For the Social Travel Summit (a professional blogger conference) earlier this year, I travelled all the way to beautiful mountain town of Kitzbühel, located in the Tirol region of Austria. Afterwards, I got to spend two nights in the charming city of Innsbruck, the capital of Tirol and an important university city.
While these conference destination visits are usually over in a flash, I managed to get a nice sense of Innsbruck and combined all my personal highlights in this one day in Innsbruck Austria itinerary for you!
What we'll cover in this article
- MORNING IN INNSBRUCK
- AFTERNOON IN INNSBRUCK
- EVENING IN INNSBRUCK
- EXTRA TIME IN INNSBRUCK?
- INNSBRUCK RESOURCES
MORNING IN INNSBRUCK
Go up the Norkette
This mountain range is often called the ‘Jewel of the Alps’ and wherever you are in Innsbruck, you can see why: there is a perfect balance between the natural mountain scenery and the vibrant city life.
With the Hungerburg funicular (of which the stations are designed by the late architect Zaha Hadid) to 860 meters, followed by the Nordkette cableway up to 1905 meters (viewpoint one) and 2256 meters (viewpoint two), you can go all the way to the Hafelekar summit and within 20 minutes enjoy the amazing panorama over the city.
We did this at the end of the day on our trip, watched the sunset and went for dinner, but as the restaurant wasn’t too special (although schnitzels are ALWAYS a good idea in Austria), I can recommend to go up to the top and enjoy the views in the morning before the crowds come in and have a coffee before going down again.
If you’re brave, you can hike down as well and with some extra time, you might want to visit the Alpine Zoo, which is nestled up against the Nordkette.
Austria is the country of coffee, but also of the delicious Sacher Torte. This is a -heavenly- dense chocolate cake with a thin layer of apricot jam, coated in dark chocolate icing. It was invented by Austrian Franz Sacher in 1832 for Prince Wenzel von Metternich in Vienna. And it should not be missed on your next visit.
At the elegant Café Sacher in Innsbruck, which is located in the Imperial Palace, you can enjoy a really nice Torte in an old world Habsburg atmosphere. I really enjoyed our quick break here with a tasty, although hilariously expensive 7 euros, slice and a lovely cup of tea.
Visit Ambrass Castle
Ambras Castle lies about 4,5 kilometers southeast of the city center on top of a hill, but it’s definitely worth the short drive. The castle was acquired in 1564 by Archduke Ferdinand II who was then the ruler of Tyrol. He transformed the place from a fortress into a livable palace. He established the magnificent Ambras Collection and had a museum built in the lower castle to house it all.
Everything is well-preserved and now you can enjoy the incredible armour collection (including armour for the house giant), the art and curiosity cabinet (where you’ll scratch your head over the chair that was designed to trap his drunken guests) and the portrait gallery with over 200 artworks, including valuable works by famous artists such as van Dyck and Diego Velásquez.
Make sure not to miss the Spanische Saal, a 43m-long banquet hall with a wooden inlaid ceiling, and the beautiful gardens which surely make for a great picnic in Summer.
AFTERNOON IN INNSBRUCK
Have lunch at Weisses Rössl
The Weisses Rössl is a charming Innsbruck hotel in old town and they have a restaurant that makes you truly feel you’re in Austria, if you didn’t have that feeling already. Old walls, wood paneling, beamed ceilings and hearty food… Yup, a winner for me!
Guests have been eating and sleeping here since the 1600s and you can enjoy home cooked and Tyrolean specialties, such as the Käsespätzle, which I had (so good!). Also don’t miss having Kaiserschmarrn (shredded pancake) for desert.
Explore Old Town Innsbruck
Let’s walk of that Kaiserschmarrn, shall we?
The old center of Innsbruck can show you a fair bit of the city’s history. You can walk for hours, but here are a few places that I recommend you don’t skip, as for me, these were the highlights of all Innsbruck things to do:
- The Golden Roof build by emperor Maximilian I in the 15th century (hard to miss!)
- Hofkirche Court Church, where you can find Maximilian’s impressive tomb aligned with 28 larger than life bronze figures.
- Hofburg Imperial Palace, the former imperial residence where you can follow in the footsteps of Maximilian I and Maria Theresia with interesting audio guides and guided tours.
EVENING IN INNSBRUCK
Have a Drink at the Bergisel Ski Jump
Zaha Hadid fans have so much luck in Innsbruck, because besides the stations, she also designed the incredible 47 meter high Bergisel ski jump (well the building on top of it) at the outskirts of Innsbruck. After a short gondola ride, you can not only gasp at looking down the actual jump (how do people go down this in their right minds?!), but you have an amazing view over the city. In the tower building, there is a panorama restaurant and a panorama terrace.
The first ski jump was erected here in 1925 and in 1964 and 1976, the Innsbruck Ski Jump was venue of the Olympic Ski Jumping competitions. Zaha Hadid’s building was completed in 2002 and you can visit it daily between 9am and 5pm.
Have dinner at Lichtblick Restaurant
With such gorgeous scenery, you understand why Innsbruck has so many panorama viewpoints and restaurants. Lichtblick is another place you don’t want to skip. It’s located on the top floor of the Rathausgalerien, the city’s Town Hall and Shopping Mall. At the restaurant, they serve a blend of Austrian cuisine, Mediterranean flair and Asian flavours. I really liked the atmosphere here and the food was incredible.
Before going to dinner, make sure to stop at the 360° Bar, which will give you (as the name already gives away) 360 views over Innsbruck. No matter if you’re here during the day or at night, the views are stunning!
EXTRA TIME IN INNSBRUCK?
Here are two more activities we did in and around Innsbruck that I thought were worth mentioning. Perfect if you have some extra time in the area and wondering what other things to do in Innsbruck Austria:
Fly in an open-door helicopter over the mountains
You guys, I’m not going to lie. I was SCARED OUT OF MY MIND sitting in this helicopter with no doors, flying over the mountains of Innsbruck. It’s apparently the first ever company to be able to do this in Europe and once you’re inside the machine, you can see why. You need some skilled people to do this.
Luckily, the guys from MySnapAir, the company where you can book this crazy experience, were super relaxed and made sure we were strapped in tightly. So tight even, that I could hardly move my face or camera! I did manage to take some cool snaps and even a video, which I will share in a separate post.
After a couple of minutes feeling petrified next to that big, gaping hole beside me, I did manage to relax a bit and even -oh yes- do what makes this flight so memorable: stick my feet out of the helicopter! Waaaaaah!! So cool!!
I would totally do this again if I get the chance and I can recommend that if you have the time and money to also do this, because it is an experience you will not forget for a long time…
Amaze yourself at Kristalwelten
Now, I am not a jewelry person at all (I have no earrings, a few necklaces and bracelets, but always forget to put them on) and I’m also not really a fan of modern/abstract art, so I’ll be honest with you: Swarovski’s Kristalwelten was not for me.
That said, perhaps I went to this place with the wrong idea as well, because I thought we were going to get a factory tour or at least see how the Swarovski crystals were made. Long story short: YOU DON’T. In fact, this is one of those ‘only three people in the company know the recipe and they cannot be on the same flight together’- kind of business, full of secrets and magic fairy dust. Or tons of glass and patient people polishing it.. we will never know.
Kristalwelten is more an art experience than an educational experience, so if you’re arriving with that mindset, I’m sure you’ll understand the purpose of the park better. And the different sections are incredible in design, I must agree. Of course, you can also go wild on shopping here as well and if you are a crystal fan, you’ll get some good discounts. The restaurant (Daniel’s) served some great food for lunch, so that I would recommend for sure.
So, yeah, it does make for a fun visit if you’re in the area, but be prepared for a whole lot of craziness and just let it all happen, I guess…
Tourism Office Websites
Where to Stay in Innsbruck?
I stayed at the Austria Trend Hotel Innsbruck Congress. While it wasn’t very characteristic, I had a great view over the mountains, the room and bathroom was bright and spacious and I had a comfortable stay. Of course there are plenty of hotels in Innsbruck to choose from, many with a perhaps more atmospheric feel to it in old town.
Where to Eat in Innsbruck?
Here are all the hotspots we visited that I would recommend to you:
- Cafe Restaurant Lichtblick [website]
- Café Sacher Innsbruck [website]
- Restaurant Weisses Rössl [website]
What to Do in Innsbruck?
Here are all the activities we did in and around Innsbruck:
- Alpen Zoo (Alpine Zoo) [website]
- Schloss Ambrass Innsbruck [website]
- Goldenes Dachl (Golden Roof) [website]
- Court Church Innsbruck [website]
- Kaiserliche Hofburg (Imperial Palace) [website]
- Bergisel Ski Jump Innsbruck [website]
- Nordkette Mountain [website]
- MySnapAir Helicopter Ride [website]
- Swarovski Kristallwelten [website]
Disclaimer: I visited Innsbruck as part of the Social Travel Summit, organised by iambassador and Visit Tyrol. Thank you Visit Innsbruck for making my stay a memorable one! All photos, videos and opinions in this article are my own, as always.
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This post is also available in: Dutch