Innsbruck is the provincial capital of Tyrol. Its 120,000 residents make it the fifth largest city in Austria. It was one of the eight host cities in the 2008 European Football Championships. It has twice hosted the Winter Olympics making it not only an interesting and beautiful situated city but the “largest ski resort in the alps”. It is located both close to Munich and northern Italy making it a must see alpine destination.
Things to know about Innsbruck
Innsbruck became the capital of Tyrol in 1429 and in the 15th century the city became a centre of European politics and culture as emperor Maximilian I moved the imperial court to Innsbruck in the 1490s. Many old buildings from the middle ages and modern times survived in the heart of Innsbrucks old town.
Innsbruck has also hosted the Winter Olympics in 1964 and 1976 as well as the World University Games in 2005. In summer 2008 it hosted several games of the EURO 2008 European Football Championship.
The city is well known for its sporting opportunities, especially alpine sports, as it is in the Alps and surrounded by mountains. Several ski resorts are situated inside the city territory or within short distance. Innsbruck was one of the centers of snowboard boom in the 1990’s and the derived distinct subculture endured until today. The population of skateboarders, snowboarders and people alike is therefore above average and nothing unusual to the people. This culture is also celebrated by a lot of events in and around Innsbruck especially in the winterseason, attracting (predominantly young) people from all around the world.
There are two universities and several colleges in Innsbruck, with over 25,000 students altogether, (including a significant Italian population) making the city’s nightlife very lively.
Innsbruck’s fair distance from the coast and altitude lead to a continental climate. Winters are cold and snowy; summers are generally warm, with highly variable weather. Hot and dry days, with temperatures hitting 30°C, are quite common; but can be followed by a cool and rainy spell, with temperatures only around 17°C in the day. Be warned, however, at any time, summer nights are cool and temperatures often drop quickly after sunset, sometimes falling below 10°C in early morning.
How to reach Innsbruck?
Innsbruck Kranebitten Airport is the largest airport in Tyrol. Currently regular scheduled flights are available from
- Austrian Airlines from Vienna
- Lufthansa from Frankfurt
Seasonal flights are available from several destinations in the UK, the Netherlands as well as from Berlin, Dusseldorf, Hamburg, Kiev and Moscow.
Innsbruck is reachable through both of Tyrol’s motorways: Inntalautobahn (A 12) and Brennerautobahn (A 13).
Regular (direct) trains operate from Venice, Bolzano/Bozen, Zurich, Munich, Graz, Vienna (via Linz and Salzburg) and many other destinations. Despite being a smaller city Innsbruck has fantastic train connections to all major cities in its neighborhood. The main station, Innsbruck Hauptbahnhof, is located at Südtiroler Platz (South-tyrolean square) in the east of the city center. In addition there are several stations which serve suburban and regional train connections. The Austrian train system is operated by the Österreichische Bundesbahnen, OEBB
Things to see in Innsbruck
The Innsbruck-Card offers free entrance to all of Innsbruck’s sights, free use of public transportation (including the TS line). It also includes a one-time ascent&descent to Nordkette, Patscherkofel and Axamer Lizum and free entrance to Swarovski Kristallwelten in Wattens. The Innsbruck-Card is valid for 24/48/72 hours and can be purchased at Innsbruck Information (Burggraben 3), the TI in Hauptbahnhof, and several museums and tourist offices. Tip: The Innsbruck card is pretty expensive, 49/55/66 euro for 1/2/3 day cards. And daily or weekly public transport cards are cheap – the “all inclusive” sales pitch is alluring to disoriented travelers, but make sure the discounts are worth the initial price. If you are not planning to see these major entrance-fee sites, remember that you may buy more than one daily card at a time, as the 24 hours only starts once validated. Be sure to compare with the price of a weekly ticket too.
The bus line Sightseer (TS) connects the major sights in Innsbruck. However it there is always a cheaper public transport line going to the same destination, though it might take you more time.
Churches and Cathedrals
- Cathedral at Saint Jacob (Dom zu St. Jakob), Domplatz. Baroque styled cathedral, with works of Lucas Cranach the Elder. From 1717-1724 it was rebuilt (after damage from an earthquake) according to the plans of Johann Jakob Herkomer and Johann Georg Fischer. Free entrance.
- Wiltener Basilika, Haymongasse. Baroque styled church with Rokkoko-stucco, built from 1751-1756. Free entrance.
- Stift Wilten, Klostergasse. Premonstratensian monastery with a baroque collegiate church, not far from Wiltener Basilika. Free entrance
- Hofkirche, Universitätsstraße 2, Innsbruck’s Hofkirche has the most important emperor’s tomb monument (of emperor Maximilian I) in Europe. Especially characteristic are the larger-than-life bronzes (“schwarze Mander”) that show members of different dynasties. Entrance: 5 EUR, reduced: 4 EUR, included the Innsbruck-Card
Castles and Palaces
Schloss Ambras, Schloß Straße 20 (Tramlines 6 (nearest stop) and 3, Bus: C (Stop: Luigenstraße)), ☎ +43 1 525 24 4802 (fax: +43 1 525 24 4899). Open 10AM – 5PM. A renaissance style castle that was built on behalf of archduke Ferdinand II of Tyrol. Interesting things to see are portrait- and armor-collections, art and curiosity cabinets, the spanish hall and the palace garden. April to October: €10. December to March: €7.
A combined ticket for the Tyrolean State Museums is available for €10, or €6 discount, and offers entry to The Ferdinand, Hofkirche, Volkskunst, Zeughaus and Das Tiroler Panorama Museums until the end of the calendar year. The ticket includes a free audio guide (which is worth getting as information is otherwise only in German) at some locations.
- Alpinist Association Museum, Wilhelm-Greil-Straße, ☎ +43 (512) 587186 12 (firstname.lastname@example.org, fax: +43(512)587 18613),. 9AM-5PM. €1.10..5.50; free with Innsbruck Card.
- Anatomical Museum, Müllerstraße 59, ☎ +43 (0)512 9003 71111 (reservation 0043/(0)664 3587985 (custodian Dr. Mager), fax: +43 (0)512 9003 73112),. Fridays only, 2-4PM (and on reservation), Oct-May. June through September it is only open on advance notification. Objects from human preparations, to history of development and old anatomical devices.
- Bell Museum, Graßmayr, Leopoldstraße (tram lines 1, 3 and TS). The Bell foundry has existed for 400 years, and been lead by the same family for 14 generations.
- Hofburg, Rennweg, 9am – 5pm daily (last entry 4.30pm). It was modified to rokoko-style by order of the empress Maria Theresia.
- Das Tiroler Panorama, Bergisel 1 (S-Bahn 1 to the Bergisel stop), (fax: +43 (0/512) 588 675). Incorporating the Kaiserjägermuseum (Imperial Hunting Museum)
Things to do in Innsbruck
- Nordpark is accessible via the tram line 1, the bus lines 1, 4, A, D, E, J and T. The Nordkettenbahn goes up to Seegrube and Hafelekar, where many hiking routes and trip routes start. In August 2004, the Nordpark Singletrail, one of the most ambitious mountain bike freeride routes in Europe, was opened.
In winter, the Nordpark can offer several ski routes. They are steep and offer a great view of the nearby mountains and the city itself.One ascent&descent is free with the Innsbruck-Card.It is possible to walk/hike all the way up to the summit without taking the cable cars. It is vigorous but doesn’t require special equipment. There are places where it is not completely clear which way to go (even with local hiking maps) but other walkers are very friendly and you can almost always see your goal.
- Patscherkofelbahn is accessible via bus line J, destination “Patscherkofelbahn” or “Olympiaexpreß” and tram line 6 to Igls. Tram line 6 is particularly worth taking – a beautiful meandering route up the mountain and included in the city zone of Innsbruck’s public transport. Much better value than the Hungerburgbahn on the Nordkette. The Patscherkofel is a skiing region south of Innsbruck, that has a number of timbered ski-runs of the former olympia-routes. In summer it is a great region for hiking along the forestline.
One ascent&descent is free with the Innsbruck-Card.
- Stubaital offers several ski resorts in the winter.
- Casino Innsbruck gaming enjoyment in Tyrol.
Now You Know