It’s fair to say that Innsbruck is a student city. It has around 30,000 students, five different universities and colleges, and—thanks to the mountains on all sides—a student experience like no other. I spoke to four students, to find out what they love about studying in Innsbruck.
“I step out of my house and five minutes later I’m in the mountains!”
Like many students, Martin was drawn to Innsbruck’s fabulous mountains—a big change to the famously flat Netherlands where he grew up. “I always gloat to my friends back home that I step out of my house and five minutes later I’m in in the mountains: hiking, skiing, mountain biking or climbing,” the PhD student told me. And for Martin, the mountains aren’t just great about sport, but also about connecting with people. “My first few days in Innsbruck, I was invited by colleagues for a hike. My first weekend, I was invited to go skiing. A few weeks later, a via ferrata. In Innsbruck, you’re surrounded by like-minded people that take advantage of what the mountains have to offer.”
Of course, the mountains weren’t the only reason Martin decided to study here. “Academically, the research group in Innsbruck is among the best in the field. The city is also large enough to have a variety of cultural things to do, while not being overwhelming, noisy, or polluted like many large cities can be.”
And his top tip for new students? “Explore and try new things. I’ve had many friends who didn’t expect to enjoy wearing themselves out by biking up a steep hill, and now they own expensive mountain bikes. Innsbruck has so much to offer, you shouldn’t leave without trying it.”
“Innsbruck is a beautiful and amazing place to live.”
When architecture student Lucy moved to Innsbruck as a teenager, she always thought she would study in a big city like Berlin or Vienna. But when the time came, she decided Innsbruck would be a better choice. “Innsbruck is really beautiful and an amazing place to live. And the university’s Faculty of Architecture has great institutes,” Lucy explained. “My favourite is the Institute for Experimental Architecture. If you’re a creative person who’d like to design more than “just” constructions, this is the place to be.”
Innsbruck’s stunning nature was another big reason why Lucy wanted to stay. “There is this amazing ambience, you walk out a lecture and see mountains (green or snowy) and wherever you go nature is always nearby. Even the city is clean and pretty.”
Lucy also has advice for new students. “Studying takes a lot of time and energy but if you live in a place like this, going skiing, hiking, mountain biking or whatever you enjoy is every bit as important.”
“I study with people from all over the world.”
Innsbruck is a long way from Milena’s native Costa Rica, but the city’s international vibe makes it easy to feel at home. “One of the main things that I did not expect is how international the lifestyle in Innsbruck is. My research group is really big and I have colleagues from all over the world: India, France, China, United States, Finland, Argentina…. plus some Austrians, of course!”
“And it’s not just my colleagues, most of my flatmates and friends are from different countries too,” Milena explained. “Having such a huge variety of people in your day-to-day life makes you feel strangely more at home and at the same time gives you the chance to learn about different cultures and traditions.”
When it comes to making friends, Milena has a great tip. “Try out all the different sports and hobbies and maybe join a club, or “Verein” as it’s known in Austria. This is a really nice way to get to know people from Innsbruck and from all over the world and learn new cool hobbies at the same time.”
“Poetry slams, science slams, pub quizzes, open mic nights—Innsbruck is never boring.”
When 24-year-old student Vera decided to leave her hometown in the Austrian state of Vorarlberg, she knew Innsbruck was where she wanted to study. “The nature, the landscape and the mountains definitely attracted me a lot,” Vera told us. “But Innsbruck’s cultural scene is also diverse and affordable for students. There are so many ways to enjoy a night out: poetry slams, science slams, pub quizzes, karaoke nights, open mic nights, and many more. Innsbruck is never boring.”
For Vera, the fact that Innsbruck is a great place for music was a big plus. “One of the highlights of studying in Innsbruck is the university orchestra. I love playing the violin and the orchestra allows me to make music with other people. I also like going to the Landestheater to watch performances there or listening to live music in one of the many bars in the city centre.”
And Vera agrees that the best way to experience Innsbruck to try everything on offer. “My advice would be to explore the city. There is so much to see and experience. Just leave the house, meet new people and enjoy these years.”
Thanks to Martin, Lucy, Milena and Vera for sharing their experiences with me!
If you’re interested in studying in Innsbruck, you can find out more information by visiting the websites of the city’s five universities and colleges.
For medicine and dentistry courses: Medizinische Universität Innsbruck
For other healthcare courses: Fachhochschule für Gesundheit
For business courses (including many in English): Management Center Innsbruck
For teaching courses: Pädagogische Hochschule Innsbruck
For every other kind of course: Universität Innsbruck
Fancy a night out in Innsbruck? Here’s where to go for the best cocktails in town.