1. See the Largest Crystal in the World, 2. Explore the Streets of Innsbruck’s Old Town, 3. Marvel at the Views From the Nordkette Cable Car, 4. Be Amazed by the ‘Tirol Panorama’, 5. Dig Into a Big Bowl of Spätzle, 6. Catch a Glimpse of the Golden Roof, 7. Celebrate Good Over Evil at Fasnacht, 8. Watch a Concert at the Innsbruck Cathedral, 9. Feel Like Royalty at the Imperial Palace, 10. See Alpine Animals at Alpenzoo. If you can’t decide between surrounding yourself with untouched alpine scenery or centuries-old fairytale-like towns, take a trip to Innsbruck. Nestled among the majestic Austrian Alps, this magnificent city offers an unparalleled mix of nature, culture, and history. Below are the best things to do in Innsbruck, Austria, let's find out!
- See the Largest Crystal in the World
- Explore the Streets of Innsbruck’s Old Town
- Marvel at the Views From the Nordkette Cable Car
- Be Amazed by the ‘Tirol Panorama’
- Dig Into a Big Bowl of Spätzle
- Catch a Glimpse of the Golden Roof
- Celebrate Good Over Evil at Fasnacht
- Watch a Concert at the Innsbruck Cathedral
- Feel Like Royalty at the Imperial Palace
- See Alpine Animals at Alpenzoo
See the Largest Crystal in the World
One of the most unique things to do in Innsbruck is to see the largest crystal in the world. Hidden inside the Swarovski Kristallwelten, just a short drive or bus ride away from the center of the city, this gem is absolutely huge and is listed in the Guinness Book of Records. The Swarovski crystal has a diameter of almost 16 inches and weighs a staggering 137 pounds! Once you’re done marveling at the crystal, there are plenty of other fascinating things to see within the dazzling museum, too.
The entrance is marked by a huge head covered in plants, the mouth of which is spewing water into a pool below. It makes for a fantastic image! The museum also features a number of “Wonders Rooms” that pair stunning Swarovski crystals with artistic creations. Intriguing exhibits that must have taken countless hours to put together, gigantic diamonds you can step inside, shimmering chandeliers, and otherworldly halls filled with mirrors that create optical illusions are just a few of the things you’ll encounter throughout your tour.
Explore the Streets of Innsbruck’s Old Town
You should visit the Old Town of Innsbruck if you want to see some of the city’s top sights. The Old Town of Innsbruck, often called Altstadt, is a little, warm community tucked away in the Austrian Alps. It’s ideal for simply exploring and seeing where you end up. While strolling, you’ll see vibrant Baroque and Gothic structures that are set against imposing mountains. The building and the surrounding landscape contrast sharply.
There are many things you may add to your sightseeing list if you like to stick to a schedule rather than just ramble around. The renowned Golden Roof, City Tower, Imperial Palace, Court Church, and Triumphal Arch are all located in Innsbruck’s Old Town. There are lots of adorable shops where you may stop by when you need a break and buy presents for friends and family back home. You can also choose from a wide variety of cafes, taverns, and restaurants that serve genuine Austrian food if you need a little additional energy.
Marvel at the Views From the Nordkette Cable Car
One of the best things about the Innsbrucker Nordkette is that there are several stops where you can hop on or hop off. As well as admiring the view, there are plenty of things you can do at each stop, too, such as watching the skiers zoom down the white snowy slopes or scaling the rocky face of the Karwendel!
Be Amazed by the ‘Tirol Panorama’
A nice thing to do in Innsbruck is to visit the Tirol Panorama Museum. The Tirol Panorama, a 360-degree work of art that depicts one of the Battles of Bergisel in which Tirol rebels defended their homeland against Napoleonic invaders, is much more than just a simple painting. The picture is housed in the Tirol Panorama Museum, which is situated around the site of the historical fight. You can learn a lot about the history of Innsbruck and the enormous efforts inhabitants faced to maintain their freedom by exploring the museum and enjoying the picture.
The Tirol Panorama measures a staggering 10,764 square feet, and the details are incredible for such a large work of art. Because the painting curves around the wall, it creates an almost 3D-like effect which helps you immerse yourself in the scene and imagine what it was like for the people who were really there.
Die Tiroler Landesmuseen
Dig Into a Big Bowl of Spätzle
When you need a break from all the Innsbruck sightseeing, find a restaurant that serves authentic Austrian cuisine and order some spätzle! This classic Austrian dish is popular throughout the Alps and is a wonderful way to warm up after being out in the crisp mountain air. Also sometimes called käsespätzle, this traditional dish is Austria’s version of macaroni and cheese. It’s made of rich egg noodles smothered in melted gooey cheese and topped with caramelized or crispy onions. It sounds really simple, but the flavors and textures work surprisingly well together. Because it’s so popular, you’ll find spätzle available in almost every restaurant throughout Innsbruck.
Fischerhausl is an excellent place to try the dish. It’s incredibly rich, smooth, creamy, and pretty affordable. There are loads of other authentic Austrian dishes on the menu, too. It’s best to visit Fischerhausl during spring or summer when you can sit outside in the little garden out back and enjoy an alfresco meal.
Catch a Glimpse of the Golden Roof
The Golden Roof is one of the most popular Innsbruck attractions. Also known as Goldenes Dachl, the glittering attraction is located on the alcove balcony of a building in the city’s Old Town. Despite what its name may suggest, the Golden Roof isn’t actually made of gold. It was built in the 1500s for Emperor Maximilian I and is made out of 2,657 fire-gilded copper tiles. Centuries ago, he would stand on his balcony below the glamorous roof and watch all the hustle and bustle of the city.
You won’t spend a lot of time gazing at The Golden Roof. In fact, if you didn’t know it was there, you could probably stroll right past it. But when you stroll around Old Town, it’s worthwhile to stop by and take a look. You can notice that there is much more going on on the balcony than simply the shining roof if you approach near to it. The building is lavishly ornamented with a wide variety of intriguing figures and pictures.
Celebrate Good Over Evil at Fasnacht
Fasnacht only happens once every four years, so if it coincides with your trip to Innsbruck, it’s definitely worth checking out. This rare festival illustrates the great struggle between good and evil and incorporates loads of cool events you won’t see anywhere else. The celebrations are held between January 6 (Epiphany) and Ash Wednesday, similar to Carnivals throughout the rest of the world. The intense program includes many different parades with locals dressed in all kinds of crazy costumes, incredibly loud music concerts, and street parties that never seem to end.
Each of the carefully selected costumes you’ll see throughout the festival represents a significant idea. For instance, “Tuxers” stands for sociable locals who enjoy a drink, “Witches” represent anything terrible, and “Zottlers” stands for an unwelcome winter. Each year, the precise dates and the program vary. To find out what’s going on while you’re there, it’s a good idea to visit the city’s website and keep an eye out for posters.
Watch a Concert at the Innsbruck Cathedral
Check out one of the concerts held at the Innsbruck Cathedral if you’re looking for something to do in the evenings in Innsbruck. The church often called the Innsbruck Dom or the Cathedral of St. James is situated in Domplatz and frequently organizes free public performances all through the year. The magnificent building was constructed in the Baroque style in 1724, but it wasn’t given cathedral status until 1964. The beautiful twin-tower west front and the dome that stands above the choir are its most notable features. But it also features magnificent painted ceilings, stunning stucco work, marble altars, and a pulpit with intricate carvings.
Feel Like Royalty at the Imperial Palace
Visiting the Imperial Palace is one of the top things to do in Innsbruck. This royal building is sometimes called the Hofburg Palace, and it’s one of the most important buildings in Austria, along with the Hofburg and Schönbrunn Palaces in Vienna. The imposing palace was completed in 1500 and, back then, included a Gothic courtyard with a covered staircase, a “Kürnstube” to house Emperor Maximilian I’s hunting trophies, and the Festival Hall, which features depictions of Hercules.
Around 250 years later, Maria Theresa visited the palace and thought it to be old-fashioned. She had it rebuilt in the Viennese late Baroque style to suit her more modern tastes. The palace was renovated again in the 19th century by Archduke Karl Ludwig. The multiple renovations and style changes make the palace a fascinating place to explore. Today the Imperial Palace contains four different museums, each of which houses a unique collection of artifacts and treasures from centuries ago.
SKI plus CITY Pass
See Alpine Animals at Alpenzoo
Visits to Alpenzoo are among the top family activities in Innsbruck. Alpenzoo is a non-profit organization that works tirelessly to safeguard alpine species, more akin to a conservation foundation than a zoo. The zoo is home to 2,000 different animal species. Twenty different species of alpine mammals, 60 species of birds, 11 species of reptiles, and 6 species of amphibians make up the population. The largest freshwater aquarium in the world houses nearly all of the species of alpine fish that the zoo is fortunate to have!
From giant brown bears, curious otters, and cute black-nosed sheep to impressively bearded vultures, graceful lynxes, and intimidating wolves, the zoo does great work at protecting rare, endangered, and at-risk animals from extinction. If you visit during the warmer months, you may have the chance to see some babies. Many of the animals are born between April and June, so if you stop by in spring or summer, keep an eye out for the little ones taking their first steps and playing with their siblings!