Innsbruck in Austria is a pretty special city. Surrounded by mountains, it's loved by hikers, mountain bikers, skiers, and snowboarders alike. But even if you're not feeling active, there are plenty of things to do in Innsbruck even in winter.
- Things to do in Innsbruck Austria
- 1. Wander through the Old Town
- 2. Take a photo of the colorful houses of St Nicholas
- 3. Visit the market hall
- 4. Admire the Golden Roof
- 5. Visit the Folk Art Museum and the Hofkirche
- 6. Get a glimpse of the Imperial Palace
- 7. Go up the terrace of the House of Music
- 8. Take the cable car up the Nordkette
- 9. Visit Ambras Castle
- 10. Have dinner at restaurant aDLERS
- 11. Visit the interactive Audioversum Museum
- 12. Go up the Bergisel ski jump and have lunch with a view
- 13. Enjoy the view on top of a shopping mall
- 14. Choose 1 out of 20 strudels
- Things to do near Innsbruck
- The Innsbruck Welcome Card
- How to get to Innsbruck
- Where to stay in Innsbruck
Things to do in Innsbruck Austria
1. Wander through the Old Town
If you're visiting Innsbruck for the first time, I highly recommend just going for a wander through the streets of the Old Town. The buildings here are beautiful, all in different colors and many looking very stately.
Definitely make sure to check out Munding. This traditional pastry shop is worth a visit all-year-round but especially during the Christmas season when it converts its windows into the windows of an advent calendar.
2. Take a photo of the colorful houses of St Nicholas
Located by the river Inn, the colors of these houses refer to the crafts of the people who lived in them in medieval times. They make for a great photo backdrop.
3. Visit the market hall
Also located by the Inn, is Innsbruck's modern-looking market hall. I liked it because the stands inside all look a little different and the produce sold here is local. If you're hungry or thirsty, there are also a few stands here where you can sit down to re-energize.
4. Admire the Golden Roof
The Golden Roof or “Goldenes Dachl” is one of Innsbruck’s and Austria’s most famous attractions. It’s not easy to miss – a large shining facade at the end of Herzog-Friedrich-Strasse in the old town.
The Goldenes Dachl was completed in 1500 to mark the marriage of Emperor Maximilian I to Bianca Maria Sforza. 2,657 fire-gilded copper tiles cover the roof, which sits on top of an ornate balcony. The walls and balcony are covered in decorative frescoes, sculpted reliefs, and impressive pillars.
Without question, this is best to see on a sunny day. The sunlight reflecting off the golden roof sets off the color and the result is stunning.
5. Visit the Folk Art Museum and the Hofkirche
The Folk Art Museum and the Hofkirche form one attraction in that you pay one fee at the same cash register to get in.
The Folk Art Museum
The Tyrolean Folk Art Museum is a highly respected heritage museum that showcases the ways and means of Tyrolean daily life. It’s housed in a former Franciscan monastery right next to the Hofkirche.
The permanent exhibition stores cultural treasures such as traditional costumes, handicrafts, pottery, textiles, tools, and artisanal folk art.
Unfortunately, we didn’t have much time for this museum. We only got to check out the year-round Nativity Scenes exhibition which has a huge selection of crib art from the 18th century onwards.
In the Hofkirche, you can find no less than 28 bronze statues. These bronze statues are mostly about 2 meters / 6.6 feet high and were built in the first half of the 16th century by numerous artists. They surround the sarcophagus of Emperor Maximilian I, which is an embellished black marble centerpiece, and a great example of German Renaissance sculpture.
The Court Church was commissioned in 1553 by Emperor Ferdinand I, Maximilian’s grandson. Weirdly, Emperor Maximilian’s tomb is actually empty – his remains were buried in Wiener Neustadt, where the foundations weren’t strong enough to carry the weight of this ornate cenotaph.
A must-see here is the Silver Chapel or “Silberkapelle”. It’s a small side chapel where you can find a magnificent silver altar to the Madonna alongside the tomb of two more important people – Archduke Ferdinand II and his wife Philippine Welser.
6. Get a glimpse of the Imperial Palace
One of Austria’s most important historical buildings, the Imperial Palace or Hofburg was once the royal residence of the Hapsburgs and exploring it is one of the best things to do in Innsbruck.
Today you can see the Rennplatz square out the front, the grandiose Gothic Cellar, the room used for displaying hunting trophies called the Kürnstube, the Silver Chamber treasury, the Festival Hall and much more.
The Imperial Palace was closed when I was in Innsbruck so I didn’t get the chance to see it, so I’ll need to go back and visit it another time.
7. Go up the terrace of the House of Music
It's worth checking out the program at the Haus der Musik or House of Music when you visit Innsbruck. If you don't or there's nothing on that you'd like to see, I'd still recommend taking 10 minutes for this building because it has a terrace that gives you the above view of the city.
Alright, it's not as amazing as the view from the Nordkette which we'll see next, but it's free and super easy to fit into your schedule.
All you need to do is walk in and take the elevator to the 5th floor. There's one terrace right in front of you when you get out and then there's another if you go right and turn the corner. This is a bit of a secret Innsbruck attraction so shhht, don't tell anyone ;-)
8. Take the cable car up the Nordkette
I'd already taken the cable car up the Nordkette once when I visited Innsbruck in summer but to do so in winter, looking down on a snow-covered landscape, was definitely different.
From the top, we could now see skiers sliding down where we'd seen mountain bikers in summer and the grass that surrounds the wooden bench overlooking the city was now hidden under at least 30 cm of snow.
One stop down, the terrace of the Seegrube Restaurant was still as busy as it had been that beautiful summer day. We got so lucky with the weather on this trip that we could actually eat outside in the summer. Can you imagine that? Eating outside in February and getting a tan while doing so?
Bliss, and something you really have to do during your Innsbruck visit.
9. Visit Ambras Castle
In the hills above Innsbruck is Ambras Castle or “Schloss Ambras”. Sadly I didn’t have time to go on this trip but I would love to make it up there some other time.
The Renaissance Ambras castle was the family residence of Archduke Ferdinand II between 1567 and 1595, but today you can look around the world-famous Habsburg Portrait Gallery which houses over 200 paintings. These include work by Rubens, van Dyck, Velásquez and so many more. It’s also home to the oldest collection of armor, books, and art in Europe.
In the upper part of Schloss Ambras, you can find the Saint George Altar of Emperor Maximilian I. There’s also the opulent Spanish Hall with its Renaissance murals and ornamented wood ceiling.
10. Have dinner at restaurant aDLERS
Restaurant aDLERS was another place I revisited this trip and another place that offered an entirely different experience in winter. On our summer trip, we enjoyed our dinner from the terrace on the 12th floor, overlooking the city while the sun descended behind the mountains.
This time, we were seated inside where we could see the lights of the city twinkle behind the window.
What hadn't changed, was the quality of the food and the service. The staff at aDLERS is friendly without being too present (you know what I mean) and the food is excellent.
As far as the prices go, they're very reasonable too. I don't think you'd pay “only” €22 for a fish main course at a restaurant overlooking the city with impeccable service in many other places.
11. Visit the interactive Audioversum Museum
For something different, spend the morning at the Audioversum. This museum is all about sound and hearing and the permanent exhibition is set up in such a way that you can really experience the things you learn.
Feel how sound vibrates, try to guess where certain sounds come from and follow the birds based on their chirping. Sounds weird? I promise you it's so much fun.
Aside from the permanent exhibition, the Audioversum also had two temporary exhibitions on. One was a photography exhibition which was worth a look, the other was a more historical exhibition which we both felt was more aimed at schools and kids and not so very interesting.
12. Go up the Bergisel ski jump and have lunch with a view
Bergisel Hill has been the site of a ski jump since 1925, but Iraqi-born architect Zaha Hadid was recently commissioned to reconstruct it in the early 2000s.
The Bergisel ski jump now has a stadium capacity of 26,000 and is internationally important, hosting the annual Four Hills Tournament. It's truly one of the things to see in Innsbruck.
When visiting the Bergisel ski jump, you can basically walk all around the terrain. A cable car takes you up to a viewing platform midway and then all the way up to Restaurant SKY. There you can have a meal, a snack, or just a drink.
We enjoyed lunch there with a view of the ski jump and I must say I can highly recommend the Caesar salad with chicken. If you're even the tiniest bit of a cake fan, you have to try the Bergiseltorte. It's a cake in the shape of the ski jump!
13. Enjoy the view on top of a shopping mall
If you're still wondering what to see in Innsbruck, head to Lichtblick. Lichtblick is a small round bar offering a 360° view on top of the RathausGalerien in the center of Innsbruck. You can get there by taking the elevator up to the fifth or sixth floor (there are two elevators and one goes a floor less high) and then taking the escalator to the top.
From Lichtblick, you can even climb one floor higher to an actual viewing platform. Make sure to look through the binoculars as they tell you what you're seeing when you're looking at it. Pretty cool!
14. Choose 1 out of 20 strudels
At Strudel Cafe Kroll, you can choose between 20 different kinds of strudels – both salty and sweet. I enjoyed a classic apple strudel while my friend Katrin ordered one with meat and pasta. We were both very happy with our choice.
Of and if you're not into strudels: Strudel Cafe Kroll has other types of pastries too. You can both eat in here or have your treat to take away.
Things to do near Innsbruck
1. Visit the Swarovski Crystal park
I had so looked forward to visiting the Swarovski Kristallwelten in Wattens near Innsbruck on this trip. I'd seen the photos of the waterfall coming out of the big head and the shiny exhibitions but didn't really know much else about the place.
Well, it didn't disappoint.
The Swarovski “crystal worlds” consists of an indoor and an outdoor part. The indoor part takes you through “rooms of wonder” where artworks of crystal are exhibited in all kinds of shapes and forms, from a big crystal dome that mirrors you multifold to large sculptures, and a forest of crystal.
It's a place that makes you go “ooh” and “aaah”, with plenty of photo opportunities.
Outdoors, you can take a walk through the garden with its massive crystal cloud, playground, sculptures and carousel. You can even go for a ride on the carousel which we totally did. It made us feel all giddy and like a kid again.
And of course, there's a very large Swarovski store where you can get your bling even if you don't have a ticket to the museum.
Want to visit the Kristallwelten? Buy your ticket online.
2. Visit the igloo village in Kühtai
Sparkling in another kind of way is the Iglu-Dorf in Kühtai, about an hour by bus from Innsbruck. From afar, the “village” looks rather small but when we got there, we were surprised at how spacious the rooms, the restaurant, and the bar were.
Each year, the village is built in a different way, according to a different theme. All the rooms are unique but fit within that theme. There are rooms for up to four people which also serve as dorms if you're not coming as a group and there are also romantic rooms for two.
When you stay at the Iglu-Dorf, you don't just spend the night in an igloo. You go for a snowshoe hike, have dinner at the igloo restaurant, dance in the bar area and have some sauna time to warm up before you slip into the warm sleeping beds.
Breakfast is provided at a cafe nearby.
While you obviously need a reservation for the rooms, the bar and restaurant are open to anyone but I do recommend making a reservation for the restaurant as it can fill up quickly, especially when all the rooms are booked.
Also good to know is that the team at the Iglu-Dorf cares deeply about working with the local community as well as in an environmentally-friendly way. The furniture and doors you see are handmade by the team and lots of the food served comes from farmers in the area.
Just ask a staff member and they'll excitedly tell you all about it. You'll notice: this place is run with love.
The Innsbruck Welcome Card
If you're planning lots of activities in Innsbruck, have a look at the Innsbruck Welcome Card. This includes:
- free use of the ski bus
- free ice skating in three arenas
- free cross-country skiing in the Innsbruck region
- 10 to 50% discounts on various other activities
- free travel on selected VVT buses within the Innsbruck holiday region
You can find more information on the official website;
How to get to Innsbruck
To get to Innsbruck, I took a night train for the first time! When I traveled, Nightjet offered a direct connection between Brussels and Innsbruck – and also between Brussels and Vienna, by the way.
At the moment, the direct train between Innsbruck and Brussels doesn't run anymore but you can still take a night train to Cologne and then switch to Innsbruck there. You can book a regular seat in a seating carriage, a seat/bed in a shared sleeper cabin, or a private sleeper cabin.
We did the latter and I have to say the journey was way more comfortable than I'd imagined. When we boarded, someone came to ask what time we wanted our beds to be made and how late we wanted breakfast.
When you book a private sleeper cabin, a breakfast including six items you can choose from a menu is included, as is a welcome bag with water, sparkling wine, crackers, a towel, a pen, and earplugs. You do need the earplugs if you're a light sleeper as you can hear people moving through the hallway if they do.
Dinner wasn't included but could be purchased on board. It wasn't expensive (around €9 for a chicken with rice platter) but the portions were too small for me. My travel companion was happy with hers though.
The only downside was that they didn't (yet) accept payment cards and that wasn't announced anywhere beforehand or on the menu. My friend didn't have cash on her so if I hadn't had some either, we wouldn't have been able to buy food.
Other than that, I don't really have any remarks to make. There was a shared bathroom with a toilet, the staff was friendly, and we both left and arrived on time.
Wondering how long the journey took? We left Brussels at 6 p.m. and arrived in Innsbruck at 9.15 a.m. the next day.
It's also possible to fly to Innsbruck and the airport is just a 15-minute drive from the city center. For flight options, check Skyscanner
If you're on a budget, check out long-distance bus company Flixbus. They have several routes to Innsbruck.
Where to stay in Innsbruck
Budget: Hotel Goldene Krone Innsbruck
A simple option for great value is Hotel Goldene Krone. While it might be cheap and cheerful, it’s in a great location, most things are under 5 minutes away, including Innsbruck Central Station. The Triumphal Arch is just around the corner. Wifi is free and the reception is 24-hour.
Boutique: Stage 12
We stayed in the Stage 12 hotel right in the center, just seconds from the Goldenes Dachl. It’s pretty stylish, with a gym, spa, and outdoor terrace. My room with terrace had an amazing view of the mountains I thoroughly enjoyed the extensive breakfast buffet. The hotel also has a cool cocktail bar that's quite happening in the evenings.
Chain: BEST WESTERN Plus Hotel Goldener Adler Innsbruck
This Best Western hotel has a pretty dramatic facade and impressive interior, with stone arched ceilings, velvet headboards, and soft lighting. It’s in a great location, right next to the river. All the rooms have free wifi and Sky TV.
Luxury: The PENZ Hotel
The Penz Hotel is an impressive building with a modern glass front and a spectacular conservatory terrace area with the mountains as a backdrop. There’s a bar on the 5th floor and a breakfast restaurant on the roof. It’s right in the center, and there’s underground parking to make it all super easy.
Apartment: Top of Innsbruck
This two-bedroom apartment is an ideal base for exploring Innsbruck. It’s beautifully furnished with large windows and great views. The kitchen is fully equipped and there is a big bathroom with a huge bath. It’s in a fantastic location, comes with free wifi and parking is possible in the garage provided.
And that's it! I hope this post answered your question of what to do in Innsbruck and will help you plan your own trip there.
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