Innsbruck – The world’s most scenic airport?

Innsbruck from the Nordkette rope railway

Innsbruck is a fine town: the capital of the Austrian region of Tyrol and a magnet for winter sports enthusiasts, some of whom are not incredibly tedious about their love for sliding down a snowy mountain.

Unusual: Innsbruck taxi driver watches Turkish soaps streamed via mobile phone. While driving me into town.

It is unusual then that it’s airport is one of the best things about it. There are plenty of places in the world where the route out is the most attractive thing about the town, but Innsbruck’s aviation hub offers a  few attractions others cannot match. in fact, I’m going to stick my neck out and say it is the world’s mist beautifully-situated airport.

Scenic rubbish-storage area at INN

Simon Calder recently wrote that INN (Innsbruck Kranebitten) is a category C airport, one requiring great diligence and feats of piloting than softy hubs elsewhere. This means landing is a treat, and the brief seconds of wind-blown Alpine air before passengers are herded onto a shuttle bus to shuttle 30 metres is a joy. It is, however, taking a flight out of here that is a real treat.

I woke this morning on a fine, cold winter’s day in the City with the river Inn and the Nordkette mountain range looking lovely after fresh snow overnight. After one of those odd middle-European breakfast buffets (‘Can I offer you some cold meat, cheese, herring and black bread for your morning repast? This way sir. Your neighbours will all glare and you and silently smoke as you enjoy your meal.’) I took the cab ride to the airport, a ten minute hop from the Old Town.

The Terminal is small and nothing special, but on all sides is fringed by towering mountains. twenty miles or so to the east is the Brenner Pass, and this is some of the highest terrain in the Alps. Once through security the glass wall that forms the barrier between waiting area and runway offers an unbroken panorama of breathtaking mountains.

View from the Departures area

That’s it, really. A beautifully situated small airport with huge windows. This is one airport worth getting to early and buying a cup of the very good coffee served here. ‘Eine Macchiato’ is the phrase you’re after.

Anyone know of an airport with a lovelier setting?

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2 responses to “Innsbruck – The world’s most scenic airport?

  1. From memory, Madeira, Grenada and Gibraltar are all pretty spectacular. But either Aitutaki in the Cook Islands or Lord Howe Island in Australia wins for me – the first for the approach, the second for the view from the ground and total rusticness.

  2. Now I’m sorry I didn’t search out the airport on my brief visit to Innsbruck. I must agree that driving there from Italy was gorgeous. I got a couple nice shots in my facebook album. http://www.facebook.com/kjgetaways#!/album.php?aid=331889&id=120873025179

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