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Innsbruck is the capital of Tirol and - contrary to some expectations - it is not only an alpine ski village; it's a bustling city of over one hundred thousand inhabitants. Nonetheless, it attracts more North American winter visitors than any other European ski destination. Undoubtedly, some are drawn by the renown created by two modern Winter Olympics in 1964 and 1976, which is perpetuated in the form of a very efficient infrastructure for winter sports fans.
Other visitors are attracted by the historical environment of the Old Town with the renowned Golden Roof as focal point. The Habsburg kings held court in Innsbruck and you will find many historic sights, the most important one being the Ambras castle with its good art collection. Everywhere around Innsbruck's heritage of two "golden ages" can still be found: the first around 1500 under the Emperor Maxmilan I, the second in the mid-1700's under Empress Maria Thérèsia.
Overall, the city's location, nestled into a narrow valley right beneath rugged mountain peaks, together with its old-world atmosphere, historic churches and buildings, interesting monuments, rich museums and galleries, and active commerce, all combine into an interesting sports-plus-culture attraction. It simply makes an excellent destination for those who seek a broader European experience than simply skiing, or for families where some members are less assiduous skiers.
The Austrian city of Innsbruck is one of Europe’s oldest and most beautiful ski centers. Nestled in the Tyrolean Alps, the area has some 200 trails covering 500 kilometers (310 miles) and is perfect for beginner and intermediate-level skiers. People often compare this area to Aspen, Colorado in terms of terrain and cost.
Innsbruck is also a convenient place to ski. The town itself is located only three miles from the airport and all six of the ski areas are within a one-hour radius of town. There is also a free shuttle that will pick you up at the main train station and drop you at the resort of your choice.
A reasonably priced all-in-one lift pass covers the major ski resorts in the area including the Olympic villages of Igls and Axamer Lizum and the small villages of Tulfes, Mutters, and the Stubai Glacier. The pass costs about 1,780 Austrian schillings (U.S. $120) and is good for six days. There is also a "Super Ski" special available that offers an additional full day of skiing at the resorts of Kitzbuehel and St. Anton .
Most of the visitors here ski at an intermediate level, but thrill-seekers still have some options. The amazingly daring runs of Hafelekar, Axamer Lizum, and Stubai Glacier are good for advanced skiers. And for those who like to watch other people risk their lives, the world-famous Air and Style Competition at the Olympic Ski Jump stadium attracts over 25,000 visitors in early December and is a must-see for skiing aficionados.
For those times when you are not on the slopes, Innsbruck will keep you entertained with excellent shopping and a happening nightlife. Culture vultures will be happy with world-class opera, gorgeous architecture, and superb museums. And since the locals are friendly and (usually) speak English, Innsbruck is a good fit for anyone seeking an international skiing holiday adventure.