If you can’t decide between surrounding yourself with untouched alpine scenery or centuries-old fairytale-like towns, take a trip to Innsbruck. Nestled among the majestic Austrian Alps, this magnificent city offers an unparalleled mix of nature, culture, and history.
With countless compelling streets just begging to be explored, art galleries that house ancient treasures, and imposing castles that were once home to the city’s elite, you’ll never be at a loss for what to do in Innsbruck.
The alpine city isn’t all about Baroque architecture and historic gems. There are plenty of up-and-coming areas to explore, laden with innovative vegan restaurants, independent coffee shops, and small boutiques run by local artists. Not to mention the 13 incredible ski resorts that surround Innsbruck.
Whether you want to step back in time and discover the fascinating roots of the city or escape from your routine and discover all the hidden secrets and quirky spots it has to offer, Innsbruck is a fantastic place to visit.
With such a great choice of things to see and do, it can be tricky to know where to begin. To help you out, we’ve put together a list of the best things to do in Innsbruck. Add these fun activities and attractions to your Innsbruck bucket list, and you’re guaranteed to have an amazing time exploring this magical alpine city!
Don’t forget to check out our web story: The 15 Best Things to do in Innsbruck, Austria
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15 Fun and Unique Things to Do In Innsbruck
1. See the largest crystal in the world
One of the most unique things to do in Innsbruck is to see the largest crystal in the world. Hidden inside the Swarovski Kristallwelten, just a short drive or bus ride away from the center of the city, this gem is absolutely huge and is listed in the Guinness Book of Records.
The Swarovski crystal has a diameter of almost 16 inches and weighs a staggering 137 pounds! Once you’re done marveling at the crystal, there are plenty of other fascinating things to see within the dazzling museum, too.
At the entrance, you’ll find a giant plant-covered head with water gushing out of the mouth into a pool below. It makes for a great picture! There are also several “Wonders Rooms” within the museum that combine sparkling Swarovski crystals with works of art.
Otherworldly rooms filled with optical illusion-creating mirrors, glittering chandeliers, giant gems you can step inside, and intricate displays that must have taken countless hours to put together are just some of the things you’ll see during your visit.
2. Explore the streets of Innsbruck’s Old Town
For some of the best sights in Innsbruck, head to the city’s Old Town. Also known as Altstadt, Innsbruck’s Old Town is a small and friendly place nestled in the Austrian Alps. It’s perfect for just wandering around and seeing where you end up!
As you stroll, you’ll pass by colorful Baroque and Gothic buildings which stand in front of huge commanding mountains. The contrast between the architecture and the natural scenery is striking.
If you prefer to follow an itinerary instead of just wandering around, there are plenty of things you can add to your sightseeing list. Innsbruck’s Old Town is where you’ll find the famous Golden Roof, City Tower, Imperial Palace, Court Church, and Triumphal Arch.
When you need a break, there are plenty of cute stores to pop into where you can pick up gifts for friends and family back home. Or, if you need a bit of extra energy, there’s a huge choice of cafes, bars, and restaurants that dish up authentic Austrian cuisine to choose from.
3. Marvel at the views from the Nordkette Cable Car
Innsbruck is full of incredible views, and you’ll get some of the best on the cable car, which takes you to part of Austria’s biggest natural park. Called the Innsbrucker Nordkette, the cable car whisks you away to the Nordkette Park and treats you to stunning 360-degree views along the way.
The cable car journey takes around 20 minutes, giving you plenty of time to take in your surroundings and appreciate the view. As you climb higher, you’ll have a fantastic bird’s-eye view of Innsbruck and the jaw-dropping mountains which surround it.
One of the best things about the Innsbrucker Nordkette is that there are several stops where you can hop on or hop off. As well as admiring the view, there are plenty of things you can do at each stop, too, such as watching the skiers zoom down the white snowy slopes or scaling the rocky face of the Karwendel!
4. Be amazed by the ‘Tirol Panorama’
Visiting the Tirol Panorama Museum is one of the coolest things to do in Innsbruck. Much more than a simple painting, the Tirol Panorama is a 360-degree work of art that illustrates one of the Battles of Bergisel in which Tirol rebels defended their land against Napoleonic invaders.
You’ll find the painting inside the Tirol Panorama Museum, which is located where the actual battle took place. Exploring the museum and admiring the painting are great ways to learn about the history of Innsbruck and the immense struggles locals went through to preserve their freedom.
The Tirol Panorama measures a staggering 10,764 square feet, and the details are incredible for such a large work of art. Because the painting curves around the wall, it creates an almost 3D-like effect which helps you immerse yourself in the scene and imagine what it was like for the people who were really there.
5. Dig into a big bowl of spätzle
When you need a break from all the Innsbruck sightseeing, find a restaurant that serves up authentic Austrian cuisine and order some spätzle! This classic Austrian dish is popular throughout the Alps and is a wonderful way to warm up after being out in the crisp mountain air.
Also sometimes called käsespätzle, this traditional dish is Austria’s version of macaroni and cheese. It’s made of rich egg noodles smothered in melted gooey cheese and topped with caramelized or crispy onions. It sounds really simple, but the flavors and textures work surprisingly well together. Because it’s so popular, you’ll find spätzle available in almost every restaurant throughout Innsbruck.
Fischerhausl is an excellent place to try the dish. It’s incredibly rich, smooth, creamy, and pretty affordable. There are loads of other authentic Austrian dishes on the menu, too. It’s best to visit Fischerhausl during spring or summer when you can sit outside in the little garden out back and enjoy an alfresco meal.
6. Catch a glimpse of the Golden Roof
The Golden Roof is one of the most popular Innsbruck attractions. Also known as Goldenes Dachl, the glittering attraction is located on the alcove balcony of a building in the city’s Old Town.
Despite what its name may suggest, the Golden Roof isn’t actually made of gold. It was built in the 1500s for Emperor Maximilian I and is made out of 2,657 fire-gilded copper tiles. Centuries ago, he would stand on his balcony below the glamorous roof and watch all the hustle and bustle of the city.
The Golden Roof isn’t something you’ll spend a lot of time admiring. In fact, you could easily walk straight past it if you didn’t know it was there. But it’s worth stopping by and checking out as you explore Old Town.
If you get close to the balcony, you’ll see that there’s a lot more going on than just the shining roof. The structure is richly decorated with all kinds of curious images and figures.
7. Celebrate good over evil at Fasnacht
Fasnacht only happens once every four years, so if it coincides with your trip to Innsbruck, it’s definitely worth checking out. This rare festival illustrates the great struggle between good and evil and incorporates loads of cool events you won’t see anywhere else.
The celebrations are held between January 6 (Epiphany) and Ash Wednesday, similar to Carnivals throughout the rest of the world. The intense program includes many different parades with locals dressed in all kinds of crazy costumes, incredibly loud music concerts, and street parties that never seem to end.
Each of the carefully-chosen costumes you’ll see during the festival symbolizes something important. For example, witches embody all things evil, “Tuxers” represent friendly locals who enjoy a drink, and “Zottlers” symbolize an unwanted winter.
The exact dates and program change each year. So it’s a good idea to check the city’s website and look out for posters when you’re there to see what’s happening during your visit.
8. Watch a concert at the Innsbruck Cathedral
If you’re stuck for things to do in Innsbruck in the evenings, check out one of the concerts held at the Innsbruck Cathedral. Also known as the Innsbruck Dom or the Cathedral of St. James, the cathedral is located in Domplatz and regularly hosts concerts throughout the year that the public can attend.
The breathtaking structure was built in the Baroque style in 1724, although it didn’t earn its cathedral status until 1964. It’s best known for its magnificent twin-towered west front, as well as the dome which towers above the choir. But it also contains some fabulous painted ceilings, impressive stucco work, marble altars, and a richly-carved pulpit.
What makes concerts here so incredible is the organ. Situated in the west gallery, it boasts 3,729 pipes and 57 registers. The sound of the organ creates a one-of-a-kind spiritual atmosphere that fills the cathedral during every show.
Because there’s no set schedule for the cathedral’s concerts, it’s best to check the website or ask in person to find out if anything’s happening during your visit.
9. Delve into local culture at the Tyrolean Folk Art Museum
There are a number of fascinating museums in the city, and the Tyrolean Folk Art Museum is one of our favorites! One of the best things to do in Innsbruck when it’s too cold or wet to be outdoors, this museum gives you an insight into the way people lived centuries ago.
The museum comprises multiple perfectly replicated farmhouse rooms where you can gaze at one of the most important collections of cultural gems from across the ages in Innsbruck. You can admire everything from handcrafted tools, common household items, and ornate chairs to fascinating masks, religious items, and even nativity scenes.
We love looking at all the traditional costumes on display. They’re set out in chronological order so you can see how fashion changed over time. There are also some exhibits which show the fantastic festival costumes and how they’ve changed over the years, too.
10. Fill up on delicious speckknödel
When you need some extra energy to cross all the Innsbruck activities off your list, find a local restaurant and order some speckknödel. These traditional Austrian bacon dumplings are just what you need to fill you up so you can enjoy everything the city has to offer.
Speckknödel are light and fluffy bread-based dumplings studded with generous chunks of bacon. They’re large, round, and most commonly served floating in a rich broth or alongside a portion of sauerkraut.
You’ll find this common dish available in practically every Austrian restaurant throughout Innsbruck. But our favorite is Stiftskeller. This place is like a combined restaurant and beer garden and serves all kinds of amazing local dishes.
Speckknödel isn’t always on the menu here – you sometimes have to ask for it. But when they do offer it, the dumplings are served as a starter and are floating in a delicate yet rich beef consommé.
11. Feel like royalty at the Imperial Palace
Visiting the Imperial Palace is one of the top things to do in Innsbruck. This royal building is sometimes called the Hofburg Palace, and it’s one of the most important buildings in Austria, along with the Hofburg and Schönbrunn Palace in Vienna.
The imposing palace was completed in 1500 and, back then, included a Gothic courtyard with a covered staircase, a “Kürnstube” to house Emperor Maximilian I’s hunting trophies, and the Festival Hall, which features depictions of Hercules.
Around 250 years later, Maria Theresa visited the palace and thought it to be old-fashioned. She had it rebuilt in the Viennese late Baroque style to suit her more modern tastes. The palace was renovated again in the 19th century by Archduke Karl Ludwig.
The multiple renovations and style changes make the palace a fascinating place to explore. Today the Imperial Palace contains four different museums, each of which houses a unique collection of artifacts and treasures from centuries ago.
12. Take a walk along Maria-Theresien Strasse
There are plenty of stunning streets in the city to walk along, but one of the must-do things in Innsbruck is to go for a stroll along Maria-Theresien Strasse. This historic street was originally built more than 700 years ago when only a few farmhouses lined it.
Today, it is a bustling place to be, laden with loads of lively cafes, traditional restaurants, and stores selling everything you can imagine!
Not only is this street a great place to chat over a cup of coffee or buy some souvenirs, but it’s also where you can see several Innsbruck landmarks. The Town Hall (Rathaus), St. Anne’s Column (Annasäule), and the Alpine Club Museum (Alpenverein Museum) can all be found here.
Like many parts of the city, the bright pastel-colored houses set against the dreamy mountain backdrop will leave you speechless and have you snapping pictures non-stop.
13. Go Dancing at the Alpine Folk Music Festival
One of the most fun things to do in Innsbruck in September is to check out the Alpine Folk Music Festival. Known locally as Alpenländischer Volksmusikwettbewerb, this music festival is held every two years and attracts more than 700 young musicians from Austria, Bavaria, South Tyrol, and Eastern Switzerland.
The talented musical artists get together to show off their impressive skills at the largest traditional folk music competition in all of Austria. During the festival, the streets of Innsbruck are constantly flowing with the whimsical sounds of local folk music and people dressed in stunning traditional costumes.
All kinds of things happen during the event. You can expect huge gatherings of musicians, large folk dances, lively music concerts, special folk music breakfasts in certain hotels, traditional costumes and instruments on sale, and a general upbeat party atmosphere.
A spectacular award ceremony takes place on the festival’s final evening, followed by a radio closing service the next morning inside Innsbruck Cathedral.
14. See alpine animals at Alpenzoo
One of the best Innsbruck activities to do as a family is to visit Alpenzoo. More like a conservation foundation than a zoo, Alpenzoo is a non-profit organization that does everything possible to protect alpine animals.
Around 2,000 different animals call the zoo their home. The residents are divided across 20 different kinds of alpine mammals, 60 birds, 11 reptiles, and six amphibians. The zoo is also proud to have almost every species of alpine fish, which are kept safe in the biggest freshwater aquarium in the world!
From giant brown bears, curious otters, and cute black-nosed sheep to impressive bearded vultures, graceful lynx, and intimidating wolves, the zoo does great work at protecting rare, endangered, and at-risk animals from extinction.
If you visit during the warmer months, you may have the chance to see some babies. Many of the animals are born between April and June, so if you stop by in spring or summer, keep an eye out for the little ones taking their first steps and playing with their siblings!
15. Hit the slopes in Igls
If you’re planning to visit in winter, one of the top Innsbruck bucket list activities is to go skiing in Seefeld. The city is well-known as Austria’s leading ski destination, with links to a number of incredible ski resorts via regular shuttle buses.
Out of all the ski resorts in Innsbruck, Igls has got to be our favorite. This village rewards skiers with remarkable views over the city and has a fantastic range of ski runs suitable for people of all levels and ages.
There are 18 runs in total, with nine red, five blue, and four black pistes. There are cable cars and ski lifts to whisk you to the top and snowboarding is also possible.
Because Igls features just 11 miles of slopes, you may get bored after a while if you’re an intermediate or expert skier. Thankfully, there’s a bus that connects Igls to the extensive ski zone, which incorporates many more of the area’s ski resorts and slopes.
There you have it! The 15 best things to do in Innsbruck, Austria. What’s your favorite thing to do in Innsbruck?
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