Known as the capital of the mountains, Innsbruck, in the Tyrol, is a bustling small city nestled in the valley well below the towering snowy peaks of the Austrian Alps. With the stunning mountains as a backdrop, the nearby alpine lakes, and the river running through the centre, this historic, charming town offers a perfect blend of city life and nature. This guide is perfect for those who are travelling to Innsbruck on a budget. We will show you what to do in Innsbruck, where to stay, what to eat and how to get around, whether it’s a weekend in Innsbruck or a long term stay.
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The best time to visit Innsbruck
For anyone asking, is Innsbruck worth visiting? Whether you prefer skiing, hiking, or a simple city-style break, Innsbruck is somewhere to be enjoyed all year.
In the winter, snow sports enthusiasts can be seen clinging to the Nordkette mountain range, enjoying the endless runs available across the vast slopes. While in the summer months, hiking and mountain-biking trails are accessible via cable cars for anyone wanting to capture the view from high above Innsbruck.
The summer months are quieter for those looking to flee the crowds while sightseeing, as people tend to flock to the beaches. In comparison, for those wishing to travel on a budget during winter, February is best avoided if you want to keep costs down. March is still an excellent time to visit if you want to participate in winter sports. The cheapest month is November, but be warned, this is also the time of year that many establishments close for a break ahead of the busy winter months that follow.
How to get around Innsbruck on a budget
From Innsbruck airport to the city, it is a 20-minute bus ride which costs around 2 euros, a budget traveller’s dream. When in Innsbruck itself, it is compact enough to navigate on foot. If you wish, there are buses, trams, and funiculars to help you quickly move around the old town and the surrounding areas. On top of this, by taking advantage of the Innsbruck card, all your travel around the city and the sightseeing bus are included.
Without the pass, you can buy bus tickets at machines at bus stops, from a tobacco shop, or at the Innsbruck Information Centre. In addition, when you purchase at any shop in the city centre, if you ask for an Innenstadkarte, you will receive one free ride on any bus or tram.
Where to stay in Innsbruck on a budget
While the old town is likely to cost more, unless booked far in advance, the downtown area adjacent to the historical centre is a fantastic area to base yourself. From here, it is a short walk to the centre and close to plenty of restaurants, cafes, and modern bars, including some that specialise in craft beers.
If you are after a basic hotel in Innsbruck old town close to the Triumphal Arch, then Hotel Goldene Krone, on Maria Theresa Strasse, is a 3-star property traditionally designed with everything on your doorstep.
If you are after something more modern, consider staying in the area of Pradl, just a couple of blocks east of the city across the train tracks. Here you will be further away from the touristy areas and therefore will find prices are more favourable. There are expensive hotels in this area also, but when travelling on a budget, consider heading to Binders Budget Hotel, which offers modern decor with views out across the mountains.
If you are heading out for the winter sports scene, when prices can increase significantly, if you don’t fancy a hostel or rent an apartment, consider staying at Pension Sonnenheim in Schönberg, not far from Innsbruck and a 5-minute drive to the ski lifts.
Budget things to do in Innsbruck
Spend a morning exploring the local Markthalle
With more than 40 stalls, this daily market offers visitors the opportunity to purchase from local people. Whether you are staying in self-catering accommodation and looking to pick up some dinner supplies or are hoping to try some local cuisine from one of the many pop-up cafes, this is the perfect place to wander around, enjoying the local alpine-urban culture.
Go shopping along Maria Theresien Strasse
Named after Maria Theresa, who ruled the Habsburg dynasty for 40 years, this large pedestrianised street named in her honour is home to large department stores, small boutiques, and plenty of cafes and restaurants. A highlight of Innsbruck city, with the fantastic Triumphal Arch at one end and the now very famous Golden Roof at the other, this area is wholly unavoidable, even for those who are not a fan of shopping.
Many consider Austria’s national dish, with the oldest recipe dating back to 1697, no trip to Innsbruck would be complete without a taste of this sweet dish.
Considered an institution in Innsbruck, if you only intend to try this classic dish once, a trip to Kröll Strudel Café is a must. With both sweet and savoury options available, this cafe pushes the boundaries on the traditional strudel version. So, whether you prefer a chicken curry strudel, an asparagus strudel, a mango curd strudel, or a traditional apple strudel, you are destined to find your perfect slice here.
Stroll through the Hofgarten
Beautiful in every season, the Hofgarden imperial gardens have been considered the city’s green heart since the early 15th century. This is the perfect place to relax, perhaps with a picnic, before visiting the music pavilion, the palm house, home to the botanical collection, or the remarkable 260-year-old spruce tree named after Maria Theresa.
Take a ride on the Hungerburg Funicular
Perhaps not one for those afraid of heights, a trip on this cable car will see you hitting heights of over 2000m to Innsbruck’s highest vantage point. For those seeking out adventure, from any one of the three potential stopping points, you can don your walking boots, crampons, skis, or climbing harnesses for an adrenaline-fueled day in the mountains. For those simply seeking the best view, head up to the highest point, Hafelekar, where you will find a restaurant and 360-degree views of the peaks.
Spend a day exploring the museums
From science and wonder at the interactive Audioversum or the Museum of Tyrolean Folk art, which houses a collection of important cultural treasures from Tyrol, to the Panorama Museum, which is home to a giant 1,000-metre panoramic painting, there is something for everyone all easily located within the city centre.
Visit a traditional ale house
With more than enough seating, the Stiftskeller is home to the largest beer garden in Innsbruck, located at Franziskanerplatz. Whether you are after a typical Bavarian veal sausage breakfast or a refreshing Augustiner beer to end your day of sightseeing, this ale house is a right of passage for anyone visiting the area.
Enjoy a pastry at the oldest cafe in Tyrol
Cafe Munding is the oldest coffee house and pastry shop in Innsbruck and Tyrol. Since 1803 this establishment has been producing the most delicate tarts and cakes, along with their own jams, preserves, and jellies mixed in with coffee using beans from their own roastery.
Take a free walking tour of the city
To gain a complete overview of the city, why not take part in a free walking tour; it is a chance to learn new facts and strange oddities about the old town as you wander, plus it’s a great way to gain your bearings when stepping foot in a new city for the first time.
Guides local to Innsbruck will take you around the main sights while sharing interesting, often quirky, facts that you will not find in any guidebook. While exploring the Altstadt will give you time to take in the beautiful buildings with their detailed facades, frescos, and striking colours. You will be guided down narrow streets that open into eye-catching yet unexpected courtyards hidden away from the bustling tourist hotspots. Several tours also take in the Inn River, giving you a glimpse of the colourful houses lining the waterways.
Places to visit in Innsbruck on a budget
If you are wondering, is Innsbruck expensive to visit? The simple answer is that it can be, just like any city break, if not planned right.
However, for those wanting to get the most out of your trip and to help explore Innsbruck on a budget, you may wish to consider purchasing an Innsbruck Card. Whether you have just 24 hours or up to 72 hours to explore the city centre, this card will pay for itself in no time, especially if you intend to explore museums and attractions and hop on and off the sightseeing buses and public transport.
Budget travellers may feel that the price of this card is highly-priced, and at 53 euros for 24 hours, it is certainly more pricey than some, but when you consider that the majority of the attractions mentioned in this guide are included, you could end up saving yourself hundreds of euros overall.
The Triumphal Arch
Built in 1765, this arch is older than the Arc de Triomphe in Paris and was commissioned by Maria Theresa to commemorate her son’s marriage. A masterpiece of late-gothic architecture, this archway is the focal point of the Maria Theresien Strasse and is the gate marking the entrance into the old town. Make sure to take in both sides of the gate; one of which is decorated to celebrate while the other is a memorial, marking the sudden death of the Emperor.
Climb the Stadtturm Clock Tower
Located in the heart of the old town, the gothic clock tower sits at 51 metres in height. Over the years, this tower has been used as a patrol tower to inform residents of fires and potential threats and a prison. Today, an observation deck at 31 metres provides 360 degrees views of the city and the mountains.
The Golden Roof
Considered the city’s most famous symbol and completed in 1500, this roof in the heart of the old town is decorated with 2,657 fire-gilded copper tiles commissioned by Emperor Maximilian I to mark his wedding after rumours went around that he was struggling financially. Along with the striking roof, many paintings also depict various historical events. At the same time, inside, the museum retells the story of the Emperor for those wanting to learn more. While in this area, also take a moment to look directly opposite the Golden Roof to HelblingHaus, built in the 15th century, which showcases both the Baroque and Gothic influences used in architecture around the city.
St. Anne’s Column
Standing in the centre of the city, along Maria Theresa Strasse, is this column, designed by the sculptor Cristoforo Benedetti. It was erected to commemorate the liberation of Tyrol from the Bavarian Army and has been standing since 1706.
Hofburg Imperial Palace
Built-in 1500, this palace, classed as one of the most important in all of Austrian history, was home to many royals until the monarchy was dissolved in 1918. Since then, it has remained a stately home that can be visited and a location for events throughout the year.
The Bergisel Ski Jump
A popular meeting point for winter sports fans, this is predominantly a competition facility and training centre for ski jumping. It can be used all year due to its artificial surface and hold 28,000 spectators. For those not wanting to participate in the ski jumping experience, this is also a modern landmark towering above the city, which houses a panoramic cafe with a viewing terrace of the jump tower and therefore is well worth a visit.
Located in the hills around Innsbruck, this renaissance castle which sits on an early castle built in the 10th century, is a 16th-century masterpiece. Today it is home to art collections and antiques but is also a stunning building to explore in its own right. Split into various sections, the upper castle was once a residence, while the lower court was intended to house the Armoury. You also have a Spanish room to explore, many administrative buildings, extensive gardens, a chapel, and a cave.
For some, this is the most important monument in Innsbruck, as it houses the tomb of Emperor Maximilian. Also, inside there are an impressive number of bronze figures and an organ dating back more than 450 years.
Wilten Abbey Basilica
This beautiful yellow and white classical building will automatically attract your eye. It is perhaps the most striking Rococo church in Austria and is home to the famous Wilten Boys’ Choir. Restored during the 18th century, the elegance of this building is down to the beautiful skills of fresco painter Mathias Gunther and highly skilled stucco plasterers. Head inside to an equally delightful sight, with artwork on every wall, relics, cravings, and frescos worthy of your time.
Cheap tours to do in Innsbruck
You should consider certain things if you have time to explore the surrounding area while in the Innsbruck area.
Visit the Stubai Valley
Stubai Glacier is a real treat and something not to be missed when visiting the area, regardless of the time of year. From the top, you will have the most amazing views across the Alps, and on a clear day, you can see up to 109 other peaks stretching across Austria and Italy. During any visit to the Stubai Valley, make sure to include a stop-off at the Stubai ice grotto, a man-made tunnel located under the glacier itself and accessible via the Eisgrat Summit Station. You can also experience the Serles Toboggan run in the summer, a track running 2.8km down the mountain range.
Innsbruck Food Tour
Accompanied by a local, this one will appeal to those who like to try all the culinary delights of a new city. For anyone that wants to explore regional cuisines and special delicacies but doesn’t know where to start, these tours will take you on a full tour of the finest dining locations around the city.
Swarovski Crystal Worlds
This famous world of crystal is close to the city and well worth an afternoon of your time. Marked by a giant waterfall at its entrance, this museum has several crystal rooms showcasing different artists, a garden full of contemporary artwork, a mirror pool, a crystal cloud, a maze, and unlimited carousel rides.
Recommended tours in Innsbruck
- Innsbruck Self-Guided Audio Tour
- Skip the Line: AUDIOVERSUM ScienceCenter – Entrance Ticket
- Innsbruck – Hungerburg (Funicular Roundtrip)
- Skip the Line: Ambras Castle in Innsbruck Entrance Ticket
- Self-Guided 1,5-hour Tour of Innsbruck: Exciting Stories, Photo Spots & Desserts
- Top of Innsbruck (Cable Car Roundtrip)
- Discover Innsbruck in 60 Minutes with a Local
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