I’m not gonna lie, Innsbruck was definitely not a vegan mecca. However, look at those mountains?! It’s absolutely worth a visit and there is vegan food to be found if you look around the nooks and crannies of the city.
I planned a rather spontaneous trip to Innsbruck after a friend from high school let me know she’d be traveling through a few cities in Europe to train for bobsledding. I picked Innsbruck as I hadn’t been there yet, booked a (10 hour) bus trip for about 15 EUR each way and a cheap hotel room for 20-something EUR per night via Booking.com so I could have some privacy to work while I was there. Breakfast was included! Seriously, Booking.com has given me a couple gems already for the same price as a hostel.
Where to Stay
Garni – Technikerhaus – In case you’re looking for somewhere a step up from a hostel in Innsbruck, try this out. It was a good find for me as there were not so many hostels, I wanted to actually sleep, and somewhere peaceful to work. Simple breakfast and the cheap price made it a good fit. At the time of writing I spent only €20-25 or so per night for my own private room, sharing the bathroom and showers, which were clean and totally fine for my purposes. I also had a view of the Alps from my window! Though they had meat and cheese for breakfast, I made use of the whole wheat bread, jam and coffee. I bought some soymilk from the organic shop in town and used it for my coffee and cereal. I stored the soymilk in my improvised “outdoor windowsill fridge” like so:
The first thing I noticed was that everyone was SUPER friendly in Innsbruck compared to Berlin. I arrived on a holiday and immediately made friends with the man working in the only fast-food kinda place nearby who sold me this vegan pizza without cheese with a discount! The bus driver even wished me a good evening when I got off the bus! What was this strange, friendly, German-speaking land?!
Not a vegan pizza place, but totally delicious. When in a place with no vegan pizza in sight, head on over to the closest pizza place and just order a pizza without cheese plus lots of veggies. This one had spinach, garlic, tomato sauce and was topped with fresh arugula. It was surprisingly good, I even went there twice.
MyIndigo (Stainerstraße 3) – http://www.myindigo.com/
I found this a gem of a place at the end of my week in Innsbruck. Apparently it’s a chain throughout Europe and the USA, but I had never heard of it before, have you? It’s basically a salad bar, sushi, curry place. I have a secret love of salad bars because I am usually too lazy to cut all the ingredients for a salad myself.
Fast-food with a new-agey atmosphere, organic wine and free wifi (that didn’t work while I was there, maybe you’ll have better luck). You can pick your grain underneath, I chose cous cous and lots of toppings. The salad dressing was something tahini based, if I remember correctly.
Look at that whole half of an avocado! Yessssss.
Bad picture with a view of the inside of the shop in downtown Innsbruck. You can see there is meat, but they also have clearly labeled vegan dishes (see Vegan Curry in the picture), which was already a good find in a city with not much mention of vegan anything. There is another bigger location in the DEZ mall.
Speaking of the DEZ mall, here is my lunch after I went on a dorky quest there to visit the shop of zotter Schokoladen Manufaktur. Some scavenged cous cous salad and stuffed grape leaves with a smoothie from the mall food court.
Zotter is an Austrian chocolate company with tons of quirky bars and flavors and an entire list of labeled vegan chocolate bars and drinking chocolate. I was so excited when I found that list on their website that I immediately hopped a bus to the mall where their store was and bought one of every vegan chocolate they had in the shop…and then ate them. Okay, I didn’t eat them ALL at once. Just most of them.
I first discovered zotter at the Naschmarkt in Vienna. They have a shop there at the end of a long row of market and vegetable stands that I stumbled into one evening while passing through. They have a bitter dark drinking chocolate that was labeled vegan and I asked the person behind the counter if they happened to have soymilk, expecting a no, as it didn’t seem like “that kind” of place. What I learned, you should always ask! They had it, and I walked away with a delicious thick, dark drinking chocolate in my hand, that had literally had a chocolate bar melted into it. Yesss. Ever since then a love affair has been building between me and zotter.
Cammerlander (Innrain 2) – http://www.cammerlander.at/
Another surprise, I realized Cammerlander had a vegan menu after stumbling into a Chinese restaurant with a veggie craving one evening. After asking the person behind the counter if they could make me something off the menu, just broccoli with cashews and garlic sauce, I sat down and paged through a local newspaper sitting in front of me. Again, always ask! Lo and behold, the word “VEGAN” caught my eye in an ad for the restaurant. Who knew, a restaurant in Innsbruck with labeled vegan options that wasn’t mentioned on the Happycow App or foursquare, YES!
The vegan menu. There’s some pasta, falafel, pizza and more on there. Not to mention the organic wine pairings suggested on the page and the vegan sorbets.
A bit pricey at 13,00 EUR an entree, it was worth checking out during my trip. I went with the spaghetti dish with a cashew cream, zucchini and tomatoes.
I also got this drink, but I don’t remember what it was. Something with mint, lemon and prosecco. It was tasty!
Strudel-Cafe Kröll (Hofgasse 6 – Altstadt) – http://www.strudel-cafe.at/
Another good find for coffee at least. This is a cafe with about 10-15 different types of sweet and savory studel. Unfortunately none of the studel is vegan, I asked the waiter and he said all of them have an eggwash on top (so close! maybe some day), although they do have gluten-free studel. However, they do offer soymilk and had a couple clearly labeled soy coffee drinks. You even get the little glass of water with it, which is my favorite. They also have lots of alcohol, glühwein (mulled wine) in the winter and feuerzangenbowle, which is quite an exciting neverage as they usually light it on fire at the Christmas market, but I guess since it’s inside they skip the fire part here. Oh well.
Not pictured, I’d also like to give a shout out to Cafe Moustache (Herzog-Otto-Straße 8) as I spent a lot of time there drinking beer and using their wifi on my phone. Not much vegan food to be found there, but a good place to hang out with good beer, yummy cocktails, lots of seats and really, really reliable wifi. I dug the chill atmosphere. Another great foursquare find!
Kostnix Umsonstladen (Höttingergasse 11) – http://kostnixibk.blogsport.de/
Besides food, I found some other cool things in Innsbruck besides the mountains. While wandering around I stumbled upon Kostnix (translated “cost nothing”), a shop of free things in Innsbruck. The purpose is to limit waste and support a sharing economy and not taking more than you need. There used to be one in Berlin, so it was cool to see one open in Innsbruck. Even if the day I stumbled upon it, it was closed. Hours are posted for them on their blog above. Here’s the English description of them I found on their door, click the picture to make it bigger to read.
In case you’re not convinced, here is another view of the street with the mountains hanging out in the backdrop.
Another cool thing we did was go to a party in an igloo. No really. Sometimes I’m reminded that I’m lucky to live a pretty cool life so far, meeting with friends in another country, riding up the Alps in a gondola to go to an igloo party. Never would have guessed this would have been me 5 years ago!
In case you’re in town, the party is in the Cloud 9 Iglu Bar and the parties are posted on their facebook page. You get your party on from around 6 until 11pm, after which they shuffle everyone back to the gondola back town the mountain. We then took a night bus filled with drunk people (at 11pm) singing in German about potatoes and “we’re in the mountains and the whole bus has to pee!”. The bus driver probably wanted to drive us all off the cliff by the end. What an interesting contrast to Berlin‘s hipsters and all night parties though, everyone was decked out in their snowboarding finest, holding beers next to fires burning in big barrels and dancing to techno inside the igloo.
Not a bad week, my friends. Proof that vegan travel is totally possible even when not visiting a major city with dedicated vegan restaurants like Berlin, Prague, Budapest or the vegan mecca, Portland.