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A Complete Travel Guide to Innsbruck, Austria: 12 Best Things to Do in the Charming Old City

A Complete Travel Guide to Innsbruck, Austria: 12 Best Things to Do in the Charming Old City

Everything you need to know including what to do, when to visit, where to eat and where to stay
Alexander & VictoriaHi! We're Alex & Victoria - a digital nomad couple from Copenhagen escaping 9-5 to chase adventures in our beautiful world. Learn more about us here.
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The capital of the mountains

Innsbruck is the sophisticated, bustling small-town capital of Tyrol in western Austria holding everything you might need while giving you access to endless adventures in the great outdoors.

The Nordkette Range with its tall, dramatic spires looms high over the soothing river running through the city, perfectly capturing the vast range of experiences on offer here.

Not only is Innsbruck incredibly tourist-friendly with world-class attractions for all tastes, it’s also simply very liveable.

Be careful not to get stuck here if you have anywhere else you need to be!

We really enjoyed our time in Innsbruck and hope this travel guide gives you an overview of why you might like it, too.

Innsbruck by the river with mountain views
Innsbruck is also called the capital of the alps, and it’s obvious why.

Why visit Innsbruck

Being the main transport hub of the larger Tyrol region in Austria, Innsbruck is perfectly located to explore the vast expanse of stunning mountains, alpine lakes and peaceful meadows.

Innsbruck by itself is large enough to warrant a few days of city exploring with all of its cultural attractions and great food, but most people go here to at least pair their city break with some outdoor activities.

It’s quite rare to find a town of this size and service level so close to raw nature.

Hiking is accessible at all levels and cable cars can help everyone enjoy the majestic views from up high.

Daredevils might try their hand at mountain biking or climbing, and in winter the whole region transforms into a skiers paradise with an almost endless amount of prepared slopes.

Victoria at Nordkette
Explore the mountains by day.
Charming Innsbruck street
And enjoy the charming city by night.

Map

Innsbruck takes its name from the river Inn which splits the city in two. “Bruck” means bridge.

Geographically, Innsbruck is located at 574 metres above sea level with mountain ranges to both the north and the south.

Where to stay in Innsbruck

Innsbruck is a relatively small “big” city, so as long as you base yourself in Innsbruck, you can probably walk mostly everywhere or use public transport to quickly get around.

With that said, almost all of the city’s attractions are centred around the Old Town, so basing yourself here can make for a lot less time getting to and from where you want to go.

Especially so if you’re only in Innsbruck for a few short days.

We personally chose to stay near the central station to still be within walking distance to everything while saving a little bit of money compared to staying in the Old City – although the area arguably isn’t as nice.

Search for the best value accommodation in Innsbruck here.



Booking.com

Morning Innsbruck
Waking up to views like this in Innsbruck felt magical.

Luxury: AC Hotel by Marriott Innsbruck

Located next to the Triumphal Arc, AC Hotel by Marriott is just on the outskirts of the Old Town. For walking around Innsbruck, this is ideal.

There are other 4-star hotels in the city, but we think this looks like the best one.

The rooms are beautifully designed, people rave about the quality of the breakfast buffet and the service level is consistently high.

AC Hotel by Marriott in Innsbruck also offers a fitness room and a sauna.

Check prices and availability at AC Hotel by Marriott.

AC Hotel by Marriott
The 4-starred AC Hotel by Marriott has an ideal location and modern rooms. ©AC Hotel by Marriott

Value for money: Nala Individuellhotel

Nala Individuellhotel is an oasis in the middle of the city.

The green garden looks incredibly inviting and the whole hotel is designed to be relaxing.

Most of the rooms aren’t huge, but they have all the amenities you expect including bonuses like soundproofing, allergy-friendly furniture and unique designs.

If you’re looking for a value-for-money place to stay in Innsbruck in walking distance to everything, Nala Individuellhotel is a great option.

Check prices and availability at Nala Individuellhotel.

Nala Individuellhotel
Nala Individuellhotel is a great value-for-money place to stay in Innsbruck. ©Nala Individuellhotel

Budget: Haidegger Appartements

For travelling on a budget to Innsbruck, consider staying at Haidegger Appartements.

There is free parking on the street as well as a free bus at the doorstop that takes you into central Innsbruck in just 15 minutes.

The location outside the city gives you amazing views towards the mountains.

Each studio apartment comes with a well-equipped kitchen, further helping you to reduce the price of your stay, as well as a private bathroom and a balcony.

Check prices and availability at Haidegger Appartements.

Haidegger Appartements
15 minutes from Innsbruck, you can stay with beautiful mountain views at Haidegger Appartements. ©Haidegger Appartements

12 best things to do in Innsbruck

Here are the 12 best things to do in Innsbruck, Austria.

  1. Old Town
  2. The Golden Roof
  3. Maria-Theresien Strasse
  4. Triumphal Arch
  5. Imperial Palace
  6. Tyrol Panorama Museum
  7. Other museums in Innsbruck
  8. Nordkette
  9. Bergisel Ski Jump
  10. Parks and walks
  11. Churches
  12. Stubai Valley

1. Old Town (Altstadt)

A UNESCO World Heritage site, the old town of Innsbruck, which is also known as the Altstadt, is a must-visit.

Being the cultural and geographical heart of Innsbruck, it’s impossible to miss.

The Old Town has been beautifully preserved with buildings that date back to medieval times, giving it a very cosy, authentic feel.

The Old Town of Innsbruck
The Old Town of Innsbruck.
The Old Town of Innsbruck buildings

2. The Golden Roof

The Goldenes Dachl (“little golden roof”) is probably Innsbruck’s most famous attraction.

2,657 fire-gilt copper tiles adorn the roof making it exceptionally shiny.

Don’t just come here for the roof. Make sure to also look up around you as some of the most charming buildings and lovely old streets are in its vicinity.

Golden Roof
Remember your sunglasses!
Golden Roof Innsbruck

3. Maria-Theresien-Strasse

Maria-Theresien-Straße is the commercial centre of Innsbruck and also a must-visit while in Innsbruck.

The baroque architecture is revered and makes for a stunning foreground to the mountains.

Do some shopping, sit at an outdoor café or simply get a feel for the small-town hustle and bustle of Innsbruck here.

Maria-Theresien-Straße
From Maria-Theresien-Straße, you can see the Nordkette mountain range tower above Innsbruck to the north and to the south you can see the famed Bergisel Ski Jump.
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4. Triumphal Arch

Located just south of the Old Town of Innsbruck, the Triumphal Arch from 1765 used to be the southern entrance to the city.

There’s not much to “do” here exactly, but it’s a cool photo spot.

The Triumphal Arch in Innsbruck with the Nordkette Range behind it
The Triumphal Arch in Innsbruck with the Nordkette Range behind it.
The Triumphal Arch in Innsbruck with the Nordkette Range behind it Victoria at the Triumphal Arch

5. Imperial Palace

The Imperial Palace (Kaiserliche Hofburg) has returned to its former glamour after extensive restoration work and now gives a unique insight into the lives of Innsbruck’s former emperors and empresses.

A must-visit if you (like Victoria) are into tv shows like The Crown and Bridgerton – or if you just enjoy sumptuous luxury in general (just take a look at that main hall!)

Imperial Palace
Unfortunately, it’s not allowed to photograph the inside of the Imperial Palace. But here it is from the outside.

6. Tyrol Panorama Museum

We also visited the Tyrol Panorama Museum, located within walking distance just south of town with stunning views over the roofs of Innsbruck as well as the mountains.

The museum is mainly famous for the Innsbruck Giant Panorama Painting taking up the whole 360 degrees in a round room with a total size of more than 1,000 square metres of canvas. Quite impressive.

Innsbruck Giant Panorama Painting
If you like history and culture, the Innsbruck Giant Panorama Painting is a no-brainer to visit.
Innsbruck Giant Panorama Painting
It’s gigantic.
Views from the museum
The views from the museum over the city are quite good.
Views

7. Other museums in Innsbruck

For the culturally inclined (or for those rainy days) there are lots of other museums to visit in Innsbruck.

Here are a few of them:

  • Ambras Castle is a Renaissance castle showcasing past decadence, located on a hill about an hour of walking or a 20-minute tram ride from the Old Town.
  • In The Audioversum, it’s all about science and wonder. The interactive museum lets guests experiment with new ways of listening.
  • Museum of Tyrolean Folk Art is just that – a museum collecting and showcasing the most important cultural treasures from Tyrol. It’s considered one of the finest heritage museums with a regional focus in Europe.
  • For glitter, head to Swarowski World. Several crystal rooms showcase different artists’ interpretations. The Giant at the entrance is a sort of landmark for the attractions of Innsbruck.
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8. Nordkette

The mountain range of Nordkette (also called the jewel of the alps) stands tall above Innsbruck and can be reached directly from the city centre.

The Hungerburg funicular takes you from the river to Hungerburg in just 8 minutes. From here you can take the Seegrube to an altitude of 1,905 metres and from there go all the way to the top of the line with the Hafelekar to 2,256 metres.

It’s a lot easier than it probably sounds.

Up here the views really open up on both sides, allowing you to see across Austria’s largest nature park, the Karwendel Nature Park, to the north, and the city including the Stubai Valley to the south.

In October, it was quite warm on the lower two levels, but we were glad we had brought warm clothes for the top where the wind was quite fierce.

Even in summer, we imagine packing layers is a good idea.

Nordkette views
How couldn’t you love views like these?
Nordkette Range Insta spot
The Nordkette Range is the city’s natural skyscrapers and stands guard over Innsbruck.
Innsbruck from above in autumn
Innsbruck from above in autumn.
Alex in Innsbruck
Top top of Innsbruck
Top top of Innsbruck.
Nordkette
Looking north.
Nordkette views
The Nordkette Singletrail is considered to be one the most difficult mountain bike trails of its kind in Europe.
Nordkette views
Suddenly, the light turned wild.
Nordkette views Nordkette views

9. Bergisel Ski Jump

Home to one of the 4 ski-jumping competitions of the 4 Hills Tournament every year, the Bergiselschanze ski jumping facility in Innsbruck is a must to visit for ski-jumping enthusiasts.

Open daily, you can tour the entire facility, including the funicular, the tower lift, the panoramic café and the terrace on the jumping tower with great views over the city.

The Bergisel Ski Jump seen from below
The Bergisel Ski Jump seen from below.

10. Parks and walks

For a more down-to-earth experience than ski jumping, head to one of Innsbruck’s many parks and gardens.

Rapoldi Park, for example, is centrally located by the river and offers plenty of opportunities for having a relaxing time.

Simply walking along the river on both sides is also a favourite pastime for locals and visitors alike which we also personally enjoyed.

River Inn
Hanging out by the river is popular on sunny days like this.

11. Churches

For an even more spiritual experience, head to one of Innsbruck’s fine churches.

The Hofkirche (Court Church) is centrally located and just as lavish as the name suggests.

Innsbruck Cathedral (Dom zu St. Jakob) is also very pretty, as is the Wilten Abbey Basilica.

Wilten Abbey Basilica
The Wilten Abbey Basilica is ideally located if you’re heading from the Old Town to the Tyrol Panorama Museum.
Inside Wilten Abbey Basilica
Inside Wilten Abbey Basilica.

The Innsbruck Card

If you intend to experience just a few of Innsbruck’s attractions, the Innsbruck Card will quickly become your friend.

Valid from 24 to 72 hours, with prices from €49 to €66 per adult (half for children aged 6-15), the card gives you free entrance to pretty much every attraction you might be interested in visiting including public transport in Innsbruck and entrance to the Nordkettenbahnen (which is €40 by itself).

In other words, the card will pay for itself in no time.

Here’s the official list of all the attractions and services included in the Innsbruck Card.

12. Stubai Valley

While we visited Tyrol, we also spent a few days in the Stubai Valley, located very close to Innsbruck.

Getting here is easy and in no time a whole world of mountain adventures open up. It’s wonderful.

Hiking is probably the most popular activity here, and there are trails for all seasons and levels. The views are gorgeous everywhere here.

In winter, skiing is the name of the game and on the Stubai Glacier, you can usually ski all the way from October to June.

Read more about what to do in Stubai in our guide to visiting the valley here.

Alex hiking Stubai
Hiking in Stubai in autumn was perfect.
Stubai Valley
Sun in the valley and snow on the mountains. So good!
Skiing in Stubai
Skiing on the Stubai Glacier.

Where to eat in Innsbruck

Though the alp region’s traditional fare is not particularly famous for its use of vegetables (quite the opposite…), there are plenty of healthy, green meals to be had in Innsbruck.

You’ll find most restaurants and cafés in or near the Old Town.

Here are our 4 favourite places to eat in Innsbruck:

  • Green Flamingo – 100% vegan, 100% tasty.
  • Verenas – Breakfast, vegan cakes & coffee.
  • Vapiano – Italian dining with vegan options.
  • Cigköftem – All-vegetarian Turkish snacks.

Read more about where to eat in Innsbruck in our vegan eating guide here for the best restaurants and cafés.

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Burrito up-close
A filling vegan burrito from Green Flamingo in Innsbruck.

How to get around Innsbruck

Being a small and compact city, Innsbruck is very walkable. There are sidewalks everywhere.

Public transport is also readily available.

The tram is the vehicle of choice for getting around quickly. Using the tram system to get to the mountain village of Igls or to Fulpmes in the Stubai Valley are popular, cheap excursions.

The bus system is also easy to navigate and runs all night.

Waling in Innsbruck
Walking around Innsbruck is delightful – especially when the autumn colours pop like this!

How to get to Innsbruck

Innsbruck Airport (Kranebitten Airport) is located just a few kilometres west of the city and serves both regional and international flights with connections to the rest of Europe.

The central train station (Innsbruck Hauptbahnhof) is one of Austria’s busiest train stations and from here you can also travel all over Austria and Europe by train. OBB is the national railway company of Austria.

Long-distance busses also tend to stop near the central station.

If you stay centrally in Innsbruck and travel in your own car, parking can be expensive. We parked our car in the car park below the central station. Here you’ll also find a free charging station for your EV.

Street parking Innsbruck
Finding street parking can be tricky in central Innsbruck, so plan accordingly.

When to visit Innsbruck

Innsbruck can be visited in all seasons. But what’s the best season?

It’s up to your needs and wants. There are four distinct seasons in the alps, each with its own pros and cons.

Summer is ideal for hiking with warmer temperatures, but can also get crowded.

Winter is a beautiful time to visit and optimal for skiing in the region.

In between in the low seasons, you get less snow or sun, but you can easily get lucky with both (as we have written about in our travel guide to visiting Tyrol in Autumn) as well as deal with fewer crowds. Prices are also lower.

  • Summer (high season): July & August.
  • Autumn (low season): September & October.
  • Winter (high season): November, December, January, February, March & April.
  • Spring (low season): May & June.
Innsbruck in autumn foliage
We visited Innsbruck in October and enjoyed sunny weather in the city and snow on the peaks.
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6 budget tips for travelling in Innsbruck

  1. Travel in low season (September, October, May and June). Accommodation prices are lower, offers might be had and there are fewer tourists.
  2. Book your hotel well in advance. Even in the low season, the best accommodation offers tend to get snatched up quickly.
  3. Consider renting a small studio apartment with a kitchen. Eating out in Innsbruck is delicious but can also quickly eat into your budget.
  4. Drink tap water. Not only is it better for the planet, it’s also better for your wallet. The tap water in Innsbruck is perfectly safe. So bring a refillable bottle.
  5. Walk, walk and walk some more. Walking around Innsbruck is free, easy and good for your soul. You’ll find many hidden gems along your path.
  6. Consider getting the Innsbruck Card if you intend to visit more than one attraction and use public transport to get around. The savings can be considerable.

What to bring to Innsbruck

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Minimise your impact

To minimise your impact during your visit, follow these guidelines:

  • Avoid single-use plastics, including straws.
  • Dispose of waste properly.
  • Bring your own drinking water in a refillable bottle.
  • Take only photos, leave only footprints. Let everything stay in its natural place. No stone-throwing or stacking.
  • Be considerate of other visitors.
  • Respect wildlife.
Thanks for reading

Thanks for getting all the way to the end.

We hope this city guide has been useful for your travel planning! What do you think about Innsbruck?

If you’ve been to the Tyrolean capital, it would be awesome to hear your best tips in the comments. Any hidden gems we missed?

If you haven’t been yet, please don’t hesitate to ask us anything. We’re only glad to help.

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