Are you looking for the best things to do in Innsbruck? This cozy city, tucked away in Austria's Inntal valley and surrounded by majestic mountains, is full of history, culture, and adventure.
In Innsbruck, the people welcome you with open arms, the food will have you coming back for more, and the views are simply out of this world. It doesn't matter if you love the rush of adrenaline or are into the stories of the past; Innsbruck has something special for everyone.
This is the scenic elevator to the clouds for those who want to swap city views for mountain vistas. You'll find the funicular's entrance right next to the Congress building, with a unique roof that's hard to miss. There are a few stops on the way, but for the whole experience, you'll want to go to the top.
The initial ascent is a leisurely introduction, but the adventure begins once you transfer to the cable car. The ride up is smooth, and even those with vertigo can enjoy the panoramic sights without worry.
It's a bit expensive, but with the Innsbruck Card, it's pretty economical, especially if you visit the city's other main attractions.
At the top are the best views of Innsbruck—sprawling mountain ranges by day and twinkling city lights by night. The setup is great for families, with easy access to strollers and plenty of space.
2. Altstadt von Innsbruck
If you're walking through the storybook streets of Innsbruck, make sure you make plenty of time for the old city, or ‘Altstadt.'
Kicking off from the Triumphal Arch, meander through St. Anne's Place to the famous Golden Roof. Don't just stop there – take a little detour down the river for a stunning look at those colorful houses backed by the view of the alpine mountains. Trust us, it's a view that'll stick with you!
Walk through the streets, and you'll find it full of history with every step. The Goldenes Dachl is a knockout, sure, but plenty of cozy cafés, quirky shops, and street performers give this place its heart. Put walking through the old town as one of your free things to do in Innsbruck.
Hofkirche packs a punch with its low-key yet stunning inner courtyard and is one of the things to see in Innsbruck.
Inside, it's a whole other world—statues with details that'll amaze you, and if you're there at the right time, a live organ concert that's just icing on the cake. Don't miss out on the multimedia tour about Emperor Maximilian; it's short, sweet, and thoughtfully enriching.
The church nails the dramatic flair with a peaceful garden spot for a quick rest. If you're feeling up for a bit of fun, try matching the statues to their names—it's like a history buff's version of “Where's Waldo?” With the Innsbruck Card, you can get in for free, which is perfect for frugal travelers. Locals call it the “Schwarzmander Church” because of those impressive bronze figures guarding Emperor Maximilian I's tomb.
Maria-Theresien-Strasse is the bustling heart of the old town, constantly busy and decked out with Christmas market stalls when the season hits. It's a real eye-catcher with a mix of architectural styles—perfect for your Instagram stories. Look towards the mountains, and you'll get why this view is postcard material.
Stroll down the street, and you'll spot the serene Servite Church—it's open for an afternoon mass if you're up for some spiritual time.
The shops, cafes, and the ever-busy gelato spot—where the queue is a testament to how good it is—make it a winner. If you're in town for Easter, you're in for a treat with a street buzzing with people soaking up the holiday atmosphere.
5. Schloss Ambras Innsbruck
Hop on bus 4134 and let it take you straight to Schloss Ambras for a day of royal flair just outside Innsbruck's city center. This place is like a walk-through history with a side of nature. The park is a green oasis with ponds where black swans glide and peacocks show off their colorful threads.
In the middle of it all is the castle, which commands attention, its old walls whispering tales of yesteryear. Visit the museum, where the language-savvy staff are as impressive as the exhibits. Your bus ticket will also get you a cool discount on the entrance fee, which we are frugal travelers like.
Schloss Ambras has an atmosphere that'll make your visit one to remember.
6. The Golden Roof
The Golden Roof is in Innsbruck's old town, and there's more to it than just the glitz. Put this down as one of the things to do in Innsbruck in one day.
Inside, there is a museum that costs just €5, and you can dive into Emperor Maximilian's era with a video delivered through an audio guide in several languages.
One of the main attractions is the selfie booth inside. You can get creative and email personalized postcards right from the museum. It's a neat touch; just be patient if there's a queue. Plus, you can see the town below from near the balcony.
At Christmas, the Golden Roof comes alive with musicians dressed in traditional clothing playing holiday tunes on the balcony. It sets a magical scene that's hard to beat, especially with a good meal waiting at one of the local spots.
7. Dom zu St. Jakob
Dom zu St. Jakob is tucked away in Innsbruck, and stepping inside is like a quiet escape into another world. Inside, it's full of small statues and relics that each tell a story. If you're keen to take photos, then a small donation of a Euro lets you capture memories of the intricate art and the standout altar.
It's not just for the believers or art fans; this place is bound to impress anyone as it is one of the cool things to do in Innsbruck. The church isn't just for sightseeing; if you are here on Sunday, you can experience a mass in German, get lost in the beauty of the Baroque designs, and feel the power of the organ music.
8. Swarovski Crystal World
Swarovski Crystal World is where the famous Swarovski crystals transform into stunning exhibits.
The shuttle bus schedule to get there from Innsbruck could be easier. The buses only run every four hours, and visitors can feel stuck, rushing through the experience or waiting longer than they'd prefer.
For those looking for a frugal deal, the Innsbruck card is the way to go. It's a wallet-friendly option and a fast pass to skip the often lengthy lines.
While the visit doesn't tell you how Swarovski crystals are made—a closely guarded secret—it makes up for it with a beautiful park that's a hit with the kids and rooms filled with mirrored illusions, all set to a soundtrack that's music to the ears. This is one of the unique things to do in Innsbruck, as you won't find something like this elsewhere.
The Alpenzoo is among the best things to do with kids in Innsbruck.
The staff are friendly, and it's not every day you get to see a bear that close, with just a pane of glass between you. If you're lucky, you might glimpse a wild cat family, which many visitors comment about.
The entry cost is affordable, which you will like as a frugal traveler. There are plenty of animals from the Alpine and Eurasian regions that you won't get to see in other zoos.
What's unique about this zoo is it lets you check out the animals from different angles. You can get up close to snoozing beavers or watch otters play from just a few steps away. The lynx and chamois have enclosures that let you view them from above or below, and you can even get pretty close to some birds, like the Egyptian vulture.
For the kids, there's a section with friendlier animals they can interact with.
10. Tyrolean Folk Art Museum
If you are wondering what to do in Innsbruck, The Tyrolean Folk Art Museum is a must-visit for anyone who wants to dive into the rich past of Tirol and Austria's past. It's full of treasures from the Tyrolean Heritage Collection, considered among Europe's oldest.
Visitors are often amazed by how this museum brings to life the region's artistry, turning the mundane into the magnificent.
If your German is a bit rusty, don't worry – the exhibits have English descriptions too.
Just a tip: keep an eye on the ticket you're buying. There's a combo that includes entry to the Folk Art Museum and the neighboring Hofkirche, which is also worth looking at.
Inside, you'll find rooms dressed to depict local life back in the day, complete with legends and traditions. Tyrolean folks' clothing and personal items are displayed, but the mannequins might just steal the show – they're hand-carved with such detail they're practically works of art in themselves.
11. Town Tower (Stadtturm)
The Town Tower (Stadtturm) in Innsbruck is for anyone who loves getting up high for the best views of Innsbruck. The walk is up 148 steps, and the reward is a 360-degree panorama that'll knock your socks off – the city sprawled below and the Nordkette Mountains in the distance.
This historical tower isn't just a climb; it's a journey through time with a view that has likely charmed people for centuries. Just be aware that it's stairs all the way, and there is no lift to take you to the top, so it's not recommended for those with mobility issues.
12. Bergisel Ski Jump
The Bergisel Ski Jump is a must-see for anyone who loves heights and the thrill of winter sports, even if just as a spectator.
There is an elevator to take you to the peak, and the views of Innsbruck are stunning – one you will not forget.
There's a restaurant at the top, so you can enjoy some food while taking in the scenery. Whether you walk up the stairs or ride the funicular, an early visit could score you a peek at ski jumpers in their element, soaring through practice runs. Not every day you get to dine where athletes defy gravity, so this experience is literally and figuratively uplifting. We recommend this as one of the things to do in Innsbruck in winter.
13. Neuschwanstein Castle
Neuschwanstein Castle is straight out of a fairy tale, complete with a backstory rich in drama and allure.
While it's a stunner and a no-brainer for anyone's sightseeing list, be warned – getting there is a bit of a trek, and we would list it as things to do around Innsbruck as it's about an hour away. When you get there, it's a bit of a hike, or If you're not up for the hike, there are horse-drawn rides to ease the journey. Here's a hot tip about tickets: ignore the ‘sold-out' signs on the website and hop online first thing in the morning; you might just be able to get a pass for the same day.
Photographers and bucket-listers note that the castle and its surroundings can feel like a tourist squeeze, what with the parking fees and souvenir stalls. And yes, those carriage rides might cost you a pretty penny, but for those willing to venture off the beaten path, a challenging hike past the Marien Brücke offers breathtaking, lesser-known vantage points. It's a bit of a climb and not without risks, but the shots you get will be worth it.
14. Audioversum – ScienceCenter
At Audioversum – ScienceCenter, science gets hands-on and fun.
It is full of exhibits that poke at your senses, especially hearing; it's a place where kids and adults can get a kick out of science.
Interactive tablets guide you through the displays in your language, making the cool science behind smell and hearing more accessible. It's a creatively designed space, putting visitors in the middle of the action – you're invited to touch, feel, and experience. Beyond sound, there's a challenge to your sense of smell, among other sensory surprises.
Friendly staff add to the experience, making it a thumbs-up visit. And if you've got an Innsbruck card, then it's another of the free things to do in Innsbruck. It's a must-do if you have a little time to play with and want to mix education with a lot of fun.
15. Drink beer at Tribaun
Tribaun stands out as one of the best bars in Innsbruck, with 20 craft beers on tap that frequently rotate, ensuring there's always something different for beer lovers to enjoy. The staff is helpful, offering advice, samples to help you decide, and even a sampler set of 4 small glasses to enhance your tasting experience.
While they serve wine, their focus is beer, and it's an opportunity for even non-beer drinkers to discover a new favorite. With a laid-back and friendly atmosphere, Tribaun also features a shop where you can buy beer to take home. The place is not a restaurant but offers hotdogs to enjoy with your drink. The place's vibe is cool, with an interior that adds to the enjoyable experience. Knowledgeable staff and a selection featuring local craft beers make it a recommended stop for anyone, even when they've just opened their doors for the day.
These are 15 things that we think are the best things to do in Innsbruck. It's only a small place, but there is plenty to do. If we have missed anywhere from the list or have any tips for us, please leave them in the comments below.
I’m Steve. I’m an English Teacher, traveler, and an avid outdoorsman. If you’d like to comment, ask a question, or simply say hi, leave me a message here, on Twitter (@thefrugalexpat1). Many of my posts have been written to help those in their journey to financial independence. I am on my journey, and as I learn more I hope to share more. And as always, thanks for reading The Frugal Expat.