Innsbruck, Austria: 1 & 2-Day Itineraries

Two summers ago, we embarked on an amazing road trip through Europe. We started out in France and traveled through northern Italy, Switzerland, Austria, Czech Republic, Poland and Germany. In this blog, we focus on the city of Innsbruck in Austria. We have prepared for you a choice of either a one-day or a two-day itinerary

Why visit Innsbruck?

Innsbruck has a lot to offer. Whether you like winter sports, hiking or history and sightseeing, you will find something to suit your tastes. If you are an avid skier or snowboarder and visit during winter, this city and surrounding area are peppered with ski resorts. In fact, winter Olympics have been held here twice. Here is a guide to ski resorts in the area.

We visited in the summer and were very impressed by the city. Innsbruck was first founded in the 4th century as a Roman outpost to protect the Empire’s important commercial road. Its name means a bridge over the Inn River. In the 15th century, it became the capital of the Tyrol region with the Archduke of Austria Maximilian I, taking residence in Innsbruck. The arrival of the royal court transformed the town into a culturally important city in Europe.

Innsbruck struck us as a beautiful city with a walkable old town, full of history, surrounded by magnificent Alps, dissected by a river, and with pleasant summer weather. There is lots to do and see in this town and you can hike in the surrounding mountains.

Notes on the Itineraries:

You can:

  • Follow our one-day itinerary.  Even if you only have one day, you can combine the best of the two worlds: an urban sightseeing tour with a visit to the mountains above. 
  • Follow our two-day itinerary. This tour is divided into a city tour day and a separate day for the mountain. Use this option if you plan on hiking from the town into the mountains. You want to reserve one day just for the hike. However, we also included two-day options with cable car instead of hiking up. Before you use this itinerary, check the weather. If one day looks like it will have better weather, choose that day for your mountain hike. You don’t want rain or fog obscuring your views or making the trails slippery.
  • Or you can read both itineraries and pick and choose what you think you will like best and build your own itinerary based on your time constraints.

One-Day in Innsbruck:

If you only have one day, this is your itinerary. It is a perfect combination of urban exploration and visiting the mountain range above the city.

Morning – The Urban Walk-About:

Altstadt – take a stroll through Innsbruck’s Old Town. It is compact and walkable. Most important sights are either within the old town or near it. Make sure you have comfortable walking shoes on.

Goldenes Dahl – start your tour of the Old Town here with this iconic Golden Roof. The roof was completed in 1500 to commemorate the marriage of Maximilian I and Bianca Maria Sforza. If you only have one day, just admire it from outside. If you have time, see the museum inside which is very kid-friendly. A royal jester accompanies visitors throughout the museum. There is a room with games and books about the Middle Ages, knights and princesses.

Dom zu St Jakob – The Cathedral of St James is a must see and it’s only a two minute walk from the Golden Roof. The Cathedral was built in the 18th century and it belongs to the Catholic diocese of Innsbruck.

Innsbrucker Hofgarten – this Court Garden is a sprawling 10-hectare garden at the edge of the Old Town. Only a six-minute walk from the Cathedral of St James. There are playgrounds for kids here. You can take a horse-drawn carriage ride around or play garden chess.

Afternoon – Into the Mountains:

Nordkette (North Chain Mountain Range) – if you’re doing a one-day itinerary, you will need to take the cable car to get up the mountain quickly. See this site for prices and where to get on. If you haven’t eaten lunch in town, you can grab something to eat up here and enjoy the views below. After you eat, walk around and take in the views. The trails are easy up here and there are plenty of photo ops.

Evening & Night:

Dinner – by the time you go back down into the city, you will have done a lot of walking and sightseeing which will work up your appetite. When choosing a restaurant, go for Austrian fare. No trip is complete without tasting local delicacies. Austrian cuisine is heavy on meat. Wiener Schnitzel is our favourite but there are plenty of other Austrian dishes. If you are a vegetarian but would still like to try a traditional dish, go for Spätzle und Nockerln. It is something akin to pasta with eggs and chives. If you want more variety, there are quite a few vegetarian restaurants in Innsbruck however a lot of them serve items from cuisines other than Austrian.

Nightlife – Innsbruck is a university town and its nightlife is quite lively and varied. We did not partake, being there with our little guy, but if this is something you want and can do, check out this list of places recommended on TripAdvisor.

Two-Days in Innsbruck:

As I said before, you may have to flip your days around to accommodate for the weather.

Day 1: The Urban Walk-About:

Altstadt – take a stroll through Innsbruck’s Old Town. It is compact and walkable. Most important sights are either within the old town or near it. Make sure you have comfortable walking shoes on.

Goldenes Dahl – start your tour of the Old Town here with this iconic Golden Roof. The roof was completed in 1500 to commemorate the marriage of Maximilian I and Bianca Maria Sforza. If you have time, see the museum inside which is very kid-friendly. A royal jester accompanies visitors throughout the museum. There is a room with games and books about the Middle Ages, knights and princesses.

Dom zu St Jakob – The Cathedral of St James is a must see and it’s only a two minute walk from the Golden Roof. The Cathedral was built in the 18th century and is part of the Catholic diocese of Innsbruck.

Lunch – if the weather is nice, we recommend buying some street food or stopping by a supermarket to get some groceries and having a picnic in the park. This takes us to our next destination.

Innsbrucker Hofgarten – this Court Garden is a sprawling 10-hectare garden at the edge of the Old Town. It is a perfect place for a leisurely picnic. It is only a six-minute walk from the Cathedral of St James. There are playgrounds for kids here. You can take a horse-drawn carriage ride around or play garden chess.

Tiroler Volkskunstmuseum or Tyrolean Folk Art Museum – considered to be one of the best heritage museums in Europe, it occupies a former Franciscan monastery and it is only 4 minutes on foot from the Hofgarten. 

Schloss Ambrass or Ambrass Castle – this is another great museum to visit if you have the time. They even have tours for children with knights and treasure hunts. However, if you walk there from Old Town, you will need an hour to get there. But of course, you can take public transport or a cab to get there quicker.

Dinner – When choosing a restaurant, we recommend trying traditional Tyrolean fare. No trip is complete without tasting local delicacies. Austrian cuisine is heavy on meat. Wiener Schnitzel is best known and our favourite. If you are a vegetarian but would still like to try a traditional dish, go for Spätzle und Nockerln. It is something akin to pasta with eggs and chives. If you want more variety and something lighter, there are quite a few vegetarian restaurants in Innsbruck.

Nightlife – Innsbruck is a university town and its nightlife is quite lively and varied. We did not partake, being there with our little guy, but if this is something you want and can do, check out this list of places recommended on TripAdvisor.  You may want to skip the nightlife if you plan on hiking the next day. Alcohol and lack of sleep will mess with your stamina the next day.

Day 2: Into the Mountains.

Option 1: This option is for those who wish to hike up the Nordkette (North Chain Mountain Range). Make sure you have appropriate footwear, sunscreen, enough water and snacks. This hike is probably not appropriate for very young kids unless you are carrying them in a baby carrier backpack. Once you reach the top, you can have lunch in the restaurant or just bring food and have a picnic. To hike from Innsbruck to the Nordkette mountain is a 10-km day long hike. Here is a story of what the hike entails by a person who did it.

Option 2: This option is the most kid-friendly as it avoids the 10 km hike up the mountain. This is the option we took with our 8-year old. Take a cable car up and hike from Nordkette as your starting point. Here are several trails you could take.

Option 3: Take a cable car up and spend the day hand-gliding or paragliding on the Nordkette

Prefer the one-day itinerary? Click here to see it.

We hope this helps you in planning your trip to Innsbruck. If you do use our itineraries, feel free to comment with feedback after. We would love to hear about your trip.

Happy travels!

BPK

 

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