Top Attractions & things to do in Innsbruck, Austria
Are you looking for a thriving city full of interesting attractions and exciting activities? Look no further than Innsbruck, Austria!
Innsbruck, the capital of Tyrol, is a vibrant city nestled between a wildly romantic Alpine landscape and along the Inn river. It has been an important location since the Middle Ages and was once part of the great Habsburg Empire.
Over the centuries, Innsbruck has become one of Austria's favorite cities for winter sports fans - it is renowned for its fantastic mountain scenery and ski slopes, modern lifts and Olympic history, having hosted several Winter Olympics over the years.
Innsbruck is not just a winter vacation spot. Its unique blend of history and modernity make it a wonderful destination at any time of the year; From exploring its medieval Old Town lined with boutique shops and galleries, to taking ski lifts up into Nordkette’s snow-capped mountains – there are endless possibilities awaiting visitors here.
Furthermore, thanks to its location, the town has many opportunities for hikers and cyclists, and it offers exciting excursions out to the nearby mountains, lakes and Alpine villages.
Whether you are looking for adventure or relaxation, you will find something in Innsbruck to suit your needs.
So if you’re ready to experience all that this idyllic city has to offer, put on your shoes (or skis) because we’re going around to see the top attractions and things to do in Innsbruck!
1. Walk around the Old Town of Innsbruck (Altstadt)photo source: Shutterstock
The Old Town of Innsbruck offers visitors a glimpse into its rich history. Meandering cobblestone streets lined with colorful old townhouses provide snapshots of days gone by.
The historical streets like Herzog Friedrich Strasse at the Old Town and Maria Theresien Straße that stretch from the Triumphal Arch to the Old Town - are filled with Baroque facades that will surprise everyone!
Tourists can climb up to the majestic City Tower and explore the Golden Roof, built back in 1500 as a symbol of power and wealth of the time.
Churchgoers will enjoy visiting the world-renowned Cathedral of St. James and marvel at its impressive frescoes that adorn the vaults, or the Gothic church of Hofkirche which boasts an impressive collection of German Renaissance sculptures.
Subject to several renovations throughout its lifetime, Innsbruck's historic architecture stands in testimony to its culture, displaying a unique blend of both Austrian-Germanic influences.
The Old Town is also home to many exciting activities like exploring quaint boutiques, indulging in delicious cuisines, or simply soaking up Vitamin-D while admiring views along the Inn River—what could be better?
Read also: 19 Top places to visit in Austria
2. Golden Roofphoto source: Shutterstock
The Goldenes Dachl, or Golden Roof, is located on the main square along Herzog-Friedrich-Straße (street) in Innsbruck's Old Town and is considered to be one of the most famous symbols of the city.
The roof of the balcony is decorated with 2,657 fire-gilded copper tiles. Intricate sculptural reliefs and wall paintings depict the stylistic transition from late Gothic to early Renaissance and are esteemed to be amongst the most important works of art in Tyrol.
Thousands of visitors come every year to Innsbruck to see this impressive work of art up close and take photos with the stunning balcony in the background.
Some of the original sculptured reliefs have been replaced with replicas to protect them from damage, but you can go inside the museum (located under the great balcony) to see the original sculptured reliefs (fully restored) up close, and not only that, you can find out more here about the life of Emperor Maximilian I, as well as the history of Innsbruck.
Travelers can admire the balcony itself with its Golden Roof from the outside without paying anything, but there is an entrance fee to the museum. If you are an Innsbruck card holder, you can visit the museum for free.
The Golden Roof is located approximately 10 minutes from the Innsbruck train station, as well as a few minutes from other landmarks of Innsbruck, such as the Court Church (Hofkirche) and the Imperial Palace of Hofburg.
Read also: 12 must-see alps villages in Austria
3. Helbling House (Helblinghaus)photo source: Shutterstock
While you admire the Golden Roof, look a little to the left and admire another masterpiece of Innsbruck - the Helbling House.
One of the most unusual and at the same time the most beautiful buildings in Innsbruck.
Its original construction dates back to the fifteenth century, when it was outfitted with early Gothic style features and a Baroque façade.
Subsequently, in the eighteenth century, modifications were made such as the addition of gilded bows, window frames, tympana decorative works, masks, sculptures and sea shells that gave it its distinctive Rococo style stucco decorations.
The building takes its name after Sebastian Helbling who owned it between 1800 and 1827.
Today, visitors to Innsbruck can admire its beautiful "icing-like" facade while walking around the Old Town admiring its other wonders.
Read also: Top Attractions & Things to Do in Hallstatt, Austria
4. Climb the Innsbruck City Tower (Stadtturm)photo source: Shutterstock
Standing proudly in the center of Innsbruck's Old Town, the City Tower (Stadtturm) is an iconic symbol of the city's history.
Recognizable from afar with its captivating green dome, the Stadtturm was built in 1450 as a watchtower.
Today, the Gothic tower attracts visitors with an observation deck located at a height of 31 meters (the tower itself reaches up to a height of 51 meters).
To reach it, visitors have to go up a steep staircase with at least 133 steps. The staircase itself is interesting and worth seeing, a double spiral staircase that ensures that visitors go up one and down the other, at the same time being close to each other.
Although it is not one of the tallest towers, it promises stunning views of Innsbruck's old town and its main landmarks. For example, it is a great opportunity to see the Golden Roof (Goldenes Dachl) from above. And if you're lucky, on a clear day the views stretch all the way to the snow-capped peaks of the Alps.
And best of all, great views of the city and the surrounding area for only 4.50 euros. Of course, free of charge for Innsbruck cardholders.
Read also: Visit Dachstein Krippenstein in Obertraun, Austria
5. Visit Hofburg Imperial Palace Innsbruckphoto source: Shutterstock
The Hofburg Imperial Palace in Innsbruck is one of the three most important architectural heritage sites in Austria, alongside the Hofburg Palace and Schönbrunn Palace in Vienna.
Built in the 1400s and long serving as a residential complex for the Habsburg family, it boasts a brilliant white facade with gleaming green domed towers and an interior that is sure to impress.
Be sure to go inside to explore the royal suites from the 19th and even 18th centuries.
Visitors can visit and admire the magnificent interiors such as the State Rooms of Empress Maria Theresa, the Imperial Apartments and the luxurious apartment of Empress Elisabeth, the Furniture Gallery as well as the Guards' Room decorated with Habsburg paintings and the Giant Hall, possibly the most important ballroom in Austria in the west, which is decorated with stunning ceiling frescoes.
At a reasonable entry fee of €9.90 for adults and free cost for children, a visit to Hofburg Imperial Palace in Innsbruck is worth it and won't break the bank.
Read also: Top Attractions & things to do in Salzburg, Austria
6. Hofkirchephoto source: Shutterstock
The Hofkirche, or Court Church, is one of Europe’s finest royal court churches.
Constructed by Ferdinand I in 1553, this church has been part of the grandeur of the Hofburg Imperial Palace for centuries.
Visitors can take in highlights such as the Silver Chapel, 28 staggering bronze statues which guard the magnificent tomb of Emperor Maximilian I, that is actually an empty tomb, decorated with 24 beautifully carved white marble reliefs, and a more than 450-year old Ebert organ.
The historic architecture of this ancient building invites visitors to explore centuries worth of history in one location.
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7. Relax at Hofgarten (Court Garden)photo source: Shutterstock
Near the Imperial Hofburg Palace complex is a huge garden, locally called Hofgarten (Court Garden). An oasis of about 10 hectares in the heart of Innsbruck.
The park is a great place to have a picnic or just escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. It is surrounded by hundreds of years old trees and filled with colorful flora and small lakes.
A modern children's playground, a garden restaurant, an XL chess table, a Palm House with more than 1,600 plants, a Tyrolean Art Pavilion and a Musik Pavillon ensure great recreation in the Hofgarten for everyone and in all weather conditions.
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8. Innsbruck Cathedral (Cathedral of St. James)photo source: Shutterstock
Innsbruck Cathedral is a baroque cathedral built at the beginning of the 18th century that stands out among the notable landmarks of Innsbruck, especially in its stunning backdrop of the Karwendel Alps with its two bell towers and impressive dome, which is home to the second largest bell in Tyrol.
This historic Innsbruck Cathedral is home to some remarkable treasures, namely a stunning painting 'Maria Hilf' by renowned German Renaissance painter Lucas Cranach and the grand tomb of Archduke Maximilian III.
With nine altars in total, the cathedral interior receives a unique look thanks to the frescos decorating its vaulting, stucco decorations and marble floors.
Innsbruck Cathedral is one of the most impressive buildings in the city, containing vessels of historic value from centuries past, which is worth a visit, especially since there is no entrance fee.
Read also: 10 must-see lakes in Austria
9. Enjoy the views of Innsbruck from abovephoto source: Shutterstock
Looking for spectacular views of Innsbruck from above? If yes, then you should go to the "Top of Innsbruck" which is located high in the Nordkette mountains.
The mountains are located on the south side of Innsbruck and are often referred to as the "Skyscrapers of Innsbruck'' or the Innsbruck Mountains.
One of the best ways to get there from the city center is with the Hungerburg funicular, whose station is about 300 meters from the Old Town, right by the Innsbruck Congress and the Hofgarten.
Designed by architect Zaha Hadid, this modern cable car will take you to Innsbruck's suburb of Hungerburg, 860 meters above sea level, in just 10 minutes.
From here you need to change the cable car to the cable car to go further to Seegrube which is already 1905 meters above sea level, from here take the next cable car and go to the top of Hafelekar to enjoy an incredible 360° panorama from a height of 2300 meters. And all this in just 20 minutes!
Each of the stations has viewing platforms for enjoying the view, as well as restaurants.
And if you are looking for more than views, then you can go to explore the Nordkette mountains, which by the way are part of the Karwendel Nature Park (Austria's largest nature park). The wide range of activities offers hiking and biking trails in summer, and skiing slopes in winter.
Read also: 12 Best Ski Resort in Austria
10. Alpenzoo Innsbruck (Alpine Zoo)photo source: Shutterstock
Breathtaking mountain views are the perfect backdrop to the Alpenzoo Innsbruck, an extraordinary wildlife sanctuary on the sunny Hungerburg plateau above the rooftops of Innsbruck.
What makes this Zoo so special?
Alpenzoo Innsbruck is not your typical zoo experience – here, dedicated experts strive to protect and preserve Alpine species in their natural habitats, and this stunning sanctuary is home to over 2,000 animals representing over 150 breeds from the Alps! You can expect a variety of mountain-dwelling species such as ibex, chamois, brown bears, lynx, marmots, wolves, reptiles, fish and many others.
Although these animals are kept in enclosures, they are still able to function as naturally as possible with plenty of space and natural elements such as rocks and vegetation. The zoo also has bird watching areas where visitors can observe different types of birds up close.
Alpenzoo Innsbruck also offers educational experiences that allow visitors to learn more about mountain wildlife. Guided tours are available to take you through different sections of the zoo while explaining how all these species live together in their natural habitat. You can even participate in activities like feeding some of the animals or talking about conservation measures.
Moreover, you can also attend shows where the birds of prey perform amazing aerial maneuvers on stage with their handlers! There's also a petting area where kids (and adults!) can get up close and personal with small mammals.
The best way to get to Alpenzoo Innsbruck is by Hungerburg funicular which is easily accessible from the center of Innsbruck, alternatively you can go by foot which could take more than 30 minutes. There are also parking lots and a bus stop at the Alpenzoo Innsbruck.
Read also: Places to visit near Innsbruck, Austria
11. Grassmayr Bell Foundry & Museumphoto source: Shutterstock
If you're looking for an unique experience unlike any other, you should definitely mark the Grassmayr Bell Foundry and Museum off your list of places to visit when touring Innsbruck.
Not only is it one of the leading makers of bells for churches around the globe, but its history is equally remarkable.
Established by a Bavarian family more than four centuries ago, it remains the oldest Austrian family-run business today.
Furthermore, its creations are held in high esteem and can be heard around the world – comprising eight distinct religious denominations.
Visitors to The Grassmayr Museum can look forward to an experience like no other. This unique combination of bell museum, bell foundry, sound room and watching a bell being cast has something new to offer everyone.
The Bell Museum explains how bells are made as well as exhibiting a collection of all the things the Grassmayr family produces, from church bells to cow bells.
During operating hours, visitors can observe the bell founders at work in the deep cast pit where even massive bells weighing up to 37 tons can be produced.
In addition, visitors can step into the old casting hall featuring one of their original furnaces that is over 200 years old yet still used for smelting an impressive 10 tons of bronze.
Finally, the Sound Room offers a truly special acoustic experience wherein the complex structures of Grassmeyer bells give off up to 50 different tones!
The Grassmayr Bell Foundry & Museum is located approximately 1.5 kilometers from Innsbruck's Old Town, in the direction of the Bergisel Ski Jump.
Read also: Attractions & Things to do in Graz, Austria
12. Bergisel Ski Jump (Bergisel Schanze)photo source: Shutterstock
The Bergisel Ski Jump is an iconic symbol of Innsbruck's southern skyline, renowned for its top-notch winter sports facilities.
Every January, the illustrious Four Hills Tournament makes a stop at the ski jump's Olympic version - built in 2003 to replace its predecessor ramp- and designed by esteemed British Iraqi architect Zaha Hadid.
At the entrance to the sports area there is a multimedia room where you can watch stories about ski jumping and a gift shop, as well as information boards throughout the ski stadium documenting the history of Bergisel and the development of ski jumping,
The Bergisel hill is more than 700 meters above sea level and rises 250 meters above Innsbruck, and it is visible from several places in Innsbruck, both during the day and at night. There are two options to get to the top of the hill, either by 455 steps or by elevator.
From Bergisel hill you can see the slope that the ski jumpers encounter and then take the lift up to the 50 meter high Bergisel Ski Jump Tower. At the top of the tower is the restaurant "Bergisel Sky" with incredible views, as well as a viewing platform with 360° panoramic views of Innsbruck and the surrounding mountains, and if you're lucky you can witness the jumpers training!
Bergisel Ski Jump is easily accessible from the city center in about 30 minutes, alternatively you can use the city tram to Bergisel or Stubaital Bahnhof stations.
And if you want to explore more attractions near Bergisel Ski Jump, then exploring the historic trams at the Tiroler MuseumsBahn, Das Tirol Panorama with the Tyrolean Imperial Infantry Museum-Kaiserjägermuseum, and the circular Bergisel hiking route are definitely worth it.
Read also: 12 must-see alps villages in Austria
13. Visit Ambras Castlephoto source: Shutterstock
Visible from afar, Ambras Castle's gleaming white complex stands opposite the southeastern gate of the Alpine town of Innsbruck in Tyrol.
It gained its cultural and historical importance thanks to Archduke Ferdinand II, who acted as a diligent collector and patron of art and science. Therefore, Ambra Castle is one of the most beautiful sights in Tyrol and widely known as the oldest museum in the world.
An example of Renaissance architecture, Schloss Ambras was built in the 16th century on a hill featuring historic and idyllic gardens with Peacocks, a marvelously intricate outer courtyard, and an upper garden which offers stunning views of the surrounding countryside.
Inside Ambras Castle, visitors have a chance to explore its chambers filled with impressive art from around Europe ranging from sculptures to portraits.
One must-see item here is the Chamber of Art and Wonder: a collection put together by archduke Ferdinand II that includes weapons, armor, toys and other items too unique to describe individually.
The painted Spanish Hall where classical music concerts are held. Armouries hall where an impressive collection of armor and weapons are kept, the beautifully painted Chapel of St Nicholas and much more.
Ambras Castle is easily accessible (just about 4 km from city center) both on foot and by public transport, as well as available parking spaces. The entrance fee is 12 euros, with available discounts, and children are completely free. Sounds friendly enough to definitely add to your Innsbruck trip!
Read also: 10 must-see lakes in Austria
14. Walk along the River Inn in Innsbruckphoto source: Shutterstock
The River Inn is one of the most beautiful rivers in Europe, and it's perfect for taking a leisurely stroll.
The best way to experience the beauty of the River Inn is to take a leisurely walk along its banks. You can start your walk at any point, as it flows through the city, and follow the paths along either side of the river.
The river bank is filled with trees and small meadows with flowers, colorful houses, and all this in the background of stunning mountain peaks that stand high against a bright blue sky.
If walking isn't enough for you then why not take a hike or bike? There are plenty of trails along the River Inn which will take you up into alpine meadows or even mountain peaks – perfect for getting some amazing photos!
Alternatively, if fishing is more your thing then why not set up camp by one of its many riverside spots and spend your day trying to catch some fish?
Read also: Places to visit near Salzburg, Austria
15. Visit more Museums of Innsbruckphoto source: Shutterstock / Tyrolean State Museum
Austria's fifth-largest city, Innsbruck is a renowned tourist destination for its stunning Alpine scenery and world-famous ski resorts.
But did you know that Innsbruck is also home to a number of excellent museums?
In addition to the above-mentioned museums: Ambra Castle, Kaiserjägermuseum, Tramway Museum, Grassmayr Bell Foundry & Museum and Golden Roof Museum, Innsbruck has several other museums worth visiting.
From art and history to science and folk culture, museum lovers have a wide choice of museums to visit in Innsbruck.
Tyrolean State Museum - the Tyrolean State Museum in a stately 1842 building contains a collection of relics and artifacts that tell the history of the Tyrol region from the Stone Age to today.
Tyrolean Folk Art Museum - this museum is dedicated to preserving and promoting the traditional folk culture of Tyrol.
The museum's collection includes a wealth of regional crafts, costumes, cultural artifacts, and more.
Highlights include the "Trachtenkabinett" (traditional costume cabinet), which displays over 200 traditional Tyrolean costumes, and the "Sennhütte", which is a replica of a traditional Tyrolean mountain hut complete with furnishings and tools.
photo source: Shutterstock / Anatomical Museum Innsbruck
Anatomical Museum Innsbruck - This academic facility is devoted to the history of medicine and medical education.
The museum's collections include human skulls, skeletons, preserved organs, dissected body parts, medical instruments, and more.
Highlights include the "Anatomical Theater", which was built in 1662 and is one of the oldest surviving anatomical theaters in the world; and the "Plastination Laboratory", where visitors can see how plastination (the process of preserving bodies for medical study) is done.
Audioversum ScienceCenter - This contemporary science museum explores the world of sound through cool, interactive displays.
The museum's exhibitions are divided into four main themes: "Sound Matters", "Hearing Things", "Making Music", and "Listening to Tomorrow".
Highlights include the "SoundLab", where visitors can experiment with sounds, and the "Music Machine", which allows visitors to create their own music.
Taxispalais Kunsthalle Tirol - This modest art museum is housed in a former taxi depot (hence the name).
The museum's exhibitions are divided into two main sections: the Permanent Collection, which showcases works by Austrian and international artists; and the Temporary Exhibitions, which feature rotating exhibitions of contemporary art.
The museum also offers guided tours, kids’ workshops, and a cafe.
Read also: Places to visit near Innsbruck, Austria
16. Swarovski Crystal Worldsphoto source: Shutterstock
The Swarovski Crystal Worlds, or Swarovski Kristallwelten in German, located in Wattens, a village 20 kilometers east of Innsbruck, is a fun and otherworldly experience for the whole family.
Here you'll find an interactive wonderland full of captivating crystal artwork, sculptures, light displays and exhibitions inspired by crystal-inspired stuff.
This one-of-a-kind attraction sets itself apart from others with its unique and awe-inspiring setting.
At the Swarovski Crystal Worlds there are so many exciting activities to do – choose a souvenir from the wide selection of gift items available in the boutique, hop onboard a mini train tour of the area and explore eighteen Chambers of Wonder which bring to life elements that symbolize nature, fantasy and adventure.
Although the Swarovski Crystal World is not located directly in Innsbruck, it is definitely worth a visit, and even better if you plan it as a day or half-day trip to leisurely admire the glittering world, its gardens, and the children's play area.
Read also: Places to visit near Innsbruck, Austria
And Finally… Innsbruck is a vibrant and enthralling city with endless possibilities to explore for anyone looking for an exciting adventure!
From its wide range of activities to its breathtaking sights, there is something to capture the heart and soul of anyone who visits.
Discover the breathtaking views hidden within the Nordkette Mountains or explore quaint downtown cobblestone streets full of ancient history.
Put Innsbruck on your travel list, and get ready for a cozy and unique vacation - full of history, adventure, culture and nature.