We’re back from a quick visit to Innsbruck, Austria. Whenever we are in Munich we almost always make a short trip to Tirol to see Vivian’s cousin and his family. Our kids get to reconnect with their cousins, and we get to enjoy great cooking and hospitality. Only ten kilometers east of Innsbruck is the small town of Hall, where Vivian and I tied the knot just 12 years ago; so it’s also our opportunity to visit the place where it all officially started.
Innsbruck in the winter is clearly a great place to be if you love winter sports. Since our kids have never hit the slopes and are not fully equipped for adventures in snow, this wasn’t really an option. Nevertheless, we found fun things for the kids to do:
I had my doubts about how interesting this would be for the family. I pictured all manner of crystal-embedded figurines and shnik-shnaks catering to the consumer-tourists that adore these types of sites. To my surprise, the Kristallwelten were more like modern art installations than a series of Swarovski commercials. There were various rooms with some fascinating as well as whimsical themes. One was a mechanical theatre, another was a dome of reflecting crystals and changing lights. Of course there were plenty of impressive Swarovski creations, like a Christmas tree made of thousands of crystals, but on balance the Kristallwelten exhibits were more about stimulating thought and your senses than selling you on Swarovski. Don’t get me wrong, there is a huge Swarovski store to help you lighten your wallet as you leave, but you don’t need to be a crystal lover to enjoy this attraction. In the summer there are also outdoor gardens and a park area to enjoy. A good value if you’re not intent on spending money on a Swarovski crystal that your kid will lose within a week is to spend 15 Euros more for the Riesen Tour (Giant Tour). Good for up to 4 children, you’ll get a guide about the exhibits, a Swarovski book, and each child will receive a Swarovski crystal necklace at the end of the tour. This made all the difference in getting through the store as efficiently as possible.
We visited the Tirol Panorama Museum on our second day. This museum showcases a panoramic painting portraying the battle of the Tyroleans against the Bavarians and French, ultimately leading to Tirol becoming a permanent State of Austria. The painting is huge and fills an entire purpose-built room. In fact the entire museum is purpose-built and newly opened this past March. The museum also showcases Tyrolean history and culture and is not nearly as boring as it sounds. The exhibits are very child-friendly, with columns featuring doors that can be opened to reveal interesting tidbits of history that the audio guide explained (included in admission). Whoever discovered that hiding the exhibit behind doors would be a great way to engage children’s attention deserves kudos. There is also a film featuring how they restored and moved this gigantic painting from its old home to the new museum. It’s a bit like those films showing you how whales are transported, but interesting nonetheless.
So if you find yourself in Innsbruck and need a “rainy day” activity, these are two activities that I can recommend for families with or without kids.