Innsbruck's eight absolute must-sees
From the sights in the historic old town, such as the Golden Roof the Imperial Palace and the medieval City Tower, to destinations such as Ambras Castle. These buildings, squares and attractions are among the most highly recommended in Innsbruck. Choose your favourite place, or just visit them all! Oh and by the way, these sights and attractions are free of charge with the Innsbruck Card. Take a look through this page and get a little taste of Innsbruck before your visit!
1. Golden Roof
Innsbruck's most famous landmark shines in the heart of the historic old town. The splendid alcove balcony gets its name from the 2,657 fire-gilded copper tiles that adorn the roof. The building has reigned over medieval houses and shady arcades for over 500 years. It was built by Emperor Maximilian who very much enjoyed the view: from there he would look down over the colourful hustle and bustle of his city, watch jousting tournaments and be revered from below.
The shining golden roof can be seen on entering the historic old town but it is also well worth taking a look up close. The structure below the roof is richly adorned with a wide variety of figures and images, including many curiosities.
The Golden Roof is a must-see for anyone visiting Innsbruck. Come to the historic old town and see for yourself. You can't miss it. In the adjoining museum, you can immerse yourself in the time of Emperor Maximilian.
2. Imperial Palace
The Imperial Palace was completed in the year 1500 under Emperor Maximilian I (1459-1519). The palace was built to the same scale as is seen today and was captured as a watercolour by Albrecht Dürer. The painting shows a late Gothic courtyard with covered staircase, a Crest Tower and the women’s quarters (or “women’s rooms”). The reception area, which is known today as the “Gothic Cellar”, was built in the style of a large hall with columns and vaults. A “Kürnstube” (home to Maximilian’s hunting trophies), the “Silver chamber” (treasury) and the Festival Hall (with depictions of Hercules) are also reminders of the time.
The “Rennplatz” square in front of the Imperial Palace served as a competition arena to please the sports-loving Emperor.
3. Court Church
The Court Church is also known by locals as “Schwarzmander Church” thanks to the 28 life-size bronze figures that stand guard, watching over the tomb of Emperor Maximilian I. Strange but true: eight of the “Black Men” (Schwarzmander) are actually women and the Emperor’s tomb is empty. But this beautifully crafted masterpiece is still a work of art and wonderful to behold.
The Court Church is well-worth a visit for organ enthusiasts. The main room features two organs: The first is a “swallow’s nest” organ by Jörg Ebert, which is almost 500-years-old and the largest, best-preserved Renaissance organ in Austria. The second is a more recent organ that was built around 1900 by Hans Mauracher and can be seen on the gallery.
4. Nordkette mountain
The Nordkette is part of Austria’s largest nature park, the Karwendel Nature Park, and can be reached directly from Innsbruck city centre in just a few minutes! The breathtaking 360° view leaves a lasting impression, Innsbruck on one side and Tyrol’s most extensive conservation area on the other.
The Hungerburg funicular’s stations, designed by renowned architect Zaha Hadid, have become an integral part of Innsbruck’s cityscape and represent the most modern architecture in the alpine region. The funicular enables visitors to reach the Hungerburg in just 8 minutes. There are several stops along the way including the Alpine Zoo, which is a favourite among families.
5. Swarovski Crystal Worlds
World famous & wonderful: Swarovski Crystal Worlds, located just 20 kilometres east of Innsbruck, awaits with new and exciting attractions.
Between 2013 and 2015, the worlds of art and culture, entertainment and shopping were extended to cover an area of 7.5 hectares. The “Home of the Giant” now inspires with a new poetic garden, which features a unique Crystal Cloud made from 800,000 hand-mounted and enchanted floating crystals. This mystical masterpiece is the largest of its kind worldwide and with it Swarovski has set the new standard for brilliantly implemented installations. The Crystal Cloud draws visitors to the Mirror Pool where the sparkling light of the crystals is captured to form a sea of stars both day and night. Other highlights in the garden include a play tower and innovative playscape for children of all ages.
6. Ambras Castle
Ambras Castle is one of the main attractions in Innsbruck, the state capital of Tyrol.
Its cultural and historic significance is inseparable from the personality of Archduke Ferdinand II (1529-1595), who promoted the arts and sciences as a true Renaissance prince. He established the magnificent Ambras collections and had a museum facility built in the lower castle to house them, designed according to modern criteria from the time. The current exhibition attempts to reconstruct the Archduke’s chamber of art & curiosities, his armoury, his collection of armour from famous heroes and his collection of antiquities. In Ferdinand’s time, the living quarters were located in the upper castle. Today, the upper castle is home to the Habsburg Portrait Gallery, which features portraits from Albert III (1349-1395) to Emperor Francis I (1768-1835) over three storeys. The collection contains over 200 portraits, including valuable works by famous artists, such as Lukas Cranach, Anton Mor, Tizian, van Dyck and Diego Velásquez.
7. Bergisel Ski Jump
The ski jump on Bergisel hill in Innsbruck was rebuilt in 2001. The bridge construction of the in-run, the building construction of the tower and the steel construction of the tower head beautifully combine different fields of architecture. Iraqi-born architect Zaha Hadid is behind this architectural masterpiece.
The ski jump stands proudly above the Olympic city of Innsbruck on the historic Bergisel. This hill has always been a place of great importance for Tyrol and especially for Innsbruck: around 200 years ago, brave Tyroleans led by Andreas Hofer fought on the hill for their country's freedom. The first ski jump was built on this historic ground in 1925. The sports facility has twice been honoured with the task of hosting Olympic events: the Olympic flame burned on the Bergisel at the Olympic Games in 1964 and 1976. Other major events have also been held at the stadium, for example a Mass celebrated by Pope John Paul II in 1988 for 60,000 followers.
Take a stroll, do a bit of shopping, meet friends, sit at one of the many outdoor cafés, admire the magnificent Baroque architecture and savour the city panorama. This is Maria Theresien Street today. But when the street was founded over 700 hundred years ago, there were only a few farm houses here in the New Town. Life still revolved around the Old Town, which was surrounded by powerful medieval city walls and was only accessible from Maria Theresien Street through the St. Jörgen Gate. Today, this marks the start of Herzog Friedrich Straße – the road that leads to the Golden Roof.