budget. We were greeted warmly after arriving late, all of our questions were answered well and what we always base our sleeping arrangements on, a location with good free WIFI.
With our new walking mountain boots ready to be worn we decided to spend our first day going straight up the beautiful mountain on the cable car. We took the Nordkettenbahnen to Hafelekar, the highest point of 2256m above sea level. It was amazing to see the city down below on one side and the amazing views of the mountain range on the other. Our photos show how fantastic the weather was and what gorgeous views we encountered at the top!
After reaching the ‘touristic’ part of the mountain and having our photo taken together by other tourists and hikers, we decided to break in our mountain boots more and follow a walking route with a red dot. Unknown to us we didn’t know where this would lead us to or how long it was, resulting in getting us very far away after a good 3 hours of exploring! (We were oblivious to amount we had walked!) We were so immersed in the beauty of our surroundings we finally realised that we were going to have to find a safe path down the mountains, as the cable car would have stopped running by the time we walked back the same route. Luckily we had some snacks with us and we had a good feeling that we would come across a pathway down within another 30mins as it seemed that we were slowly descending. Well 3 hours later and we seemed to be in the middle of the mountain range with no one else but the famous Austrian cows with their bells in sight!! I must say at this point I was getting very worried as it would only be a few more hours until dark.
We came into contact with a solo Belgium hiker, who had some knowledge of the paths and directed us to a small pathway that led us down the mountain. This pathway was not a pathway as he described, it was half falling away and with one wrong step we would have gone flying down. It was also overgrown and used only by the most experienced hikers but it was our only close option to getting down the mountain after 6 hours of hiking. Even our comfy new mountain boots were tired and we were starting to feel our knees hurt in every step. Our snacks and water was completely gone and our energy levels reached very low points.
After 1 hour slowly trekking downwards and darkness beginning to fall we finally made it to a tarmac road with a little hidden café. At last we could stop worrying about being stuck and grab something to eat and drink before following the tarmac road back to Innsbruck city centre. Within the following 1 hour we had made it back in the dark, crashed on our beds and slept until 1pm the following day! The 8 hours of hiking had knocked us out. We had a great sleep but our leg muscles were aching for the next couple of days.
After all the exploring up the mountain and getting lost along the way, we feel that our first day was the highlight of the whole vacation. However we have learnt that we shall never follow a walking route with a red dot ever again!
Keeping the capital cities goal in mind, we took a 2 day trip to Vienna in the middle of our 10-day vacation. Travelling by train, we read some new chapters in our books and watched the beautiful famous green nature of Austria pass by. Check out my Vienna post about our visit!
Once back from Vienna we booked ourselves into Hotel Innsbruck which we reserved for some luxury feeling to use the relaxing indoor swimming pool and sauna, and because of the excellent reviews. We requested a view of the mountains and that’s exactly what we got, opening the curtains every morning to the stunning views of where we got lost at a few days before. Throughout the time spent there the service of this hotel was fantastic, even letting us check in our big suitcase early when we left the first hotel in Innsbruck to leave for Vienna, and stored it safely until we arrived back 2 days later.
Innsbruck is a picturesque city, small enough to explore within a few days. The Golden Roof was a 5 minute walk away from both hotels and the main restaurants were buzzing with locals and tourists. One little restaurant/bar that we found in a side street behind the hotel served a delicious meal of schnitzel and chips. It was where the locals hung out, so we joined them instead of spending twice as much for the same dish near the Golden Roof. The city was very pretty but we booked this destination for the experience of hiking in the mountains, which we certainly experienced!
Our time here was a wonderful experience, one we will definitely remember. If you are ever visiting Austria, I’d recommend a few days to Innsbruck!