Best Things To Do in Innsbruck
Skiing is the prime objective for most winter visitors to Innsbruck. And with the city's beautiful mountains and plentiful snow, who can blame them? But even powder hounds will be distracted for a day or two by the other things to do in Innsbruck, both in summer and winter. While the shining Golden Roof lures travelers to the Old Town, nearby sights like the beautiful Imperial Palace and charming Maria Theresa Street keep them there. If you're traveling with kids, you should enjoy the city views from the Alpenzoo, the highest themed zoo in Europe, or the thrilling Bergisel Ski Jump.
Updated January 17, 2020
- #1View all Photos#1 in Innsbruck0.4 miles to city centerCafes, Shopping, Free, Neighborhood/AreaTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND0.4 miles to city centerCafes, Shopping, Free, Neighborhood/AreaTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND
One of Innsbruck's most famous streets, Maria Theresien Street is a glorious remnant of the city's baroque past, dating back 700 years. Now a pedestrian promenade, the street, which is located outside Old Town, is lined with palaces once owned by the city's aristocracy, as well as cafes, shops and landmarks like St. Anne's Column and the Triumphal Arch.
Recent visitors raved about the amazing views of the mountains seen from the street and recommended seeing the Christmas market set up on the street during the holidays. However, a few reviewers warned that the prices at the shops, cafes and restaurants that line the street are too high. For unobstructed photos, plan a morning visit.
- #2View all Photos#2 in InnsbruckFree, Neighborhood/AreaTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPENDFree, Neighborhood/AreaTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND
An easy way to enjoy a comprehensive overview of Innsbruck and many of its best-known sights is to stroll through Old Town – an area full of pastel-colored medieval buildings. There you will find popular attractions like the Golden Roof, the Imperial Palace, the Triumphal Arch and Maria-Theresien Street. When you're done taking in the sights, enjoy some shopping or stop for a break at one of the area's many charming cafes and restaurants (though a few past travelers said food and drinks are overpriced in this area).
Recent visitors say the area is very clean and perfect for a stroll, but advise that many restaurants close early. So, while you can visit this area any time, dining may be out of the question at night. Others were particularly enchanted with Old Town during the holiday season, when Christmas markets set up shop.
- #3View all Photos
Step inside Renaissance-era Innsbruck at Ambras Castle, which Archduke Ferdinand II, who reigned in the 1500s, built as a palace. Here he assembled a collection of items, including armor, portraits, weapons and musical instruments into a museum, making it the oldest museum in the world. Today, visitors can see the Spanish Hall, designed to host grand balls; the Chapel of St. Nicholas; an inner courtyard filled with frescoes; the Habsburg Portrait Gallery with more than 200 portraits; and numerous collections of Gothic sculptures and glass objects, among other artifacts.
Past visitors said the castle is impressive with a large collection of interesting items. Reviewers warned that the portrait gallery is only open from April to October, so keep that in mind if that is your main interest for a visit here.
- #4View all Photos#4 in Innsbruck1.2 miles to city centerMonuments and Memorials, Sightseeing, SkiingTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND1.2 miles to city centerMonuments and Memorials, Sightseeing, SkiingTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND
The late architect Zaha Hadid – who is also responsible for the Hungerburg funicular station – redesigned this ski jump in 2002. Originally built in 1925, it was used in Olympic ski jumping competitions in 1964 and 1976. The tower is about 155 feet tall, and the stadium can hold 28,000 people. But you don't have to be an Olympic athlete to enjoy this attraction. Past visitors suggested traveling to the top of the jump to marvel at the surrounding views. There are also two restaurants at the top where you can enjoy a bite to eat with a side of stunning scenery. What's more, a visit to the ski jump is included with the Innsbruck Card.
According to past visitors, you can take a cable car to the top of the ski jump where the views are outstanding. Reviewers also recommended the cafe at the top, which they say offers great food and coffee.
- #5View all Photos#5 in Innsbruck0.3 miles to city centerMonuments and Memorials, Museums, Sightseeing, FreeTYPELess than 1 hourTIME TO SPEND0.3 miles to city centerMonuments and Memorials, Museums, Sightseeing, FreeTYPELess than 1 hourTIME TO SPEND
Innsbruck's best-known landmark, the Golden Roof (Goldenes Dachl), is located in the old portion of the city. Emperor Maximilian commissioned the construction of the glittering roof, which has more than 2,000 copper tiles, more than 500 years ago over a balcony that allowed him to survey his city below. Famously, the roof features the naked backside of a figure, and to this day, no one knows why.
Past visitors applauded the site's small museum, and many advised stopping by Old Town at night to see the Golden Roof illuminated.
- #6View all Photos#6 in Innsbruck0.3 miles to city centerChurches/Religious Sites, Sightseeing, FreeTYPELess than 1 hourTIME TO SPEND0.3 miles to city centerChurches/Religious Sites, Sightseeing, FreeTYPELess than 1 hourTIME TO SPEND
Also known as Innsbruck Cathedral or Dom zu St. Jakob, this church was rebuilt in the 1700s and has long been part of the ancient Christian pilgrimage route, the Way of St. James. The cathedral is known for its 57 bells, which includes the second-largest bell in the Tyrol region. Inside, you'll see frescoes depicting the life of Jesus' apostle, St. James. It's also famous for the painting, "Maria Hilf," of the Madonna and Child, which is the most popular such image in the Alps.
Recent travelers advised that there is some restoration work taking place, but say the cathedral is beautiful and a "must-visit."
- #7View all Photos#7 in Innsbruck1 mile to city centerParks and Gardens, Sightseeing, Zoos and AquariumsTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND1 mile to city centerParks and Gardens, Sightseeing, Zoos and AquariumsTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND
Known as "the highest themed zoo in Europe," Alpenzoo is a great choice for families visiting Innsbruck. The zoo specializes in caring for creatures native to the Alps like brown bears, marmots and even otters, and is home to more than 2,000 animals. You might even hear the wolves howl at the ring of the Innsbruck church bells. The park is located within the Nordkette mountain range, which you can reach via the Hungerburg Funicular or bus. It's possible to drive, but parking spaces are few and far between.
Recent visitors advised that you should be prepared for steep walkways at the zoo, since it's on a mountain, and say it's smaller in size than many typical zoos.
- #8View all PhotosfreeTriumphal Arch#8 in InnsbruckSightseeing, FreeTYPELess than 1 hourTIME TO SPENDSightseeing, FreeTYPELess than 1 hourTIME TO SPEND
It's tough to miss the grand Triumphal Arch when visiting Innsbruck. Empress Maria Theresa commissioned the arch, which only dates to the 18th century, in honor of her son's upcoming wedding. Built from stone that was once used in the town's medieval city gate, the arch features marble friezes that convey a variety of emotions to commemorate the event, including the joy of the marriage as well as the mourning of her husband, who died during the wedding festivities.
Past travelers said the arch is beautiful when lit at night, but warn it's a busy spot with traffic.
- #9View all Photos#9 in InnsbruckSightseeingTYPELess than 1 hourTIME TO SPENDSightseeingTYPELess than 1 hourTIME TO SPEND
Innsbruck is full of cable cars, funiculars and ski lifts to take travelers into its lovely mountains, and the Hungerburg is one of the most interesting. Designed by the late architect Zaha Hadid, it's an architectural marvel that visits four stations, beginning at the Old Town, stopping at Alpenzoo and concluding at a popular mountaineering spot called the Seegrube — all in just eight minutes. The stations are considered the most modern architecture in the region.
Past visitors say the views are breathtaking and recommend purchasing the Innsbruck Card, which includes the ride free.
- #10View all Photos#10 in InnsbruckChurches/Religious Sites, Sightseeing, FreeTYPELess than 1 hourTIME TO SPENDChurches/Religious Sites, Sightseeing, FreeTYPELess than 1 hourTIME TO SPEND
Using the remains of an ancient church that sits below the modern structure, it's believed that this rococo church has a history that dates to the fifth century. Home of the Wilten Boys' Choir, the church is known for the figure depicting "Our Lady Under the Four Columns." Inside, you'll find rocaille stucco, ceiling frescoes and gold accents.
According to recent visitors, the basilica is a bit of a walk from Old Town but they say its interiors are gorgeous. Others recommend walking through the small cemetery located outside the church.
- #11View all Photos#11 in InnsbruckChurches/Religious Sites, SightseeingTYPELess than 1 hourTIME TO SPENDChurches/Religious Sites, SightseeingTYPELess than 1 hourTIME TO SPEND
You'll find this Gothic church, which dates back to 1553, in Old Town. Commissioned to house the tomb of Emperor Maximilian I, the church does not actually contain the remains of the Holy Roman Emperor – his remains are entombed outside Vienna in Wiener Neustadt. But even though it boasts an empty tomb surrounded by a gilded cage, the church is still a popular sightseeing spot thanks to the 28 life-size bronze figures standing watch over the tomb. Other highlights include the Silver Chapel where Philippine Welser, Ferdinand II's wife, is buried, as well as the church's two organs, one nearly 500 years old.
Past visitors were wowed by this church, describing it as one of the most impressive they've ever seen. Reviewers also recommend paying a visit to the Tyrolean Folk Art Museum next door to the church (combo tickets to both attractions are available).
- #12View all Photos#12 in Innsbruck0.2 miles to city centerCastles/Palaces, Museums, SightseeingTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND0.2 miles to city centerCastles/Palaces, Museums, SightseeingTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME 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 Habsburg Empire. Dating 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. Today, visitors can tour a portion of the palace, including the chapel, several halls, the imperial apartments and the crest tower.
Recent visitors say the palace is stunning but warn that no pictures are allowed. Several reviewers also recommended opting for the guided tour, which is offered every Sunday at 2 p.m. Tours cost 3.50 euros (less than $4) for adults and 2.50 euros (less than $3) for children. What's more, admission to the palace is free every Sunday for kids and up to two adults.
- #13View all Photos#13 in Innsbruck0.3 miles to city centerMonuments and Memorials, SightseeingTYPELess than 1 hourTIME TO SPEND0.3 miles to city centerMonuments and Memorials, SightseeingTYPELess than 1 hourTIME TO SPEND
For an excellent view of the city and the surrounding mountains, climb more than 130 steps to the viewing platform of City Tower. A medieval remnant built in 1450, the tower – located in the Old Town – once served as the lookout point for all sorts of medieval dangers, such as fires and invasions.
Recent visitors said the steep climb is well worth the fabulous view at the top. Others were pleasantly surprised to find separate staircases for ascending visitors and descending visitors, which they say helped avoid crowding in the narrow space. A few reviewers warned that safety netting around the entire platform can make it difficult to capture quality panoramic photos.
- #14View all Photos
About 12 miles east of Innsbruck, you'll find the dazzling Swarovski Crystal Worlds (Swarovski Kristallwelten). The Walt Disney World of gems, this nearly 19-acre park features a variety of art installations that incorporate the famous crystals. Among the highlights are the "Crystal Cloud," which features 800,000 floating crystals that are reflected in the "Mirror Pool." Families will also find a play area for kids with a play tower, a garden maze, a carousel and a playground.
Recent visitors described the attraction as "mesmerizing" and "impressive." Others were particularly in awe of the exhibits housed within the "Giant," which showcases art installations by a variety of artists, including Yayoi Kusama and Andy Warhol, among others.
Explore More of Innsbruck
If you make a purchase from our site, we may earn a commission. This does not affect the quality or independence of our editorial content.