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If You Have 3 Days
Head straight to the heart of Tirol to the provincial capital of Innsbruck. The city is conveniently situated for access to Tirol, for it lies almost exactly in the center of the province on the Inn River. Check out the beautiful buildings built by the Emperor Maximilian I—from the Goldenes Dachl to the Hofburg—and by Austria's Empress Maria Theresa, who gave her name to the principal street of the town, the Maria-Theresien-Strasse; any sightseeing in Innsbruck begins on this street, which runs through the heart of the city from north to south and is the main shopping center. Far from being exhausting to explore, Innsbruck is only a half-hour walk from one end of the Old Town to the other. The next day, let the funicular whisk you up the Hungerburg for the breathtaking views of Innsbruck below. You can take a leisurely hike along the mountain trail and see the flora and fauna at the Alpine zoo. Alternatively, take the Sightseer bus to the observation deck and restaurant atop the Bergisel ski jump, which has a superb view of Innsbruck and the Nordkette mountains to the north. After returning to lower ground, set out on your final day to visit Schloss Ambras, with its impressive collections of medieval curiosities—pack a picnic and stay for a concert if you're traveling during the summer season. More ambitious travelers should consider a quick day trip to the seriously scenic Stubaital Valley, one of the showpieces of the Tirol—via the narrow-gauge electric Stubaitalbahn.
If You Have 5 Days
Begin your Tyrolean sojourn with two days in attraction-studded Innsbruck—but don't forget to experience your first taste of the region's grand Alpine landscape by fitting in some quick excursions to the outlying Hungerburg peak, Schloss Ambras, or the Swarovski Crystal World in nearby Wattens. On Day 3, start off with a train ride from Innsbruck's main station to Seefeld, a charming Alpine resort. Wind your way up—and, at times, through—the mountain on your way to the Seefeld plateau. Splurge on a horse-drawn carriage ride around the lake, go for a round of golf, or in winter work out on the world-class cross-country ski trails. On the fourth day, spend time exploring castle ruins, Baroque churches, and yet more spectacular scenery in Imst and Landeck. For the peak experience of your trip—literally—head to the slopes on your final day at St. Anton am Arlberg. Keep in mind that modern highways can get you to your destination quickly, but often the most beautiful scenic views lie on off-the-beaten-track roads. If you prefer staying closer to Innsbruck on your last day, ride the old-fashioned trolley (Tram 6 departs hourly from the main train station or the Bergisel tram station) to Igls, on a sunny plateau south of Innsbruck overlooking the valley.
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