24 hours in Innsbruck
W O W ya’ll. That’s how we feel about Austria. Straight up fairytale kind of magic, for real. Innsbruck was our first taste of Austrian allure and it was AMAZING.
Innsbruck is the capital of the Alps and also holds a lot of history about the Royal Austrian Family, the Habsburgs. The town was literally built around royalty and should definitely be on your list for some Austrian relaxation. There’s enough to see to spend a couple of days or even just to mozey around and enjoy the crisp mountain air. We only had about 24 hours and felt like we got a good taste of the town before heading out to more of Austria, but we will definitely be back. It’s a fair weather and cold weather destination and even held two Winter Olympics!
Innsbruck is located within the Tyrol region of western Austria and extremely easy to get to by train, bus, and especially by car. We came by bus from Munich and had the some of the most epic scenery coming from the top of the mountains into the valley of Innsbruck. Although there is an international airport in Innsbruck, it is limited in flight times and destinations but it is still an option. It’s a very walkable city but if you want to explore the area around Innsbruck, definitely rent a car.
when to visit
Springtime in Austria is still a bit sporadic with the weather, it did rain on us most of the day and was fairly cold. Although you will get the sunniest weather during the spring months into summer, if you fancy some skiing head over anytime around November to April. Like the rest of Europe, the busiest season is summer, July to August so we definitely recommend trying to travel on the shoulder seasons. Come prepared with rain gear no matter what the season.
where to stay
Innsbruck is the first place that we splurged a little on ourselves, but mostly because there isn’t any hostels around this small town. Our choice of hotels couldn’t have been more perfect though, we had a fantastic time at Hotel Nala. Our room was so beautiful and luxurious, had an amazing view of the mountains, and felt so posh! We might have to splurge more often. Some of the other features of the hotel was a sauna (definitely made use of this given the weather), gym room, lounge area, restaurant, garden, and roof deck!
things to do
Innsbruck is a pretty small town but has some important Austrian history and culture packed into its city lines. We thought 24 hours was an adequate amount of time to see the things we wanted to, although if the weather was better we might have wanted to stay for another day to make it to some of the outdoor activities. These are the things we did make it to in the overcast weather that were perfect for a 24 hour itinerary!
If you know you want to hit a lot of activities in Innsbruck that have an admission fee, we recommend looking into the Innsbruck Card. You can buy it for 24, 48, or 72 hours and it is basically an all inclusive pass to the city. Many museums, public transportation, use of the hop-on hop-off sightseeing bus, and most importantly – the lift and cable car transport to the Nordkette mountain range lookout – are all included with the card. This can be a very cost effective way to see the city! They also have made itineraries for one, two, and three days in Innsbruck that are worth checking out if you want to pack the most important activities into your day.
Built in 1765, the Triumphpforte or Triumphal Arch was commissioned by Empress Maria Theresa to commemorate the matrimony of her son, the Duke of Tuscany. He would eventually be known as Emperor Leopold II and was to wed Princess Maria Ludovica from Spain. Although this was originally supposed to be a monument of prosperity and joy, it would double as a monument of mourning. During the marriage festivities, Empress Maria Theresa’s husband, Kaiser Franz I, died. One side of the monument is dedicated to mourning the late Kaiser Franz I, while the other is dedicated to the marriage of the Duke and Princess. It is a central Austrian landmark and beautiful display to commemorate both the happiness of marriage and sadness of loss.
Golden Roof and its Museum
Within the Old Town of Innsbruck, you will surely run straight into the Golden Roof and it’s museum. This is one of Innsbruck’s most famous attractions, built in 1500 by Emperor Maximillian I. The roof to the balcony alcove is made of 2,657 fire-guilded copper tiles and was built to commemorate the wedding of the Emperor to Biana Maria Sforza. They would watch festivities and events in the city center below and it has now become an iconic site of allurement for tourists. If you buy the Innsbruck Card, museum entrance is included but since we were short on time we skipped it so make sure to let us know if you think its worth it to see.
Catch the Views from the Stadtturm
Located a couple buildings down from the Golden Roof, the City Tower is a great way to get a bird’s eye view of the Old Town Square. The viewing platform is 101 ft (31m) high with 133 steps to get to the top. Due to weather when we were here, we didn’t brave the rainy view but again, with the Innsbruck Card your entrance is free!
Hofburg Imperial Palace
Now there’s a L O T of history about the Austrian Habsburg Monarchy (not to be confused with the House of Habsburg, the senior branch of the Monarchy that ruled much of Spain). Their power was dissolved in 1780 when many of their male line died off. The Imperial Palace in Innsbruck is 1 of 3 major historic and cultural monuments in Austria – we got to visit 2 out of the 3! The Imperial Palace is a great glimpse into 18th century life and also the history of the royal family of Austria. You can’t take pictures in a lot of the rooms but we didn’t know that until we had already gotten in trouble for snapping a few, so enjoy the ones we did get!
Explore Innsbruck Across the River
We ventured outside of the Old Town to explore the other side of the river to the neighborhoods of Innsbruck. We walked until we found an old church and it’s graveyard, took in some views of the mountains, and got lost in the rain. It was a really fun, relaxing way to see more of the “real Innsbruck”, complete with locals carrying their groceries up the sidewalk and a firehouse pancake breakfast party.
Activities We Missed
◊ Innsbrucker Nordketternbahnen – This was one activity we were really bummed that we missed out on! We had planned for making it up the mountain but the clouds never lifted from the valley so we figured it wouldn’t be the view we were hoping for. The lift takes you 6,500 ft (2,000m) to the top of the Nordkette mountains and on a clear day you can see the entire valley!
◊ Alpenzoo – If you’re an animal lover, you can head up to the Alpenzoo where you’ll find about 2,000 alpine animals, some of them only native to this area of the world. It’s located about a half an hour walk outside of the town or easily accessible by public transit, which is recommended since the parking can be scarce.
◊ Other Museums – If you’re dying for more Austrian Royal family history or even just to get more use out of your Innsbruck Card, here are two other museums to check out. First, the Hofkirche or Court Church, where you can find the empty tomb of Emperor Maximillian I and the large bronze figures known as the “Schwarze Mander”, representing the Emperor’s ancestors and his heroes. Second is the Tyrolean Folk Art Museum, if you want to know more about Tyrol’s past. Some of the focal points include arts and crafts, religious folk art, and Tyrolean costumes.
Eating + Drinking
These were some of our choices for one day of touring the city since we didn’t eat at our hotel and wanted to experience more of the city’s food culture.
◊ Coffee Kult – This is our kind of coffee house! Complete with a slow bar and latte art, for all our fellow coffee snobs out there. Check this place out for a good cup-o-Joe!
◊ Kröll Strudel Cafe – It was really hard to find a breakfast place in Innsbruck, so we headed over to TripAdvisor to at least find something that would suffice for even a brunch time meal. Plus, you can’t go to Austria without trying a strudel right? We both went for savory strudels – one salmon/potato and one meat/potato along with a cappuccino to wake up and warm up. We sat outside since the weather wasn’t rainy at breakfast time and watched the passerby’s in our fuzzy seats. Although this place isn’t anything to totally rave about, it sufficed for our breakfast itch. Next time though, I think we’ll stick to the recommended apple strudels!
◊ City Kebab – Food in Innsbruck is pricey, especially if you miss the lunch time deals. We stumbled upon this little kebab shop on our walk to the opposite side of the river and boy were we happy we did. We love kebab joints, especially since we lack this type of food in Reno so we always like to devour some in Europe. They tend to be a cheap meal, while certainly filling – and this place was no exception. They also serve burgers if you’re feeling something a bit more “hearty” but we recommend just sticking to the good stuff!
◊ Augustiner Stiftskeller – Remember Augustiner from Munich? Well we found their beer yet again in Innsbruck, very close to the Royal Palace walls. We recommend sipping a couple beers from here while escaping the rain and if you find yourself here in the sunshine, head to the beer garden!
◊ Machete Burrito – Who knew burritos could be so cool? This is definitely the most hip burrito joint we’ve ever eaten at. The staff was super nice and helpful when we had no idea how to order our food. Grab a paper from the counter and custom make your tasty meal, we recommend adding everything to it! They also have some good craft brews on draft and an extensive, unique cocktail list to wash down the mouth-watering burritos. Machete has cheap prices while still delivering on the taste, our favorite kind of eating establishments!
Any favorites we need to do on our next time in Innsbruck? Let us know in the comments below.