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When I told people that I would be in Western Austria for a conference, most told me that I had to visit the country’s most popular cities for tourists: Vienna and Salzburg. But after seeing beautiful photos of Innsbruck, I knew I had to visit. This 3 days in Innsbruck itinerary is the best way to see one of Austria’s charming towns.
If you’re wondering if Innsbruck is worth visiting, I can say it absolutely is! It’s small enough to see the best attractions in Innsbruck in a few days but large enough that there’s no shortage of things to do.
It’s affordable and easy to get around, and it’s a little off the beaten path – all with great scenic views of the Alps. It doesn’t get much better than that!
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Arrival in Innsbruck / How to Get to Innsbruck
Innsbruck is located in Western Austria and is easy to get to from just about anywhere in Europe.
Innsbruck has an international airport located just 10 minutes from the center of town. I definitely recommend booking flights into Innsbruck if you’re already in Europe – it’s super easy to catch a bus or taxi into town from here. Best of all, it’s a smallish airport, so check-in is fast and easy when it’s time to leave. Psst: Book your airport transfer ahead of time here.
It’s also easy to get to Innsbruck by flying into a larger international airport like Munich or Salzburg. Getting to Innsbruck from Munich or Salzburg takes about 2 hours by train once you get from the airport to the main train station in either city. This is the best option if you’re coming from the United States, as well.
Getting to Innsbruck by train is easy from just about anywhere in Europe. Innsbruck is a major hub with lots of connections from Munich, Vienna, Salzburg, Venice, and Zurich, but the travel time is going to vary a lot depending on where you start and what route you take.
When booking a train to Innsbruck, don’t be so quick to book the fastest option. The scenic route from Munich winds through the Alps and passes by a ton of storybook towns. It’s absolutely gorgeous and well worth the extra time.
Pro Tip: I recommend buying tickets ahead of time using Omio. They get more expensive the more you procrastinate and Omio shows you all the route options available via various rail companies.
Best Time to Visit Innsbruck
Innsbruck is a well-known destination for winter sports (it hosted the Winter Olympics twice – in 1964 and 1976!), and if skiing is your jam, there are over 301 miles of trail through the Alps.
I’m not a huge fan of the cold though, so I prefer the warmer weather between May and September. There’s still going to be snow on some of the peaks, and I’m not sure I’d call it warm even in the middle of summer, but it’s a good time to get out and hike those trails and admire the pretty flowers that are everywhere!
Another great time to visit is from late November to December. Though I don’t celebrate Christmas, there’s something even more magical about Innsbruck all decked out for the holiday season. Plus, Innsbruck has some of the most charming Christmas markets anywhere. Christmas markets in Europe – particularly Austria and Germany – are worth being a little cold for.
Innsbruck Transportation: How to get around Innsbruck
My favorite way to explore Innsbruck is on foot. You really get a good feel for the old city that way, plus you can pop in and out of shops and cafes and museums as you want. That said, if you want to make the most of your 3 days in Innsbruck Austria, it’ll help to get familiar with the bus and tram system.
If you purchase the Innsbruck card, most of the tram routes will be included, but when in doubt, just ask. There’s a tourist information office in the city center where you can buy the card, get transportation maps, and get help with figuring out the bus and tram routes.
Another fun option for transportation in Innsbruck is bike rental. A 3-hour city bike rental is included in the cost of the Innsbruck card so if you’re a cyclist, this can be a really fun way to get a sense of what to see in Innsbruck on your first day. And if you like biking around, there are several places around town to rent bikes for longer.
Should I get an Innsbruck Card?
There’s a lot to love about Innsbruck, but one unexpected highlight is how easy planning is with the Innsbruck Card. I don’t always think cards like this are worth it, but the Innsbruck card covers almost all of the best places to visit in Innsbruck, Austria.
The prices and attractions are subject to change, so be sure to verify that it makes sense before you purchase one. It comes in options for 24 hours, 48 hours, and 72 hours in Innsbruck. I got the 72 hour Innsbruck card and it covered all the attractions I visited. It gave me free admission to museums, the cable cars to Nordkette Mountain, and public transportation. Talk about a bargain!
I can’t recommend it enough and every attraction in this Innsbruck itinerary is included on the Innsbruck card. Purchase it here.
3 days in Innsbruck Itinerary: Best Things to Do in Innsbruck
There are so many Innsbruck attractions that it can feel overwhelming to plan what to do in Innsbruck in 3 days. But don’t worry – I’ve got you. This Innsbruck 3 day itinerary will help you see all the top attractions in Innsbruck without feeling rushed.
Innsbruck Itinerary: Day 1 in Innsbruck
Breakfast at Strudel-Cafe Kroell
I typically eat breakfast at my hotel if they provide it, but you can’t go wrong by starting your Innsbruck trip with breakfast at the incredible Strudel-Cafe Kroell.
This café specializes in strudels, and I definitely won’t judge you for eating their famous apple strudel for breakfast! They’ve also got a range of savory strudels – the vegetarian strudel might actually be better than the apple version – plus a full breakfast menu.
Walk the Streets of Alstadt von Innsburg (Old Town)
Innsbruck’s Old Town is a pedestrian-only area of cobblestone streets and medieval buildings. This part of the city is over 500 years old and it’s the place to start your visit to one of the best cities in Austria.
While walking through Old Town, don’t miss Maria Theresien Strasse. Of all the pedestrian streets in Old Town, Maria Theresian Strasse is the most breathtaking. It’s lined with gorgeous buildings and incredible views. It can get a little crowded at times and a lot of the shops are familiar chains, but there’s a really vibrant atmosphere here that will help you get a feel for what Innsbruck is all about.
Visit the Golden Roof
The Golden Roof is part of Old Town, but it’s one of the most unique things to see in Innsbruck and is considered an attraction all on its own. Built by Emperor Maximillian, it gets its name from the nearly 2,700 copper tiles that adorn the roof.
Inside is a small interactive museum about Austria that won’t take a ton of time and gives a good overview of the area. Even if you’re not into museums, it’s a really cool sight from the outside.
Catch the View from City Tower (Stadtturm)
Now that you’ve gotten acquainted with Innsbruck from the ground, it’s time to take in the views from above. A relatively short climb of 148 steps will take you to the top of City Tower, and it’s well worth it once you get to the viewing deck. It’s so beautiful from up there, it’s hard to believe it’s real! Bonus: it’s a 2-minute walk from The Golden Roof. Get your ticket here.
Lunch at Gasthof Weisses Rossl
Don’t miss out on the local fare at Gasthof Weisses Ross! Their pancakes with plum sauce are a popular menu item, but everything here is a classic Tyrolean dish that you’ll be glad you tried.
Learn about the History of Bells at Grassmayr Bell Foundry
After lunch, take a short stroll (or public transport) to the Grassmayr Bell Foundry. It’s a really unusual museum about the history of bells (which is actually a lot cooler than it sounds). They’ve been making bells here since 1599. Today, you can find Grassmayr Bells in over 100 countries. Wild!
The “tour” is more of a self-guided, interactive experience, but there’s always someone available to answer any of your questions. The museum is small, but trust me – it’s worth the visit!
Tour the Hofburg
The Hofburg, also known as the Imperial Palace, is one of Austria’s most famous landmarks and a stunningly gorgeous palace. It takes about 1-2 hours to tour on your own or with an audio guide, which I recommend for anyone who isn’t familiar with Austrian history.
The painted ceilings were some of my favorite sights inside the palace – at least they were until I saw the Silver Chapel. Definitely don’t miss that!
When you leave, be sure to stop by the Hofkirche (Court Church). It’s a really unique church full of art and lined with a ton of massive statues. It might actually be more impressive than the palace. Plus, you can take pictures here (unlike inside the Hofburg). It’s interesting and definitely photo-worthy.
Dinner at Café Sacher
There are a lot of great regional foods to try in Innsbruck, but if there’s one thing you can’t leave without trying, it’s got to be a piece of Sacher Torte. And where better to have one than at Café Sacher Innsbruck, the place the cake was created.
Café Sacher also has a full menu of delicious Austrian food. I recommend the Rindsgulasch – a Hungarian-style goulash served with bread dumplings.
Innsbruck Itinerary: Day 2 in Innsbruck
Explore Nordkette Mountain
Nordkette Mountain is a great half-day trip, and the journey there is half the fun. There’s a funicular across from Innsbruck Congress that will take you to the Hungerburg stop. From there, you’ll catch the first of two cable cars, first to Seegrube and then to Hafelekar. It takes about 45 minutes each way but it’s a really fun way to travel.
Since I visited in October, I witnessed the weather change from autumn to winter as we made our way up. So pretty! If you aren’t getting the Innsbruck Card, you can get your cable car ticket ahead of time here.
There are a few stops on the way that you might want to take advantage of (either going or coming):
- Alpenzoo: I don’t usually love zoos. I’d rather see animals out in nature. But the Alpenzoo is unique in that it showcases Alpine animals in a somewhat realistic environment. They even have viewing windows that allow you to see the animals if they’re snuggled up in their winter dens. And yes – the entry ticket is included in the Innsbruck card.
- Small Cable Railway Museum: There’s a small museum in the Hungerburg station called the Small Cable Railway Museum that’s pretty interesting (it’s so small, I almost missed it!). My favorite thing was looking at all the pictures and seeing how much Innsbruck has changed over the years.
- Hungerburg Christmas Market: If you’re spending the holidays in Innsbruck, don’t miss the Christmas Market in Hungerburg. Each market is a little different with different souvenirs and food options.
- Seegrube Hiking Trail: There’s a short hiking trail that surrounds the Seegrube cable car station. It takes about 30 minutes in total and takes you past a really huge rock and a ton of panoramic views.
One of the first things you’ll see when you reach the top of Nordkette Mountain is a giant cross. From here you can see Italy to the south and Germany to the north!
If you visit in the summer, there are miles of hiking trails and breathtaking views of the city below and the mountains surrounding you. Just be sure to pack warm clothes in case of cold weather. You can check the weather on top of the mountain via a live webcam. It never hurts to be prepared!
Lunch at Restaurant Seegrube
After a morning spent hiking, take the time to enjoy some authentic Tyrolean food at Restaurant Seegrube. When people think of Austrian food, they usually think of schnitzel. I don’t eat pork but was delightfully surprised to find that Austrian food easily caters to a wide variety of dietary restrictions.
Kasspatzln is a popular dish here and it’s perfect after a day of hiking! The dish consists of soft egg noodles, grated cheese, and fried onions on top. It’s basically an Austrian version of mac and cheese, and who doesn’t love mac and cheese?
Other delicious dishes here are the Kasspressknödel, a potato and cheese dumpling that is also highly popular in this region, and Erdäpfelgulasch, a potato goulash.
Marvel at the Bergisel Ski Jump
The Bergisel Ski Jump is located on the south side of Innsbruck. It was used for ski jumping in the Olympics and in various competitions since. You can watch people skiing here and practicing their jumps. It’s really fascinating to see in person – I was in awe and watched them for a while. Watch the video above for a little snippet!
While there, climb to the top or take the funicular for more amazing views of Innsbruck from the Bergisel Sprungschanze & Sky Restaurant. It’s a good place to grab a coffee and an apple strudel while enjoying a panoramic view, especially if you need a caffeine pick-me-up after a heavy lunch.
Dinner at Stiftskeller
After a long day of hiking, head back to Old Town Innsbruck and look for the Stiftskeller. It’s a big, Biergarten-style restaurant that’s popular with locals and tourists. The tables are long and get shared by various groups of people so it’s a fun way to meet people.
But it’s the garden that makes the Stiftskeller one of the best places to eat in Innsbruck, even in winter when they transform it with holiday decorations. They’ve got an extensive menu with options for everyone, but don’t miss out on the Bavarian pretzels and the graukäse, a Tyrolean sour milk cheese that’s best eaten with vinegar, fresh peppers, and rye bread.
Innsbruck Itinerary: Day 3 in Innsbruck
Tour Swarovski Kristallwelten
The Swarovski Kristallwelten is located 15 minutes outside of Innsbruck via a private bus that leaves from the train station. Not going to lie, this was one of my favorite things to do in Innsbruck. It feels more like a theme park than a museum (which is probably why I loved it so much).
The outside of the Swarovski Kristallwelten Museum is a spectacular sight, with a maze, waterfall, and beautiful outdoor displays of crystals. Inside, there are seven underground galleries featuring crystal renderings of artwork by artists like Andy Warhol and Salvador Dali, and outside is a stunning garden. There’s even a 3D light show called “Planet of Crystals” that’s a must-do. Get your ticket here.
Lunch at Daniels Kristallwelten
Your visit to the museum will take about 2 hours, and I highly recommend making lunch reservations at the onsite restaurant, Daniels Kristallwelten (reservations aren’t required but it can get really crowded with long wait times).
The vibe of this place is really cool, and they offer an extensive menu that provides a few lighter alternatives to the typical Tyrolean dishes – including a really good vegetarian pita sandwich and a wide selection of teas.
Soak up History at Ambras Palace
One of the best things to do in Innsbruck is to see the spectacular architecture, and Ambras Palace is the best place in Innsbruck for this. It’s a Renaissance castle with topiary gardens, a pond, and Europe’s oldest collection of art, armories, and books.
It is a great palace to visit on a sunny day, but if you go in the winter, make sure to bundle up with a hat and scarf! Get your ticket here.
Dinner at Restaurant Bierwirt
You couldn’t pick a better place for your last dinner in Innsbruck than Restaurant Bierwirt. Only a ten-minute walk from Ambras Palace, it’s the place to go for traditional Tyrolean cuisine: roasts, venison, cheese, potatoes, and dumplings. So good!
What to do in Innsbruck Austria in 4 days and beyond
If you find yourself with more time to spend in Innsbruck, lucky you! There’s a lot more to do and see in this area. Here are some recommendations for what to do in Innsbruck with a little extra time.
Go on an Outdoor Adventure
You can go white water rafting right in the center of Innsbruck. Boat rental is available from June through October, but the winter season also offers plenty to do if you’re an adrenaline junkie. Maybe try paragliding or taking a ski tour through the mountains. Or better yet, see what it’s like to be an Olympian and ride the bobsled at Olympiaworld! Side note – I went bobsledding in Sigulda, Latvia, and loved it!
Channel Cinderella at Neuschwanstein Castle
Just a short trip from Innsbruck is Neuschwanstein Castle, the castle that inspired Disney’s Cinderella castle. The journey and tour will take a full day, but it’s well worth the money and time to visit, especially if you aren’t visiting Munich.
There’s no good way to get there from Innsbruck if you don’t have a car, so booking a tour is a good idea. If you’re driving, make sure you don’t miss Hohenschwangau Castle when you’re there. A lot of people skip it, but I think it’s actually my favorite of the two. Check them both out and let me know what you think.
Eat Your Way Through Innsbruck
Food is one of my favorite parts of traveling, and Austria has some of the most hearty, delicious dishes. A food tour is a wonderful way to sample the best dishes Innsbruck has to offer. It includes a trip to Markthalle Innsbruck, a farmer’s market where you can sample meat, cheese, and other delights. Book it here.
Take a Day Trip to Feldkirch
Feldkirch is the second-largest town in the Vorarlberg region of Austria – with an incredible history that dates back to the 1200s! The little town celebrated its 800th birthday in 2018, and the Rathaus Feldkirch has been the town hall for over 500 years. I loved seeing the Schattenburg Castle, where I learned that Feldkirch has seen many battles, including the Battle of Feldkirch in 1799.
Some of the coolest things to do in Feldkirch are touring the castle (now a museum), an animal wild park, a superb hiking mountain, incredible historical architecture at the Regional Courthouse, and the Marktgasse Marketplace. Plus, it’s only a couple of hours by train from Innsbruck, so it’s easy to do in a single day.
Where to Stay in Innsbruck
There are great options for hotels in Innsbruck at any budget. I recommend booking a hotel close to the Old Town. This way, you’re close to a ton of attractions and have lots of options for places to eat in Innsbruck. It’s also worth noting that hotels are generally affordable here, so it’s a great city to splurge a little!
Below are my top recommendations for places to stay in Innsbruck Austria:
Montagu Hostel (Backpacker)
I’ve stayed in a lot of hostels on my travels but the Montagu Hostel is one of the coolest. There’s a big common room and kitchen that are great for meeting new people. But my favorite thing about this Innsbruck hostel has got to be the dormitories. The beds are cozy little cubbies that are super comfortable and feel really private, plus they have secure storage for your belongings. If shared sleeping spaces aren’t your thing, they also offer a private room with a double bed and a female-only room with three beds.
Meininger Hotel Innsbruck Zentrum (Budget-Friendly)
The Meininger Hotel is a great option for travelers on a budget. You have the option of booking a private room with single or multiple beds or even snagging a bed in one of the dormitories. The common areas are great for meeting people and the pop-art vibe makes the place feel really fun and funky. Plus, the hotel has views for days over the Nordkette mountains!
Hotel Mondschein (Mid-Range)
You’ll feel like you’re staying in the Tyrol region the minute you step into the Hotel Mondschein. It’s got warm tile and lots of wood in the common areas, even an actual vaulted ceiling over the breakfast area. Because it’s across the river from the old town, it tends to be a little quieter at night, which I really like. I recommend requesting a room that looks out over the river, if possible.
Altstadthotel Weißes Kreuz (Splurge)
Located drop-dead in the center of the Old Town on a pedestrian-only street, this historic hotel was built in 1465 and renovated in 2020, combining the best of traditional-meets-modern. Not only is the hotel a work of art, but it also boasts ultra-comfortable beds, luxe amenities, and epic views of the city. The staff is amazing, the breakfast options are vast and prices are reasonable, making this an excellent place to splurge.
So there you have it: a 3-day Innsbruck itinerary that I think will convince you that Innsbruck really is one of (if not the) best cities to visit in Austria. And if you’re lucky enough to add more time to your Innsbruck itinerary, you have plenty of additional recommendations for things to do.
Tell me: What do you think of this Innsbruck itinerary? What else would you do on your Innsbruck trip?
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