Innsbruck, the picturesque capital of Tyrol in western Austria, is a charming alpine city nestled in the heart of the snowcapped Austrian Alps. With plenty of unique experiences to discover, spending 1, 2 or 3 days in Innsbruck is a must for any trip to Austria. Use this Innsbruck itinerary to discover this city’s rich history, natural splendour and cosy Austrian cuisine.
How Many Days in Innsbruck?
Innsbruck may be much smaller than the likes of Vienna or Salzburg, but there is plenty to see and do in the city itself, as well as exploring the surrounding Austrian Alps. With so much to discover, it can be tricky to work out how many days to spend in Innsbruck.
With just one day in Innsbruck, you’ll want to focus on the heart of the city. Explore the Old Town with its colourful medieval buildings and cobblestone streets, and majestic Imperial Palace. You’ll have time to visit a selection of museums and galleries, but if you want to explore more of the surrounding mountains, it’s best to extend your stay.
If you have a little longer, with 2 days in Innsbruck, you’ll have plenty of time to get to know the city and explore the nearby attractions such as the Swarovski Kristallwelten Museum or the ‘Top of Europe’ the Nordkette Mountain. Discover hiking trails or simply take in the incredible views – on a clear day, you can see Italy in the south and Germany to the north.
Ideally, you will want to dedicate a full 3 days in Innsbruck. This way, you can explore the city and take a day trip to the surrounding attractions without feeling rushed. Visit more of the captivating museums and galleries, experience the endless hiking trails, go on a guided tour or even take to the skies in a glider plane.
Getting To & Around Innsbruck
Reaching Innsbruck by plane is quick and easy, whether you are already in Europe or are flying in from further afield. Innsbruck Airport (INN) is the closest airport to the city and offers both domestic and international flights.
From the airport, it’s just a short distance of about 4 kilometres to the city centre. You can choose to take a short taxi ride, airport shuttle or public bus into the city centre.
Innsbruck is a major railway hub with excellent train connections from just about anywhere in Europe. The city is served by regional, national, and international trains, with direct trains from Vienna, Zurich, Cologne and even Amsterdam. You can view train schedules here.
The main train station, Innsbruck Hauptbahnhof, is centrally located and well-connected. Travelling by train is the more environmentally friendly option but also offers incredible scenic views of the alpine landscapes along the way, including the Alberg Pass.
Another more affordable option is to travel by bus. Innsbruck has a reliable bus network, both domestically and internationally. Several bus companies operate services to and from Innsbruck, connecting it with various European cities. The bus station, Innsbruck Hauptbahnhof, is conveniently located next to the train station. You can view bus schedules here.
Innsbruck is also easily accessible by car. The A12 and A13 motorways link Innsbruck with neighbouring countries and cities like Munich, Salzburg, and Verona. Austria, like Switzerland, has its own vignette system, so make sure to purchase an annual pass to drive on the motorways if you are planning on bringing your own car.
Also, be aware the A12 motorway is now part of the Low Emission zone in Tyrol, so you will need a sticker on your windscreen displaying your vehicle’s emission status. If you don’t have one of these, avoid using this particular motorway and use the more minor 171 road, as the fines can be hefty.
If you need to rent a car for your trip, you can browse Rentalcars.com which compares prices across major companies.
Once you have arrived in this alpine city, getting around is easy. The best way to explore the centre is on foot. This way, you get to fully immerse yourself in the culture and discover back streets and local craft shops along the way.
If you are spending only one day in Innsbruck or want to really make the most of your time here, familiarising yourself with the bus and tram network is best.
Purchasing an Innsbruck Card will provide you with free travel on public transport around the city, entry to 22 attractions (10 of which are included in this Innsbruck itinerary) and a 3-hour pass for one of the city bikes. These cards are valid for 24, 48 or 72 hours.
1, 2 or 3 Days in Innsbruck Itinerary
Day 1 – Innsbruck Old Town Highlights
Innsbruck’s charming old town is the perfect place to kick off your visit to this historic city. Over 500 years old, Innsbruck is packed full of culture and history. Wandering the pedestrianised cobbled streets of the old town, you’ll be transported back to mediaeval times.
Taking in the colourful buildings, painted facades, intricate architecture and local craft stores along the way. Don’t miss Maria Theresian Strasse, the street that offers the most breathtaking views with historic buildings framed by the majestic Alps.
Here you will find plenty of shops and cafes where you can spend the morning enjoying some retail therapy – don’t forget to pick up some souvenirs to take home.
One of the most iconic landmarks in Innsbruck is the ‘Golden Roof’. Completed in 1500, the golden roof was commissioned by Emperor Maximilian. 2,657 gilded copper shingles were added to the roof to mark his wedding to Bianca Maria Sforza.
You can visit the embellished roof with its dazzling copper tiles from the main square of the Old Town, but for a unique view of the roof and across the city, climb the 148 steps to reach the top of the City Tower (Stadtturm) – tickets can be purchased here.
Just a short walk away from the City Tower and the Golden Roof, the Hofburg is a historic landmark and former imperial palace nestled in the heart of the city.
With roots dating back to the 15th century, this grand architectural marvel once served as the residence of the Habsburgs, one of Europe’s most influential royal families, whenever they visited the city. The Hofburg showcases a variety of architectural styles, including Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque.
Now, you can enter the building to explore its opulent rooms, admire intricate frescoes and delve into the rich history of the Habsburg dynasty. The palace also houses several museums, including the Imperial Apartments and the Treasury, displaying a collection of royal artefacts and regalia.
Outside, the former private gardens are open to the public and are well worth wandering through on your way out.
After a busy morning exploring the heart of Innsbruck, it’s time to head into the hustle and bustle of the central covered market to pick up some local delights. Just a short walk from the Hofburg and the public park, you’ll find the permanent Market Hall.
Inside, there are plenty of discoveries to be made – from farm-fresh artisan foods to vibrant flowers, This is the perfect place to pick up some lunch and stop for a coffee before heading on to Ambras Castle.
On the outskirts of the city centre, perched on a ridge, Ambras Castle is a magnificent Renaissance castle that stands as a testament to history and cultural heritage.
Built in the 16th century by Archduke Ferdinand II, the castle boasts stunning architecture, beautiful gardens, and breathtaking views of the surrounding Alps.
Ambras Castle is renowned for its remarkable art collections, including the world’s oldest collection of portraits, the Habsburg Portrait Gallery.
As well as the cabinet of curiosities, an armoury room, an old musical instrument museum and the intricately decorated 43-metre Spanish Hall. You can pre-book tickets here.
Bergisel Ski Jump
Whether you are a winter sports enthusiast or not, it’s well worth visiting the Bergisel Ski Jump, located just to the south of the city.
Hosting the Winter Olympic ski jump in 1964, 1976 and 2012, here you can discover the history of this adrenaline-fuelled sport in the multimedia room and watch live demonstrations as the team trains from May to October (depending on weather conditions). You can book tickets here.
You can also head up two lifts into the modern tower to enjoy panoramic views of the city and the Innsbruck Valley. Here you will also find a modern restaurant offering a delightful culinary experience with breathtaking views of the Tyrol Panorama.
1809’s menu showcases a range of creative and flavourful dishes, highlighting regional and seasonal ingredients. From hearty Austrian classics to innovative international cuisine, there is something to suit every palate.
If you would prefer to head back to Innsbruck to enjoy some regional cuisine, the old town is the best place to find authentic Tyrolean dishes. Try Stiftskeller located in the cellar of St. Jacob’s Cathedral. This is one of the oldest restaurants in Europe. Alternatively, consider taking a food tour of the city.
Day 2 – Top of Innsbruck, Alpenzoo, Swarovski Kristallwelten Museum & More!
Top of Innsbruck/Nordkette
“The Top of Innsbruck” refers to the stunning viewing platform located at the summit of the Nordkette mountain range, offering breathtaking panoramic views of Innsbruck and the surrounding alpine landscapes. Visiting here is absolutely one of the best things to do in Innsbruck.
To reach the summit from the city centre, walk over to Innsbruck Congress. From there, you take a funicular to the Hungerburg stop. Next, you will take two cable cars, the first to Seegrube and then the next up to Hafelekar. You can pre-book tickets here.
It may seem like a complicated journey, but it is a popular, well-signposted route that only takes around 30 minutes. As you ascend into the mountains, the views across the valley are truly breathtaking.
Arriving at the summit, you’ll be treated to far-reaching views across Italy and Germany. There are plenty of hiking trails to explore from the top, so make sure you wear appropriate footwear, put together a picnic and pack warm clothing (even in the summer).
After taking in the summit, the first stop on your descent is Seegrube. This is where you change cable cars, but it is worth spending some time here before continuing back down to Innsbruck.
If you are hoping to find a bite to eat, there is a great restaurant at this station, ‘Seegrube Restaurant,’ where you can enjoy Tyrolean cuisine with panoramic views.
Another stop on the descent from Nordkette is the Alpenzoo. The highest zoo in Europe, the Alpenzoo, is not your average zoo. You won’t find any tigers, lions or giraffes here.
They focus primarily on the animals native to the Alps – ibex, marmot, beaver, otter, wolves and many more in their natural habitat. They are also working on the conservation of native endangered species such as the Bavarian pine vole. You can buy tickets here that combines Alpenzoo & The Top of Innsbruck.
Swarovski Kristallwelten Museum
One of the highlights of any trip to Innsbruck is the magical world of the Swarovski Kristallwelten Museum. More of a theme park than a museum, there is plenty to see and do here, so you will want to dedicate the entire afternoon to exploring the underground galleries, maze, waterfalls and countless displays of crystals.
To reach the museum, take the shuttle bus from Innsbruck train station. There are four shuttle buses every day, you can check the timetables here.
As you arrive, you’ll be greeted by the spectacular waterfall and outdoor displays before heading inside to discover the galleries, including crystal renderings of artwork by famous artists such as Salvador Dali and Andy Warhol.
The museum is open until 7pm so you will have plenty of time to explore the exhibits, visit the shop and enjoy the on-site restaurant, Daniels Kristallwelten.
Enjoy the extensive menu before winding down at the bar. If you are limited to 2 days in Innsbruck, this is the perfect way to round off your stay with a touch of luxury.
Day 3 – Neuschwanstein Castle, Achensee, Stubai Glacier or Salzburg
If you have a full 3 days in Innsbruck, you will have time to take a day trip to a nearby beauty spot, book an exciting excursion, or city hop to spend the day exploring a new city. Here are some ideas for your third and final day in this breathtaking city.
Venture across the border into Germany to visit the iconic Neuschwanstein Castle. This fairy-tale castle, perched on a hilltop, is known for inspiring Walt Disney’s Sleeping Beauty castle. Here you can take a guided tour where you will head inside and learn all about Neuschwanstein and King Ludwig II.
The most iconic viewpoint is Marienbrücke, a 10-minute hike away. This is where you will want to take your photos of the castle perched upon its rocky outcrop.
Head over to the stunning Achensee, the largest lake in Tyrol. Nestled between the dramatic Rofan mountains and the wild Karwendel mountains, this turquoise alpine lake is a much-loved summertime destination.
Enjoy water activities like swimming, sailing, stand-up paddleboarding, or hiking along the beautiful trails surrounding the lake. If you are visiting during the ski season, there are several resorts surrounding the lake, including Christlum, Rofan and Planberg.
Experience the magic of the Stubai Glacier, one of the largest glaciers in the Eastern Alps, renowned for its year-round snow and breathtaking views.
With extensive ski slopes, snowboarding terrain, and a range of winter activities, it offers an exceptional winter sports experience. In summer, you can explore hiking trails, witness glaciers, and enjoy panoramic vistas of the surrounding mountains.
If you are more of a city hopper, you can reach Salzburg in around 2 hours by train from Innsbruck. Salzburg is a captivating city with a timeless beauty, rich history, and vibrant cultural scene. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is famous as the birthplace of Mozart, and his legacy can be felt throughout the city.
With its charming Old Town, baroque architecture, and magnificent landmarks such as Hohensalzburg Fortress and Mirabell Palace, Salzburg offers a feast for history and architecture enthusiasts.
The city also hosts world-class music festivals, including the renowned Salzburg Festival, attracting classical music lovers from around the globe.
Where to Stay in Innsbruck
Hotel Zach – Mid-range travellers to this beautiful Tyrolean city will love this 3-star hotel. Centrally located close to all of Innsbruck’s top attractions, they have a range of lovely rooms to choose from along with a nice terrace and a great breakfast each morning. Click here to check availability
Hotel Innsbruck – Those after luxury will love this plush hotel located in the centre of the city of Innsbruck. They have a number of gorgeous rooms to choose from along with countless opulent amenities for guests to enjoy. Click here to check availability
Marktbar Studios – If you want to have your own flat while staying in Innsbruck, then these boutique studios are a great option. Located close to all of the top attractions in Innsbruck, they have a range of fully-furnished studios available with everything you may need for your stay. Click here to check availability
Montagu Hostel – Budget and solo travellers will love this centrally-located and highly-rated hostel. They have both dorm beds and private rooms on offer along with great common areas and self-catering facilities for guests to use. Click here to check availability
Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse more Innsbruck hotels!
Innsbruck is a truly captivating city, effortlessly combining the natural beauty of the surrounding mountains with a rich cultural heritage. A vibrant year-round destination, there is so much to see and do, planning your visit could easily become overwhelming. Using this guide, you will be able to plan the perfect itinerary to suit you.
Are you planning to visit Innsbruck? Have any questions about this itinerary? Let us know in the comments!