Innsbruck was not in my original trip itinerary and I’m SO glad I worked it in. It’s truly one of the most beautiful cities I’ve ever seen, with magnificent mountain views everywhere you look. In a matter of minutes, you can take the funicular and cable cars up into the mountains for endless hiking trails. I couldn’t believe that people actually get to live there!
The Innsbruck Card
My first step was to buy a 48-hour Innsbruck Card, which I priced out and was well worth the money. The pass was 50 euros and the cable cars alone would have been 31 euros round trip. The Innsbruck Card also covers most museums and sights in the area, the Hop On Hop Off busses, and all trams and other public transportation.
I stayed at Marmota Hostel in a single room with a mountain view, free breakfast, and outdoor terrace. The terrace was under construction while I was visiting, but it did look like it’s normally a gorgeous spot to hang out with dinner or a drink and look at the mountains in the distance. The only real downside is that they didn’t have a kitchen, so I ended up spending a little more on going out to eat. Marmota is also off the beaten path, so it’s a tram ride or long walk from the train station, but this is made up for by its proximity to Schloss Ambras, Tummelplatz, and some stunning hiking trails.
Schloss Ambras (Ambras Castle)
Schloss Ambras itself is nice, but it’s really the surrounding area that makes it worth the visit. For starters, the views walking or driving up Tummelplatzweg (one of the streets leading up to the castle) are some of the best in the city. The surrounding gardens are sweet, and there are a couple adjacent parks that are worth walking around. Most notably, if you enter the main gate to Schloss Ambras and walk straight past the castle, you’ll find a waterfall surrounded by well-maintained trails with lush greenery.
The inside of the castle can be explored under 45 minutes unless you’re really into the portraits in the gallery. From my perspective, the highlights were the Spanish Hall and the Courtyard. There’s also a small chapel inside. Admission is 10 euros, or free with the Innsbruck card. If you don’t purchase the Innsbruck Card, I recommend just exploring the grounds and saving the 10 euros.
Tummelplatz is one of those hidden gems that I was unaware of until I saw signs near my hostel and googled what it was. This historic cemetery is situated among hiking trails with mountains in the background. Are we noticing a theme? Walking around Tummelplatz and other cemeteries in Austria, you might notice just how many graves are ornately decorated with candles, fresh flowers, and other items. This was such a striking cultural difference from most of the cemeteries I’ve seen in the U.S.
Bergisel Sprungstadion (Ski Jump)
This ski jump, used for the 1964 and 1976 Olympics, is a bit out of the way from other attractions but is definitely worth the jaunt. I took the Hop On Hop Off bus to this attraction, which again was included with the Innsbruck Card. When you arrive, skip the Tyrol Panorama Museum and head straight to the stadium where the ski jump is located. After you get a good look at the stadium itself, you can take the elevator up to the observation deck and the panoramic restaurant. The best part is the “jumper’s view,” which can only be accessed by walking briefly through the restaurant. Definitely do not leave without seeing this perspective! If you want to get your hike on before or after visiting the jump, there’s a circular path that wraps all the way around the perimeter. Tickets to Bergisel run about 11 euros, or entrance is free with the Innsbruck Card.
The Nordkette Cable Cars
With a series of four cable cars going up to the mountains, it’s a little difficult to keep them straight. The order is this: Nordkette, Hungerberg, Seegrub, and Hafelekarbahn. While each stop is worthwhile, my personal favorite was Seegrub, as I saw some epic views complete with sheep wearing little bells. I’m sure Hafelekarbahn would have also been impressive but unfortunately on the day I went, it was too foggy to see much. The AlpenZoo is also a necessary stop for any animal lover who wants to see species native to the Alps. It’s located off of the stop right before Hungerberg – just follow the signs.
Markthalle Innsbruck & Mariahilfstrabe
The Markthalle is a market that’s perfect for a quick lunch or to grab some produce before strolling along the Inn River. Mariahilfstrabe is a quintessential photo op stop, featuring a series of colorful houses with the river in front and mountains in the back. The nearby University of Innsbruck adds to the ambiance here, as you’ll see tons of young people walking and biking along.
Innsbruck Old Town
Innsbruck’s Old Town is just as charming as you’d imagine. In addition to some souvenir shopping, make sure to go up in the Stadtturm (City Tower) for an aerial view of the Golden Roof. The Golden Roof was purchased by Emperor Maximilian, who clearly had extravagant taste, to celebrate his wedding. I recommend taking a long look but skipping the museum inside.
Innsbruck is the perfect destination if you’re in Munich or Salzburg. For me, 48 hours felt like enough time, though in an ideal world my outdoorsy self would have stayed one or two more days. I’m sure I missed a few highlights, so if there’s something I should include on my next visit to Innsbruck, let me know in the comments below. Want to save this post for later or share it with your followers? Just pin one of these images: