As long as it’s dry, cold weather is much more enjoyable to me than hot weather. During the winter I even prefer sleeping with my windows open. At least you can dress for the cold; being too hot is another story. My Honduran friend and co-blogger Carlos on the other hand can’t wait for this “dreadful” cold to be over, but I think he’s just being a little baby.
Warm places to visit when it’s cold in Innsbruck
Anyway, I thought about sharing a few things to do or visit to help you warm up a little while the cold keeps knocking on our doors. Here are four warm places to visit during Innsbruck’s colder months:
1. The Aqua Dome Spa
Attitudes towards saunas can differ very much among people. Some think they will most likely die when getting into a room that hot, and others would love to have one every week or even day. Over the years, I think I went from the first to the latter. Last week I went to visit Aqua Dome Thermal Spa in Längenfeld to have a ‘Relax! One Day Holiday Deluxe’-experience and I was honestly blown away. I’ve been in saunas before, but their facilities were next level.
The day starts with an extensive breakfast buffet. I might’ve gotten a little overexcited arriving there wearing only my Aqua Dome bathrobe, but there were plenty of other people dressed just like me. To give myself some time to digest I decided to go for a swim in one of the heated outside pools.
The ‘Relax! One Day Holiday Deluxe’ package included the exclusive SPA 3000. After my swim I went to look for it and soon discovered the whole Aqua Dome complex is huge. The SPA 3000 is located on the two top floors and has its own saunas, mineral bath, moss pool, steam room and plenty of chairs and couches to relax.
After lunch I went to the Sauna World and I honestly can’t remember how many saunas and steam baths I visited. I had heard of the ‘Aufguss’, but never experienced one. The Aufguss is a traditional and spectacular sauna experience where the sauna master comes in and pours water over the hot stones while swinging a towel in the air to mix the hot air on the top with the colder air on the bottom. Here they actually used balls of ice to invigorate the air with amazing essential oil smells. Apparently, when ice evaporates immediately into steam, it increases its elemental power and fragrance.
There were multiple sauna’s where they had an aufguss every hour or so. When the sauna is hot enough inside, it feels like you get slapped in the face by a burning whip. My last one was in the Earth Sauna and it was so hot people had to cover their faces, and I was almost glad when it was over.
To finish off my day, I went back to the SPA 3000 while the sun was setting over the mountains in the Ötztal Alps and spent my last half hour in the Finnish Sauna with panoramic view.
To find out more about everything Aqua Dome has to offer, please visit their website and have a look at all their facilities.
2. Greenhouses in Innsbruck’s Botanical Garden
For those of you who want to do something closer to home, not keen on spending much money, and with a love for plants and flowers. I have nothing for you… Just kidding! Innsbruck has a beautiful botanical garden with big indoor greenhouses. The Botanical Garden of Innsbruck was established in 1793 and is maintained by the Department of Botany of the University of Innsbruck, with a collection of more than 7000 species of plants.
Botanical gardens are usually something to visit in the summer time, but the greenhouses are kept warm, accommodating flora from tropical rainforests and subtropical arid regions, so can actually be a great place to visit in winter too! Standing there inside the greenhouse looking at a banana tree while also enjoying the white Nordkette mountains in the background is something you won’t find anywhere else other than Innsbruck.
The fern-house accommodates, surprisingly, ferns. To me the least spectacular of the 4 greenhouses but ferns are actually quite amazing in the way they reproduce, therefore making it an interesting plant to study and preserve.
The Tropical House and the Cacti-Succulent-Mediterranean house were the coolest – no pun intended – ones for me. The plants and also the feeling I had inside there were just so out of their place. It was hot and humid, while 20 minutes before my hands were freezing when I was on my bike. I would have never believed to see these plants here in winter-y Innsbruck. The botanical garden also has a greenhouse were all kinds of orchids grows, these pretty flowers come in different shapes, colors and sizes and are definitely worth a visit.
The entrance fee is 2 euros for adults, or 1 euro for kids/students/seniors. A most do while in Innsbruck! For more info, please click here.
3. Spice up your dinner at Himal Nepalese Kitchen
There are many many many amazing places to go out for dinner or lunch in Innsbruck, so I am definitely not going to pretend this is the best or hottest place to go. However, I had heard so many good things about this Nepali restaurant that I wanted to try it out and write about it.
Himal is a traditional Nepali restaurant with a cozy yet vibrant vibe. The mix of incense they burn and the food you smell when stepping in there immediately makes your mind wander to a foreign and faraway place. The greeting was warm and welcoming and I made sure I had a reservation for the ‘sitting area’ because I was told it gets reserved quickly. Here you take off your shoes before entering and sit down on one of the floor pillows. I ordered myself a spicy hot dish and some wine.
Afterwards I had a chat with Sonam, the manager ad interim, to find out more about the restaurant. Every guy in the kitchen is Nepalese, and the waiting staff are either Nepalese or Tibetan. To me this is quite important. People growing up with the food they are making and serving you makes it so much more special and authentic. Go visit Himal if you haven’t done so already.
4. Grassmayr Bell Founders
Another ‘warm’ thing to do, and a bit less obvious, is going to Grassmayr Bell Founders. Melting metal to 1060-degrees is probably one of the hottest things you can do, so why not visit the workshop with museum that has been doing it for over 400 years?
The Grassmayr Bell Founders are renowned all over the globe and have impacted the entire bell making industry. For 14 whole generations, the secrets of their bell computations have been well guarded, continually expanded through research, and then handed down from father to son.
Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to attend a casting yet, but there is a possibility to attend a casting now and then. However, they like to keep these events discreet and only invite people that have visited the museum or are bell-enthusiasts. As part of the tradition, a priest is invited to the casting for some initial praying so the bell can be cast “in God’s name”. Bells used to be something used mainly by the Christian religion, but the Grassmayr Bell Foundry has now provided bells and bowls to 8 different confessions.
While talking to Johannes Grassmayr at the Grassmayr Museum, he told me they are currently working with a Belgian (my home country) company called clock-o-matic the help optimize automatization of the bells. Using their technologies, they have now made the sounds of the bells inside the Innsbruck Cathedral even more beautiful. Make sure to keep your ears sharp on the 8th of February between 10-11am when the new system will be heard by the public for the first time!