Photos courtesy Innsbruck Tourism
Innsbruck’s beautiful medieval Old Town, set against the backdrop of majestic peaks, is everything you picture a quintessential Alpine town to be. Yet its quaint appearance can be deceiving: a one-day tour will reveal a rich and varied side of Tirol’s capital underneath layers of ancient history and cherished tradition.
Before you do anything else, purchase a 24-hour Innsbruck Card either at your hotel or at the Innsbruck Information Office in the Old Town. This grants you access to all museums, public transportation, one roundtrip on any of Innsbruck’s lifts and cable cars and guided tours. Armed with the card, you are now set to start your day with a tour of the historic city center. You’ll love the colorful medieval buildings, vaulted walkways and stuccoed facades.
Innsbruck’s landmark, the Golden Roof, is famously covered with exactly 2,657 gilded tiles and overlooks the main square. In the 15th century, the Habsburg family ruled their empire from Innsbruck’s Hofburg Imperial Palace.
See the Imperial Apartments and exhibitions at the palace, then stop at the adjacent Hofkirche Court Church, where one of the most important cultural monuments in Tyrol is on display: 28 larger-than-life bronze figures surround the 16th century tomb of Emperor Maximilian I, representing his heroes of antiquity and his ancestors. The quaint alleys of the Old Town also house many small boutique stores offering handcrafted Tyrolean products that make for excellent souvenirs.
Nordkettenbahnen Cable Cars
For lunch with a view, head past the Hofburg Imperial Palace to the Nordkettenbahnen Cable Cars. The funicular stations were designed by star-architect Zaha Hadid, and their sleek modern design contrasts beautifully with the surrounding landscape and historic architecture of the city.
Nordkettenbahnen Cable Car
Only 20 minutes later you’ll find yourself at 6,500 feet, near the top of the Nordkette Mountain range. Head to the restaurant at the Alpenlounge Seegrube and enjoy the breathtaking views over Innsbruck and the Austrian Alps. If you want to continue your mountain experience, head to the Innsbruck Alpine Zoo. Europe’s highest zoo features more than 2,000 animals including bears, wolves, eagles and many other species native to the region. To get there, simply take the Nordkettenbahnen back down the mountain and get off at the Alpenzoo Station. Otherwise, head straight back to the city in the early afternoon. It’s time to explore Innsbruck’s excellent shopping street, the Maria-Theresien-Strasse. Within view of the Golden Roof, the grand boulevard is located in a pedestrian area and—among many smaller shops and boutiques—houses two shopping centers: the ultra-modern Kaufhaus Tyrol designed by David Chipperfield and the Rathaus Galerien with boutique stores featuring well-known luxury brands. Don’t miss the Swarovski Flagship Store in the Old Town.
Hiking in Innsbruck
Another option for outdoor enthusiasts is to spend the afternoon taking part in Innsbruck’s fabulous summer hiking program. Visitors to Innsbruck and its 25 holiday villages can use the hiker’s bus with their Guest Card and explore the region with a free mountain guide. Even the equipment rental is free of charge with your Guest Card. Simply make a reservation through your hotel the day before.
Hiking in Innsbruck
You don’t really know a destination until you have sampled its food. Tyrol is famous for its hearty fare, such as Tiroler Gröstl (meat, potatoes, and onions topped with a fried egg) and a large variety of sweet and savory dumplings. The famous Café Sacher, a traditional Viennese coffee house and restaurant, as well as the Ottoburg, the Weisses Rössl or the Goldener Adler in the Old Town all feature excellent authentic cuisine. After dinner, head to the newly-opened Adlers hotel, housed in one of the city’s tallest buildings and enjoy a cocktail on the rooftop terrace, ending the day with a stunning view of Innsbruck by night.
Maria Theresien Street
For more info, go to www.austria.info/us or www.innsbruck.info/en