In Innsbruck, we have proper snow in winter and proper heat in summer. Having grown up in sub-tropical climate, I am actually more cautious about the heat on hot days! Like many places in Europe, heating systems are a must but air conditioners are not at all common here.
Occasionally I just want a break from the heat wave. (No, swimming under the sun doesn’t cut it for me.) Luckily, in times like these we have a not so secret weapon in Innsbruck — the steep mountains around us. Up there, one can still sunbathe in the brightest light but breathe in much cooler air. Surrounded by misty clouds is another blissful sensation, too.
If you are mainly after the altitude, mountain climbing might seem a bit sweaty and time-consuming. However, it is possible to skip the pursuit by taking the cable cars, lifts and funiculars around Innsbruck. (I counted eight of these within 19 km form the Golden Roof.) These facilities give us a great head start! The top stations are hubs of idyllic hiking trails and most have restaurants with splendid views and sundecks for lounging. Some even host music events to enrich their cultural entertainment.
There is indeed a cost for the rides, but I am actually grateful for having this option for my “mountaineering”. If you have a valid “Innsbruck Card“, then one return trip on each lift is already included!
Axamer Lizum and the Olympiabahn
Among all the lifts within 19 km from Innsbruck, the Olympiabahn in Axamer Lizum WINS in terms of the altitude of the upper station (2,333 m above sea level). Axamer Lizum is an extremely popular ski resort and nick-named “White Roof” for obvious reasons. The ski resort was built for the Olympic Winter Games 1964 and expanded for the 1976 games, with the addition of the Olympiabahn funicular.
With the help of the Olympiabahn, we ascended 761 meters in less than 4 minutes. During the ride, the terrain changed from forests and shrubs to Alpine tundra.
Axamer Lizum in Summer
The view by the top station was amazing. It was a cloudy morning and the Kalkkögel ridges appeared a bit mysterious. Many cows roamed at ease with their bells clanging softly.
On the edge of the plateau, there was a sleek Swarovski Optik telescope. Maybe you can spot an Alpine marmot! (The telescope is free to use.)
Also on the plateau was a vending machine filled with golf-sized Lizum wooden balls. These are not just souvenirs. They are actually to be played on the nearby Holzkugelbahn (wooden ball track). At two Euro each, they are also available in the sport2000 shop (at the bottom station of Birgitzköpfllift).
The Sound of Hoadl
Behind us on top of the funicular station was the Panorama Restaurant Hoadl Haus (2,340 m). It is an energy-efficient building, making smart use of solar energy and waste heat. Inside, a free concert was about to start!
Many fellow passengers on the funicular came for this concert, which was part of “The Sound of Hoadl” series. From 17 July to 15 Sep 2019, roughly every weekend there is a concert in the Hoadl Haus. The performers include symphonic bands, brass bands, folk musicians and alphorn players. Some of the ensembles also contributed to the Innsbruck promenade concerts this year.
Today’s programme was presented by U1, Tyrol’s most-listened private radio station, and was in the format of their regular Sunday broadcast “Frühschoppen“.
What is “Frühschoppen”?
A bit like having a Sunday roast in a pub in the UK, Frühschoppen is what Austrians and Germans do on Sunday after church services traditionally. Meeting for Frühschoppen, however, happens before lunch and is less about food (these days it is also less about church). During this kind of drink-and-chat session in the tavern, cheerful folk music is expected!
Prior to this concert, I had only seen events like this on TV, so it was quite an experience. The participation of the audience guaranteed a jolly good time together.
Classic Austrian Cuisine
As lunch time approached, we briefly popped into the canteen. Half of the upper floor in the Hoadl Haus was the dining area where the concert took place. The other half was shared by the canteen and another dining area where you can see the Olympiabahn funicular making its final climb.
The canteen served a wide selection of hearty main dishes, salad and cakes. In the outdoor dining area downstairs, there was also a rotisserie roasting THIRTY chickens which smelt tempting!
Bus 4162 bring you from and back to Innsbruck. The bus goes through the village Axams where the “Wampelerreiten” carnival is held every 4 years.
You will need to change once at Axams Terminal Kögele (from bus stop B onto stop C, but still Bus 4162). Once you get off at Axamer Lizum, you have about 20 minutes to sort out the funicular tickets and get on the funicular.
On the way back to Innsbruck, there will be little wiggle room time-wise after getting off the funicular. Please go straight to the bus stop, as otherwise the next bus comes only in an hour. You will again change at Axams Terminal Kögele (this time from bus stop D to stop A, and still Bus 4162. These 4 bus stops are close to each other).
Bus timetable: Please note that there are lunch breaks in both directions — that’s a 2 hours gap!