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Wikipedia | Google | Google Images | FlickrThe capital city of Tirol with spectacular views of the Nordkette Alps is often seen as just an away-day from the slopes. But, with a medieval Old Town, museums, vibrant cultural life and adrenalin-fueled pursuits of Olympic fame merits a longer stay.
The city was the host to two Olympic Winter Games (1964 and 1976), and offers ice skating and ski jumping within the city limits. Its contemporary link with winter sports obscures Innsbruck's history and its association with the Hapsburgs.
Exploring the city's Old Town gives a glimpse of its lavish imperial past. To look over historic rooftops, climb the City Tower.
If you like skiing Innsbruck's mountains, while not very high, generally guarantee good snow from early December through mid-April. For those times when you are not on the slopes, Innsbruck will keep you entertained with excellent shopping and a happening nightlife. Innsbruck’s substantial student population means that nightlife in the city often doesn't end until dawn. And while winter brings out the best in the city along the Inn River, the picturesque summers are also worth your attention.
StadtturmClimb the City Tower's 148 steps for amazing views of the city’s rooftops, spires and surrounding mountains. One of Innsbruck’s most recognizable symbols, the Stadtturm, built in 1450, originally housed prisoners, but not anymore. You can scale the tower anytime between 10 AM and 5 PM, October to May and until 8 PM, June through September.
HofburgThe Imperial Palace is located between the Golden Roof and the Cathedral of St. James. Hofburg was built as a castle for Archduke Sigmund the Rich in the 15th century, expanded by Emperor Maximilian I in the the 16th century and given a total baroque makeover by Empress Maria Theresia in the 18th century. The interior is equally impressive and decadent; however, to the disappointment of many visitors, you're only able to view 20 rooms.
Once a hugely important imperial residence, the Hofburg is today made up of various listed buildings and five themed museum areas. There is much to see here, including the stunning Hofburg Chapel, so be sure to give yourself enough time.
Cathedral of St. JamesBased on designs by the baroque architect, Johann Jakob Herkommer, the Cathedral of St. James was rebuilt between 1717 and 1724. The church is a fine example of Baroque architecture and an exhibition of the excessive wealth of the Hapsburg Empire. One of its chief treasurers is a precious ‘Madonna and Child’ on the main altar, painted by German master, Lucas Cranach the Elder.
Museum Goldenes DachlThe most famous of Innsbruck’s sights, the Golden Roof is a balcony topped with gold-plated copper tiles, constructed for Emperor Maximilian I. The Golden Roof is located in the heart of the pedestrianized old town. It was constructed in 1500 and glitters with 2,657 sparkling gilded copper tiles. The building houses a museum about the life and times of Emperor Maximilian I, highlighting the political and economic power struggle endemic in Europe in the 16th and 17th centuries. An audio guide whizzes you through the history in the museum. The short movie in the museum also provides some interesting information.
HofkircheThe Court Church, located in the heart of Innsbruck's old town, is a Gothic church built in 16th century. The Hofkirche was built by Ferdinand I as a mausoleum for Holy Roman Empirer, Maximilian I. The absolute highlight to the visit is 28 incredibly detailed bronze statues, guarding the empty tomb of the Maximilian I. The Silver Chapel, up the stairs opposite the entrance, with a lavish altar and a silver-embossed wood Madonna, is also worth a peek. You can access the church via the Volkskunst Museum. Make sure you buy the joint ticket that covers the museum entry as well.
Volkskunst MuseumNext door to the Hofkirche, spread over two floors the Volkskunst Museum has a wonderful display of folk art, hand tools, antique furniture, folk clothing, kitchenware, pottery and ceramics. The museum does a wonderful job of explaining Tyrolean history and if you are interested in local culture and history the museum is well worth spending a bit of time exploring around. Make sure you do not miss the hidden door that takes you out onto the balcony overlooking the Hofkirche next door.
Ambras CastleThe Ambras Castle, located in the outskirts of Innsbruck, is a beautifully preserved Renaissance castle, built in the 16th century by Archduke Ferdinand II. The Lower Castle includes an impressive collection of arts and armories and the stunning Spanish Hall with portraits of 27 rulers of the Tirol. In the Upper Castle you will find the Hapsburg Portrait Gallery, an awe-inspiring collection of portraits from the 15th to the 19th century. Outside, the lovely gardens are extensive and well worth wandering through. Allow at least 2 hours for the tour.
Tirol Panorama MuseumThe Panorama Museum, located at the famous Bergisel hill, has an interesting display on Tirolean life and tourism. The highlight of the museum is the huge 360 degrees panorama painting known as the 'Riesenrundegemalde'. The attached Kaiserjager Museum is fascinating for anyone interested in military history of the 19th and 20th century, and the view from the Regimental Chapel is simply stunning. You can also visit the nearby Bergisel Olympic Ski Jump.
Bergisel Ski JumpThe Bergisel Ski Jump was a venue of the 1964 and 1976 winter Olympic Games. Towering high above Innsbruck, reopened in 2001. You can either climb the 455 steps or take the elevator up to the visitor's platform. The pleasant cafe, located in the tower, provides a fantastic view on the city as well as on the surrounding mountains.
AlpenzooEurope's highest zoo has more than 2,000 animals and 150 different species coming from the Alpine area; from ibexes, brown bears, otters to golden eagles and wolves. The zoo offers its visitors a spectacular view of Innsbruck and the surrounding mountains. You can easily reach it by walking from the city center, or more conveniently use the Shuttle Bus service leaving from Maria Theresien Strasse or the Hungerburgbahn.
HungerburgbahnOne of the most exciting things to do in Innsbruck is to take a ride on the rebuilt Hungerburgbahn . Zaha Hadid’s space-age funicular runs every 15 minutes. The valley station of the Hungerburgbahn funicular is located at the congress house in Innsbruck, around 200 meters distance from the Old Town. An intermediate station serves the city zoo. Further, cable cars give access to Hafelekar (2,334 m), high up on the Karwendel Ridge with stunning views of the Inn valley in its Alpine setting. Walking trails head off in all directions from Hungerburg and Seegrube. For more of a challenge, there is a downhill track for mountain bikers and two fixed-rope routes for climbers.
Grassmayr Bell Foundry & MuseumThe 400 years of history and tradition are truly presented at this very interesting place. Visitors can explore the small but interesting bell museum to learn about the manufacturing process, tour the old foundry and get a peek into the modern facility that still makes bells. Not only do they cast bells but they also restore old historic bells. When visiting make sure you do not miss the sound room.
Swarovski Crystal WorldsIn 1995 the Swarovski Crystal Worlds were established on the occasion of the centenary anniversary of the foundation of the crystal company, Swarovski. The museum, a 15-minutes drive from Innsbruck, is underground, featuring 14 interconnected rooms with an eclectic multimedia gallery showcasing dazzling work by Pablo Picasso, Andy Warhol, Salvador Dali, and Marc Chagall, among others, all featuring the distinctive glint of the famous Austrian crystals. The Crystal World also contains an alpine garden with rare and indigenous plants, plus a Crystal Theater for children.
Food & DrinkTyrolean cuisine is traditionally quite a simple affair, but that doesn't stop it being tasty. The city has numerous bars, restaurants, cafés and pastry shops. Innsbruckers have been buying their food at the vast, covered market, Markthalle 1, on the banks of the Inn since 1406.
Stop by to try Tirol-style sausages or red venison bacon and pause at one of the many bakers to buy doughnuts or strudel. Wood-beamed taverns hide in the charming Old Town, where Tyrolean fare like Gröstl (potatoes and pork or veal topped with a fried egg) is a must-try.
If you have a sweet tooth try Sacher Torte. The cake is found everywhere, but the original one is found at Café Sacher.
ShoppingThe best shopping place in the city is the Maria-Theresien-Strasse with the baroque architecture and pavement cafés, while the Old Town as a whole has a high number of souvenir shops. Stores are generally open from 9 AM to 6 PM on weekdays and from 9 AM to noon on Saturday. For a variety of retail options under one roof, Kaufhaus Tirol is where you can find well-known brands such as Levi’s, Benetton and Monsoon, along with numerous Austrian outlets. The Rathausgalerien is another popular choice.
Getting aroundAs Innsbruck is pretty small, the best way to explore is on foot. Horse-drawn cabs, still a feature of Innsbruck life, can be hired at the stand in front of the Landestheater. From midnight to 5 AM, there are Nightliners to take you around the city. Two tram lines and buses run to villages in the neighborhood of Innsbruck.
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Author: Ayda. Last updated: Apr 06, 2015