Innsbruck, the Capital of the Alps

 

View of Innsbruck in Austria

Innsbruck is located in the Austrian region of Tirol. Surrounded by mountains, it is a busy ski resort in winter and a hiking paradise in summer.

View of Innsbruck airport

The city is well connected to the rest of Europe with an international airport and a railway station with direct trains to Switzerland, Germany and to other destinations in Austria like Salzburg and Vienna as well as to Verona and Venice in Italy.

A tram in Innsbruck

Sightseer bus in Innsbruck

Innsbruck has got a very good transport system that includes trams, buses and for tourists The Sightseer, an hop-on hop-off bus stopping at all the major tourist locations in the city. The Old Town, where most monuments and interesting buildings are located, can be easily visited on foot. To save on entrance fees and transport costs, an Innsbruck Card is highly recommended; it can be purchased with a validity of 24, 48 and 72 hours and it covers all transport around the city and its surrounding villages as well as one return trip on the cable cars and free entry to all museums and visitors attractions.

The Liberation Monument in Innsbruck

The Triumphal Arch in Innsbruck

It is a short bus trip from Innsbruck airport to the railway station in the city center; from here to reach the Old Town, pass the vast Eduard Wallnöfer Square with the Liberation Monument, and walk through the Triumphal Arch to Maria-Theresien Strasse.

Table at a cafe in Innsbruck

This elegant pedestrianized street is lined with coffee shops with tables outside, beautiful buildings, shops and restaurants serving traditional Austrian food.

St.Anne's Column in Innsbruck

Hospital Church, Innsbruck

Shops in Innsbruck

Buildings in Innsbruck

St.Anne’s Column and Spitalskirche (Hospital Church) can be seen here and further along is the City Tower; climbing to the top will give the chance to get good views of Innsbruck and the surrounding mountains as well as the street and the buildings below, including the beautiful Helbling House.

View from Innsbruck's City Tower

City Tower view, Innsbruck

Helbling House in Innsbruck

A short distance away is one of Innsbruck’s most famous landmarks: the Golden Roof. It was built for the Emperor Maximilian I and, it was from the terrace under the roof that the Emperor and his wife would observe events staged in the square below. A small museum can be visited in the building.

View of the Golden Roof in Innsbruck

The visit to Innsbruck’s Old Town and its imperial past can continue with a look at The Hofburg, the Imperial Palace and its gardens. The building housing the National Theater can be seen across the road.

National Theater in Innsbruck

From here there are two options: to stay in town and visit some of Innsbruck’s churches like St.James’ Cathedral and The Court Church were the tomb of Emperor Maximilian I is located or, to get the funicular and get up to the mountain.

The Court Church in Innsbruck

Nordkettenbahnen is a system of funiculars and cable cars that takes visitors from Innsbruck city center to the upper station of Hafelekar 2256m above sea level; the stations were designed by the renown Iraqi-British architect Zaha Hadid .

Innsbruck funicular station

The first part of the journey starts at Congress Station with a stop across the river Inn before climbing to the Alpenzoo Station.

Funicular in Innsbruck

It is possible to get off here to visit the zoo; it houses many animals found in the Alps including bears, lynx, wolves and a moose.

The Alpenzoo in Innsbruck

A bear at Innsbruck Alpenzoo

Lynx at Innsbruck Alpenzoo

A wolf at Innsbruck Alpenzoo

Moose at Innsbruck Alpenzoo

For people deciding to stay on the funicular, the next stop is Hungerburg; from here there are very good views of Innsbruck but even better views can be seen by boarding the cable-car to the next station, Seegrube.

Zaha Hadid designed funicular station in Innsbruck

View of Innsbruck

For people not afraid of heights and suitably dressed, another cable-car run from Seegrube to Hafelekar.

Cable-car in Innsbruck

Chairlift in Innsbruck

The contrast from the city to the top of the mountain could not be any different: it is quite common to leave Innsbruck city center on a sunny day and ski or just relax on a sun-lounge with snow all around up here. Hot drinks and food are available in the restaurant.

An igloo in Innsbruck

Sun loungers in the snow in Innsbruck

Although Innsbruck can be visited over a long weekend, a longer stay will give the opportunity to visit its surroundings; Swarovski World, a museum dedicated to the famous crystals, is just outside the city and it is connected by a shuttle bus; both the bus journey and the entrance fee are covered by the Innsbruck Card.

The Giant at Swarovski World in Innsbruck

The entrance to the museum is through a giant (literally!) and inside there are 14 different rooms or, as they like to call them, Chambers of Wonders; the visit ends in what is considered to be the biggest Swarovski shop in the world.

One of Swarovski World room, Innsbruck

White room at Swarovski World in Innsbruck

Pyramid at Swarovski World in Innsbruck

Outside there are manicured gardens and a labyrinth shaped as one the hands of the giant.

The labyrinth at Swarovski World in Innsbruck

Another pleasant excursion outside Innsbruck is to the village of Igls. It can be reached by bus but a more scenic route is by tram through the forest.

View of Wilten Basilica in Innsbruck

View inside Wilten Basilica in Innsbruck

View of Wilten Monastery in Innsbruck

From Innsbruck city center trams stop at Wilten Basilica and the Monastery nearby; stopping here will also give the opportunity to visit the Bergisel Ski Jump not too far away.

Sky Jump in Innsbruck

Tram number 6 makes the journey to Igls with a stop near Ambras Castle en-route.

View of Ambras Castle in Innsbruck

Igls stands under Patscherkofel mountain, the site of the Winter Olympics in 1964 and 1976.

The church at Igls near Innsbruck

A cable car takes skiers to the top of the mountain and for non-skiers the options are limited to a cafe serving food and drinks.

The view from Igls in Austria

A visit to Innsbruck would not be complete without sampling the local food, from Wiener Schnitzel and Apple Strudel to hearty stews with dumplings washed down with beer. As they say around here: Prosit!

Mountains in Austria

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