Searching For Things To Do In Innsbruck? Here’s Our Guide!
Trying to find a city that has both a charming old town and towering mountains all around it? Well, Innsbruck, Austria is definitely for you then! Nestled beside the Inn River (from which it gets its name), this smaller Austrian city is known for shopping, skiing, hiking, and Christmas markets.
We really liked Innsbruck when we visited for a few days on-route to Switzerland from Germany. The fact that it was a smaller city definitely stuck with us and we also really liked the natural beauty all around – even though we didn’t have the greatest weather!
That said, we made the most of our time in the city. Even though the famous cable car/train to the top of the Nordkette mountain range was closed, we still found lots to see, eat, and do in Innsbruck. So, here’s our guide to visiting Innsbruck – a well as advice on hotels, how to get around, and other helpful travel tips!
If you’re looking to explore more of Innsbruck/Austria, we’ve got some other posts for you to check out!
Things To Know When Visiting Innsbruck
Heading to Innsbruck, we knew a little bit about the city but not a ton – mostly word of mouth stories from other travellers/friends. For those keeping track, Innsbruck is the fifth largest city in Austria and the capital city of the state of Tyrol.
The more technical details of Innsbruck are that the city is located in the Austrian Alps, the currency used is the Euro (have cash on you at all times because card is not always taken) and they speak Austrian-German in Innsbruck (but English is widely used in the tourism world).
Aside from that, there are a few things we wish we knew before visiting. If you are planning a visit, below we talk about considerations for the best time to visit, how to get there/around, and also where to stay in Innsbruck!
Best Time to Visit Innsbruck
The best time to visit Innsbruck definitely depends on which activities you want to do. There are two main seasons to visit the famous mountainous region: for summer warmth to do hiking and mountaineering OR in the cold of winter to have fun in the snow (skiing, winter sports, etc) and Christmas Markets.
The summer months (June, July, and August) can get perfectly warm with average temperatures around 20 degrees Celsius while the cold of January gets cold but nothing proper layering and boots can’t fend off at around 0 degrees to -5 degrees Celsius.
Generally speaking, remember to bring a coat/light jacket and layer your clothing. This way you can always take off layers as opposed to having to put them on to bundle up. This is especially true if you go up the mountains where the wind is much stronger/cooler.
If you want to avoid the major busy seasons you could also visit in the shoulder seasons from April to mid-May and then September to October. Don’t visit in November – we did (the trip was planned on shorter notice) and many things were closed for maintenance before reopening for December’s Christmas markets.
So although the city was great, was missed out on Ambras Castle and going up the Nordkettenbahn (we will explain below).
How To Get To Innsbruck
Getting to Innsbruck is fairly simple considering there are mountains all around. We took the train in from Murnau (south of Germany) and it was a gorgeous ride. There are a few stations to get off at but the Central Station in Innsbruck is located in the city centre just east of the Old Town.
Train travel is by far the best travel option in this region because they are very reliable and you get to sit back and enjoy the views. The Austrian train company is OBB and you can check here for train connection/schedules.
You can also drive to Innsbruck easily enough. Innsbruck is located more in the west end of Austria so it’s about 2 hours driving from Salzburg and over 5 hours from Vienna. If you are visiting from abroad, you can check here for rental cars in Austria.
That said, the highway system in this area is very good and snakes through the natural valleys created in the mountain ranges. In fact, Innsbruck lies right along a clustered group of highways in the Inn Valley – because it’s the only area where highways can easily run!
Innsbruck also has a small airport just west of the city centre/old town which you could fly into from a number of farther away European cities. But honestly, ground travel is much prettier and better for the environment.
Getting Around Innsbruck
Once you are in Innsbruck, the city centre isn’t huge and very flat so walking around it pretty simple. The city does sprawl out quite a bit but these areas are more residential and not necessarily a place a tourist would visit.
However, attractions like Schloss Ambras (Castle), Swarovski Crystal World, and the Hall Mint are far from the centre and require public transit to get to. The transit system in Innsbruck is called IVB and is pretty good – consisting of buses, trams, and the funicular/cable cars to the Hungerburg district.
We took the city bus to Ambras Castle and back without any problems. There is even a bus line called the “Sightseer Bus” which makes a point of going to top attractions. You can learn more about the transit system here.
If you are planning on playing tourist in Innsbruck, you might want to consider the Innsbruck Card. Like other cards in other cities, you get discounts/free admission to top attractions and usage of the public transit system.
We actually visited the Innsbruck Tourism Office and did the math. We were going to buy a card for the time we were in the city – until we found that a few of the attractions (including the Nordkettenbahn) were closed so it didn’t make sense for us. Had the Nordkettenbahn been open, we would’ve bought the card.
To get your bearings when you arrive, consider an Innsbruck City Highlights Walking Tour
Where To Stay In Innsbruck
If you are staying in the city for more than a day, then you will need a place to sleep. Luckily, Innsbruck has a number of really great hotel and guesthouse options – many of which come with breakfast included. You can also get an accommodation in a central location which can be great value for money.
⇒ Hotel Zach which was awesome. It’s located on a street in the city centre just a short walk from the Old Town. In fact, there’s a popular museum visible from the hotel entrance. Hotel Zach is a modern and stylish hotel that is also super cozy.
The room was great, the staff were friendly – but the buffet breakfast was our favourite part. It’s a very popular option for Innsbruck and we would highly recommend it. You can check now for a stay at Hotel Zach.
If you want to stay right in the heart of the Old Town (even though you can easily walk there from most accommodations nearby), check out Hotel Innsbruck which is also very popular. It even faces the Inn River and has views of the mountains!
**Friendly Disclosure: As always, we paid for our stay with our own money and were not told to stay there nor to include it in this article.
Things To Do In Innsbruck
Alright, so now that we have covered the basics, it’s time to dive into everything there is to do, eat, and see in Innsbruck. We had a great time exploring the city – even with a few top attractions being closed – so check out the things that we got up to and a few attractions we will be sure to explore next time we visit!
The Golden Roof + Museum
Did you know Innsbruck has a famous roof? Well, now you do. One of Innsbruck’s top attractions – located right in the heart of the Old Town – is the Golden Roof or Goldenes Dachl in German.
The roof on the balcony was originally created at the end of the 15th century by the famous Emperor Maximilian I (more on him later). Its purpose was to impress travellers who were stopping by the medieval city – and did it ever work! In total, there are 2657 gold-plated shingles on the roof and a number of pained figured on the exterior, too.
Today, you can visit the roof in the Old Town and step inside the museum which features permanent and rotating exhibits (which was recently added to/redone in 2019). At the museum, you can learn all about the life and times of Emperor Maximilian I and a bit of history of the city and the state of Tyrol.
Below the roof in that open square is where you can find one of the most popular Christmas markets in Innsbruck. There are also a number of cafes, restaurants, and shops all around the area so it’s a top place to start off any wander in the city!
Address: Herzog-Friedrich-Straße 15, 6020 Innsbruck, Austria
To learn more about the Golden Roof and Innsbruck History, you can join an Innsbruck City Walking Tour!
Climb the City Tower
If you want to get great views of the city from within the city itself, a great vantage point is the City Tower. Called the Stadtturm in German, this landmark clock tower dates back to the 15th century. Fun Fact: It used to house a city prison!
The tower stands right on the main street – Herzog-Friedrich-Straße – which runs through the Old Town (and is close to the Golden Roof) so you can’t miss it.
You can enter the tower from the bottom (it’s well marked), buy a ticket, and then head up the stairs to a small museum with information. From this level, you then enter the actual tower and climb to a set of modern spiral stairs (one for up and one for down).
At the top, you emerge from a tiny door with a light cage around you and are treated to some really beautiful views of the area. It’s here that we got the great shots of the Golden Roof from above – and you can see other attractions like the Bergisel Ski Jump and the mountains around.
We are always a sucker for some exercise and climbing to high vantage points to this was an attraction that we really, really liked. We also had the 360 degrees platform to ourselves for a little bit because it was the off-season!
Also, the price is also relatively inexpensive for the experience so we thought it was worth it! You can get your City Tower entrance ticket here – we’d highly recommend a climb if you can.
Address: Herzog-Friedrich-Straße 21, 6020 Innsbruck, Austria
Another top place to visit in Innsbruck is the Imperial Palace. Known as the Kaiserliche Hofburg in German, this very large palace complex is one of the most important buildings in the country – similar to The Hofburg in Vienna.
This version of the complex was originally completed back in 1500 by Maximilian I and has been updated and redone over the centuries by famous Habsburg royals like Maria Theresa. Even the whole exterior was eventually done up in Baroque style like what you’d see in Vienna!
Today, you can visit the inside which has been converted into a museum with a number of rooms and exhibits to walk through. These include the State Rooms and Apartments, Chapel, Crest Tower, Furniture Rooms, and the famous Giant’s Hall, among others.
There is also a specific (now permanent) exhibit about Maximilian I which was created in 2019 to mark the 500th year anniversary of his death. You can find a restaurant/cafe in the palace, too. Admission allows you to walk through the museum rooms on your own or you can do a guided tour for a small fee. You can learn more about visiting at the official website.
Address: Rennweg 1, 6020 Innsbruck, Austria
If you are into visiting places of worship, Innsbruck has something for you – Innsbruck Cathedral! Also known as the Cathedral of St. James (or Dom zu St. Jakob in German), this version of the cathedral was built back in the early 1700s. However, there were several smaller church structures on the site dating back to the 1400s and earlier.
The cathedral is known for a number of important elements – notably the painting of the Virgin Mary above the high altar. We wandered inside to have a look and it’s quite pretty with frescoes on the ceiling and other aspects like stucco work and an organ.
As one of the most important Baroque buildings in all of Innsbruck it’s worth checking out. The cathedral is just a short walk up the old town street from the Golden Roof so you don’t have to go out of your way to visit. There’s also an nice little courtyard outside the entrance which is free to enter.
Address: Domplatz 6, 6020 Innsbruck, Austria
Heading away from the Old Town for a moment, if you are in Innsbruck then heading up the local mountain for amazing views is not to be missed! For this, you’ll be heading up the Nordkette mountain range and specifically to the top of Hafelekarspitze for the highest views. It’s not too often around the world that you can go from the city centre to high atop a mountain in around 20 minutes!
To be honest, the tracks down below were closed for repairs when we visited so we didn’t get a chance to go (very sad). However, we know all about how to do it because we researched it with the intent to go – so we’ll include it!
For a complete overview of the trip, it goes like this:
- Congress Station (City Centre – seen above) to Hungerburg via the Hungerburgbahn funicular (Alpine Zoo is along the way)
- Hungerburg to Seegrube via Nordkettenbahn gondola/cable car
- Seegrube to Hafelekar via Nordkettenbahn gondola/cable car
- Hafelekar to “Top of Innsbruck” via a walking path
Of course, you can stop at any point along the way. The views from Seegrube are already lovely and there’s a restaurant up there if you don’t wish to go further up. It’s also important to note that the cable cars run pretty frequently (every 15 minutes or so) but be sure to check the schedule.
- If you only want to take the funicular train to the Hungerburg district outside the city centre, you can check here for Hungerburg tickets.
- If you want to only up to the Hungerburg funicular with the intent on visiting the popular Alpine Zoo, you can check here for Hungerburg and Zoo combo tickets.
- If you want to go all the way to the top of the Nordkettenbahn, you can check here for your complete round-trip ticket up the mountain!
Again, we didn’t get to do this because it was closed when we visited BUT we are going to return to Innsbruck with the sole intention of heading up the Nordkettenbahn for the views!
Address of Entrance: Rennweg 3, 6020 Innsbruck, Austria (outside Congress)
Eat Strudel at Strudel Cafe Kröll
Back in the Old Town, if you want to experience the city of Innsbruck through food, then why not go and try some classic strudel? Strudel is considered to be one of the national dishes of Austria – with Viennese apple strudel being very popular. That said, we had delicious strudel at Strudel Cafe Kröll.
Located on Hofgasse just around the corner from the Golden Roof, this small strudel shop serves up both sweet and savoury kinds of strudels from classic apple and cherry to spinach-feta and more.
We ended up getting cherry and another we can’t remember and both were really good. We also got coffees and they come with water which is nice. While the sweet ones are very good just plain, we probably get it with vanilla sauce next time.
The place inside has quite a few tables/seats but we can see it being crowded in the busy season. That said, there are cafe tables outside on the street for you to enjoy the sights and sounds of the Old Town. They do breakfast as well and you can get your strudel as take-away strudel if you want to keep walking around.
Address: Hofgasse 6, 6020 Innsbruck, Austria
Tyrolean State Museum Ferdinandeum
You will find that there are many places where you can learn about the history of the State of Tyrol in Innsbruck. This makes sense since it’s the capital – but there are over five museums dedicated to Tyrolean history – each one showcasing history through a different lens.
First up is the State Museum – which aims to show the Tyrolean history through art. Covering 30,000 years of history from prehistoric times to the modern era, you need to be an art lover to check this place out! It’s located just to the east of the Old Town so it’s very easy to walk to if you are in the centre. You can learn about visiting here.
Address: Museumstraße 15, 6020 Innsbruck, Austria
The Museum of Tyrolean Regional Heritage
Known as the Tiroler Volkskunstmuseum, this museum is all about showcasing Tyrolean history and culture through folklore. This includes demonstrating traditional clothing, festivals, arts and crafts, and the life and times of people.
The museum is basically right beside the Hofburg in the Old Town so it is also easy to walk to if you are out and about in the centre. They do an audio guide in English and you can learn more about visiting here.
Also interesting: Experience the history and culture of the Tyrolean Region with a night performance of Traditional Austrian folk music!
Fun Fact: Right beside the Heritage Museum you will find the Court Church. This church – originally built in 1553 to commemorate the life of Maximilian I – is the home to a massive cenotaph as the tomb of Maximilian as well as almost 30 bronze statues. It is paid entry but it’s an important place in Tyrol so it’s definitely something to check out while you visit! You can learn more here.
Address: Universitätsstraße 2, 6020 Innsbruck, Austria
If you are heading for Innsbruck to do some shopping, then a stroll along Maria-Theresien-Straße might be for you! This long, partly-pedestrian street just south of the Old Town is home to a number of shops by brands you know and local ones, too. We walked the street both during the day and at night and it was lovely at both times.
As you walk along, there are acually a number of important historical landmarks you’ll come across. The first one you will see if you are leaving the Old Town walking south along the street is St. Anne’s Column. (Annasäule, in German).
Built from red marble in 1706, the column has a number of statues and figures (with Mary on top) to commemorate the 1703 battle when Bavarian troops were pushed from the region.
Keep waking south and you will eventually come upon the Triumphal Arch (or Triumphpforte in German). Built back in the middle of the 1700s by our friend Maria Theresa, it was originally built with one side to celebrate the marriage of her son and while the other side became a place to mourn the death of her husband – which happened a few days after the wedding (true story).
Address: Maria-Theresien-Straße 18, 6020 Innsbruck, Austria
If you are walking around near the Arch, you might want to swing over about a block to the massive public square known as Landhausplatz. This square is technically a concrete sculpture and was created to serve multiple uses for the city.
Near the middle, you might notice the large monument which – despite its appearance – is actually made to signify liberation from National Socialism. In any case, the square is just a nice place to hang out in the sunshine.
Interesting Fact: Across the street from the square is the AUDIOVERSUM – Science Center which is a neat place if you are looking for things to do in Innsbruck with kids.
Address: Eduard-Wallnöfer-Platz 2, 6020 Innsbruck, Austria
Photograph The Colourful Houses
If you have a thing for photography, then you need to go and see the Colourful Houses. Located over on Mariahilf Street (across the bank of the Inn River from the Old Town), these houses are just what you’d expect – colourful!
They are pretty to look at and make a great photo with the mountains in the background. One of the cool parts about this is that you can take the photograph from Innbrücke – or the Inn Bridge – which is literally the crossing the river the city is named after!
Address: Mariahilfstraße, 6020 Innsbruck, Austria
One more stop if you are looking for food-based activities in Innsbruck would be to stop by the Markthalle. Located close to the river (to the west end of the Old Town) this large indoor market hall is packed with food vendors selling fresh food, produce, meat, flowers, spices, and even souvenirs and other goods!
We wandered inside to have a quick bite to eat and ended up having some really good ravioli/pasts from a place around the middle of the hall. There were many other places that you could choose from, as well. There was even this Hungarian food stall which Eric liked (because he has Hungarian roots).
Overall, we’d suggest a visit to the food hall for a walk about to check it out or a bite to eat if you are looking for a variety of cuisines. You can check out the Markthalle here – and also explore Innsbruck through food on an Innsbruck guided food tour!
Address: Herzog-Siegmund-Ufer 1-3, 6020 Innsbruck, Austria
If you haven’t had enough of castles yet, then head to Ambras Castle! Known as Schloss Ambras in German, this fortress dating from the 16th century was the residence of Archduke Ferdinand II who was a very passionate art collector.
Today, the Lower Castle still hold many pieces of the collection – technically making Ambras Castle one of the oldest museums in the whole world! You can visit other exhibits in the Castle (armoury, antiques, and a “Chamber of Art and Wonders”) as well as wander the park grounds.
We actually visited the Castle but it turned out that was closed for the month of November to get ready for Christmas festivities. So, we visited the only month it was closed. The grounds were still open and we did get a chance to explore in the rain but ultimately we’d love to come back! You can get your entrance ticket for Schloss Ambras here.
Since it’s quite a walk from the centre, we ended up catching the city bus #4134 from Central Station and got off at easy enough at the stop: Innsbruck Schloss Ambras (Aldranser Straße) but you can also take the Sightseer Bus which is the hop-on, hop-off bus in Innsbruck.
Address: Schloßstraße 20, 6020 Innsbruck, Austria
Bergisel Ski Jump
As one of the most iconic spots in the city of Innsbruck, a visit to the Bergisel Ski Jump is definitely recommended. Located south of the city centre on the hill – Berhisel – this famous ski jump has been used in two winter Olympic games and is the annual host to a competition as part of the Four Hills Cup.
The stadium itself has room for 26,000 people so it’s no small thing to check out! If you visit, you can go up top to the viewing platform for views of the region – as well as the views the ski jumpers get before they take off! Oh, and you can take a funicular up to the platform or you can take the stairs (there are around 450 steps).
Besides all of that, there is also a panorama restaurant onsite which you can visit. If you are lucky, you might even catch some jumpers training throughout the year! You can get your ticket to visit the Ski Jump and Arena here.
Address: Bergiselweg 3, 6020 Innsbruck, Austria
Also interesting: Very close to the Ski Jump and Arena is the Tyrol Panorama Museum and the Imperial Infantry Museum. The Panorama Museum is famous for the fact that you can find a 360-degree painting covering over 1000 square meters depicting the Tyrol battle for freedom.
The Imperial Infantry Museum is a museum that backs up much of what is seen in the panorama and covers Tyrolean military history from the 18th century to the 20th.
Hofgarten (City Park)
If you are looking for a place to relax for a little bit, head for the Hofgarten. This large city park space – known as Royal Gardens in English – was full of walking paths and little places to check out.
Complete with the Music Pavilion, a tropical greenhouse, a little art museum, a small pond, and even a playground for kids, there’s kind of something for everyone here. We just went and had a sit down because the weather was lovely (aka it wasn’t raining) and we had some time!
Address: Kaiserjägerstraße, 6020 Innsbruck, Austria
Known as the Museum im Zeughaus in German, this 500-year-old building and former armoury for Maximilian I is now used as a museum to display the culture and history of the Tyrol Region.
From mining silver and salt to the involvement in the World Wars, it’s easy to get sucked into the history of the Austrian state – and how that connects to the larger identity of the country. The museum is located to the north end of the city centre and west of the Hofgarten right on the Sill River (that cuts through the middle of the city. You can learn more about visiting here.
Address: Zeughausgasse 1, 6020 Innsbruck, Austria
Grassmayr Bell Foundry + Museum
Are you interested in learning about bells? No, seriously – Innsbruck is home to the world-famous bell manufacturer Grassmayr – who has been making bells since 1599! Today, you can visit the museum to learn all about them!
Onsite, they have a bell foundry where the bells – some as big as a few tons – are cast with molten bronze using a traditional oven and methods the same as it was back in the day. Besides casting bells live in front of visitors, there is also a museum to learn all about the history of the company and the usage of bells in the western world.
If that wasn’t enough, the museum also has a sound studio/exhibit where you can test different bells, learn about acoustics and tones, and understand the measurements and mathematics needed to create rich sounds! The Foundry is located a short distance from the Old Town and is walkable but public transit may be easiest. You can learn more about visiting here.
Address: Leopoldstraße 53, 6020 Innsbruck, Austria
If you are into coins – or you want to climb a medieval tower – then you can head to the Hall Mint – or Münze Hall – in German. Technically located in Hall a city a few minutes over from Innsbruck to the east, this old castle and mint is now a minting museum.
Inside, you can learn all about the history of coin making in Europe. Interestingly enough, this mint is actually the home of the silver “thaler” or “dollar” – and where the name of the dollar coin came from! You can learn more about visiting here.
Address: Burg Hasegg 6, 6060 Hall in Tirol, Austria
Swarovski Crystal Worlds
Last – but certainly not least – we have an attraction that is very popular but not located right in the city of Innsbruck: Swarovski Crystal Worlds – known as the Swarovski Kristallwelten in German! If you are a fan/collector of the beloved Austrian crystal glass, then this is definitely a place you will want to stop by.
The whole complex serves as a gallery, garden, retail space, and even has attractions for kids and a restaurant. It’s a very popular place to visit because it’s so different – from The Giant you might see in photographs to the Mirror Pool with Crystal Clouds.
That said, it’s located in Wattens which is a town to the east of Innsbruck – but they offer a shuttle which runs from downtown Innsbruck (the Central Train Station and near Congress Station) to the property and back. The shuttle is not long – just shy of 30 minutes if you get on at Central Station. You can learn more about schedules and visiting here.
Address for Crystal Worlds: Kristallweltenstraße 1, 6112 Wattens, Austria
If you don’t want to head out there for a few hours, you can also shop for Swarovski crystals at numerous shops in/around the Old Town and city centre. The official shop is very close to the Golden Roof.
Address for Crystal Worlds Shop in Innsbruck: Herzog-Friedrich-Straße 39, 6020 Innsbruck, Austria
Bonus: Outdoor Activities
Of course, we have a thing for covering things to do in cities and attractions. If you come to Innsbruck to experience the outdoors, then we’ll leave you with a few leads that you can look into for your visit.
Notably, you can head south of the city centre to the outdoor/mountain area in Mutters for great skiing in the winter and the cable car with views and/or riding downhill mountain carts (sounds amazing) in the summer. You learn more about visiting here.
There is also lots of golfing around the city region – and Area 47 is quite a ways to the west of Innsbruck BUT it’s the largest outdoor adventure park in the whole country. It looks amazing!
Looking for adventure activities? Why not try a Tandem Paragliding Experience to take to the skies!
And there you have it – a pretty good rundown of the things to do in Innsbruck, Austria! Of course, there are a number of other smaller shops, galleries, and things to see but this guide covers the major stops and also some attractions outside the city centre. We really liked Innsbruck and will be sure to return to head up the mountain!
As always, Happy Innsbruck Waddlin’,
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