“For me, part of the Innsbruck feeling is that you can combine skiing and working in the city perfectly – by bus and train. The motto then becomes the programme: take the public transport from the coworking space to the slopes.” Verena Wagner, author and journalist
Innsbruck has been my home for years – also because the city is a well-known and popular destination for combining skiing and work. Those who love a sporty balance to their job in the mountains in winter will find perfect conditions in Tyrol’s capital. Whether (night) skiing, tobogganing, snowboarding or ski touring, whether ice climbing or winter and snowshoe hiking – there is an abundant offer and equipment for every sport to rent in the countless sports shops in the city or at the lift stations. There, in turn, you will find ski rentals, and the sporty lugging of ski equipment by train and bus is completely eliminated.
Innsbruck has around 130,000 inhabitants, the conurbation over 300,000 people. The Alpine metropolis has plenty of urban flair, subculture and cosmopolitan feeling. Last but not least, the small old town around the Golden Roof also attracts international guests all year round, who come not only from Europe for skiing and work. In addition to its close Italian neighbour, many people from all over the world have always been drawn to the Tyrol: whether Dutch, Asians, Icelanders or New Zealanders. 30,000 people have their second home in Innsbruck, including many students. Many of them are united by their love of the mountains and the numerous exciting sports in summer and winter.
From the office to the slopes by public transport
A big plus in Innsbruck is the combination of urban lifestyle and closeness to nature – perfect for skiing and working on the same day. Not just one ski area, but several are located on the mountain slopes around Innsbruck and are easily accessible by public transport.
At the bus station in front of the main railway station, for example, I take the Postbus L1 to Axamer Lizum, the largest ski area outside Innsbruck and really emphasised with an elongated U. Just get on with your skis, you don’t need a ticket. The bus takes about 45 minutes directly to the new 10-seater gondola lift of the ski area, which has snow guaranteed until April. A stunt park and numerous events such as the Singles Day or a wine fair also take place here.
In terms of slopes, there is a T-bar lift and easier slopes for beginners, and a total of nine lifts lead up to sunny slopes, long runs over easy, intermediate and more challenging slopes. Ski touring and tobogganing fans also get their money’s worth. A stop at the Dohlennest on the women’s Olympic run is a nice way to end the winter while spring skiing. From the terrace or in front of the umbrella bar at the Hoadlhaus at 2,340 metres, I always pause for a while. The view over the imposing summit formations of the Kalkkögel is too beautiful. It’s not for nothing that the Karwendel has the nickname “Dolomites of the North”.
If you want to rent equipment, you will find a ski and board rental shop right next to the ticket office in the new shop at the valley station of the Hoadlbahn. Your own winter equipment is stored safely and dryly in the ski depot – which also makes skiing and working with your own equipment stress-free.
70 percent gradient obover the City
Skiing on the Nordkette, the rocky mountain ranges that seem to tower directly above the city centre and the Inn River – I always find that cool too. City bus J runs from the centre of Innsbruck from the terminus at the local mountain Patscherkofel on one side of the city and the Nordkettenbahn on the other. The Hungerburgbahn, designed by star architect Zara Hadid – she also designed the Bergisel ski jump – starts directly in the old town at the Congress station. From there it takes less than 30 minutes by cable car to get to the ski area on the Seegrube.
The natural snow area has an igloo bar, a skyline park, chairlifts and a practice slope with a magic carpet and free fun sports equipment.
Even when snow conditions are not so good, the spectacular view from the Seegrube or the Hafelekar (summit station at 2,256 metres) over the city is worthwhile. Both cable car stations have restaurants with sun terraces or vantage points. But only the absolute pros start from the Hafelekar by ski. With a gradient of over 70 percent, the Karrinne is one of the steepest slopes in the world. Only experienced winter sports enthusiasts who know what they are doing should venture onto the narrow slope framed by rocks from the Hafelekar to the Seegruben cable car station (1,905 m). In any case, the area must be cleared by both the avalanche commission and the Nordkettenbahn. So, I’m more in favour of a relaxed sundowner in the igloo bar or an evening meal in the Seegrube restaurant.
Relaxation directly on the piste
Another exciting skiing area for skiing between work phases that is easy to reach by public transport is located in the beautiful Wipptal valley: the Bergeralm. The S-Bahn (S3, S4) runs from Innsbruck main station to Brenner every 30 minutes. By the way, express trains also stop at Steinach am Brenner station. The Bergeralm Ski and Leisure Arena offers a free shuttle service during the Tyrolean school holidays. The times are coordinated with the S-Bahn.
Otherwise it is a 15-minute walk from the station to the Bergeralm. However, there are also various bus connections, which can be viewed in the VVT route planner. From Matrei am Brenner station, line 4141 takes 11 minutes to the Bergeralm gondola station. From Steinach am Brenner it is a three-minute ride.
It is a very special feeling to carve on the slope high above the vehicles travelling on the Gschnitztal bridge towards Brenner. At one point on the valley descent, you almost have the feeling of flying over the bridge with a daring jump – or else racing into the motorway. That doesn’t happen, of course, but from this slope you can wave directly to the car occupants.
Usually, however, we spend the ski day here much higher up in the natural snow area of the Bergeralm and on the slopes at the Hochsonnberg lift and between the middle and top stations. There, nothing can be seen of the motorway and the panorama stretches across the beautiful Wipptal valley.
The ski area is a cosy one and invites you to enjoy the sun until the beginning of April. The area is a paradise for ski tourers, and a toboggan run also leads to the valley station.
In addition to various pistes, there is the possibility to ski cross-country through sparse forest in the middle. From the lift you can see the many individual tracks between firs and spruces.
Those who want to stay here for a few days will find their domicile at the top of the mountain, directly at the middle station. The apartments with balconies or terraces for two to six people belong to the Panorama Restaurant, and at the bottom of the car park is also the Jufa Hotel, a newly renovated three-star establishment, less than five minutes’ walk from the gondola. In addition, the building of the “Tunnelwelten”, the interactive museum on the Brenner Base Tunnel construction project, and a trattoria with a large, inviting sun terrace are also located here.
Sightseeing and Ski
The Bergeralm is a partner of the Innsbruck Ski-Plus-City Pass. This includes 13 ski areas in Wipptal, Stubaital and the greater Innsbruck area: these include Stubai Glacier, Axamer Lizum, Schlick 2000 Ski Centre, Kühtai, Hochötz, Muttereralm, Bergeralm, Nordkette, Serlesbahnen, Elferbahnen, Patscherkofel, Rangger Köpfl and the Glungezer ski area near Tulfes. The ticket is available for two days or more and, in addition to the mountain railway tickets, includes free admission to the highlights of the region such as Swarovski Crystal Worlds, Alpenzoo, Hofburg, Bergiselschanze and swimming pools. In addition to ski bus transfers to all ski areas, the Sightseer Innsbruck (Hop-On-Hop-Off) is also included. There is also a 25 percent discount on night skiing or night tobogganing at the participating mountain railways.
Open coworking spaces in Innsbruck
That leaves working: There are a few coworking spaces in Innsbruck for this purpose, which can be booked by the month, per day or with a ten-person card.
The oldest open office community was converted last year: StockEINS in the Kulturbackstube bakery on Dreiheiligenstraße has been hosting creatives, self-employed people and young entrepreneurs for years and recently became the Impact Hub Tyrol.
This emerged from the organisation SETup (Social Entrepreneurship Tirol) and counts Tyrolean social start-ups such as Feldschafft, Re.paro, Greenroot, Café Namsa, Klimabohne or Sam n’ Sára. Since 2022, the event and coworking location Bäckerei has been renovated and integrated.
Just around two bends is another coworking dream house on 800 square metres and five levels in Pembaurstraße: Wundervoll. In these equally inspiring work, meeting and thinking spaces, self-employed people, entrepreneurs, company founders and digital nomads network. Here, too, there is the option of buying day tickets or 10-person tickets. This also applies to the coworking space of the Tyrol Chamber of Commerce.
Another exciting coworking space for tinkerers, technicians and talents of all kinds can be found in the Werkstätte business and creative centre in Wattens – the nearest ski area here would be the Glungezer near Tulfes.
Verena Wagner …
worked for many years as a food and travel editor in Munich and has lived in various places in Tyrol for over ten years, the longest in Innsbruck. Here she has also written two hiking guides, among other things, so her next article for us could well be “Trekking and Remote Working in Innsbruck”.
Photos: © Wagner