Nature and shopping in the alpine capital
elcome to Innsbruck, a sports lover’s summer and winter paradise. In warmer weather, the snow-clad mountains and ski slopes make way for trekking and mountain bike adventures. Nearby lakes such as Baggersee are a great option for outdoor types, although the star attraction is undoubtedly the 2,000-metre high Nordkette, in the heart of Austria’s biggest natural reserve, Karwendel Nature Park.
To get the most out of all these activities, good equipment is key. Luckily, the capital of the Alps is also the capital of sports shops. There are over twenty specialising in winter sports and others that cater to cycling, climbing and every other sport or activity practised in the spectacular surroundings. Burton, a European brand with over 40 years in the sector, has its flagship store here. And it’s not alone. The exclusive Bogner, combining performance and fashion in exquisite outdoor and sports goods, also has a signature store in the centre of Innsbruck.
At Christmas and Easter, the Tirolean city becomes even more attractive for shopping lovers. This is when the seasonal markets spring up, with traditional souvenirs, decorations and crafts. The Easter Market is set up in front of the Golden Roof. At Christmas there are several markets, but our favourites are the ones on Maria-Theresien-Straße and at the Marktplatz.
With 2,000 square metres of floor space, Sportler Alpin claims to be the largest mountain sports shop in Tirol. You’ll find everything from skis to crampons and, more importantly, a climbing wall where you can try out equipment under professional guidance before you buy. The store is located on Maria-Theresien-Straße, just two minutes from Bogner and other sporting goods outlets like Oakley and Tirol Shop. The picture-postcard street is lined with colourful baroque buildings against a background of snowy white peaks. It attracts both locals and tourists, who fill the street-side cafes after an exhilarating day in the mountains. One of the most famous coffee shops here is the Café Central (Gilmstraße 5), which looks back on 125 years of history.
Also on Maria-Theresien-Straße are two of Innsbruck’s hallmark locations for shopping lovers: Kaufhaus Tirol and RathausGalerien. In 2011, the first was voted “Europe’s most beautiful shopping mall” following a visionary makeover by renowned architect David Chipperfield. In collaboration with Dieter Mathoi, Chipperfield gave it a contemporary design that still embraces its 100-year history. More than 50 shops offer a premier shopping experience, including Intersport, with a wide array of top-label sports brands on almost 3,000 square metres of floor space. The RathausGalerien, meanwhile, was renovated by the French architect Dominique Perrault. The glass-roofed mall with 24 stores and six restaurants is the perfect place to shop without losing sight of the Austrian landscape.
The less athletic can lose themselves in designer clothes and jewellery, two of Innsbruck’s other specialties. Swarovski Kristallwelten, in the Old Town, is one of the best-known stores in the city. The product range and sparkling installations are nothing if not wondrous. There’s even a bar where you can enjoy a glass of Argentinean wine from Bodega Norton, which has been in the Swarovski family since 1989. Another outstanding flagship store is Bernd Muehlmann’s, whose clothes are handmade in the Alps. For more eclectic tastes, the Endlich*store is a platform for local designers, artists and artisans.
Souvenir hunters can choose from a number of gourmet options. From Monday to Friday at the Market Hall, local producers let you sample products like their grey cheese (Tiroler Graukäse) and Tirolean bacon. Sweet treats are also a good choice for gift shoppers. Konditorei Munding and Zimt & Zucker have wrapped chocolates shaped like the tiles on the famous Golden Roof, one of the symbols of the city. The elegant Café Sacher, in the Hofburg Imperial Palace, has its original Sacher-Torte in gift boxes ready to take home. But let’s be honest, something so irresistible is unlikely to ever reach its destination.