Are you planning a trip to Innsbruck, Austria? If so, you’re in for a treat! The city is surrounded by stunning mountains and offers plenty of opportunities for hiking and outdoor activities. In this travel guide, I am sharing my 3 days in Innsbruck itinerary so that you can plan yours!
3 days in Innsbruck Itinerary: Planning for your trip
When we leave for a trip, I normally set my alarm an hour earlier so that I can quickly pack our suitcases just before we leave. I really am a disaster when it comes to packing – but not this time. For our Innsbruck holiday, my clothes, sleeping bag and backpack were lying ready on the floor two weeks in advance!
I couldn’t wait to set off – we were been invited by the tourism department of Tyrol to hike the Inn Valley High Trail , a long-distance hike of six days in the heart of the Alps.
Why was I beyond excited for this mountain holiday in particular? The idea of enjoying the stunning scenery with my head in the clouds (literally!) gave me goosebumps before we were even in the car on our way to Innsbruck.
The last time I walked a real long-distance hike with a backpack was during my trip to Peru. And I’m not going to lie… I’m now in the worst condition ever when it comes to hiking. But I told myself in advance that I was going to push my own limits, and come out of my comfort zone. But I was also prepared for peace – mental peace, that is.
Now, this guide takes you along on our Innsbruck holiday. But first, let’s go through some basic information,
**disclaimer: This is a sponsored post but this doesn’t change the fact that I share my own honest experiences.**
Essential Innsbruck Travel Details: How to get to Innsbruck?
Getting to Innsbruck by car:
By car, you’ll be on the road from Antwerp for about 9 hours. Keep in mind that you have to purchase a road vignette for Austria. You can order a digital vignette online in advance, via the Asfinag site. You can also buy the vignette just across the border as we did at a gas station. You can choose a vignette for 10 days (€ 9.40), 2 months (€ 27.40), or a year (€ 91.10).
Austria is a beautiful country to drive through, make sure to enjoy the scenery, discover these 7 gorgeous places to visit in Austria along the way!
By train, you can travel from Brussels to Tyrol via Cologne with the Nightjet. This environmentally-friendly night train leaves every Monday and Thursday from Brussels to Innsbruck and returns on Wednesdays and Sundays. The journey takes just over 14 hours.
Fancy flying instead? Innsbruck has its own airport. You can fly there out of Brussels, Transavia, and Tui, among others.
Vienna International Airport is located in the Austrian capital, and it’s the largest airport in the country. From here, you can take the train to Innsbruck – it will take around 6 hours. Alternatively, you can take a domestic flight with Austrian Airlines towards Innsbruck.
Public transportation in Innsbruck
Thanks to an extensive network of regional trains and buses, you can reach almost all of the major valleys of Tyrol by public transport out of Innsbruck.
Get an Innsbruck Card
Planning to explore the many cultural offerings in Innsbruck, or tend to use public transport? Grab yourself an Innsbruck card!
You can purchase the card for 24, 48, or 72 hours. The card gives you free access to all museums and many other attractions including cable cars, the Crystal Worlds, and public transport. You can even use the Innsbruck card as a free parking ticket in the coach car park. The card will save you a lot of money, and make your holiday even more enjoyable.
Where to stay in Innsbruck during your trip
Stage 12 Hotel by Penz is the ideal base during your Innsbruck holidays. The hotel has 120 beautiful rooms and is centrally located in the old part of the city. Enjoy all of Innsbruck highlights within walking distance. Breakfast consists of a diverse international buffet.
The hotel also has a cozy bar with a lovely outside terrace, where you can enjoy the best cocktails! The rooms are spacious and equipped with wonderful box spring beds.
More info and prices can be found here.
History of Innsbruck
Now let’s learn a little bit of the history of Innsbruck. The 800-year-old city takes its name from the very first bridge in Innsbruck that crosses the river Inns. Partly because of its location and accessibility over water, the city was the main trade route to Italy and Switzerland in the 12th century.
At the end of the 15th century, Innsbruck was elected the imperial capital by Maximilian I. The city now has about 130,000 inhabitants – of which 30,000 are students!
It’s primarily a popular winter sports destination – but the city is also a top destination during other seasons, too.
Read on, and I’ll let you discover more of Innsbruck’s hidden gems and explain to you why Innsbruck is the perfect holiday destination.
What to see and do in Innsbruck in 3 days?
Innsbruck is a charming city with plenty to do and see. In three days, you can visit Innsbruck museums, hike the surrounding mountains, go on a guided tour of the mountains, or even enjoy a spa day at Therme Amadé.
If you have more time, I recommend going for an extended hike, visiting the salt mines, or taking a day trip to Hallstatt.
The following is our 3-day itinerary for Innsbruck, and this should provide you with plenty of ideas!
Day 1 of the 3 days in Innsbruck itinerary: Hiking in the Alps
My recommendations for day one are to hike in the Alps, either around Innsbruck or outside of the city. Both are equally beautiful, so it’s up to you which area you want to visit.
We went hiking around Innsbruck as well as went on an extensive long-distance hike. When on a short trip of 3 days hiking in or near Innsbruck, will give you a feel for the city itself before exploring the surrounding mountains.
I highly recommend hiking around Innsbruck because you get to see the city in one go.
Hikes in and around Innsbruck will be about 2+ hours. These hikes will be on well-maintained mountain paths, with several views. I’ve done several guided mountain walks and they were incredible!
As I mentioned, we also hiked the Inn Valley High Trail. For this, you have to add six days to complete the entire trek.
For a detailed breakdown of our hike, click here to read the Inntaler höhenweg – a long-distance hike in Tyrol.
Day 2 of the 3 day Innsbruck itinerary: Explore the town centre gems
If you’re looking for a 3-day itinerary in the heart of Innsbruck, here are some of the best things to do in the city centre of this beautiful destination.
Walkthrough the historic old town and visit the Imperial Palace.
Walk along the winding alleys, enjoy the views of some of the oldest buildings in town and go shopping. This is where you will spend the majority of day 2 of Innsbruck’s itinerary. And the afternoon is perfect for a stroll along the Inn River, and for relaxing and enjoying a view of the surrounding Alps.
There are countless other beautiful buildings in the city centre. There is the 51-metre-high Stadtturm – City Tower, with a beautiful view over the city and the valley of the Inn.
The Katzunghaus, the Trautson Haus and the Hotel Goldener Adler, which has existed since 1390, are other examples of well-preserved mediaeval architectural highlights. The Helblinghaus is also beautiful to see, as it features an elegant Baroque façade from 1725.
Also worth mentioning is the Baroque-style Innsbruck Cathedral. Inside you’ll see beautiful artwork that is definitely worth a visit.
The Court Church, which was built from 1553 to 1563 is also located at the centre. It houses the tomb of Emperor Maximilian I.
Spot the house with the Golden Roof
The House with the Golden Roof in the city centre is Innsbruck’s best-known and most photographed tourist attraction. It became world-famous in 1500 when Emperor Maximilian I gave orders to pave the roof with 2,657 gilded copper shingles.
The house is located in the historic centre and can be viewed from the square in front of the building.
Do visit the House with the Golden Roof, as it is a must add to your 3-day trip to Innsbruck.
Visit the Hofburg
A sight not to be missed during your trip to Innsbruck is the Hofburg, not far from the House with the Golden Roof. This is the former palace of the Habsburg emperors, used whenever they were in the city.
The Hofburg was built in 1460 and in a later period provided with a facade in rococo style. Today, you can find old imperial apartments and a number of art galleries here.
Adjacent is the beautifully decorated Hofkirche, and immediately to the north is the Hofgarten, the old gardens of the palace that now serve as a public park.
Head up to Ambras Castle
Schloß Ambras is located on a mountain ridge on the southern outskirts of Innsbruck. The Renaissance-style castle was built in 1563 for Ferdinand II of Habsburg.
Nowadays, it houses an art gallery, a cabinet of curiosities and the beautifully decorated 43-metre Spanish Hall. Surrounded by splendid gardens, Schloß Ambras is one of the city’s most visited attractions.
Inside is also the Chamber of Art and Wonders of Archduke Ferdinand II, which is the only Renaissance Kunstkammer in its original place. There is an armoury room and a speciality museum about old musical instruments.
The Upper Castle, which is the oldest part of Ambras Castle, contains the Habsburg Portrait Gallery. It is home to about 300 portraits from the 15th to 19th centuries.
It is definitely worth it to pay a visit if you are already in this part of town. Do enjoy strolling through their gardens and take your time to look around inside Schloss Ambras.
If you want to avoid the crowds, do this in the afternoon instead of the morning.
You can reach these areas on foot: just start at the Golden Roof and walk down Kaiserjägerstraße until you see signs for Schloß Ambras.
Visit one (or many) museums in Innsbruck
Impressed by Innsbruck and want to know even more about the city? The museums are the perfect place to visit during your stay. For Tyrolean art and history, there are several branches in the Tyrolean Landesmuseum, the most important museum in the state.
Prefer to visit more practical exhibitions? How about the Tyrolean Museumsbahn – where you can learn absolutely everything about the Tyrolean trains. I personally find the Tiroler Kaiserjägermuseum the most interesting, which focuses on the soldiers of the former Austrian Empire.
For children, there’s the Alpenzoo – the highest-located zoo in Europe, where you can view a variety of animals that live in the Alps.
Enjoy a stroll or walk through the winter city
The best way to explore the winter sports capital is by foot, and there are plenty of city walks to enjoy. The city has handily mapped out seven unique walks that take you past all the highlights.
Go on a journey through the oldest parts of the city, discover the new side of Innsbruck, or walk in the footsteps of the famous Habsburg imperial dynasty. Discover all walks here.
You can also find picturesque squares, great restaurants, and cafes along the way. Don’t miss out on a stroll along the river and take in the city views and change of scenery it offers you.
Day 3 of the 3 day itinerary to Innsbruck: Venture outside the city
Set aside one day of your Innsbruck itinerary to choose a few attractions a little outside the city and complete your getaway to Austria!
Admire the Bergiselschanze – Bergisel Ski Jump
A big fan of skiing? Your trip to Innsbruck is not complete until you’ve visited the Bergiselschanze.
The world-famous ski jump was built in 1927, and then completely renovated in 2001. The 1933 Nordic World Ski Championships took place here, as well as the 1985 World Cup.
The third race of the Four Hills Tournament is traditionally jumped at the Bergiselschanze. In addition, the Bergisel jump was also the Olympic ski jump twice.
In 1964 and 1976, the ski jump in Innsbruck was used as an Olympic event, which brought fame to this city. The start house is open every day from 9 am to 5 pm. There’s also a beautiful view from the top of the Bergisel as well as a café.
If you hike up the Innsbruck Ski Jump complex, you can also visit the Tirol Panorama Museum. The ticket price starts at 9 euros.
Enjoy the view from the Patscherkofel
The Patscherkofel is a mountain that towers high above the city of Innsbruck. It’s best known for the Olympic Games of 1964 and 1976 when it hosted several alpine ski competitions. The mountain, with its beautiful view over the city, is especially popular among skiers and hikers who want to take in the incredible views.
The Patscherkofel is easily spotted by the large transmission mast on the top, and it towers high above the city of Innsbruck.
Since Innsbruck is often called the winter sports capital of Austria, it should come as no surprise to hear that there are many ski opportunities in and around the city.
There’s the Nordkette Ski Area, for example, which has a total of 13.9 kilometers of slopes and tons of lifts and gondolas. Another great ski resort is the Patscherkofel Ski Area, below the mountain of the same name (Patscherkofel, also known as the local’s mountain).
Swing by the sparkling Swarovski Crystal Worlds
Just 15 kilometers from Innsbruck and 12 kilometers from the vibrant city Schwaz, you will find the magical world of Swarovski in the village of Wattens.
Learn more about the history of the brand, and prepare to be enchanted by rooms filled with various artists from all over the world. You can also explore the largest Swarovski store in the world, where you can shop without limits and find all collector’s items in one place.
After your visit, you can go to Daniels for a bite of lunch or a delicious coffee. The store also has a dazzling bar, with just about every cocktail possible. The Daniels Kristallwelten serves international, regional, and seasonal cuisine, and even has its own pastry department.
A special feature is that the bright pavilion is flooded with light, designed by the Norwegian architectural firm Snøhetta. It genuinely makes you feel as though you’re eating in the middle of the park!
Shopping in Innsbruck: Maria Theresien Street and more
Feel like indulging in a bit of retail therapy during your Innsbruck holiday? Head over to the Maria Theresien Strasse. Almost all major retail chains are housed here, as well as several cozy coffee bars to catch a breather from all that shopping.
The Maria Theresien Strasse is also home to some of the best international brands. You can check out H&M if you are in need of a quick wardrobe update or treat yourself with a new pair of Jimmy Choo shoes at their flagship store.
Looking for more boutique shops? The old town is filled with both authentic souvenir shops and beautiful clothing stores.
There are also shopping malls with all types of retail outlets!
To those who love nature and fresh air, don’t worry as there are several quaint boutiques outside of Innsbruck as well. There is a great boutique in the village of Westendorf, which offers an extensive collection of sports gear and other decorative items, and artsy souvenirs.
If you are fond of shopping local food specialties, then don’t leave the city without sampling these delicacies. There are several cafes where you can enjoy Austrian wines, cakes, and finger food while watching the city bustle by.
Stay in romantic Schwaz (if you have time)
We spent our last evening in the authentic, romantic village of Schwaz located next to the river Inns, filled with plenty of lovely bars, restaurants, and trendy shops.
We spent the night in Pension Clara, a lovely accommodation where we were truly pampered by the friendly owner. There are several single and double rooms, all very spacious, equipped with a shower and with a beautiful view over the village. You can park next to the building and you can easily reach the city on foot.
We concluded our last evening with a delicious dinner at Gasthof Tippeler, an authentic restaurant founded in 1657. It’s located in a beautiful, perfectly preserved building, where we received a warm welcome. They serve traditional cuisine – and it is to die for!
I highly recommend Innsbruck for your next trip! The city is conveniently located at the heart of Tirol, which offers easy access to most major cities in Europe.
A stunning city, in the Austrian Alps it truly offers something for everyone. Outdoor enthusiasts will love the hiking and skiing opportunities, while shoppers can enjoy a variety of stores, both international and local.
Those looking to relax can find plenty of charming cafes and restaurants to choose from. You’ll find lovely bars, restaurants, and trendy shops – as well as comfortable accommodations perfect for ending your trip on a relaxing note.