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22 Things to do in Innsbruck – That People Actually Do!

INNSBRUCK, AUSTRIA - Street view of downtown in Innsbruck, Austria view of Buildings around Innsbruck, Austria

Innsbruck, Austria is the fifth largest city in Austria, and the capital of the mountainous Tirol region. Skiers flock to Innsbruck in the winter for skiing, while summer is popular for hiking and other outdoor adventures. Innsbruck is also known for a unique combination of modern and Imperial architecture, set against the breathtaking backdrop of the Austrian Alps. With all of the things to do in Austria, these are a few of our favorites.

As the capital of the historic Tirol region, Innsbruck will definitely be enjoyed by those with an interest in European history. With the Innsbruck card, you’ll be able to see the main attractions, top cultural spots, and interesting museums for the most affordable price possible. The cards are valid for 24, 48 or 72 hours from their first use, with prices ranging from €43 to €59 for adults. They can also be used to catch all public transport for free. So, your first thing to do here is to pick up an Innsbruck card!

Wondering what exactly there is to do in this Austrian city? This guide will detail all of the top tourist attractions and show you 30 things to do in Innsbruck, Austria.

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Old Town

Innsbruck’s Old Town, or Altstadt is a great place to hang out any time of year. Lined with buildings as old as 800 years, Old Town is packed with boutique shops, cafes and restaurants. A popular tourist site in Old Town is the Golden Roof, a symbol of the city. The small roof dates back to 1,500 and is made of over 2,500 copper tiles fired to the color of gold.

Running through Old Town is Maria Theresa Street, or Maria-Theresien-Straße, named for the woman who ruled the Hapsberg dynasty for a time. Most of the shopping is concentrated along this street. In the winter, Innsbruck Old Town comes alive with Christmas lights and a Christmas market with stalls of food, drink and gifts.

Innsbruck aerial panoramic view. Innsbruck is the capital city of Tyrol in western Austria.

Olympia Ski World

Skiing is what put Innsbruck on the map. Olympia Ski World encompasses nine ski resorts in the Innsbruck region. The name comes from the fact that Innsbruck has hosted three Winter Olympic games at local ski resorts between 1964 and 2012. The resorts have everything from expert slopes to beginner slopes for the whole family. All ski resorts are conveniently accessible by a free shuttle bus from the center in Innsbruck. You can buy passes for individual resorts, or if you will sample multiple slopes, look into the Olympia World Skipass.

Bergisel Ski Jump

Another remnant of ski championships in Innsbruck is the Bergisel Ski Jump. The stadium seats over 25,000 and annually hosts ski jump competitions. It’s an active training venue, so you might see someone training while you tour the facility. You can walk from Innsbruck, or take a bus. Then a lift is available to take you to the top of the jump for views over Innsbruck, not to mention the view a ski jumper sees when they’re about to take off! Surprisingly, skiers even train here in the summer, with a spongy green mat masquerading as snow-cover for the landing.

The Bergisel Ski Jump towers above Innsbruck and is built along the side of the Bergisel Hill. The stadium itself has the capacity to hold 26,000 people and has hosted prestigious tournaments and competitions.

To see the perspective of the skiers who compete here, you can head to the top of the 50-metre-high ski jump yourself. Fortunately, it only takes a few minutes by cable car to get there. The current dramatic tower at the top designed by Zaha Hadid was built in 2002 and provides an incredible lookout over the city. There’s also a cafe and restaurant if you don’t want to say goodbye to those views just yet.

Recommended Tours

Bergisel – Skijump Area

INNSBRUCK, AUSTRIA - The Bergisel Sprungschanze Stadion is a ski jumping hill stadium located in Bergisel in Innsbruck, Austria

Tyrol Panorama

Adjacent to the Bergisel Ski Jump, you’ll find the Tyrol Panorama. The Museum presents the history of Tyrol. The centerpiece of the museum is a 1,000 square meter panoramic painting which depicts a key battle from 1809. The painting took one artist and four helpers just three months to paint. Other exhibits at Tyrol Panorama cover religion, nature, politics, anthropology and local culture. Outside the museum, there is a 2.2 kilometer trail circling the mountain for amazing views of the surrounding areas.

One of the more unusual things to do in Innsbruck is to visit the Tirol Panorama Museum. The museum most notably showcases the Innsbruck Giant Panorama Painting, a 1,000-square-metre canvas depicting the Tyrolean Rebellion of 1809. The Tyrolean Stage exhibition also explores the themes of politics, nature and religion.

The detailed displays are a great way for visitors to learn about the history of the area. The museum is located south of the city centre at Bergisel, but absolutely worth the trip.

Innsbruck aerial panoramic view. Innsbruck is the capital city of Tyrol in western Austria.

Schloss Ambras

Any European destination worth a visit has a castle, and Innsbruck is no exception. Ambras Castle is a Renaissance Castle built in 1563. The hilltop site once housed a medieval fortress which was rebuilt into a castle for the wife of Archduke Ferdinand. He also built a museum to house his collection which you can tour, in addition to the castle, courtyard and gardens.

One of the best places to visit in Innsbruck is Ambras Castle. Formerly a medieval fortress, Archduke Ferdinand II had the landmark converted into a stunning Renaissance palace. The castle holds the largest collection of art, books and armouries in all of Europe. Most notable is the Portrait Gallery with over 200 valuable and historic paintings from the Habsburg Dynasty.

Inside the Chamber of Art and Wonders at Ambras Castle, you’ll find many rare and unique objects. Ferdinand II was known as one of the most prominent art collectors of his time, so you can expect cultural displays like nothing else.

The breathtaking Spanish Hall above the Lower Castle is a wonderful example of German Renaissance architecture. The 43-metre-long space has an elaborately carved wooden ceiling and contains 27 portraits of all of Tirol’s rulers. The hall is currently in use as a concert venue in the evenings.

Best of all, Ambras Castle sits atop the hills above Innsbruck, looking out across the city and offering stunning views of the region below.

Ambras Castle or Schloss Ambras Innsbruck is a castle and palace located in Innsbruck, the capital city of Tyrol, Austria

Alpenzoo

One of the highest elevation zoos in Europe, Innsbruck’s Alpenzoo is a fun stop on your Innsbruck itinerary. The zoo has about 2,000 individual animals, focusing on local animals like the chamois and ibex. While most of the displays and interpretations are in German only, an English-language pamphlet is available to pick up when you enter.

Recommended tours

Alpenzoo Innsbruck and Hungerburgbahn General Admission

View on wild ibex herd in the Alps by Arlberg in Austria

Cathedral of St James

Also known as the Innsbruck Cathedral, is an 18th century Baroque cathedral in Innsbruck’s Old Town. The church has painstaking details in the two bell towers, dome and nine altars inside. Admission is free, although a small fee is required to take photographs.

A visit to Innsbruck Cathedral, officially the Cathedral of Saint James, is without a doubt one of the best free things to do in Innsbruck. For nearly three centuries, the bells have tolled at this Romanesque, Roman Catholic cathedral.

Innsbruck Cathedral notably holds the tomb of Archduke Maximilian III of Austria in the northern aisle, as well as the renowned 16th-century Mary of Succor painting above the altar. Also impressive are the extravagantly decorated interiors and the series of pillars supporting the high saucered dome. While the exterior looks somewhat imposing, the ceiling frescoes are painted in pastel-like hues, creating a dreamy atmosphere inside.

INNSBRUCK, AUSTRIA - Innsbruck Cathedral or Cathedral of St. James is a baroque cathedral of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Innsbruck in Innsbruck, Austria

Hofburg Imperial Palace

Hofburg is a common name in Austria, and there are two Hofburg Palaces. One is in Vienna, and the other is here in Austria. Along with Schönbrunn Palace in Vienna, these make up three of the most significant buildings in the Austria. The Innsbruck Palace was one of the favorite residences of the Hapsburgs, rulers of Austria from the 15th to the 18th century. Visitors can access the throne room, imperial apartments, a chapel and the gardens. Make sure you grab an audio guide for your walk through the palace.

A must-see in Innsbruck is the Imperial Palace. Better known as Hofburg, the palace is one of the top three most significant cultural buildings in Austria. Though originally built by Archduke Sigmund the Rich in the 15th century, the palace has since undergone several expansions, including structural Baroque alterations in the 18th century.

The luxurious former residential complex has become home to five differently themed museum areas, just waiting for your visit. See the rooms of Empress Maria Theresa, the 19th-century apartment of Empress Elisabeth, the Ancestral Gallery, the Furniture Museum, and the Painting Gallery. Each museum reflects various political, cultural and historical aspects of the Hofburg throughout the centuries. The Giant’s Hall and the Lorraine Room will also give you a sense of splendour and elegance.

Recommended tours

The Hofburg is the imperial palace in Heldenplatz square in the centre of Vienna, Austria. The Hofburg Palace built in the 13th century.

Stadtturm / City Tower

Innsbruck’s watchtower stands over the city, with a green copper dome. The tower was built in the 1400’s as an observation point monitoring the city for fires or intruders. An observation deck offers stunning views of Innsbruck and the surrounding mountains. You’ll have to climb 148 steps to see that view, though.

Seeking more of those great views over the city? Climb up the Town Tower. For only a few euros, you can go high above the Old Town and see things from a new perspective from the observation deck. The Stadtturm, as it’s known in German, is a watchtower from the 1400s, so you can imagine what it was like to be on the lookout for danger and be in charge of protecting the city during the Middle Ages.
Its 51-metre height may not seem anything special these days, but the stature was a point of pride for residents during the 1450s. 100 years after the tower’s initial construction, the delightful copper onion dome was built on top.

Recommended tours

NNSBRUCK AUSTRIA - - People in Innsbruck city center under Stadtturm tower. It is capital city of Tyrol in western Austria Europe.

Nordkette Mountain Range

Nordkette is the mountain range that looms over Innsbruck, and offers year-round recreation for residents and visitors alike. Even the ride up into the range is an adventure. First, you take a funicular to the Hungerburg station. Then two consecutive cable cars takes you to over 2,200 meters for incredible views. The single-track mountain biking trail is one of the most difficult in Europe, and rock climbing is also popular here. In the winter, some of the steepest trails for skiers and snowboards can be found here. If you’re here in the winter, don’t miss the Cloud 9 Igloo Bar, at the top of the first chairlift.

About 10 kilometres north of Innsbruck is the snow-capped Nordkette Mountain Range, part of the Karwendel chain of mountains in Austria and Germany. One of the top things to do in Innsbruck, Austria is to ride the cable car to the top of Nordkette. The 20-minute journey to the Hafelekar Peak at 2,250 metres requires a few changeovers: Begin at the Nordkette funicular and go to Hungerburg Station. Change here for the lift to Seegrube, then get on your final cable car to Hafelekar. The valleys below are absolutely breathtaking, so you won’t regret making the effort.

There are activities to do on Nordkette at any time of year, from rock climbing and hiking to skiing and snowboarding. You can also see the adrenaline junkies mountain biking along the Nordkette Singletrail, a challenging, high-alpine terrain recommended only for those with experience. Likewise, the steep Hafelekar Gully trail in the winter should only be tackled by expert skiers and snowboarders.

Recommended tours

Cable Car Round-Trip from Innsbruck to Hafelekar

Inn Valley as seen from Nordkette mountain and ski area in Tyrol region nord of Innsbruck in western Austria.

Hofgarten

A ten-hectare park next door to Altstadt, Hofgarten is a great respite from Innsbruck’s busy Old Town. Walking paths are lined with trees and a small river runs through the park. Although for the most part, these are formal gardens, there is a playground for children to enjoy. When you get thirsty, there’s also a beer garden in the Hofgarten.

Recommended tours

bavarian state chancellery building, Hofgarten, Munich, Germany

Hofkirche

Another famous church in Innsbruck is Hofkirche, a Gothic royal court church built in 1553. The site also contains a mausoleum with a tomb that was created for Emperor Maximilian I, although he’s not buried there as his life ended in scandal, so the tomb remains empty. The church also has life-size bronze statues of Maximilian’s ancestors and heroes, including King Arthur. You can choose from an audio guide or a guided tour for your visit to Hofkirche.

INNSBRUCK, AUSTRIA - The Innsbruck Hofkirche or Court Church is a Gothic church located in the Altstadt Old Town in Innsbruck, Austria

Tyrolean Folk Art Museum

Next to the Hofkirche is the Tyrolean Folk Art Museum, and a combo ticket can be purchased to access both attractions. Considered by many to be one of the best regional heritage museums in Europe, it contains an impressive collection of cultural artifacts from the Tyrol region. Exhibits include furniture and housing, clothing and costumes, all of which tell the anthropological story of how Tyrolean residents cooked, lived, and socialized over different periods of time.

Swarovski Crystal World

A short distance from Innsbruck is a museum of the Swarovski crystal company. The museum was created in 1995 and covers over seven hectares. It’s one of the most popular attractions in Austria, with over 13 million visitors since opening. The Crystal Cloud has 800,000 hand-mounted crystals suspended over a black mirror pool. The exhibits are indoors and outdoors, with four water shows. After strolling the grounds, allow some time to shop in the largest Swarovski store in the world, which features unique items only available in Austria.

Did you know that the world-famous Swarovski crystals are produced right outside of Innsbruck? 20 kilometres east of the city is Wattens, home to the Swarovski Crystal Worlds museum. You’ll be greeted into this world of art and design by a giant made from grass, with glistening jewel-like eyes and a water fountain from his mouth. The giant, designed by André Heller, watches over the Chambers of Wonder at the museum.

Internationally recognised artists have used crystals in their own ways to create 17 showrooms of art, each with a different theme and interpretation. Wondering which rooms you absolutely shouldn’t miss? The Crystal Dome follows the scientific principles of geodesy and utilises 595 mirrors to create the illusion of being inside an actual crystal. Lee Bul’s Into Lattice Sun is a utopian landscape that challenges one’s perception of vastness and depth, both literally and philosophically. The vibrant El Sol was inspired by the geometry of Aztec and Mayan pyramids, as well as artist Fernando Romero’s Mexican heritage. There’s also Silent Light, a spectacular yet eerie sparkling crystal tree, designed by Alexander McQueen and Tord Boontje.

The Swarovski Kristallwelten is a place to escape into a world of wonder and infinite possibilities. Once you’re done inside, you can explore more of the expansive garden outside. You’ll discover even more contemporary art installations and structures, including the extravagant Crystal Cloud and Mirror Pool.

Recommended Tours:

Park of Swarovski World Innsbruck - Austria

Kufstein

Another fun day trip from Innsbruck is the medieval town of Kufstein. Only 75 kilometers from Innsbruck, you can reach Kufstein from Innsbruck by train, and spend a day wandering the small town. The is marked by a fortress on a hill over the village, which is accessed by funicular or a footpath. In addition to the fortress, there’s a local history museum, narrow streets lined with traditional Tyrolean houses and the Riedel glass factory.

Castle Kufstein in Austria - architecture and travel background

Check out the Golden Roof

Interestingly, one of the top Innsbruck attractions is, in fact, a roof. This special Golden Roof, known in German as Goldenes Dachl, is decorated with 2,657 fire-gilded copper tiles that give the appearance of gold. This gesture to Emperor Maximilian I and Bianca Maria Sforza in honour of their wedding was completed in 1500. The balcony below the roof was frequently used by the two to watch over festivals and events happening in the square below.

You’ll spot this shining, shimmering roof any time you step foot in the historic Old Town. It has become a proud symbol of the city, so you certainly won’t be the only one stopping in admiration.

Famous golden roof in Innsbruck Austria - architecture background

See Emperor Maximilian’s cenotaph

The black and white Court Church was constructed in the 16th century in honour of Emperor Maximilian. It was designed in the traditional German hall church style with contemporary Renaissance and late Gothic influences.

Maximilian’s tomb made of black marble sits inside a cage within the church, guarded by 28 bronze statues. While the tomb itself is impressive, it’s completely empty! The emperor is actually buried in Wiener Neustadt at the Castle Chapel. You can, however, pay your respects to Andreas Hofer, a local Tirol hero who led a revolt against Napoleon in the early 19th century.  

INNSBRUCK, AUSTRIA - The Innsbruck Hofkirche or Court Church is a Gothic church located in the Altstadt Old Town in Innsbruck, Austria

Taste the local cuisine

There’s no shortage of welcoming, hearty restaurants to dine at in Innsbruck, but what should you order to get the local experience? One staple dish is Tirolean Speckknödel, round boiled bread and bacon dumplings consumed with a broth. Another favourite is Tiroler Gröstl, a satisfying fried dish of bacon, onion, potato and egg. If you’re vegetarian, order Kasspatzln, which are soft egg noodles with grated cheese and fried onion. Still hungry? Dig into some Schlutzkrapfen, a ravioli-style meal stuffed with potato and served sprinkled with herbs.

Any visit to Tirol also requires a bite of kiachl, a local fried yeast dough pastry. After dinner, indulge in moosbeernocken (a pancake-like treat made from bilberries) and strauben funnel cake.

closeup of a bavarian bacon dumpling in a broth

Walk through the underground mines

30 minutes east of Innsbruck is the Schwaz Silver Mine. These mines were one of the most productive in history, once employing over 7,000 people simultaneously. Get a sense of what it was like for medieval miners and travel 800 metres below the earth by train. Your tour guide will give you an understanding of what a day’s work down here was like 500 years ago in the search for silver and copper. It’s a fascinating tour that utilises light and sound effects to enhance your experience.

Schwaz, Austria - : Tourists explore the mine using mini railway through the tunnel at the Silver Mine (Silberbergwerk Schwaz), the biggest silver mine of the Middle Ages

Go on a day trip to the farms

37 historic farms at the Tirol Farmstead Museum offer an interesting insight into the area’s pre-industrial period. Visit preserved blacksmiths, mills, lumberjack huts and inns brought to Kramsach from neighbouring valleys. See how people once lived and worked through media installations and changing exhibitions detailing daily life. This spacious, open-air museum allows you to wander the three-kilometre circular path in your own time, with the option to take a two-hour-long guided tour as well.

an old wooden barn in Austria on a green vibrant pasture

Swim at Lake Achensee

Tirol’s largest lake is the beautiful Lake Achensee. If you’re visiting Innsbruck during the summer, head to Achensee for a day of swimming and scuba diving off the shore of Maurach. During the warmer months, the shallow waters remain a pleasant 20 to 22°C. Another fun option is to hire a pedalo or an electric boat to sightsee around the lake while staying dry. The southern inlet is surrounded by the luscious green Rofan Mountains, ensuring your dip in the lake is as relaxing and picturesque as possible.

Achensee ( Lake Achen) summer landscape with green meadow and wooden moorage (Austria).

Hunt for a bargain

Flohmarkt Hafen is one of Innsbruck’s weekend flea markets, set up near Inn River. Here you can pick up some unique souvenirs for cheap, including old postcards and vintage clothing. Stop by any Saturday from seven a.m. to two p.m. to grab yourself a bargain or two.

On Sundays, check out the Cyta Flohmarkt in the neighbourhood of Völs. From eight a.m. to one p.m. you’ll be able to peruse a wide variety of old and new treasures. In good weather, there’s a mobile coffee cart on site to get your early morning caffeine fix.

If you’re not in Innsbruck on the weekend but still want to find some vintage goods, you can try your luck at a few of the regular second hand stores. WARDROBE and Kostnix, both on Höttinger Gasse, have a funky selection of clothing and artwork to look through.

INNSBRUCK, AUSTRIA - Christmas market in the famous tale street of Innsbruck in Tyrol, Austria

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22 Things to do in Innsbruck - That People Actually Do!

22 Things to do in Innsbruck - That People Actually Do!

22 Things to do in Innsbruck - That People Actually Do!

Article written by:

Hi, my name is Samantha, Finance Managing Guru by day, Travel Blogging Enthusiast by... well... day too! Haha! Travelling King is the destination hotspot for the wannabe traveller! Showcasing affordable, luxurious getaways for the budget conscious!With the combination of my financial knowledge and travelling experiences I aim to show you, with a little planning, the right budget and a realistic goal you can fulfil your travel fantasies and explore the world whatever your budget or desires may be!