I have always associated Innsbruck with winter sports, especially ski jumping. Since I prefer watching winter sports rather than playing them, I didn’t seriously think about visiting Innsbruck for a long period of time. Until I saw a picture of the iconic colorful houses of Innsbruck that caught my eye. I am sure that you know which one I have in my mind.
Yes, exactly this one.
After that, I seriously started thinking about visiting the city and I have waited for the first opportunity to do it. When I decided to visit Austria this year and travel with the Arlberg Railway, Innsbruck was without a doubt on my travel list. I have decided to spend a weekend there and then take the train to Bludenz in Vorarlberg region. Innsbruck is a spectacular destination that will surely leave impression on you. Actually, it became one of my favorite places in Austria so far! Looking through my eyes, it gave me a vibe of a small, charming town, but with lots to do.
In this post, I will show you the best places in Innsbruck that are worth visiting, even if you are limited by time.
In my opinion, all the so-called “must-see Innsbruck” attractions can be visited in one day. If you have two days, even better. You will be able to visit them more slow paced, without a hurry. Or you will be able to do some more activities. I have prepared an itinerary that is suitable for one full day in Innsbruck and I have also added a list of activities that you can enjoy if you stay an extra day.
In this itinerary you will learn all about:
- The details of how to spend your day (or more) in Innsbruck
- If you should get the Innsbruck Card
- How to get there
- Where to stay
Table of Contents
What to do in Innsbruck?
As the capital of Tyrol, Innsbruck has a lot to offer. And it doesn’t disappoint. The city offers a truly wide variety of activities for every taste. I didn’t manage to visit everything (due to lack of time), but I would love to return and spend some more time exploring Innsbruck. This time I would prefer summer time & summer activities.
There are so many fantastic things to do there! You will fill your schedule with no problem and you’ll be left wanting more.
ONE DAY IN INNSBRUCK
Like I’ve said before, you can visit all the must-do attractions in one day, but I recommend you that you make a plan before you go exploring. I will help you make the plan, so you will get the most out of your visit. If you have only one day, you should start you day early – by 9 o’clock at the latest.
Innsbruck Old Town
After breakfast at the hotel/apartment or in a café, spend your morning exploring Old Town – Altstadt. The Old Town of Innsbruck is one of the pretiest I’ve ever seen in Austria. You are surrounded with coloured buildings and by the mountains. The view of the colorful houses with a backdrop of snowcapped mountain peaks is just spectacular. You will also likely pass by the Triumphal Arch, an Roman-influenced archway from the 18th century.
You should really spend some time exploring the Old Town. I’ve loved walking through this part of the city. There are many attractions located there and you can easily walk between all of them. One of the most popular places to visit is the Golden Roof / Goldenes Dachl. Emperor Maximilian I had the Golden Roof built between 1497 and 1500. With its 2,657 gilded copper shingles and rich fresco and relief decoration, this was an eye-catcher when it was built and it still is. I have only admired this beautiful building from outside, but there is also a small museum inside.
Another popular location is the City Tower / Stadtturm. It is a 15th century watch tower and former prison, also with a small museum inside. You can climb up and you will be rewarded with amazing views of the city.
As you continue your journey from the center towards the Nordkettebahnen lower station, you will pass by the Hofburg Palace. I wanted to visit the Hofburg Palace but it was under renovation and I could only admire it from the outside. You should also check the Cathedral, once you are there. There is also the Innsbrucker Hofgarten – the city’s public garden and park & also one of the best free things to do. You might have the opportunity to see flowers in bloom. I was there in February when there is no flowers, but I believe that it looks magical in spring.
Once you are done with the the Old Town walk and you are finished with the Innsbrucker Hofgarten, just go across the street to the Congress Station, where you will catch the funicular to the Nordkette.
Nordkette is known as the jewel of the Alps and you should not miss it. It is one the most popular places to visit in Innsbruck and I can tell you that it is 100% worth visiting it. Taking the Nordkettebahnen / The Nordkette Cable Car is one the most memorable things to do. The views are spectacular! You should allow at least a few hours to visit Nordkette. The Nordkette Cable Car is included in the Innsbruck Card. If you don’t own one, you can buy the individual tickets. There are different options:
|TOP OF INNSBRUCK PLUS – ZOO + Cable Car Nordkette
|TOP OF INNSBRUCK – ROUND TRIP
|TOP OF INNSBRUCK – HAPPY HOUR – before 9:30 a.m. & after 3:00 p.m.
|COMBI-TICKET ALPINE ZOO
|INNSBRUCK-HUNGERBURG – ROUND TRIP
The Hungerburgbahn funicular is an experience on its own. It is an architectural masterpiece by architecture Zaha Hadid with amazing views. The funicular travels through a couple of small tunels. The line is mostly single-track, but on part of the line you meet a funicular traveling in the opposite direction – you can imagine how precisely is everything planned.
You will start the journey in the old town and travel to the top, where you will be able to enjoy in the views. But let’s go step by step.
You will go to the Congress station – the first station of the Hungerburgbahn. There is another station nearby – Innsbruck Löwenhaus. The journey continues and in a short period of time you will get to the station Alpenzoo. This is the station where you have to get off if you will also visit the Alpine Zoo. The Alpine Zoo is unique in that it focuses solely on the animals that inhabit in the Alps. If you visit in the Spring, you may be even able to see the baby animals. It is Europe’s highest themed zoo with 2.000 alpine animals from 150 different species.
If you have the ticket that includes the visit to the Zoo, this is it and you don’t have to do anything else. If you will take the happy hour ticket, be aware that there won’t be enough time to visit the Zoo and the Nordkette. When you are done with the Zoo, just wait for the Hungerburgbahn and go to the station Hungerburg. You can check out the panoramic views by the way and head over across Hermann Buhl Square to the cable car station where you can continue your journey up to the top.
Nordkette Cable Car
There you will have to get off the funicular and take a short walk to the cable car station. The cable car will take you to the Seegrube station at 1.905m in the first part and then you can take the cable car to the Top Of Innsbruck – the Hafelekar station which is at 2.256m above sea level.
From the Hafelekar station you can take the 10-15 minute walk to the highest viewing point at the 2.334m. To get to the Top of Innsbruck, follow the well constructed path, which starts directly at the Hafelekar station.
This is the impressive experience with amazing panorama of the city. When you arrive at Top of Innsbruck you will experience an impressive panorama consisting of the Capital of the Alps on one side and Austria’s largest nature park, the Karwendel, on the other. Due to short paths and easy-to-reach viewing points, everybody can experience the unique feelking and leave with a lasting mountain memory.
The Nordkette views. The weather was grumpy, I believe it look even more impressive when it’s sunny.
After you are done with the Nordkette visit, you can slowly return to the valley. One of the attractions that are worth visiting, is the Bergisel Ski Jump, so I suggest you that you can continue your visit with this.
Bergisel Ski Jump
The Bergisel Ski Jump was also the work of Zaha Hadid, one of the leading architects of our time, known for extreme avant-garde architecture and deconstructivistic designs with extraordinary visual effects. The total expense was around €15,6 millions. It can host up to 28.000 visitors.
The inrun of a ski jump features a plastic track. During the summer it is lubricated with water and in the winter it is covered with 30cm of packed snow. The inrun is 98 meters long and has a slope of up to 35°. Within 4 seconds after start the jumper reaches above 90 km/h. The jumping skis measure up to 3 meters in lenght and 11.5 cm in width depending on the height of the athlete. A special suit, jumping boots, safety binding, helmet, goggles and gloves complete the equipment. Since the winter season of 2004/05 the ski lenght is fitted to the body shape of the athlete by using the BMI.
The height of the tower is 50 m above ground level and the tip of the tower is located exactly 791 meters above sea level. The new jumping tower is 13 m higher than the previous one was. It has 3 levels – on level 1 there is a start area with jumping platforms, on level 2 there is Panorama Restaurant “Bergisel Sky” and on the level 3 there is the visitors platform.
The price without the Innsbruck Card: €10,00 for adults and €5,00 for children between 6 and 14 years.
- June-October: daily 09:00 – 18:00
- November-May: Wed-Mon 09:00 – 17:00, Tuesday day off
The 4 hill tournament takes place every year in January. The local jump record at Bergisel is held by Michael Hayböck with 138m (January 2015).
Assuming that you need a few hours for the old town, few hours for Nordkette and some time for the Bergisel and that you go for a break between the visits, you’ll probably have no more time in the first day. In the spring or summer time, you may have enough time to visit one more attraction, because the days are longer.
Extra day in Innsbruck
If you have an extra day or two in Innsbruck, you may think use this day to visit some more attractions. One of them is the Swarovski Kristallwelten / Swarovski Crystal Worlds where all the facets of crystalline colours and shapes cast their spell in the chambers of wonder and in the extensive garden. With the Innsbruck Card there is organised shuttle to the Kristallwelten.
Another place worth visiting is the Schloss Ambras / Ambras Castle – the first museum in the world. Ambras Castle ranks among the most important sights in Austria and is a one of the top destinations in Tyrol region. You can take a look at various exhibitions & collections.
Just 10 minutes by car from Innsbruck there is the Olympia mountain with its magnificent views. There are some family-friendly hiking trails: the Zirbenweg or Stone Pine trail, the Panoramic trail, the Jochleitensteig trai, Kofele’s Quiz hiking tour for children. There is also an Alpine garden. There were Winter Olympics in 1964 & 1976.
Is Innsbruck Card worth buying?
First of all, I have to make it clear that there is not only one Innsbruck Card, there are three different options. Let me explain it to you.
Types of the Innsbruck Card
- Innsbruck Welcome Card – the Welcome Card is provided with a stay of two nights and the Welcome Card plus with a minimum stay of three nights. Welcome Cards include some benefits – depending on the card there are some discounts included and services available.
- Ski Plus City Pass – the combination of a ski pass and sightseeing ticket in one.
- The Innsbruck Card – the one you will probably need. Free entry to some museums and attractions, free use of public transport, Sightseer hop-on hop-off bus and one journey (upward + downward) on cable car included. The card can be purchased for 24, 48 or 72 hours.
|Child 5-16 yrs
I wouldn’t be looking for a hotel with intention to get the Welcome Card. Once you have your accommodation chosen, you can simply ask the hotel if they offer it and you will receive it at check in if they do.
So, is The Innsbruck Card worth it? Depending especially on what you want to see in Innsbruck and how much time do you have for exploring Innsbruck. It can be a pretty good deal and you can get your money worth out of it. But in some cases it can be more expensive than buying individual tickets.
If you are planning to visit the Nordkette Cable Car and any other attraction, it is worth it. Especially if you plan to visit even more sights (and I believe that you do). Then it pays off even more. If you don’t want to take the Nordkette Cable Car (or if the weather is too bad) or if you don’t have enough time, then you should think about getting individual tickets.
You can buy it online, in the Tourism Offices, in hotels, ticket offices of major attractions, the Trafik Shop at the airport & at the train station. I recommend that you do not buy it in advance, because it is difficult to predict what the weather will be like. If you don’t go to the Nordkette due to bad weather, the purchase is mostly not worth it.
Be sure that you get the right one!
How to get there?
There are several ways to get to Innsbruck. Fortunately, cities in Austria are very accessible even if you travel by public transport. If you don’t have your own vehicle, the easiest way to get there is by plane or train. The airport is located near the city center and is well connected to the city by bus.
The same applies for the train station. You will probably arrive at Innsbruck HBF (main station), from where you can get anywhere in the city by tram or bus. Ticket valid for one trip will cost you 2.80€, 24h ticket will cost you 6.10€. You can get the ticket in one of many pre-purchasing points or from the ticket machines (trust me, there are many ticket machines).
If you will buy Innsbruck card, there is no need to get a ticket, because it is included in the price already.
Innsbruck Transport – IVB (Innsbrucker Verkehrsbetriebe)
With the Innsbruck Card you can use all of Innsbruck’s buses and trams (IVB) free of charge in Innsbruck’s central area and various bus services for journeys between Innsbruck and Hall. There is also included travel on Sightseer bus, the Nightliner, Crystal Worlds shuttle and scenic tram route 6 to Igls.
You can check the lines, timetables and the tickets here.
Where to stay?
There is a huge amount of accommodation in the city, suitable for different budgets. I decided for the Rufi’s Hotel, which is in the middle price range. The hotel is 10-minute walk away from the city centre and there is airport very close to the hotel. I was even lucky enough to do some plane spotting directly from my room.
When choosing a hotel, for me it is really important that there is public transport nearby. Directly in front of the hotel is a bus stop where the R bus stops. This one also goes to the main train station, which was very helpfull in my case.
Planning a trip to Austria?
If you are planning a trip to Austria or you’re thinking about visiting Austria soon, here are some more blog posts about places I’ve visited that might help you:
- Feldkirch – a beautiful medieval town in Arlberg province
- Bludenz, Austria – 5 Best Things To Inspire Your Visit
- Christmas Market in Graz – The Loveliest Time Of The Year
- Salzburg: The Best Things To Do