Travel Guide to Innsbruck, Austria

By Briana Seftel


Say guten tag to Innsbruck, the scenic capital of Tyrol, Austria. An ideal combination of breathtaking scenery and centuries-old history, Innsbruck can easily rival its more famous sister cities Vienna and Salzburg. Get the inn on Innsbruck with this helpful guide showing you what to see, where to eat and more.


What to Know

For a brief time in the 16th century, Innsbruck was the economic and political center of Europe. This small city nestled in the Austrian Alps became the residence of the Habsburg Empire, which then ruled most of the continent. Walking around the Old Town (Altstadt) today, you can sense the history and wealth and see why the Habsburgs were attracted to Innsbruck in the first place: its breathtaking scenery.

Innsbruck became internationally recognized when it hosted the Winter Olympics not once, but twice: in 1964 and 1976. Today, it is still considered one of Europe’s top destinations for winter sports. Just outside of the city, countless ski resorts offer visitors the ultimate Alpine winter fantasy, Olympic medal or not.


When to Go

The best times to visit Innsbruck are in the summer and winter - for very different reasons. Winter is an especially popular time to visit, when some of the world's best athletes descend upon the region for its perfect slopes and powdery snow. The city takes on a completely different look in the summer, when visitors can comfortably stroll around Old Town and enjoy outdoor dining, music festivals and gardens.


How to Get Around

When it comes to a compact city like Innsbruck, walking is simply the best way to get around. Biking is also very popular among locals, even in snow! For longer distances, the efficient bus network works perfectly.


Where to Eat

In Innsbruck, it would be a shame to miss out on typical Tyrolean cuisine. Sample regional specialties like Tiroler Gröstl and Speckknödel and wash it all down with the famous Tyrolean schnapps. Below are some of our favorite places to eat and drink in the city.

What to See

Goldenes Dachl

Innsbruck’s famous Golden Roof is one dazzling feature of the city you won’t want to miss. While many visitors choose to admire it from the outside, it’s actually worth going in the museum and climbing up the 148 steps to see the balcony where Maximilian I once stepped out on.


Ambras Castle

Located high above Innsbruck, Ambras Castle is sumptuous Renaissance palace built by Archduke Ferdinand II. The highlight during a visit is the Portrait Gallery in the Upper Castle, featuring over 200 paintings reflecting the reign of the Habsburg Dynasty.

Hofburg

Delve into Habsburg heritage at the Hofburg, Innsbruck’s Imperial Palace. Completed in the year 1500 under Emperor Maximilian I, the palace is home to several grand halls and rooms, a museum and gardens all reflecting the opulence of the era.

Nordkette Cable Car

Everywhere you look in Innsbruck, you’ll be surrounded by the Nordkette mountain range (often referred to the "Jewel of the Alps"). For one of the best vantage points in the city, hop on a cable car from the city center and enjoy the 20-minute ride up 6,560 feet to the summit. Thousands of feet above sea level, you’ll be able to admire stunning views of the city and surrounding Alps.


Tips and Tricks

  • Pay a visit to Grassmayr Foundry, which has been making sought-after handmade bells since 1599.

  • See if you can catch any ski jumpers practicing at the Bergisel ski jump, designed by famed architect Zaha Hadid.

  • As part of Tyrolean custom, if someone buys a round of drinks, that person has to be the first to drink.


Day Trips

Kufstein

At the foot of the Kaiser mountain range and halfway between Innsbruck and Salzburg sits the medieval town of Kufstein. Pay a visit to the massive fortress overlooking the town and take a look at Heldenorgel organ, the largest open-air organ in the world!

Swarovski Crystal Worlds

Just 20 minutes outside Innsbruck, Swarovski Crystal Worlds will surely dazzle you. The multi-sensory experience - part museum, part theme park and part art installation - celebrates the famed crystal house, established in 1895 by Daniel Swarovski. Of course, there’s plenty of opportunity for shopping here.

Lake Achensee

Tyrol's largest lake located in the heart of the Karwendel mountain chain, Lake Achensee makes for a wonderful day trip. Explore the lake and its beautiful surroundings by hiking, biking or car.

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