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Courtesy of Photography by Gergo Kazsimer/Getty Images

Best Things To Do in Innsbruck

Skiing is obviously the prime objective of most winter visitors. And with Olympia SkiWorld Innsbruck, a combination of eight ski resorts, who can blame them? But even they will be distracted for a day or two by the other things to do in Innsbruck. While the shining Golden Roof lures travelers to the Old Town, nearby sites like the Hofburg and Maria-Theresa Strasse keep them there. If you're traveling with kids, you should enjoy the city vista from the Alpenzoo, the highest zoo in Europe, or the thrilling Bergisel Ski Jump.

How we rank Things to Do
  • #1
    Maria-Theresien-Strasse (Maria Theresa Street)
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    #1 in Innsbruck
    Cafes, Shopping, Free, Neighborhood/Area
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Cafes, Shopping, Free, Neighborhood/Area
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    Acting as the triumphant entrance into the medieval Innsbruck, Maria Theresien-Strasse funnels visitors through a long procession of shops and restaurants. The avenue, though historic, has now become a bit overrun with tourists snapping photos of every gorgeous building they see (which are also quite numerous). The tourists, architecture, shops and restaurants also translates to inflated prices, so beware of the small price tags on objects and price-less menus at cafes.

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  • #2
    Olympia SkiWorld Innsbruck
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    #2 in Innsbruck
    Natural Wonders, Skiing, Sports
    TYPE
    More than Full Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Natural Wonders, Skiing, Sports
    TYPE
    More than Full Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    The Stats: 81 mountain railways and lifts, 170 miles of runs, a 7,710 foot vertical drop, and nine different parks. With those types of numbers, Olympia SkiWorld Innsbruck is a haven for winter sports enthusiasts. In theory, you might never have to ski the same run twice in a multiple-day stay; however, we are betting that after a thrilling first time you will want to repeat many of them. It also becomes easily apparent why Innsbruck was chosen as the site of the Winter Olympics not once, but twice. The Austrian Alps receives downpours of snow from November to mid April, so you have almost six months to catch fresh powder. Also, night skiing is available at three of the eight resorts. For experienced skiers and boarders, the Innsbruck Nordpark offers steep terrain, but the highest elevation goes to the Stubai Glacier area, which you can ski year-round. Families should head to Seefeld, which has comfortable accommodations and easier runs.

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  • #3
    Schloss Ambras
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    #3 in Innsbruck
    Castles/Palaces, Parks and Gardens, Sightseeing
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Castles/Palaces, Parks and Gardens, Sightseeing
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    The 16th-century Schloss Ambras consists of two parts. In the Upper Castle you'll find numerous regal rooms to explore, not to mention a phenomenal portrait gallery featuring the works of Titian and Velázquez among others. But it's the Lower Castle that distinguishes this royal residence from other Germanic palaces. Conceived by Archduke Ferdinand II, this section hosts a large collection of armor and his "Chamber of Art and Curiosities," a fascinating assortment of bizarre objects.  As one recent TripAdvisor explains, it's here that you'll find the most interesting -- and unusual -- exhibits:  "See several depictions of the crucifixion, but all in coral," they write. "See paintings on cobwebs, giant playing cards, stuffed sharks, deer horns mysteriously embedded in a tree trunk … This is what you want in a proper Germanic castle! And all from the 1500s."

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  • #4
    Bergisel Ski Jump
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    #4 in Innsbruck
    Monuments and Memorials, Sightseeing, Skiing
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    Monuments and Memorials, Sightseeing, Skiing
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

    Built by visionary architect Zaha Hadid, this Olympic facility is a literal high point of any Innsbruck trip. At its peak, the structure reaches 820 feet above the city. From there, daredevil skiers fly off the Bergisel Ski Jump at up to 57 mph. Needless to say, only professionals should attempt this feat. But visiting to catch a ski jumping tournament or simply to venture to the top is still a thrill. The Bergiseltower's Café im Turm serves tasty meals accompanied  by vistas of Innsbruck that rival those offered at the Alpenzoo.

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  • #5
    Cathedral of St. James
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    #5 in Innsbruck
    Churches/Religious Sites, Sightseeing, Free
    TYPE
    Less than 1 hour
    TIME TO SPEND
    Churches/Religious Sites, Sightseeing, Free
    TYPE
    Less than 1 hour
    TIME TO SPEND

    The tolling bells and multiple clocks of the Cathedral of St. James have kept the town on time for almost three centuries. But it's more than just an oversized clock; this church is also a fine example of Baroque architecture and an exhibition of the excessive wealth of the Hapsburg Empire. Constructed in the early 17th century, St. James is easily recognized by its oxidized bronze domes -- two small ones in front and one above the transept crossing. You'll spot them from any of the city's lookouts like the Stadtturm.

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  • #6
    The Golden Roof (Goldenes Dachl)
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    #6 in Innsbruck
    Monuments and Memorials, Museums, Sightseeing, Free
    TYPE
    Less than 1 hour
    TIME TO SPEND
    Monuments and Memorials, Museums, Sightseeing, Free
    TYPE
    Less than 1 hour
    TIME TO SPEND

    Most roll their eyes at the suggestion: Go see a roof. But if you don't take a few photos atop the Goldenes Dachl then people won't believe that you've actually visited Innsbruck. This site is by far the city's most popular, despite its ability to underwhelm. One TripAdvisor user remarks: "The roof is gold colored but only covers one small awning. Not only that, but the roof isn't true gold, but gold plated copper. Take a photo on the way by, because there really isn't much else to do here."

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  • #7
    Alpenzoo
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    #7 in Innsbruck
    Parks and Gardens, Sightseeing, Zoos and Aquariums
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    Parks and Gardens, Sightseeing, Zoos and Aquariums
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

    While the Alpenzoo's claim to fame is "the highest zoo in Europe," visitors are more impressed with the critters than the elevation. The park specializes in caring for creatures native to the Alps -- wolves and bears are the scary highlights. A recent TripAdvisor visitor comments: "You can actually go into some of the exhibits to a degree that you can't in most other zoos. It was interesting to see all of the animals that inhabit the area." Still, the high altitude has its perks as one Virtual Tourist points out, "The Alpenzoo in Innsbruck is well worth a visit -- even if it is just to see the amazing views from the top of the mountain where the zoo is located."

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  • #8
    Hofburg (Imperial Palace)
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    #8 in Innsbruck
    Castles/Palaces, Museums, Sightseeing
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    Castles/Palaces, Museums, Sightseeing
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

    Sandwiched between the Golden Roof and the Cathedral of St. James, this imposing Baroque palace was once the royal residence for many monarchs of the Hapsburg Empire. Dating back to the 16th century, its current exterior can be credited to Empress Maria Theresa, the powerful sovereign of the Holy Roman Empire and the mother of Marie Antoinette. The interior is equally impressive and decadent; however, to the disappointment of many enticed visitors, you're only able to view about 20 rooms. Still, as one Virtual Tourist writer notes, "The Giant's Room is the most beautiful room of whole Hofburg," with its exquisite frescoes, regal portraits and flamboyant gold touches.

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  • #9
    Stadtturm (Town Tower)
    View all Photos
    #9 in Innsbruck
    Monuments and Memorials, Sightseeing
    TYPE
    Less than 1 hour
    TIME TO SPEND
    Monuments and Memorials, Sightseeing
    TYPE
    Less than 1 hour
    TIME TO SPEND

    Completed in 1450, this 200-foot high structure originally housed prisoners, but not anymore. Someone must've realized that this panorama was too good for the city's convicts. Many consider the Stradtturm, or Town Tower, a perfect perch to snap photos of the rooftops and steeples of downtown Innsbruck. The nearby Golden Roof might draw more visitors, but those in the "know" claim that this site offers the superior experience.

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  • #10
    Swarovski Crystal World
    View all Photos
    #10 in Innsbruck
    Museums, Sightseeing
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Museums, Sightseeing
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    You've certainly seen these sparkling, diamond-like jewels. Today, they appear on just about everything -- dresses, purses, sculptures, microphones, chandeliers and more. Innsbruck, the origin of the dazzling gems, hosts Swarovski Crystal Word just outside downtown to display the intriguing possibilities of this created and cut material. So it would appear that it's Swarovski crystal -- and not gold -- that glitters in Austria.

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