6 of the Best Things to Do in Innsbruck

Famous for its picturesque Old Town, Innsbruck is also popular for its skiing facilities and great Christmas markets. We were fortunate to visit recently and are sharing some of the top things to do in Innsbruck.

Firstly though, do you know how the town got its name? Bruck means bridge and Inn is the river that flows through the town so Innsbruck is the bridge over the Inn. The town is the capital of the Tyrol region and surrounded by the Nordkette mountain range. With 30,000 students and a population of 130,000, it’s surprisingly vibrant. It’s also a good base from which to explore the countryside as well as other Austrian towns and villages such as Kitzbuhel.

Things to Do in Innsbruck – Altstadt

Perhaps the most famous attraction is the Golden Roof or Goldenes Dachl in Innsbruck Altstadt. This magnificent structure dates from around 1500 AD and was added on to the exiting building by the emperor Maximilian I. He wanted to put paid to rumours about the empire’s financial difficulties and this roof certainly looks impressive. The 2,657 tiles fire-gilded copper tiles gleam in the sunshine all these years later.

The Golden Roof in Innsbruck, Austria
A few minutes away, there’s a wonderful panoramic view over the town and the mountains from the City Tower which dates from 1450. Brace yourself to walk up the 148 steps, although the 31 metre climb isn’t actually that strenuous. In no time at all you’ll be admiring the views…Head back down and towards the river to get a closer look at these colourful houses.

Colourful houses alongside the river Inn, Innsbruck, Austria

Hofkirche Court Church is a great surprise. It houses the cenotaph of Emperor Maximilian I, but the real draw are the 28 larger than life figures carved in bronze that line the church nave.

Hofkirche statues, Innsbruck, Austria
Bergisel Olympic Ski Jump

Innsbruck is the only town apart from London to have played host to the Olympic Games three times, in 1964, 1976 and 2012. Bergisel Olympic Ski Jump is over 47 metres high and as you can see, the views from here are phenomenal. It was designed by world-famous architect, Zaha Hadid. There’s a walkway and a roof-top restaurant and bar where you can admire the scenery.

Bergisel ski jump in Innsbruck, Austria
She also designed the Nordkettenbahn cable car station, which takes you up 2000 metres to Hungerburg and Seegrube in 20 minutes. It’s not just used by tourists, as some locals use it for their daily commute. At the top, For dinner with a view, Seegrube restaurant is the perfect choice.

Ski lift designed by Zaha Hadid in Innsbruck, Austria
Schloss Ambras

Schloss Ambras is the oldest museum in the world! This medieval fortress was transformed into a Renaissance castle by Archduke Ferdinand II for his wife, Philippine Welser. Inside, there are some truly unique pieces in the collection as the Archduke was fascinated by oddities and created The Chambers of Art and Curiosities, with objects from far away lands as well as portraits of people such as the Hirstute Man, an extremely hairy man who married a beautiful woman. Schloss Ambras is situated slightly outside of the town centre but is one of our favourite things to do in Innsbruck.

Schloss Ambras, Innsbruck, Austria
The Spanish Hall definitely has the wow factor. Constructed from 1570-1572, it played host to balls and contains 27 portraits of Tirolean rulers.

Spanish room at Schloss Ambras
Swarovski Kristallwelten Wattens

Over 13 million visitors have come to this unique attraction. Swarovski Kristallwelten is a 20 minute drive from the centre of Innsbruck and a must-see. There’s a stunning museum, a huge shop and a good restaurant, Daniels as well as a play-tower and outdoor play area. My favourite feature though is the Crystal Cloud, with 800,000 hand-mounted Swarovski crystals set above a black mirror pool.

Crystal Cloud at Swarovski Crystal World, Austria
Europe’s Most Exciting Flight

If you’re looking for a unique Innsbruck experience, how about the first no doors heli ride in Europe! It’s run by MySnapAir, who are one of the very few European operators to have a licence to fly without doors. They do a detailed safety check, you must bring photo identification and no loose elements are allowed. Photo equipment must be attached by a strap, selfie sticks are not permitted and you can’t change camera lenses during the flight. A minimum of four people are required and there’s a maximum of five per flight. For ladies with long hair, don’t forget a hairband as my hair was blowing around in the strong wind! It’s worth it for the chance to sit on the edge, with your legs dangling over whilst you take a #shoeselfie ;-). We flew over the spectacular Stubaital Valley, over the Bergisel ski jump and above the Nordkette mountain range on our journey of a lifetime.

Helicopter with no doors, Innsbruck, Austria
Innsbruck Card

If you’re planning to see several museums, then the Innsbruck Card is a good purchase. It costs €39 for 24 hours, €48 for 48 hours and €55 for 72 hours. Most of the major attractions in Innsbruck and nearby are included, such as Schloss Ambras, Hofkirche, Swarovski Kristallwelten and Bergisel Ski Jump Stadium. We used it to visit the Hofburg Imperial Palace which has some impressive interiors including a ceremonial hall. Just be aware that you can’t take photos inside.

Best Restaurants in Innsbruck

One of the best places to eat in Innsbruck is a sister establishment of the famous Hotel Sacher in Salzburg and Vienna. With a cosy wooden decor, it serves up local specialities, including the iconic Sachertorte. This chocolate cake with apricot jam and dark chocolate icing was invented by Franz Sacher for Prince Wenzel von Metternich.

Cafe Sacher for Sacher Torte cake in Innsbruck, Austria
In addition to its many medieval buildings, Innsbruck has some modern shopping maĺls. Lichtblick restaurant and bar is located at the top of the stylish Rathausgalerien mall. It’s a fine dining restaurant with fantastic 360° views from its bar and dining room.

How to Get to Innsbruck

There are regular flights to Innsbruck from many international airports including Frankfurt and London. We travelled with Austrian Airlines and the flight was comfortable and quick, with friendly flight attendants.

Where to Stay in Innsbruck

Austria Trend Hotel Congress Innsbruck is a contemporary four star hotel, conveniently located in the Saggen district. It’s a ten minute walk from the old town and surrounded by the Tyrolean Alps. There are 106 comfortable rooms and 2 suites, all with free WiFi, laptop safes with power plugs inside and a stylish restaurant. The amenities include a spa with sauna and steam room, as well as a gym with direct access to the hotel’s charming outdoor terrace.

We hope we’ve inspired you to visit Innsbruck and the surrounding area. Which Innsbruck attraction takes your fancy the most?

6 of the Best Things to Do in Innsbruck, Austria

  • Snow to Seas

    There’s no denying that Innsbruck is one spectacular city and your post really shows that! I had the chance to stop by the city for a couple of hours between trains 2 years ago, and I was so impressed! I’ll have to go back because when I was there, the City Tower was closed for renovations and I’m all about panoramic views!

    • Suze

      It’s definitely worth going back for the view from the tower and it wasn’t crowded either when I visited.

  • I honestly had no idea there’s so much to see and do in Innsbruck, do you think a weekend would be enough to see it all? The only thing I’d definitely avoid… is the helicopter ride. These scare me to death!

    • Suze

      Yes as it’s a compact city but you’d certainly be busy! For the helicopter ride, I was seated right next to where the doors were and I can imagine it’s not for everyone but definitely got my adrenaline pumping!

  • Your mention of their Christmas markets has made me very excited! I’ve returned to Cologne for years and years now with family to enjoy the Christmas markets, though definitely still curious about other alternatives. Ooh, your chocolate cake with apricot jam looks delicious – and what a warm and welcoming setting!

    Gabrielle | A Glass Of Ice x

    • Suze

      The nice thing about the Innsbruck Christmas markets is that they have one at the top of a ski slope as well as the ones in town! The Sachertorte was so delicious

  • Wow! You did a no doors heli ride. That’s sounds so amazing. I wish I could go on one of those. I’ve traveled Austria, but haven’t been to Innsbruck yet. Will definitely visit the Spanish Halls and the Hofkirche Court Church when I get there. 🙂

    • Suze

      The heli ride was incredible – spectacular views and a total adrenaline rush! The cultural sights of Innsbruck are well worth a visit too

  • Lynne Nieman

    The heli ride looks amazing! I’m bookmarking this for my future trip to Austria!

    • Suze

      Yes it was hair raising fun! You will love it, I promise

  • Innsbruck looks like such a cute little town! Gorgeous photos!

    C x | Say Hello

    • Suze

      That’s very kind, Catherine – hope you have a great week ahead

  • ooh that Sacher Torte looks delicious! Great tips Suze!

    Ash | http://www.liakadatravel.com

  • Lena

    I always wanted to go to Innsbruck- it sounds and looks very vibrant! And I love Sacher Torte 😋😋

    • Suze

      Me too, it’s a dream combination of chocolate and apricot jam! Innsbruck has some great cafes and restaurants

  • Innsbruck looks like such a pretty town. I absolutely love the sound of the no doors heli ride!!

    • Suze

      The heli ride was quite an experience! Flying over Innsbruck was a dream come true

  • Lara Dunning

    Innsbruck is certainly in a picturesque setting, and I love all the historical things to see there. Would love to go one day and check it out!

  • Carol

    Wow, so many things I would like to see in Innsbruck and it’s only 2 hours from Salzburg where we have a timeshare! I will definitely be able to go there!

  • Cindy Ladage

    I want to see the Crystal Cloud!

  • Tracey Best

    What a great article! I love the Olympic stadium and the meaning of Bruck and Inn 🙂 The photos are all so beautiful

  • Innsbruck looks like a charming mid-size city to visit when traveling through Austria. The Schloss Ambras and Swarovski Kristallwelten would be interesting to see, and staying at the Austria Trend Hotel Congress seems convenient for exploring the city by foot. Great tip about using the Innsbruck Card, too!

  • Carrie R

    Wow! So much history there! 🙂 And those breathtaking mountain views… amazing!

  • Michelle Marcos

    Ah yes! I stopped in Innsbruck only for a few hours so we didn’t get to do any of this. But I fell in love with the town. NEED to go back and check out some of this stuff!

  • Any Galván

    the Sacher Torte is delicious! a definite austrian must!

  • Hannah Martin

    Don’t forget the Alpine Coaster!!! It was a blast 🙂

    I wish I read this post before going to Innsbruck!

  • Lucy

    Innsbruck reminded me of Venice and Copenhagen mixed together. Beautiful and the royal hall stunning. Such a wonderful destination looks breathtaking Lucy x