Innsbruck is a fascinating place and it becomes quickly apparent as early as your descent into the city. Nestled in a picturesque valley in the European Alps, Innsbruck, Austria has been continually populated since the early stone age and by civilizations since the Roman Empire built an army outpost there in the 4th century.
From fabulous Renaissance-era palaces to a museum which celebrates the extravagance of one of the world’s finest jewelry firms, there is much to see and do in this quaint Austrian city. I recently spent a few days there and really enjoyed my time. Below are some of the highlights of the stay and points of interest for you to consider discovering when you’re in Innsbruck.
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Start your time in Innsbruck by checking out Ambras Castle. A palace built in the 16th century, it is best known for being the home of Archduke Ferdinand II. Ferdinand was a dedicated art collector throughout his life, which resulted in the halls of Ambras Castle being lined with fascinating works created during the Renaissance period.
Opening it to be viewed by commoners shortly thereafter, the portion of Ambras containing his collections subsequently became the oldest known museum in the world. The museum is worth a look, as it is home to an armoury with an extensive collection of armour and weapons ranging from pikes to ancient firearms.
Finally, be sure to check out the Spanish Hall, as its architecture and portraits will cap off your visit in grand fashion.
Bergisel Ski Jump
Sports fans should make time in their schedule to visit the Bergisel Ski Jump. A competitive ski jumping facility in use since the 1920’s, it played centre stage to the world’s best in the 1964 and 1976 Olympics, and in numerous world cup competitions as well. In its present form, it can hold up to 6,000 spectators, all who come to watch world-class athletes soar through the air in search of glory.
If you aren’t lucky enough to take in a ski jumping meet, you can still climb its 455 steps to the top of the tower, where a cafe, restaurant, and one of the best views in Innsbruck await. Not looking to huff and puff your way to the top? There is a funicular available that will get you to the top in a few minutes, all without you having to break a sweat.
Swarovski Crystal Museum
Around the world, Swarovski is known for selling some of the world’s finest crystal jewelry and other fine objets d’art. This prestigious company got its start in Tyrol in 1895, and it is here in Innsbruck where a museum detailing the company’s history and accomplishments has been established.
Within, you’ll find ambitious art installations made using its world-famous crystals, as well as exhibits that tell the story of the company through the display of some truly stunning pieces.
Innsbruck City Walking Tour
If you don’t have the time to go to the Swarovski Crystal Museum, there are a number of excellent walking tours in town that will help you make the most of your time in Innsbruck. The classic walking tour will give you a thorough tour in German or English on the highlights of the old city centre and their significance throughout history. You can click here for a tour of Innsbruck video.
Something I enjoyed was the explaining of the different coloured buildings and how they represented different things such as a bakery, restaurant, place to have a drink and so on. In the old part of the city, the streets are lined with cafes and since I was there in Autumn and on a beautiful day. the streets were alive with people enjoying patio culture. This same area seems to be a great place to enjoy a happy hour beverage or for after dinner drinks.
Helicopter Tour Over Innsbruck
For those looking to see Innsbruck from a different perspective, taking an open door helicopter tour over the city and surrounding mountains is a great way to get to know the city. The tours last around 30 minutes and guarantee some incredible and most memorable views. You’ll have to be a little more daring though as without the doors, being in a helicopter is a very intense experience and almost feels like you’re in the mountains.
The tour will take you up above Innsbruck, by some nearby peaks before returning you to the airport. The views from the plane coming are most memorable but there is no better way to see Innsbruck from the sky for those interested.
There are many more things to do in Innsbruck but these were some of the highlights of my experience there. I thoroughly enjoyed all the activities and hope to return to Innsbruck one day in the winter to do some skiing. There is even a ski resort which you can reach by tram leaving the city. This resort looks great if you’re new to the Alps and gives you an idea of what’s waiting as supposedly it’s a small hill by local standards. There are over 5000km of skiable trails in the Tirol state of Austria.
I visited Tyrol as part of a project managed by iambassador in partnership with the Tirol Tourist Board and Alpbachtal Seenland. As always, I maintain full editorial control of the content published here.