The Best Family Days Out Around Innsbruck
Kugelwald, literally “Ball Forest”, on Glungezer Mountain is home to the world’s largest wooden track. (Photography: Hall-Wattens.at)
1 · Walking, Natural Bowling & Strolling around Hall-Wattens
Morning: The hardy species of this large five-needled European pine, the Swiss Stone Pine, grows at the upper limits of the forests, yields cembra nuts and a resinous exudate. Its wood, strongly impregnated with resin, decays very slowly and is prized for use in the construction of chalets and furniture. Some of the most beautiful areas of this slow-growing tree are to be found around Innsbruck and Hall-Wattens. As you take the easy way up in the Patscherkofel Gondola, the enjoyable 2.5 hour walk along scenic Zirbenweg Trail starts high and stays high—at an elevation of 2,000 meters. And with the trail’s gentle ups and down, most hikers young and old will have no problem making the journey.
Lunchtime: Ride the Glungezer Chair Lift down to family-friendly “Halsmarter” Restaurant and indulge in a traditional home-style meal while the kids can spend some time roaming about the playground. The next family attraction lies just around the corner: The Kugelwald Adventure World.
Afternoon: Watch Swiss Stone Pine wood balls roll into motion through the world’s largest wooden track at Kugelwald, literally “Ball Forest”: Oversized wood balls wind their way down wide, curving tracks with sharp turns, various obstacles, flip gates, and rotating circle gates. Click-clack the balls drop down! And while your tiny tots are romping about the woods and about this wonderful natural playscape, you can immerse yourself in tranquility and relax and chill in these amazing stone pine surroundings, taking in stunning mountain views…
Evening: Afterwards, the state-of-the-art gondola lift whisks you down to the valley to Tulfes, where you catch a bus to Hall, a beautiful medieval town that grew important on the riches of salt in the Middle Ages. Take a stroll around Austria’s biggest and most beautiful medieval old town and discover the treasures and treats of small town individuality that make Hall so special. Dine like a knight and nobleman in the medieval age at Ritterkuchl Restaurant. For dessert, do as the locals do and head to adjacent “Eisdiele Kasenbacher” ice-cream parlour.
Good to Know: The Zirbenweg Loop Trail Ticket includes bus and gondola rides; there’s excellent public transit services between Tulfes, Hall and Innsbruck with hiker’s shuttle buses running hourly on weekdays and every two hours on weekends.
2 · Alpine Zoo, Forest Walk & City Life in Innsbruck
Morning: Urban meets outdoors in Tirol’s relaxed capital, where Zaha Hadid’s space-age Hungerburg Funicular speeds you from the center to the Alpine Zoo: With its distinctive mountainside setting on foot of rugged Nordkette Mountain Range and with engaging exhibits and irresistible attractions, the wonders of the wild are yours to explore. Peer into habitats of over 2,000 animals native to the area, including ibexes, brown bears, otters, golden eagles and wolves. Picnic areas with outdoor seating can be found at various locations around the zoo. Little ones will go wild in our one-of-a-kind, nature-themed playground.
Lunchtime: Enjoy lunch at Animahl, the Zoo’s Bistro, or at adjacent Weiherburg Restaurant before riding the funicular up the hill “Hungerburg”, offering jaw-dropping views of Innsbruck and its mountain environs!
Afternoon: A wonderful 30-minute walk through stands of old-growth forest takes you to the adventure playground at Gramartboden. Adjacent Gramarthof Inn is a kid-friendly place that serves delicious, homemade ice creams.
Evening: Walk back to Hungerburg and ride “J” bus to get to the heart of Innsbruck. The Alpine town is a living treasure house of history and culture. Architectural gems lurk around every corner of the old town. Stroll around the quaint alleys and streets to take in the atmosphere of this magical town, and you will find a host of exciting historical landmarks, parks and gardens, inviting sidewalk cafés and restaurants, and world-class shopping opportunities. Plus, you won’t have to go far for great food: You’ll find a rich variety of dining options, including everything from authentic Tirolean fare over Mediterranean cuisine to Asian delights.
Good to Know: The Hungerburg Funicular departs from the downtown center of Innsbruck and is readily accessible from the Main Railroad Station. Public transportation around Innsbruck, uphill and downhill rides on the funicular and entrance to the Alpine Zoo are free to Innsbruck Card holders. The walk to Gramartboden is stroller and balance bike accessible.
3 · Mountain of Adventure, Aqua Park & Petting Zoo at Innsbruck’s High Hills
Morning: The gondola speeds you and your kids to your Alpine summer adventure at Muttereralm Mountain of Adventure! Once you reach the top, a “magic water” play area, a forest adventure playground with treehouses and gold panning await and promise amazing family fun in the great outdoors.
Lunchtime: Walk back to the gondola’s top terminal and enjoy some tasty treats at “Erlebnisrestaurant Muttereralm”. For more discerning diners, there is the Nockhof Inn at the mid-mountain terminal of Muttereralm Gondola.
Afternoon: For the daring who like a little thrill every now and then, spectacular—and safe—mountain carts are ready to oblige: Hop on a cart and cruise down an exhilarating, twisting, turning track down to the valley and head on over to Natterersee Lake, a splash-worthy watering hole for families, featuring slides, surf bikes and a water trampoline.
Evening: Four kilometers out from the lake, at scenic Nattererboden, you will find a lovely inn of the same name, which is home to an outstanding animal paradise full of colossal surprises to spark kids’ imaginations: Roaming sheep, goats, fallow deer, donkeys, ponies, cows, pigs, and even a wild sow love to get attention and pose for pictures. Foodies will love the large and varied wine list and the delectable dishes. A perfect way to round out a perfect day out!
Good to Know: Muttereralm Gondola and Natterersee Lake are served by excellent public transit services; Nattererboden is situated out of Natters (involving a walk across meadows). The gondola ride is included in the Innsbruck Card.