With wonderful memories of the Christmas markets in Salzburg some years ago, I already had high expectations for Innsbruck. I was not disappointed. The markets in Innsbruck were just as traditional and Christmassy as I had hoped. A very heavy snowfall over Innsbruck just hours before our arrival, made it even more magical.
Innsbruck is located deep in a valley surrounded on both sides by the towering peaks of the Alps, so even if we had not been blessed by the fresh snowfall in the city, we would still have had views of the snow covered peaks from almost everywhere in the city.
Getting to Innsbruck
We nearly didn’t make it. After boarding the aircraft we had a delay due to the airport in Innsbruck remaining closed following the heavy snowfall. Luckily after an hour of waiting they reopened the airport and we were on our way.
Finding a Hotel in Innsbruck, Austria
The Motel One in Innsbruck was worth its weight in gold for the fantastic views offered from the top floor bar. Being one of the tallest buildings in Innsbruck, a visit to the bar area is highly recommended. It offers stunning 360 views from the panoramic windows that wrap around the entire top floor and two large balconies at either end of the bar.
The Christmas Market’s in Innsbruck
There are four main Christmas Markets in Innsbruck; Old Town Christmas Market, Christmas Market Maria-Theresien Straße, The Family Christmas Market at Marktplatz and Panorama Christmas Market on Hungerburg. During my two day visit to Innsbruck I managed to visit all four of these markets, the first three are located in the city centre, all relatively close together, but the Hungerburg Market is only accessible by taking the funicular railway up the mountain. There are a few other small markets located in other suburbs of city and in the surrounding areas, but I didn’t get the chance to visit these.
Market Maria-Theresien Straße
These were the first of the markets that we visited, after checking into the hotel and making our through the city towards the old town. Located along the centre of Maria-Theresien Straße, there were a few stalls in this market offering a range of Christmas decorations and ornaments, as well as many food and drink outlets.
The first thing we did when we arrived was to enjoy a delicious Brätwurst accompanied with a cup of festive Glühwein. The refreshments were quite reasonably priced, the Brätwurst costing €7.50 and €4.20 for a cup of Glühwein. As usual, we had to pay a deposit for the cup, which is refundable should you choose to return it. In this case it was €4. I returned my initial cup, but I did choose to save one as a keepsake to remind me of my visit to the markets.
Old Town Christmas Market
The Old Town Christmas Market are located just a two minute walk from the Maria-Theresien Straße Market in the same direction that we were heading. This Market had a much more Christmassy feel than the first market. I think this was because of their location; located in small lanes as well as in a picturesque square surrounded by traditional buildings, whereas the initial markets which were in the middle of a wide boulevard style street.
A huge Christmas tree towered over the square, with stalls lining the edge of the square and streets leading off the square, as well as many more stalls filing the whole square. There were many more stalls here than in the first market. All the stalls were green wooden huts with the freshly fallen snow covering the roofs, which made them look so picturesque. There was another large area of stalls selling food and drink, and many more stalls selling a wide range of items from cured meats, cheese, liquors and products made from local honey to wooden decorations, ceramic ornaments and beautiful hand-made gifts. There was also a small viewing platform above some of the stalls near the food and drink area which offered views across the whole square.
The square is also home to the Goldenes Dachl, which is Innsbruck’s most famous structure, dating back to 1500. We were lucky enough to be in the market at the right time when a band appeared from the famous balcony on the Goldenes Dachl and started playing Christmas music.
On the second day while we were in this market we also came across a group of traditional horned Krampus creatures roaming through the market. This is a tradition in the alps that dates back over 2000 years.
Panorama Christmas Market on Hungerburg
The Market at Hungerberg was the smaller of the four by far, but well worth visiting owing to its location half way up the mountain. The Market is accessed by a funicular railway which originates in the city centre. Tickets for the train can be purchased at a machine in the station and cost €12.20 per person for a return ticket. The train makes a couple of stops on the way from its origin at Congress Station, located in the old town, to the final stop at Hungerberg. The journey takes 15-20 minutes. From Hungerberg you can also take a cable car to the top of the mountain range, but due to the poor visibility on the day, we decided against this.
We didn’t spend too long at the market due to it being much colder up here, and also having very poor visibility on the first day when we visited. Being in the clouds meant thats there was no spectacular view over the city, which you would get if there were clear skies. We did stay long enough however, to enjoy a cup of mulled wine in the snow before heading back down the mountain to the city.
The Family Christmas Market at Marktplatz
This market was the busiest by far. When we arrived here it had just began to get dark and the whole market looked magical with the freshly fallen snow glistening under the thousands, if not millions, of twinkling fairy lights that adorned the walkways and stalls of this market. Towering above the market was a 14 meter high Swarovski crystal tree, which was constantly changing colour.
While in this market we discovered Glühwein made with white wine, but we also discovered an absolutely delicious apple punch with Rum. I definitely had more than one cup! There were probably about the same amount of stalls in this market as in the old town, but here they tended to be packed tighter together to fit in the space. There was also a carousel and puppet shows, making it the ideal market for families with young children.
The airport in Innsbruck is quite small and very close to the city centre. On arrival we took the bus from outside the terminal to the city centre which took about 15 minutes and cost just €2.80 per person. For the return we took a taxi which cost around €15 and took just 5 minutes.
I had a fantastic time in Innsbruck visiting the Christmas Markets. I think having the fresh snowfall on arrival and during the first day really was the icing on the cake. This was my first of two Christmas Markets trips this year, the second was to the Christmas Markets in Cluj-Napoca & Târgu Mureș in Transylvania, Romania.
I haven’t booked any Christmas Market trips yet for next year, I have a few destinations that I’m considering, but I was also wondering if anyone has any suggestions for me?