Innsbruck lies in a narrow grassy valley surrounded by the Austrian Alps. Look towards the horizon north or south and you will see stunning tall mountain peaks, to the east and west a green valley winding its way through the mountains, following the path of the River Inn. The name Innsbruck literally means ‘bridge over the Inn’. Like most European cities, this was once a walled town and the Altstadt, or Old Town, is a beautiful, colourful, tightly packed mess of houses and shops centuries old and pedestrian-only cobblestone streets. However, walk to the outskirts of town in any direction and within a very short time you are in the Austrian country side. Cows graze, corn hangs drying in the sun, tractors dominate the streets and the houses are the traditional picturesque kind with flower boxes and ornate wooden balconies. In the warm days and cool evenings of late summer it was a city filled with active people getting out there and doing things: climbing mountains, riding bicycles, eating, drinking, and enjoying life.
Looking over a field of damp green grass in the foothills just behind town, towards light clouds clinging to snowy mountain peaks with a bright blue early morning sky; A small shop in the old city, or Altstadt, with a heavy stone arch as its door which only sells speck, a cured ham native to the Tyrol region.
Colourful old houses right on the River Inn, with bikes parked in front and snowy mountains behind, despite the warm late summer sunshine.
A street sign which possibly signals the start of a no horse and buggy area, with the red and white shutters of Ottoburg, which lies right on the edge of where the city walls once stood and is said to be the oldest house in Innsbruck; A pedestrian street in the Altstadt which is lined with outdoor cafes, interesting old buildings and waves of cobblestones.
Bikes parked against an old stone building with a big arched wooden door and a sign advertising schnaps and wine tastings, in a small cobbled square in the Altstadt.
A small shop selling flowers, plants, and vegetables, with a mirror to help the traffic with the tight streets and intersections; People eat and drink at tables in the sunshine in the courtyard of Schloss Ambras, with a neat hedge garden behind them and mountains in the distance.
Looking beneath a canopy of leaves in Mühlau across a green grassy field to snowy mountain peaks, only a 15 minute walk from the city.
Traditional Austrian houses with their ornate carved wooden balconies and flower boxes in the outer suburb of Mühlau, with the pink light of the setting sun behind them; Small pink church which perches high above Mühlau, with a big blue sky and mountains behind it.
From the outer suburbs on either side of the city it is easy to find a path and just begin hiking up the surrounding mountains, finding dark forests with thin tree trunks; A tree stump with lush green vines and undergrowth on the hillside, with the valley containing the city below.
A cow lies down in a green grass field with mountains and blue sky behind it in Mühlau, only a 20 minute walk from the city.
Between old buildings and with snowy mountains behind, a car drives down a street in Mühlau, which is technically an outer suburb but feels more like a country village especially when this intersection is filled with tractors as it is most mornings; Looking down from the balcony of Mühlau’s Gasthof Koreth over red and pink flower boxes to the street below, golden in the light of sunset with hazy mountains in the distance.
A thick forest of thin trees run down hill behind the famous Bergisel ski jump.
Wandering the residential streets of Arzl, the last settlement within the city limits, peek over the flower boxes and through an open window to see a brown and white cow standing inside eating some hay; Wooden window shutters and a wooden doors on an old brick building in Arzl with a wooden second storey and a large crack in the wall.
Looking through green grasses and white flowers at the base of the Bergisel ski jump towards the mountain peaks on the other side of the valley.
In Arzl, a green grassy lane with farming houses, forest and mountains beyond; A typical house in Arzl, overflowing flower boxes and rows of corn hanging to dry in the sun off the second storey wooden balcony, who would have thought you were a 10 minute bus ride from the city.
Austrian, Tyrolean and European flags flying at the base of the Bergisel ski jump with the mountain peaks on the other side of the valley behind.
Freshly shorn sheep on a green grassy hill in Arzl; Two friends have a late afternoon drink outside a gasthaus in Arzl, with picturesque shutters, yellow details, painting of saints and overflowing flower boxes.
Here the rural life is never far away: grazing goats, piles of timber, and apple trees on a grassy hill just above the city.
Goats graze on green grass just above town at the end of the day, with hazy mountains behind; A small car with an Innsbruck numberplate is parked in the street of Arzl, with its small church and houses it looks more like a country village than a suburb.
A picturesque country scene only 2 kilometers from the city, sheep on a grassy hill with farming houses and mountains beyond in the soft light of the end of day.
Up in the foothills at the edge of town a typical Austrian house in a modern style, with upper wooden balcony, amongst fruit trees with mountains behind.
Looking down Maria Theresien Strasse in the centre of the Altstadt, with mountains, pedestrians, outdoor cafes and bikes at the end of the day.
A young woman window shops in the Altstadt and enjoys an ice cream in the warm early evening as another young woman walks past jealously; A deer on an ornate golden sign from 1631 above the doorway to a house in the Altstadt quite different to those in the valley foothills, showing it as the home of the presumably wealthy Egger Family.
People eat and drink outside in the pedestrian street of Maria Theresien Strasse amongst people cycling home in the early evening, with colourful buildings and the Baroque Annasäule as a backdrop.
A young woman on her way home through the Altstadt with shopping in her basket at the end of the day, rides her bike past an older business man sitting with an ereader; Looking down colourful Maria Theresien Strasse in the early evening as the sun sets with tram cables and track and the mountains so close to the city.
The ornate Baroque base of the Annasäule in the middle of the central and busy Maria Theresien Strasse in the early evening, with bikes, trams and people making their way home or heading out for dinner.