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There’s no city quite like Innsbruck in Austria with its mountainous walls, and this is the very first thing you will notice upon arrival. The proclaimed ‘Capital of the Alps’ is an urban basin filled with 800 years of history, defined by the peaks and alpine forest slopes that hug it.

Its dual city and mountain offering make it a unique city for visiting. From the altitude heights to the riverside landscapes and attractions below, here are the things to do in Innsbruck in and outside of its famed Old Town.

Main square in Innsbruck in Austria, filed with old pastel coloured buildings and backed by mountains

What to See in Innsbruck Old Town

Quite literally picture perfect, you can’t go wrong with any angle of the city. I first explored the history laced in the urban grounds below before heading up to various elevated viewpoints for an alternative angle on the city layout.

It’s quite the entrance into Innsbruck’s Historical Old Town. I started at the Triumphal Arch that faces the mountainous backdrop of the city. It was built in 1765, commissioned by Empress Maria Theresa to commemorate the marriage of her son and now stands proudly on Maria-Theresien-Straße – the most navigable thoroughfare from which to enter the cobbled stoned streets and alleyways of late-Gothic architecture.

The famous worn stone Triumphal Arch in Innsbruck Old Town in Austria

The Triumphal Arch in one of the historical markers and things to see in Innsbruck

Street view of the Triumphal Arch in Innsbruck Old Town, Austria with a red tram travelling in the direction of the surrounding mountains

View to the Triumphal Arch in Innsbruck Old Town

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The Historical Old Town is tiny but packed full of sights and traditional eateries (once you weave past all the souvenir stores). Here you can wander into the past by visiting the Hofburg Imperial Palace, the gothic Hofkirche (Royal Court Church), City Tower and the glimmering Golden Roof with 2,657 fire-gilded copper tiles (which makes it quite the star attraction).

Square of the Golden Roof with 2,657 fire-gilded copper tiles in Innsbruck in Austria

Square of the Golden Roof with 2,657 fire-gilded copper tiles in Innsbruck in Austria

Streets of Innsbruck's Old Town looking towards the green dome roof of Hofburg Imperial Palace Innsbruck in Austria

Old Town streets looking towards the Hofburg Imperial Palace Innsbruck

The long white, classical building facade of Hofburg Imperial Palace Innsbruck in Austria

The Imperial facade of the Hofburg Palace in Innsbruck

Innsbruck’s old streets are a conveyor belt of gothic and baroque architecture styles and facades – Helbling Haus being one of the most exquisitely detailed and stand-out examples. You’ll find it on Herzog Friedrich Straße, next to the Golden Roof.

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Ancient walls of a doorway looking towards the baroque building, Helbling Haus in Innsbruck in Austria

The baroque design details on Helbling Haus, Innsbruck

A grand doorway of the Palace in Innsbruck leads to the gothic style buildings on the streets

What to Eat in Innsbruck

Traditional Tirol Eats

No trip to Tirol is complete without re-fueling with a local dish such as the Tiroler Gröstl (potato and meat fry up, topped with an egg). What to eat in Innsbruck is easy, but choosing where to go from the vast choice available can be hard.

The two best traditional establishments include Weisses Rössl, the oldest restaurant in the city that dates back to 1509 or Stiftskeller, which is set within an old monastery.

An iron plate of Tiroler Gröstl with meat, potatoes and egg, served on a wooden table at a traditional Austrian food restaurant in Innsbruck

The distinctive castle-like building, with Austrian flag coloured window shutters in the Ottoberg, one of Innsbruck’s revered long0standing restaurants serving traditional Austrian cuisine.

A road marks the border of modern and old town Innsbruck, Austria

The Ottoburg in Innsbruck is one place to try traditional Austrian Cuisine

Best Strudel in Innsbruck

For those craving a strudel, see how long it takes you to choose one of the many sweet or savoury options at the Strudel Café Kröll in the Old Town. It’s a rite of passage after all the historical wandering. I decided on chocolate and raspberry in a move away from my traditional apple choice.

The golden lit entrance of Kröll Strudle cafe in Innsbruck, Austria with tables outside for dining

Sample the best Strudle in Innsbruck at Kröll Strudle cafe

Close up of the different flavours of Strudle at Kröll Cafe in Innsbruck, Austria

More than just apple strudel

Places to go in Innsbruck Nature

Get up to the Nordkette Mountain

What’s unique when you visit Innsbruck is that it is an accessible nature haven and cityscape all rolled into one, where cable cars to the city’s darling 2000m high Nordkette Mountain leave from the very heart of the city. In less than 20 minutes you can reach Austria’s biggest nature park, Karwendel and Europe’s highest (Alpine) Zoo alongside various viewing platforms.

View of Innsbruck in Austria from the city's Nordkette Mountain showing the compact city urban basin

View of Innsbruck from the Nordkette Mountain heights

View of Innsbruck from the Nordkette Mountain

A modern cafe on the right and traditional wooden house on the left on the first level of the Nordkette Mountain in Innsbruck, Austria

Modern and traditional stores and cafes sit side-by-side on the first level of the Nordkette Mountain in Innsbruck

View of Innsbruck and the Inn River from the Nordkette Mountain

View of the Inn River that cuts through the city of Innsbruck

The avant-garde design of the three main Nordkettenbahnen cable car stations combines Innsbruck nature trails with modern design without impacting on the visual elements of the landscape.

Avant-garde modern design of one of the three main Nordkettenbahnen cable car stations in Innsbruck, Austria

The avant-garde design of one of the three main Innsbruck Nordkettenbahnen cable car stations

The avant-garde ultra-modern design of the three main Nordkettenbahnen cable car stations in Innsbruck, Austria

Another Nordkettenbahnen cable car station design

Wander Along the Inn River

During both my visits to Innsbruck, I was always curiously drawn to the Inn River for a stroll, with its famous multi-coloured townhouse views and green spaces as a backdrop.

A woman in a red skirt stands in front of an iron railing, with the colourful houses along the Inn River in Innsbruck, Austria in the background

The colourful houses along the Inn River

A woman takes a picture of Innsbruck colourful river houses on an iPhone

Innsbruck Today – Modernity in Downtown

Modern trends intertwined with the preserved old is one of the exciting things to see in Innsbruck.

A glass building in Innsbruck reflects the mountains behind it, marking a merge of modern and nature

Innsbruck Bars and Modern Hangouts

The Downtown area adjacent to the Historical City Centre is where you’ll find everything from the 360° (panoramic) bar or Trobaun for its huge selection of world craft beers on tap and the more swanky hangouts like Erlkönig. Swap old cafes for hipster coffee shops like Max Standard and Crema and try to score a table in the busy burrito joint, Machete, which is a local favourite. A city that’s home to 30,000 students and a lot of young professionals, it has a vibrancy that compliments that within its centuries-old offerings.

360° panoramic bar in Innsbruck, Austria

360° (panoramic) bar in Innsbruck is a must-see hangout

Modern passageways and streets in Innsbruck, Austria

The modern wood and white walled interior of Ludwig restaurant in Innsbruck

Innsbruck Bergisel Olympic Ski Jump

A short distance in the opposite direction of the Old Town and the Nordkette range is the 50m high Bergisel Olympic Ski Jump Tower. It’s one of my favourite places to visit, both in keeping with the winter sport pastime Austria is known for and watching the ski jumpers, but also as a platform for one of the best views of Innsbruck.

View of Innsbruck from the top of the Bergisel Olympic Ski Jump Tower

Bergisel Olympic Ski Jump in Innsbruck with views over the city

Olympic Ring sign at Bergisel Olympic Ski Jump Tower in Innsbruck, Austria

Bergisel Olympic Ski Jump Tower in Innsbruck

Tirol Panorama Museum

On the short trek up to the entrance of the Innsbruck Ski Jump, I stopped at the Tirol Panorama Museum, where history is depicted with a modern approach via a giant 1,000 metre-squared panoramic painting.

A long Painting inside the Tirol Panorama Museum

Arts and Festivals in Innsbruck

And with a state theatre and an opera, 30 museums and art galleries, as well as a year-round timetable of festivals that take place in the old palace Historical Old Town grounds, Innsbruck is quite the pulsating modern town, considering its small size.

Golden hues of the city theatre building in Innsbruck, Austria

Things to Do in Innsbruck Outside of the City

Ambras Castle and Chambers of Art and Curiosities

Outside of the centre of the city you have further options for a historical or modern fix. I’m not one for tourist buses but the ‘Sightseer’ bus was surprisingly interesting, passing through Innsbruck’s outer neighbourhoods and got me out to areas including to the hillside where you will find Ambras Castle. This Renaissance castle built by Archduke Ferdinand during the 16th century and home to the Chambers of Art and Curiosities and all manner of weird and wonderful collections he built up.

The white Exterior and Austria red and white flag window shutters of Ambras Castle in Innsbruck, Austria surrounded by manicured gardens

Visit the Ambras Castle in Innsbruck

A wooden ceiling, tiled floored and old wall paintings of rulers line a grand hallway in Innbruck's Ambras Castle

Inside a grand hall at Ambras Castle

Swarovski Crystal Worlds

Many take the time to visit the famed Swarovski Crystal Worlds, which ranks as one of Austria’s most visited attractions. Bling and excessive in parts, the brand shows off its sparkling craftsmanship via exhibitions and art installations in its ‘Chambers of Wonder’ that includes a Crystal Dome and a crystal tree garden, upping the ante on the usual showroom model.

The manicured grass face of the Swarovski Crystal Worlds in Innsbruck, Austria

The famous face of Swarovski Crystal Worlds in Innsbruck

Installation inside Swarovski Crystal Worlds, Innsbruck, Austria

Inside Swarovski Crystal Worlds Museum

A woman in a red coat walks amongst the outdoor rain cloud art installation at Swarovski Crystal World in Innsbruck, Austria

The outdoor rain cloud art installation at Swarovski Crystal Worlds

Innsbruck urban landscape was craved out right in front of a dominating mountain range, giving it a unique makeup that cannot be found or replicated anywhere else in Austria.

Providing the best of the country’s great outdoors with a long history and trendy modernisation, you have it all in one place, without having to travel very far at all.

What to Know Before You Visit Innsbruck in Austria

Getting to Innsbruck

  • Innsbruck is well-connected by the ÖBB rail network. I travelled from Vienna to Innsbruck in 4-5 hours and then onto Salzburg – a journey that takes approximately 1 hour and 45 minutes.
  • This travel guide to Innsbruck Austria is part of my #YearInAustria project, where I set out on a city-hopping tour at the start of summer to uncover the connected urban hubs of Innsbruck, Salzburg and Graz and show how you can see different sides of the country even in a short time.

People sitting and waiting on a railway station platform at Innsbruck train station in Austria

Where to Stay in Innsbruck

  • I stayed at the funky Nala Hotel, the city’s only boutique and art design hotel that is less than five minutes walk to the Triumphal Arch and Maria-Theresien-Straße. Every room has its own unique design, which you can browse through on the hotel’s website. I stayed in ‘La Suite Pan on Rama’ and I’m keen to check more of them out!

the black and white modern exterior of the art design hotel, Nala in Innsbruck

Innsbruck Package Deals

Right now, as tourism sparks up again, Innsbruck is offering various city package deals including

  • One night accommodation and the 24 hour Innsbruck card from €45 per person
  • Two nights accommodation and the Innsbruck card from €75 per person
  • Multi0night family packages from €156 per person

The Innsbruck Card for Sightseeing

The Innsbruck Card grants to access to all the city’s museums and art galleries and all forms of local transport, including the shuttle bus to Swarovski Crystal Worlds and all cable cars. It also includes discounts for listed activities and outlets. It costs:

  • 24 hours: €49
  • 48 hours: €55
  • 72 hours: €66
  • 50% discount for children (6-15 years)

Further Information on Planning a Trip to Innsbruck

  • For more information visit the Innsbruck Tourism Website. For further information about planning your trip around Austria visit the Austria Tourism website, where you can also keep up to date with all my adventures.

By: www.bordersofadventure.co

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By Beauty