Innsbruck, Austria: The Crossroads to Italy, Switzerland and Germany
The Inn is a river in Switzerland, Austria and Germany that cuts through the city of Innsbruck, much like the glaciers cut the Austrian Tirol region in two, leaving the city and the surrounding region flanked by the Northern and Southern Alps. And that’s part of the beauty of the Tirol; there are stunning views everywhere you look. Innsbruck has its historic pedigree as being the crossroads to Italy, Switzerland and Germany and this city is the natural wonder of the whole of Austria. With compelling sites to see and the Alps as a backdrop, Innsbruck is alive with the sounds of music, and everything else.
Things To Do In Innsbruck, Austria
The Swarovski Crystal World
Austria is a small country of just eight million people, but surprisingly, there are plenty of things to do in Innsbruck. For starters, two of the world’s top glass companies are headquartered near Innsbruck. The Swarovski Crystal World is an underground modern art gallery, which defies preconceived ideas. The second most visited
site in all of Austria, it’s a unique, visceral experience, unlike anything. Daniel Swarovski moved to the little village of Wattens (just outside of Innsbruck) in the 1890s and today Swarovski is the world leader in manufactured crystals.
The Swarovski Giant
The entrance is via “The Giant,” a foliage covered head jutting out from the ground with blue eyes, a waterfall cascading from his mouth, and it seems more fitting for a theme park. But once you abandon your preconceived notions you are drawn into a world of crystal and light. There are 14 distinct rooms to make your way through all meant to be explored at your own pace, therefore there is no time limit and there are no tours. Each room, called a chamber, has been designed by a musician, artist or designer and each room utilizes Swarovski crystals in some capacity.
The Chamber of Wonder
The Chamber ofWonder contains crystal versions of well known buildings like the Taj Mahal and housed here is a replica of the Empire State building, comprised of nearly 400 individual pieces.
The Crystaloscope holds a massive crystal nugget, the size of a footstool, with 444 facets on its surface reflecting its brilliance around the room.
The Crystal Dome
The Crystal Dome is perhaps the most fascinating yet disorienting room: a geodesic dome with nearly 600 reflective crystal mirrors which mutate and subvert your own image as the lights fade and dim, and switch from green to magenta. For me the experience recalled Orson Wells’ classic film, The Lady from Shanghai where a mirrored room served as the final climactic sequence – where you couldn’t tell who was real and who was reflected in layers of glass. What awaits at the end of this journey is a glass-inspired shoppers’ paradise packed with watches, collectibles, jewelry, even spotting scopes and binoculars. Sure, you can purchase Swarovski crystals at various points across the globe but to be at the source is a temptation some cannot resist. They also have an on-site restaurant with typical Austrian food, so you can make a day of it. The Swarovski Crystal World is without a doubt one of the most fun and engaging things to do in Innsbruck, Austria. It’s even a fun experience for kids and a great way to keep the family together in those difficult moments where it just feels impossible to please everyone.
In nearby Kufstein, Riedel Glass, the most well-known and ubiquitous wine glassmaker in the world, has their factory. If Swarovski crystals got you excited, you probably won’t be too surprised to hear that visiting the Riedel Glass factory is also one of my favorite things to do in Innsbruck. Their free tour allows you to watch the hand-blown glass process. It is an exacting process as a team of workers, wearing shorts and often times sunglasses, withstand the searing heat of the ovens and make wine glasses before your very eyes. It will take less than four minutes to make a wine glass. There are 50 glassmakers working with multiple ovens billowing out heat you can feel from 50 feet away. The Riedel family has been making glass for a long time (1756 to be exact), originally crafting vases and decorative glass, and now wine glasses and decanters.
From pulling the liquid from the fire to the glass blown into the mold takes about 54 seconds. That bowl is then heated on one end, in order to attach the wineglass stem and that process will take about one minute and six seconds though the actual making of the thin glass stem itself takes a mere 10 seconds. Then the molten footplate is added, a red and orange blob of heat and glass, which needs about 10 seconds to be molded into a proper foot to rest on your table. They have a large gift shop – mainly wine glasses, decanters and such, but other items as well. They also have a small “museum” of sorts where some of their decorative glass from the turn of the century is on display.
Getting To Innsbruck
Now that you know some of the top things to do in Innsbruck, you may be wondering how to get there and how to experience all these amazing attractions yourself. You might consider the Innsbruck Card which offers discounts to many Tirol sites including Swarovski, the historic Ambras Castle, multiple museums, and cable cars to the top of the Alps. There are plenty of direct flights to Munich which allows you to rent a car (usually cheaper in Germany than Austria), or hop the train for a brief two-hour ride directly into Innsbruck. If you don’t mind switching planes in Frankfurt or Vienna, you can fly directly into Innsbruck with those connections.
Find More Things To do In Innsbruck
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