Austria, DACH region

What to see in Innsbruck in 1 day: Travel Guide

August 24, 2023
What to see in Innsbruck in 1 day - Travel guide

If you want to get the best out of your short trip to Innsbruck, check out our travel guide on what to see in Innsbruck in 1 day! Surrounded by the Alps, Innsbruck is definitely a place worth visiting. Whether you’re on a tight budget, or just short on time, here are the top 5 things you should do in Innsbruck in your one-day trip!

Innsbruck, a city for mountain lovers

Innsbruck is the capital of Austria’s western state of Tyrol. It’s a scenic medium-sized city, located in the Austrian Alps. Innsbruck is definitely a top destination for winter sports lovers, being surrounded by skiing resorts and ski slopes.

But it’s much more than an attractive winter sports destination. The city is worth exploring all year round. Innsbruck is famous for its colorful, picturesque buildings, as well as for the splendid mountain views that change with every season. However, the city seems to be most charming in late autumn/early winter. That’s when the last leaves fall, and the Christmas market lights up the old town.

Not to worry, in this travel guide, we show you what to see in Innsbruck in 1 day, no matter the season. And how to best enjoy this cozy Austrian city that has so much to offer.

What to see in Innsbruck in 1 day

1. Alps panorama: Nordkette Cable Car

Tip! This is the first thing you should do in Innsbruck, and plan your day trip around this activity.

The Nordkette Cable Car is a funicular/cable car than can take you all the way to the top of the mountain. And the view above the clouds is just spectacular. It’s one of the most beautiful and peaceful places we’ve been to.

View from Seegrube Nordkette

View from Seegrube

Why do this first? We think this is the most exciting thing to do in Innsbruck, and you shouldn’t miss it. Sometimes, there is a bit of a queue at the Nordkette. Also, the weather may sometimes impact the hours when the cable car runs. So it’s best to go as early as you can, and get this activity done, so you have the rest of the day free to explore the city.

Tip! Where and what kind of ticket to purchase?

You can purchase your cable car ticket online or at the ticket office at Innsbruck Station Congress.

You’ll see that the Nordkette Cable Car tickets are quite expensive (but they are worth it!). What we recommend, if you want to save some money is to get the Innsbruck – Seegrube ticket (39,60 EUR / two-way ticket/ adult), instead of the one that takes you all the way to the top. It’s still a bit pricey, but you can’t miss this breathtaking view.

The ultimate view of the mountains, clouds, and the city below is at Seegrube. What we recommend: get a tea or a mulled wine at Restaurant Seegrube, and enjoy the view with a hot drink.

2. Innsbruck panorama: Hungerburg Innsbruck

Hungerburg is the first stop of the Nordkette cable car, as you ascend from Innsbruck. The ticket up there is 11.40 Euros/ return/ person (included in your Seegrube ticket, mentioned above). This point offers a panoramic view of the city. You can also reach it by bus, if you don’t plan to get a cable car ticket. Take the Bus J from the city center, up to Nordkette (end of the line).

Innsbruck from above - Hungerburg view point

Innsbruck from above – Hungerburg view point

This is a more affordable alternative than taking the cable car all the way to Seegrube or higher. But you get a different view from here. A closer view of Innsbruck. Still charming, we believe.

3. Innsbruck Old Town

Of course, the old town is a must on the list of things to see in 1 day in Innsbruck. The old town, or Altstadt Innsbruck, is very picturesque and full of color. The old buildings are full of history and charm, and some tell fascinating stories through their architecture and quaint details.

Colorful buildings in Innsbruck

Some of the buildings and monuments you shouldn’t miss:

  • the Town Tower (Stadtturm)- Landmark watchtower built in the 1400s with an observation deck. You can get a ticket to the top of the tower, and see the old town from above.
Innsbruck Town Tower

The Town Tower

  • the Imperial Palace Innsbruck & the Innsbrucker Hofgarten – The Imperial palace is an elegant 1400s building with Renaissance and Baroque influences. If you don’t have time to visit it on your 1-day trip, make sure to check it out from the outside and to explore the gardens, which are free to visit.
  • Annasäule (1703 monument featuring an ornate red marble column topped by a statue of the Virgin Mary – right in the town square).

The Annasäule monument in the town square

  • Maria-Theresien-Straße – this is the main shopping street in Innsbruck, which will lead you to the Town square, and then to the old town.

4. A long walk along the Inn

Innsbruck is famous for its fairytale-like, colorful houses along the river Inn. You’ve probably seen these beautifully-aligned, charming buildings, in photos or postcards from Innsbruck. They are quite iconic. And you’ll get the best view of these buildings by taking a walk along the Inn.

A walk along the Inn in Innsbruck

Walk along the Inn river

Don’t stick to only one side of the river. Go ahead and explore both sides. Innsbruck is not such a big city, so you’ll most likely have time to walk around and explore both sides of the river in just 1 day.

In the cold season, it gets dark sooner, which can mean less time to explore. In this case, make your walk shorter and don’t get too far off from the center. Explore the western side of the river first, and then end your tour in the old town. That’s the spot you’ll love exploring in the evening as well.

5. 360° Cafe at RathausGalerien

RathausGalerien is a shopping mall in Innsbruck. Here you can take the elevator up to the 360° Cafe, which offers another view of the city from above. The cafe has seats all around and it has a circular shape. So it’s a great place to enjoy a coffee with a delightful view of the city and the mountains behind.

View from the 360° Cafe in Innsbruck

View from the 360° Cafe

If you can’t find seats, don’t get discouraged. You can still check out the view, take your photos, and head back down to find a cozy Austrian restaurant or cafe.

If you’re here in December, there’s one last thing to see: the Christmas market

Wondering when is the best time to see Innsbruck? It’s definitely early December. Christmas markets are a must-see in Austria, and the one in Innsbruck is especially pretty. The mountains and the delightful scenery definitely add a nice touch to the festive vibe of the market. And what’s better than enjoying a hot drink surrounded by charming colorful houses and the Alps?

When does the Innsbruck Christmas market open? Late November. Plan your trip in late November – early December, if you want to avoid crowds. The mountain tops will be covered in snow, and Innsbruck old town will be covered in Christmas lights. Make sure you try some of the local foods and drinks while at it. And check out the beautiful handmade tree decorations.

Christmas lover? Check out the Top 3 Christmas markets in Berlin!

Ready for your trip to Innsbruck?

We hope we helped you decide what to see in Innsbruck in 1 day. Plan your day trip ahead, to make the most of your time in the city. But leave some room for surprise. Innsbruck is not a huge city, so you can easily explore its most charming streets by walking. Get lost in the old town and along the Inn river, and you’ll see that Innsbruck might amaze you.

What to see in Innsbruck in 1 day - travel guide

Our final tip! Wear comfortable shoes and warm clothes. The city is surrounded by mountains, so the weather can change quickly. And you may need to walk up-hill for some parts of it. But overall it’s not a hilly city.

Road trip to Austria? Check out our top destinations!

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