15 awesome things to do in Innsbruck, the capital of Tyrol
Innsbruck in Austria is such a lovely city. Well city… It feels more like a big village, surrounded by beautiful mountains. A great base for nature lovers. Most sights in Innsbruck are within walking distance from each other and the old town – Altstadt – of Innsbruck is small. Even the airport of Innsbruck is only 3,5 kilometers away from the city center. I’ve been multiple times to Innsbruck and I keep coming back here. In this blog I will share 15 great things to do in Innsbruck, the capital of Tyrol. Most tips will be only for winter or summer, but most of them are for Innsbruck all year round.
Free entrance with the Innsbruck Card / SKI plus CITY Pass
If you have the Innsbruck Card you get free access to the sights in Innsbruck. This card is working for 24, 48 or 72 hours. It’s working from the moment you’re using it for the first time (so not per day). For example: you use the Innsbruck Card of 72 hours on Monday afternoon for the first time in a museum. Then you can still visit some sights in Innsbruck on Thursday morning. The SKI plus CITY Pass works the same way. This is the ideal pass for people who wanna combine winter sports in different areas with some sightseeing in Innsbruck.
Both the Innsbruck Card and the SKI plus CITY Pass are for sale at the Innsbruck Tourismus office at Burggraben 3. You can also order the passes online via the website.
Innsbruck Card versus Innsbruck Welcome Card
The Innsbruck Card is NOT the same as the Innsbruck Welcome Card. This welcome card you will get in some accommodations if you’re staying there. It gives you discounts for swimming pools and free access to selected bus lines. In winter time you can also ice skate for free. Here you will find more information about the Welcome Card of Innsbruck and the accommodations that are collaborating with the pass.
Awesome things to do in Innsbruck
1. Admire the Golden Roof in the Altstadt
The Golden Roof is THE icon of Innsbruck. This beautiful roof is commissioned by emperor Maximilian I. Maximilian is a name that you will probably see more often in Innsbruck. This emperor made sure Innsbruck was one of the most important cities of his kingdom in the 15th century. Innsbruck was the place to be for tournaments. From the balcony with the golden roof Maximilian could check out the tournaments. More than 2500 roof tiles were gilded for the Goldenes Dachl. In the former house of the empire you can now find a museum: Museum Goldenes Dachl. This museum shows you the life of Maximilian and Innsbruck in the 15th century.
Costs: for free. Museum Goldenes Dachl is €4,80 euros for adults (February 2020)
2. Checking out the details and decorations of Helbling House
In the Altstadt you will find a lot of gothic buildings. But one building stands out for sure: the Helbling House, across the Golden Roof. This building is built in the baroque style. Baroque is a playful style with a lot of details and ornaments. It will for sure impress you – and that’s the intention of the baroque. It’s one of the most photogenic buildings in the Altstadt of Innsbruck.
Costs: for free
3. Climb the city tower for a lovely view
The best view in the city over the Altstadt is in the city tower, across the Golden Roof. Via 133 stairs you will climb to the platform, 31 meters high. You can walk around and have a 360° view over the city and the surroundings. There are 2 stairs in the tower: one going up and one going down. So it’s quite easy to move up and down. The city tower is quite easy to spot. The entrance is named Innsbruck Information at Google Maps.
Costs: €4,50 euros for adults (February 2020)
4. Colorful houses at the riverside of the Inn
Did you know that Innsbruck is named after the city that crosses this place, the Inn? The river is not only moving through Austria, but also through Switzerland and Germany. The riverside in Innsbruck is definitely one of my favorite places in the city, thanks to the colourful houses.
5. Pomp and circumstance in Schloss Ambras
One of the surprises for me in Innsbruck is Schloss Ambras. This palace is a bit outside of the city center, but definitely worth a visit. The palace had several renovations through the ages, so you will see different styles in the architecture. The collection of Archduke Ferdinand II, the son of emperor Ferdinand I, makes this palace one of the oldest museums in the world. It’s a great place to escape the busy city center, especially because you can walk around in the gardens around Schloss Ambras as well. My favorite places in this palace are the Spanish Hall and the Chamber of Art and Wonders.
Costs: €8 euros for adults in the winter, €12 euros in the summer (February 2020). Younger than 19 years? Then you can enter for free.
6. Crazy heights from the Bergisel Ski Jump
Did you know that Innsbruck – together with London – is the only city that organised the Olympics 3 times? In the southern part of the city you will find a special tower: the Bergisel Ski Jump. This ramp was used in 1964 and 1976 for the Winter Olympics. The tower is about 50 meters high and an elevator will bring you to an observation platform within 2 minutes. Visitors can enjoy the view over Innsbruck and the mountains of Nordkette. It’s pretty impressive to see how steep this ramp is from above. There’s also a restaurant at Bergisel Ski Jump
Costs: €10 euros for adults (February 2020), children younger than 6 years visit for free.
7. Royal atmosphere in the Hofburg
Both times that I wanted to visit this palace it was closed due to renovations. But I heard it’s a pretty impressive place, so you should put it on your to do list for Innsbruck. At least: if you love palaces, castles and beautiful buildings.
Costs: €9,50 euros for adults (February 2020)
8. Best view over Innsbruck via Nordkettenbahnen
If you’re in Innsbruck you can’t miss it: the view over the impressive mountains of Nordkette. Did you know there are even some slopes on the top of this mountain? Mainly intermediate and difficult ski routes, so for beginners this is not the best option. If you are not a winter sporter you can also make some beautiful hikes here (both in winter and summer time). From the top you have the best view over Innsbruck, if it’s not cloudy of course.
If you’re in the city center of Innsbruck there are several options to go by cable car to Nordkette. The first cable car will bring you from Innsbruck Congress to Hungerburg (at 860 meters). This cable car runs often, so you won’t have to wait for more than 15 minutes. The second cable car will start in another building at Hungerburg, bringing you to Seegrube (1905 meters). At Seegrube you will find a nice restaurant and some lovely views over Innsbruck. Do you wanna go to the top of these mountains? Then take the last cable car to Hafelekarspitze (2334 meters). From the cable car station it’s about 10 – 15 minutes walk to the top.
Make sure to check beforehand if the cable cars are running. Due to bad weather they can cancel the cable cars. It’s also not a great idea to go to the top if it’s super cloudy, since you won’t enjoy the nice view anyway. Ask in the morning how the weather will be and if the cable cars are running for Nordkettenbahnen. You can ask this at your accommodation or at the office of Innsbruck Tourismus.
Costs: €32,30 euros for adults for a retour from Innsbruck to Hafelekar (February 2020). Because of these costs it can be smart to get the Innsbruck Card. Here you can find the prices for the cable cars of Nordkettenbahnen.
9. Stroll around in the picturesque Hall in Tirol
Multiple people from Austria told me Hall in Tirol is the most picturesque village in Tyrol. I think they exaggerate a bit, but for sure it’s a lovely place to stroll around. Hall in Tirol used to be an important salt mining village. The village is situated only a couple of kilometers east of Innsbruck. You can easily visit the place by bus or train. Unfortunately the old city center is not car-free, because that would make a walk even nice. It’s a lovely place to visit, but you don’t need more than an hour.
10. Or visit the smallest historical town in Austria: Rattenberg
With only 400 citizens Rattenberg is the smallest historical town in Austria. It’s a nice place to walk around. In the streets of Rattenberg you’ll see multiple glass shops. With some luck can you see craftsmen working in their shops. They make amazing stuff so it’s worth walking around for sure. The colourful houses of Rattenberg are cute as well. From Innsbruck it’s about 30 minute by car or 45 minutes by train to Rattenberg. You don’t really need more than an hour in Rattenberg.
11. Enjoying the snow in winter sports areas around Innsbruck (winter)
Innsbruck is amazing for winter sports lovers, because the city is surrounded by mountains covered by snow. You will find more than 10 ski areas within 1 hour traveling from Innsbruck, so there are lots of options for both beginners and experienced winter sports enthusiasts. Schlick 2000 is a great place for beginners and families, while in Kühtai you can expect lots of sun combined with good snow due to the high location in the mountains. One of my favorites is Stubaier Gletscher because of the many long slopes. And Patscherkofel and Axamer Lizum are great for a day in the snow near Innsbruck.
12. (Winter) walking in the mountains around Innsbruck (summer & winter)
In winter time most people come to Tyrol for skiing and snowboarding, but you can also enjoy the mountains in a different way. Hiking around for example. There are many areas around Innsbruck where you can walk and enjoy the amazing views. In this article you’ll find some inspiration for winter walks in Tyrol.
For some hikes you need to bring some snow shoes to move around. You’ll feel like a penguin in the beginning, but after some minutes it’s quite easy to move around in the snow. In Innsbruck you can rent snow shoes at Die Boerse, not far away from the triumphal arch. Per day it will be €12 euros. With these snow shoes you can also hike in less accessible areas, so it’s great for adventurous travelers!
13. Sliding with 30 kilometers per hour downhill: tobogganing (winter)
Don’t feel like playing in the snow with your skis or snowboard, but you do wanna enjoy that winter vibe outside? Then tobogganing is for you! Sliding downhill with 30 kilometer per hour is a lot of fun. My favorite place for toboganning is Axamer Lizum. You can take the bus to the parking lot. From here you hike uphill in about 1 hour, to the Bärenhutte (they also call it Pleisenhütte). If you want you can eat something here because you slide down. If you enjoy it you can continue ALL THE WAY to the village of Axams. It’s one of the longest tobogganing trails I’ve seen so far. Another great place for tobogganing is Oberperfuss. Here you will find a run that’s 10 kilometers long!
14. Feel like a prince(ss) in Schloss Neuschwanstein, the most famous castle in Germany
I absolutely love castles – and one of my favorite ones is the fairylike Schloss Neuschwanstein in the southern part of Germany. It’s a great stopover if you’re going by car from the Netherlands or Belgium to Austria. But if not you can always visit this castle as a day trip from Innsbruck. I would recommend to buy a ticket for a visit inside the castle beforehand in high season. But there’s also some nice hiking trails around the castle. The area is lovely and you have amazing views not only on Schloss Neuschwanstein, but also on Castle Hohenschwangau.
15. Bring a visit to Ötzi in the Archaeology Museum of South Tyrol in Bolzano, Italy
South Tyrol is a province in the northern part of Italy, but it was part of the Habsburg empire and Austria for ages. This is the reason why most people in this area still speak German. Bolzano – Bozen in German – is the capital of this province. The city is nice, but one of the highlights here is the South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology. Here you can see the oldest human mummy of Europe: Ötzi. I remember my first history lessons in high school – they were all about Ötzi. So when I visited Bolzano I needed to bring a visit to this ancient hero.
Costs: €9 euros for adults (February 2020)
What can you skip if you’re in Innsbruck (if you ask me)?
1. Visiting the Swarovski Kristallwelten
I don’t really like jewelery and shiny stuff, but somehow I went to Swarovski Kristallwelten twice in my life. The first time I was just curious, because everyone was enthusiastic about this place. It’s also the most visited sight in Tyrol, so it must be a cool place. I wasn’t impressed, but 2 years later I gave it a second chance (I had free entrance with the SKI plus CITY Pass). I would expect the exhibition to change a bit, but everything was exactly the same. Entrance fee is €19 euros for adults and I personally think you can spend that money way better when you’re in Innsbruck. The museum is also not in Innsbruck, but about 10 kilometers east of the city, so you need some time to get there as well. Not worth it if you ask me, unless you’re a big fan of Swarovski.
2. Tiroler Volkskunstmuseum (at Hofkirche)
I hoped the Tiroler Volkskunstmuseum would give you an idea of life in Innsbruck ages ago. But during my visit the exhibitions were messy and inconsistent. There were some temporary exhibitions without much information or that were not related to (the history of) Tyrol at all. There are some nice authentic chambers and a room with traditional clothing you can check out, but personally I don’t think it’s worth the money. You can check it out if you have the Innsbruck Card of the SKI plus CITY Pass, so you can enter for free and see for yourself.
Accommodations in Innsbruck
1. Ferienparadies Natterer See
A few kilometers outside of Innsbruck you can stay at a great place for nature lovers: Ferienparadies Natterer See. It’s open all year round, so you can also stay here during winter time. This camping is situated next to a small lake and surrounded by mountains. They have different options for accommodations: camping with your own tent, glamping in a fancy tent, private rooms in a building, bungalows and barrels. Some accommodations have private bathrooms, but otherwise you can use the facilities (toilets, showers etcetera) in the building of the reception. It’s all super clean and well maintained. If you stay at Ferienparadies Natterer See you get the Welcome Card to use the bus going to/from Innsbruck as well. And the winter sports area of Muttereralm is only a few kilometers away (like 10 minute drive). It’s a great base if you wanna stay in Innsbruck, but not in the city itself!
Check out the best prices for Ferienparadies Natterer See on the website or Booking.
2. aDLERS Hotel
Do you wanna stay in Innsbruck? Then aDLERS Hotel is a great base. This hotel is next to the train station (Hauptbahnhof) of Innsbruck. The location is perfect, because it’s also just a short walk to the Altstadt. Besides that you have lovely views over Innsbruck from the rooms.
Check out the best prices for aDLERS Hotel on Booking
3. Montagu Hostel
Are you a solo traveler and visiting Innsbruck? Then Montagu can be a good option. This hostel is situated at the river side, opposite of the Markthalle. In a few minutes you’re in the Altstadt. The beds in the dorms have curtains for some privacy. There’s a kitchen where you can prepare some food and a rooftop terrace where you can enjoy a breeze and some nice views. What more do you need?
Check out the best prices for Montagu Hostel on Booking or Hostelworld
These were my tips for your visit to Innsbruck! What do you miss in this blog about Innsbruck that people should definitely know more about if they’re in Innsbruck/Tyrol? Let me know in the comments below!
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