Innsbruck’s Old Town is full of contrasts: Colorful Gothic mansions pop against the mountain backdrop, and centuries-old church spires compete with some of Austria’s most interesting modern architecture. The Habsburgs made Innsbruck their home somewhere around the 1500s, which means plenty of Imperial relics still dot the inner city.
After a bite at adorable Breakfast Club, head to Innsbruck’s landmark, the Golden Roof. It was built for the wedding of Emperor Maximilian I to Bianca Maria Sforza and comprises 2,657 fire-gilded copper tiles. This year, Innsbruck celebrates the 500th anniversary of Emperor Maximilian I with a special exhibit at the Golden Roof’s museum. Walk inside the 16th century construction and learn about Maximilian’s incredible legacy in Austrian and the rest of Europe.
Just behind the Golden Roof, find the Cathedral of St. James, another reminder of the Habsburg’s power over Innsbruck. The opulent Baroque cathedral holds the tomb of Emperor Maximilian III, the great-great-grandson of Maximilian I. Another highlight is the painting of “Mary of Succor” by Cranach above the main altar.
Get a taste of traditional Tirolean cooking at Restaurant Weisses Rössl, which has serving food since the 1600s. Order the Tiroler Gröstl, a classic dish made with roast potatoes, beef, and a sunny-side-up egg.
Walk along Burggraben street to one of Innsbruck’s most impressive Habsburg landmarks. The Imperial Palace stretches out against the Nordkette mountain range with a bright Baroque facade. During the 15th century it served as the official seat of the Habsburg Empire and thereby became an important nexus of European power. Take a guided tour of the state rooms, the breathtaking banquet hall, the Imperial apartments, and the place tower.
Hop next door for a look at Innsbruck’s Imperial Court Church, which was meant to be the final resting place of Emperor Maximilian I. His elaborate tomb sits empty (Maximilian’s remains lie near Vienna), but 28 larger-than-life bronze statues of historical figures still watch over the cenotaph. These “Schwarzmander” were created over the span of 53 years and involved contributions from a long list of famed 16th century artists.
Restaurant Das Schindler has a modern dining room with black chandeliers and a colorfully-lit bar. The food is equally flashy with menu items like braised veal and suckling pig dim sum. Order a la carte, or commit to a 3, 4, or 5-course menu.
Innsbruck’s Court Theater used to entertain Archduke Ferdinand Karl and his guests - today you can attend concerts, dance performances, theater, and other culture events in the heart of Innsbruck. Head over to the neoclassical theater building opposite the Imperial Palace for a night worthy of archdukes and emperors.
Pastries, cakes, and oven-fresh bread line the vitrines at Cafe Munding. Tirol’s oldest cafe cooks up a sweet or savory breakfast inside a charming Medieval mansion. After loading up on food and coffee, it’s time to explore Innsbruck’s grand pedestrian boulevard, the Maria-Theresien Strasse. Baroque facades house storefronts of international fashion brands, local boutiques, and Tirolean specialty stores.
Walk by St. Anne’s Column, an iconic Innsbruck landmark, and look north towards the Nordkette mountains. The combination of beautiful Old Town and the Alps make for an unforgettable panorama. Towards the south, sneak a peek of the Bergisel Ski Jump, which was designed by star architect Zaha Hadid.
For a midday snack, head to Restaurant Stiftskeller. It’s a cozy inn with a traditional Tirolean menu and a wide beer selection. If you’d like to keep things on the lighter side, try Cafe Immerland, which plays with plant based ingredients and locally sourced dishes.
Another beautiful church waits for you by Innsbruck’s University: The Jesuit Church has been the spiritual center of the college since its founding in the 17th century. Walk down the nave and look up - the soaring dome gives the church a bright, airy atmosphere with Baroque accents. The church was commissioned by Archduke Leopold V, brother of Emperor Ferdinand II, and holds his remains.
Walk back down Maria-Theresien Street and pick up your last souvenirs before stopping at the Triumphal arch. It’s a bombastic sight - especially considering the size of Innsbruck! The stone arch rises tall against the city’s southern mountains and serves as a weighty reminder of the city’s political and economic history. Archduke Leopold built the arch to celebrate his wedding with Infanta Maria Luisa of Spain. Decades later, Leopold would inherit the Habsburg lands from his brother become Holy Roman Emperor.
After a day of walking Innsbruck’s Old Town, it’s time to take a well-deserved break. Head to Hotel aDLERS (you can’t miss the modern, glass-paneled tower) and go up to the roof. The two-story rooftop terrace offers some of the most stunning views in the city. Watch the sun set over Innsbruck’s mountains with a cocktail, wine, or Austrian beer in your hand.
Innsbruck is all about local food - especially when it comes to meats and produce. Restaurant Die Wilderin takes this philosophy to the next level by sourcing a highly seasonal menu almost entirely from nearby farms. Find the names and location of the producers right next to the daily offerings of fresh veggies, herbs, and highest-quality meats.
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