Innsbruck, the capital of Austria's Tirol region, really is the city for everyone. Where else can you have lunch in town, browse the shops and then move on to a mountain restaurant for a leisurely afternoon coffee? There are plenty of things to do in Innsbruck, Austria to keep you entertained, no matter what your interests.
Regardless of what time of year you plan to visit Innsbruck - summer, autumn, winter or spring - I’m sure you’ll fall in love with this beautiful city just as I have.
Things to Do in Innsbruck
When planning your Innsbruck sightseeing, your first port of call should be the charming Altstadt (Old Town), a small area of brightly painted medieval houses on cobblestone streets.
The main thoroughfare of the Old Town is the wide Herzog-Friedrich-Strasse, which opens out into a central plaza lined with arcades. Here you will find countless cafes and souvenir shops as well as an Innsbruck must see attraction, the Golden Roof (Goldenes Dachl).
A blend of Gothic and Baroque architecture, the Golden Roof was built in the early 15th century to serve as a royal box for Emperor Maximilian I so he could sit in luxury and watch tournaments in the square below!
The roof is capped with 2,657 gold-plated copper tiles and is an awesome sight.
Just a minute's walk from the Innsbruck Old Town is the elaborate Parish Cathedral St. Jakob. Based on designs by the Baroque architect, Johann Jakob Herkommer, the church was rebuilt between 1717 and 1724 on the site of an earlier Gothic church.
It is roofed with domes and has a lavish baroque interior. One of its chief treasures is a precious Madonna and Child on the main altar, painted by German master Lucas Cranach the Elder.
A wander round this elegant church will leave you in awe as you marvel at the intricate works of art.
Other interesting sights in Innsbruck include the Triumphal Arch, St. Anne’s Column (which stands on Maria-Theresien-Strasse), and City Tower (Stadtturm).
If you’re feeling energetic, climbing the 133 steps up the City Tower will reward you with great views over the city from the 31-metre-high viewing platform.
For those with a fascination for all things royal, you won’t be left wondering what to do in Innsbruck. It’s possible to visit both the Imperial Palace and Imperial Church (Hofkirche), not far from the Golden Roof, or go a little further from Innsbruck city centre to visit Ambras Palace, which is located in a spacious park just above Innsbruck.
Ambras Palace was built by Archduke Ferdinand II of Tirol in the 16th century and was his favourite residence. It is divided into a lower and an upper castle set in the remains of a medieval fortress.
The lower castle was constructed by the Archduke as a museum for his various collections, including arms and armour, art and books, all of which can still be seen today.
The upper part of the palace houses the Habsburg’s Portrait Gallery, an awe-inspiring collection of works by some of Europe's most famous artists.
Towering high above the city on Bergisel Hill sits the Bergisel Ski Jump, another of the most popular Innsbruck tourist attractions.
The first ski jump was erected here in 1925 and in 1964 and 1976, the Innsbruck Ski Jump was the venue of the Winter Olympic Ski Jumping competitions.
Even if you’re not into extreme sports like ski jumping (and I can’t blame you!), it’s worth taking the lift to the top of the tower for fantastic views over the city of Innsbruck.
If you would like to partake in some winter sports, Olympiaworld at Igls allows visitors the chance to have a go at ice skating and bob sledding.
Child-friendly activities in Innsbruck
If you are visiting Innsbruck with kids, head to Hungerburg, regarded as the Innsbruck mountain, where you’ll find Europe’s highest zoo, the Alpenzoo.
The Alpine Zoo is home to a large collection of alpine creatures, including bears and ibexes, and makes a great day out for the whole family.
To get there, you can walk up the hill to the zoo - just 20 minutes from the city centre - or take the Hungerburgbahn (funicular railway), which the kids are sure to love.
Another of the most popular Innsbruck things to do is to visit the Swarovski Crystal World at Hall, just 10 kilometres from Innsbruck. This multi-media museum features all things crystal and is set in a beautiful park.
Here you can discover the history of Swarovski crystal, enjoy lunch or a coffee and then shop to your heart's content in the large gift shop which stocks hundreds of beautiful Swarovski pieces, from jewellery to homewares and collectibles.
There's a great playground for kids, too.
After a day’s sightseeing, Innsbruck offers so much more. Perhaps you’re ready to put your feet up and relax.
Why not sit and people-watch at one of the lovely outdoor cafes along Maria Theresien Strasse or admire the brightly coloured buildings as you stroll along beside the River Inn?
If you’d prefer a break from the city, there are lots of alpine trails or crystal clear lakes, perfect for a refreshing dip, close to town and these make great day trips from Innsbruck.
Things to do in Innsbruck in winter
With the alps just a 25 minute funicular ride from the city centre, Innsbruck is definitely Europe's most versatile destination.
With an Olympic past as host of the Winter Games in 1964 and 1976, the Innsbruck ski resorts are well equipped to satisfy every level of skier.
Ten ski schools in and around Innsbruck cater to everyone from beginners to experts, and with skis, boots and all the other necessary equipment available for hire, you won't have to carry your gear all the way from home.
There are numerous rustic inns and mountain huts dotted across this unique Tyrolean region where you will receive a warm and hospitable welcome even in the cold of an Innsbruck winter.
If you’re planning a festive season break in Innsbruck, Christmas markets can be found below the Golden Roof and at Marktplatz alongside the River Inn.
Further reading: Best Places to Spend Christmas in Austria
More information about Innsbruck
The Innsbruck Tourist Office can provide more information on all of the sights and activities mentioned above. The office is located at Herzog-Friedrich-Straße 21 (near the Golden Roof) and is open Monday to Saturday from 9am to 6pm and Sunday from 10am to 4.30pm.
To help you plan what to see in Innsbruck before you arrive, you can browse an interactive Innsbruck tourist map here.
Where is Innsbruck?
The city of Innsbruck is located in the Tyrol region of Austria. It is 165 kilometres from Munich (Germany), 185 kilometres from Salzburg and 478 kilometres from the Austrian capital, Vienna.
How to get to Innsbruck
From Munich, Innsbruck is just 1 hour 30 minutes by train (services depart at least hourly), and 1 hour 50 minutes by car. Flixbus offers an hourly service with a journey time of around two and a half hours.
The fastest way to reach Innsbruck from Salzburg is by train - journey time 1 hour 50 minutes. Hourly services operate between the two cities.
Allow two hours if travelling by car.
Why not stop on the way from Salzburg to Innsbruck at Kitzbuhel, one of Austria's premier ski resorts, to admire the gorgeous Old Town?
If you prefer to take an organised tour, this Day trip to Innsbruck from Munich tour is a good option. Click here to check current prices.
If you’re short on time, regular flights operate between Vienna and Innsbruck and take 90 minutes.
A Vienna to Innsbruck train service operates every hour with a journey time of just over four hours.
Travellers coming from Switzerland should allow three hours thirty minutes for the Zurich to Innsbruck train ride (services every two hours).
Where to stay in Innsbruck
Whatever your budget, there are Innsbruck hotels and accommodation to suit every traveller. Three of the most popular hotels in Innsbruck are the 5* Grand Hotel Europa (click here for current prices), and the 4* Hotel Innsbruck (check prices here) and BW Goldener Adler (check prices here).
For more Innsbruck hotels (Old Town and city centre) and apartments, click here to browse ratings and current prices on Booking.com.
Handy travel planning resources for Innsbruck
I hope this list of things to do in Innsbruck has helped you plan your visit. Innsbruck is a beautiful city in a picturesque location and should definitely be included in your Austrian holiday itinerary.
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