Innsbruck is the capital of Tyrol, Austria. It is located so close to the mountain that just in 25 minutes you can reach 2,000 m altitude from the central part of the city (with elevation of 574 m).
The natural resources and beautiful spots, which can be visited both during the summer and the winter, are so many in number that many people just catch a glimpse of the city and then directly head at the high parts. This, however, is a real blasphemy because Innsbruck has its very own richness.
Here are some of the most interesting places, meals and experiences you should not miss while in Innsbruck. One weekend will not be enough but at least you will have ideas for the next visit.
Golden Roof (Goldenes Dachl) – Indeed, it is made of gold and it is a symbol of Innsbruck. In the beginning of the XV century Frederick IV, Duke of Austria, built a big balcony to the residence in the central part of the city. When Maximilian I became Emperor, he built a roof to the balcony with 2,657 gold-plated tiles. He used to watch the tournaments at the square below from this high spot. Nowadays here you will find the museum of the Habsburg dynasty. The façade of the balcony is adorned with reliefs depicting the coats of arms of countries subordinated to the Roman Empire. Since 2002 the Golden Roof also houses the International Alpine Convention's Office.
City Tower of Innsbruk – It is part of the Innsbruck Town Hall and it can be seen almost from any point of the city. The tower is 56 m high. Climb up its 148 stairs to reach the top for an inspiring and beautiful view to the city and the mountains. The City Tower is located in the central part of the city, close to the Golden Roof.
Hofkirche Church – It is a Gothic palace church, where you will find the mausoleum of Emperor Maximilian I. It was finalised in 1563. Inside, you will see 24 reliefs telling the story of his life, while 28 bronze human-size figures represent the members of the different dynasties - an original noble escort for the Emperor in the hereafter. Some of the statues are designed by Albrecht Dürer. The church is located in the central part of the city.
Ambras Castle – It is a Renaissance castle of Ferdinand II, Archduke of Further Austria. It is comprised of two buildings and a beautiful garden for nice walks. The Upper Castle, which used to shelter the chambers of the Archduke, is currently housing a collection of 300 portraits of the Habsburgs, while the arms and armours collections, as well as the Chamber of Art and Curiosities, which is full of valuable objects and toys, are found in the Lower Castle. There is also a Spanish Hall that contains the portraits of the rulers of Tyrol. Now it is a scene for classical concerts. The Ambras Castle is situated on the hill over the city.
St. Anna's Column – In 1703 Tyrol faced the risk of being attacked by the Bavarian troops. On July 23 – St. Anna’s Day, Innsbruck and the entire Tyrolean district were free, the troops withdrew. As a mark of gratitude a column was built in honour of the Saint. It was made of Tyrolean marble. The column is situated on Maria Theresa Street (Maria Theresien Straße).
Triumphal Arch – It was built at the order of Maria Theresa in 1765 on the occasion of the marriage of her son - Leopold II, with Maria Ludovica of Spain. One of the arch’s walls is decorated with reliefs dedicated to the matrimonial happiness and love, while the other one has mourning features because of the sudden death of Maria Theresa’s husband during the wedding celebrations. The Triumphal Arch is located in the end of the Maria Theresa Street.
Bell Foundry and Museum – Bells produced here can be heard ringing in more than 100 countries all over the world. The foundry exists for more than 400 years and it is managed by one single family for 14 generations. The bells are still produced under traditional manual methods. In the museum there is a special acoustic room where the visitors can personally ring and hear the sound of different bells. Here you can also see one of the biggest bells in the world. This is the Peace Bell, which weighs 10 tons and its clang is heard every day at 5 o’clock sharp. The Bell Foundry and Museum is situated at Innsbruck’s borderline. Information about entrance fees and working hours is available here.
Swarovski Crystal Worlds – Welcome to the world of crystals. Sparkling crystals are winking at you from any object here, even from the fountains and gardens. The museum space resembles a cave with numerous halls, where at the background of impressive illumination and music you will see rocks, medusas and all kind of other creatures, made of fine crystals, as well as trees, lamps, furniture and so on - everything made of crystals. Here you can also buy jewellery and clothes with incrusted Swarovski crystals but let’s stop here and keep some of museum’s charms a secret until you see it yourself. This sparkling fairy-tale is situated a few kilometres away from Innsbruck, in the town of Wattens.
The Battle of Bergisel Cyclorama – This is a giant panoramic painting of the 1809 battle, more than 1,000 m2 in area. Several other separate paintings and objects are included to the scene to achieve a 3D effect. Take a look around and you will feel as if you are really at the battlefield. Here you can also find the Museum of the Tyrolean Imperial Infantry (Kaiserjäger Museum), where you can learn about the military history of the country and see different arms and documents. The cyclorama and the Kaiserjäger Museum are situated on the Bergisel Hill over Innsbruck. Information about entrance fees and working hours is available here.
Tyrolean State Museum – Here you will learn more about the history of the district since prehistoric times until the Middle Ages and get acquainted with the Tyrolean culture. You will see pieces of modern and mediaeval art and learn about the traditional Tyrolean crafts. The museum also has a huge library with featuring literature. The Tyrolean State Museum was founded in 1823. More information about entrance fees and working hours is available here.
Tyrolean Folk Art Museum – Here you can see handmade vessels and utensils, traditional Tyrolean folklore costumes, masks, instruments, and others. Different reproductions show how the Tyrolean homes were furnished during the Middle Ages. The museum is situated in the central part of the city.
Archaeology Museum – It was established in 1869 as part of the Innsbruck University. It shelters more than 450 exhibits. Here you can see Greek and Roman pieces of art, replicas of ancient ceramic and glass vessels, coins and sarcophagi, as well as learn much about the Tyrolean district since the antiquity until nowadays.
Museum of Anatomy – It is part of the Medical University of Innsbruck. It offers collections of human skulls and skeletons, oil paintings of human organs, primates and birds skeletons, models of the human body and its organs. You can visit the museum from October until May. During the rest of the year it is opened only after advance reservation. The entrance is free of charge.
Alpine Garden – The garden is situated at 2,000 m altitude. Here you can see specific plants that grow at such a height elevation above sea level. There is a path of stone steps leading to a ground offering a beautiful view to the city. The garden is open from June to September, from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. There is no entrance fee. The Alpine Garden is situated at the Patscherkofel hill close to Innsbruck. More information is available here.
Botanical Garden – It was established in 1911. Today here you can see more than 5,000 plants from different parts of the world and while taking a walk in the garden you will scent their sweet aroma. The Botanical Garden is open from 7 a.m. until 5 p.m.
More information is available here.
Court Garden (Hofgarten) – Take a walk amidst the flower paths, venerable trees and beautiful lakes. At the park you will see plants personally planted by Maria Theresa. There is a space for children’s games and sunbathing, special greenhouse for palms and tropical plants and a nice restaurant. Classical concerts are often staged on the territory of the park. The Hofgarten is located close to the Old Town.
Alpine Zoo – This is the zoo situated at highest elevation in Europe – at 727 m asl. Here you will see more than 2,000 animals of 150 different species. The zoo has the richest collection of alpine fish in the world. There is also a big farm with old breeds of farm animals. You will see many reptiles and birds, too. The zoo is situated on the left shore of the Inn River in the city. More information is available here.
Winter fun – The winter fun opportunities in the city will warm you up in the cold days. The snow is everywhere, all you have to do is make a choice: skiing, sledging, ice skating or wild snowboarding, or why not everything. Innsbruck has some of the biggest ski slopes. There are many ski resorts at the Patscherkofel hill and the Stubaital valley. Ready, steady, go!
Summer fun – Now it’s time to sweat. Paragliding, horse riding, tennis, golf, walks, shooting, swimming, rock climbing, and many other opportunities both for adrenaline lovers and tourists preferring a nice peaceful holiday, Innsbruck meets everyone’s taste during the summer. In addition, one of the best mountain bike downhill tracks in Europe is found in the Nordkette Mountain close to Innsbruck. Go for it!
Shopping in Innsbruck – The Old Town is full of small shops for souvenirs, home accessories, handmade jewellery and vessels. At the Sparkassenplatz Square there are stores offering everything, while every Friday there is a farmer’s market offering fresh products from all over the country. The popular trade centres - Rathaus Galerien and Kaufhaus Tyrol, are located in the central part of the city, offering clothes, jewellery, bags, shoes, souvenirs, tableware, paintings, as well as cosy cafes where you can have a rest.
Polenta – This dish is not for vegetarians but a must-taste for those of you, who really want to experience the taste of Innsbruck. Polenta is cornmeal gruel with fried lamb or beef liver and smoked ham. It is offered at all Tyrolean restaurants. Bon Appétit!
Nightlife – Innsbruck is full of bars and night clubs. Dance and have fun with the students, who are more than 25,000 in Innsbruck. Most of the entertainment establishments are in the quarter behind the central railway station. To start the night adventure you may first visit one of the local restaurants serving traditional Tyrolean cuisine or those offering exotic international specialties. There are more than 200 restaurants in the city. There is a great variety meeting everyone’s taste.