Last Updated on January 17, 2024 by Michela
Nestled in a valley below the tall, snowy peaks of the Austrian Alps, Innsbruck is a city full of character set among a breathtaking landscape. The perfect blend between historic charm and wild nature, it is a must-visit on any Tyrol itinerary! To make the most of your stop in this quaint city and enjoy it on a low budget, these are the best things to do with one day in Innsbruck!
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Is one day in Innsbruck enough?
Let’s address what everyone’s thinking – is one day enough time to see the city? One day in Innsbruck is enough to fully explore the city center and experience a few activities on the city’s outskirts.
But if you can extend your trip to 2-3 days in Innsbruck, you will be able to accomplish visiting everything in the city center, as well as all the city has to offer on its outskirts. I wish we had had more than one day in Innsbruck to be able to really experience the city to the fullest!
You may not be able to tackle all the activities on this list, but I wanted to include as much as possible so you could design your Innsbruck one-day itinerary just to your liking!
That being said, you truly can squeeze so much into one day because of the size, walkability, and the number of transportation options available in Innsbruck.
And all activities are budget-friendly – most are free and a select few hover around 10€ per person. You can experience the top things to do in Innsbruck without breaking the bank!
The Best Time to Visit Innsbruck
The best time to visit Innsbruck depends on what you love to experience while you travel. If you love exploring cities, then summer is the time to come to Innsbruck. If you love winter sports, then you’ll find Innsbruck is made for you and should visit during the winter months!
Prices are cheaper in spring and fall since they are the low tourist seasons and the weather tends to vary greatly between cold and rainy.
The Best Things to Do In Innsbruck in One Day
Everyone will tell you the best thing to do in Innsbruck is explore Altstadt, the Innsbruck Old Town. And although it may be cliché to say it – exploring Altstadt is truly one of the best parts about visiting Innsbruck!
The old buildings are bewitchingly beautiful in their detailed facades, frescos, and colors. The streets are windy and narrow, yet open frequently to a new, unexpected courtyard or some of the most bustling town squares. It’s a city full of little surprises!
Eat Strudel at a Strudel Café!
Wo doesn’t love dessert? The traditional dessert in this part of the Alps is strudel and thank goodness because it is so delicious!
And better yet – Innsbruck has its own strudel café! I know, I freaked out too.
The Kröll Strudel Café is located within the Old Town, just at its edge near Hofburg Palace.
They create artisan strudel in all kinds of flavors – and not just sweet desserts. They also do savory strudels, like spinach and feta. You could even make this your breakfast stop! The experience of eating Austria’s traditional dessert in one of the most historic settings alone is worthy of your Innsbruck itinerary!
Climb the Stadtturm Clock Tower
Climbing the historic town center’s clock tower os one of the most budget-friendly, fun things to do in Innsbruck. To enter costs 4.50€ per person. You can buy tickets in person but be aware they only accept cash!
The views from above are stunning, especially if you can visit on a sunny day when the Nordkette peaks are showing off in their full glory!
Visit the Golden Roof
The Golden Roof, or Goldenes Dachl, is Innsbruck’s most famous attraction. The tiles are actually made of copper and painted with a then sheet of gold. Completed in 1500, it was created by Emperor Maximilian I to commemorate his marriage and used by the couple to overlook events in the square.
However, the Golden Roof is so much more than just its tiles. The structure is intricately decorated with storytelling carvings, paintings, and coats of arms.
One of the reasons I also recommend climbing the clock tower is because you’ll have a unique perspective of the gleaming Golden Roof!
Relax Outside the Court Church & See the Emperor’s Tomb
The Court Church, or Hofkirche, is one of the most magnificent churches in Innsbruck.
From the outside, the church stands above its own little square with a sweet garden, a fountain, and benches to take in the view. On the inside, the church holds the empty tomb of Emperor Maximilian I. It costs 8€ to enter.
Take Photos at the Iconic Colorful Houses on the Inn River
You can’t go to Innsbruck without taking a photo at its most iconic spot: the neatly arranged, colorful houses dotted along the Inn River.
The best place to get your photo is on the opposite side of the river beside the Markthalle. There is also a stand-alone black structure that I believe is a viewing area, but it was closed when I visited!
Some of these houses today are residences, hotels, and shops. To be honest, they look so much more colorful from across the river than if you walk right up to them!
Eat Local at the Markthalle
Speaking of the Markthalle, you should check it out! The Markthalle is basically a local farmer’s market where you can get fresh produce along with typical food and other products from the region of Tyrol.
There are also a set of restaurants as part of the Markthalle where you can have an authentic and local lunch!
Window Shop on Maria Theresien Strasse
Maria Theresien Strasse is the town square of Innsbruck and where the city bustle is at its best. There are tons of modern stores in Innsbruck’s trademark colorful and ornately decorated buildings to admire and window shop.
In the center of the square is St. Anne’s Column, a tribute to when in 1703, the Austrians overtook the Bavarian troops during the War of Spanish Succession on St. Anne’s Day. Today, many locals and tourists alike sit beneath it on its surrounding steps – the perfect place for people-watching!
Pro Tip: You’ll find there is no shortage of historic buildings in Innsbruck. All historic buildings are marked with a white plaque that states the name of the building and a brief history in both German and English. Look out for these!
Visit the Triumphal Arch
At the end of the Maria Theresien Strasse is another iconic landmark in Innsbruck: the Triumphal Arch. There’s not much more to do here than admire the setting, size, and beauty of this gateway to the city.
Walk Along the Arthur Haidl Promenade
On the opposite side of the Inn River, you will find a more chilled version of Innsbruck, a laidback residential area. Along the river is a wide promenade that is more peaceful to walk along in comparison to the boardwalk on the side of the river next to the city center.
While I wouldn’t say walking the Arthur Haidl Promenade is an essential thing to do in Innsbruck if you only have one day, it is interesting to have the opposite perspective and see the historic city center as the backdrop to the Inn River.
See Crazy Expensive Jewelry Displays at the Swarovski Store
Did you know that Swarovski is based just outside of Innsbruck, Austria? It’s a huge deal here. So much so that the Swarovski store in the city center of Innsbruck has a mini-museum before you actually enter to shop.
The mini-museum is small, but the pieces and decoration of the room itself are insane! It’s worth a five-minute stop in.
Good to know: If you have more than one day in Innsbruck, you should head to the nearby town of Wattens to visit the Swarovski Museum (Swarovski Kristallwelten). It costs 19€ to enter but the unique grounds and bejeweled rooms and displays are one of the most unique things to see in Innsbruck.
Admire the Hofburg Imperial Palace
The Hofburg Imperial Palace was home to the Hapsburg family during their reign as kings of Austria. The palace is huge and a marvel to observe just from the outside.
Fun fact: It’s one of the three most important buildings in the entire country. Now inside the palace are multiple museums and exhibitions which you can enter for around 10€.
Stroll through the Hofgarten
The Hofgarten is a sprawling park in the middle of the city, close to the Hofburg Imperial Palace. Not only is it the perfect place to take a break from the city rush and also dive into some of the city’s history.
The park dates back to the early 1400s when it was exclusively used by the imperial family!
There are large trees all throughout the park but you can still see the mountains peaking through when you look up, which offers a unique perspective of them without all the buildings. In the center of the park is a pavilion where the city hosts events and the historic Catalpa tree that looks like it’s growing sideways!
And just on the edge of the park is a greenhouse called Palmenhaus, open Monday-Friday only for a few hours. It is full of diverse plant species, including a super rare flower called the giant Victoria water lily. If you’d like to visit, it costs 4€ and you can inquire more here. (You’ll have to Google Translate the page to English!)
Take the Hungerburg Funicular
The cable car all the way up to Nordkette costs 42€, so it’s not the most budget-friendly option for a view over the city (and I accidentally took a picture of Nordkette station instead of the one I actually recommend you take – whoops!)
The one I recommend for a cheaper view and cable car experience is the Hungerburg funicular at 11€ per person.
The reason I wanted to include a picture of the station is that the design is incredibly unique – it actually is nearly the same as the Nordkette station which is what caused the confusion! Nonetheless, it was designed by Zara Hadid who also designed the Olympic ski jump in the city.
Step Into the Shoes of an Olympian at the Bergisel Ski Jump
Being in the heart of the Alps means one thing – winter sports are everything! So much so that Innsbruck is home to the Bergisel Olympic Ski Jump.
At 50 meters high on Bergisel Hill, the ski jump is an important venue for hosting competitions but also for tourism. It overlooks all of Innsbruck, facing the Nordkette mountain range, and the building is of a completely unique design itself.
Besides seeing the stadium, there is also a viewing terrace and café at the top of the tower. Entry to the Bergisel Ski Jump costs 10€.
Taste the Sacher Cake from the Original Bakery
The Sacher Cake, or Sacher Torte, is an uber-rich, super chocolatey dessert that was invented in the city of Vienna in 1832. While you may be in a different Austrian city, the bakery with the original recipe is also located in Innsbruck in none other than the Imperial Palace!
If strudel isn’t your favorite, then swap your dessert stop at Kröll Strudel Café for Café Sacher.
Dive into Tyrolean History at the Folk Art Museum
You may start to get the gist that Innsbruck is full of history and loves to show it. Being the capital of Tyrol in western Austria, which is such a unique corner of the Alps and the world, Innsbruck hosts the Tyrolean Folk Art Museum which is actually one of the most renowned heritage museums in Europe!
The folk museum costs 9€ to visit.
Good to know: If you are all about Alpine culture, then you’ll also love the fact that Innsbruck has an Alpine zoo! You can do the Hungerburg funicular and the zoo on a combined ticket of just 17€.
I actually was unable to visit Schloss Ambras, or Ambras Castle, because of my time constraint visiting Innsbruck for only one day. The castle is located on the edge of the city but is supposed to be one of Innsbruck’s best sights! Tickets to Ambras Castle cost 12€.
How to Reach Innsbruck
Innsbruck has its own airport, Innsbruck Airport (INN)! It’s just 4 km from the city center, to which you can take bus line F or the train. If you’re hopping around Europe, it’s likely you’ll be able to find cheap flights between local airports like this one!
If you are arriving by car, you’ll likely arrive from the highway. Innsbruck has a few exits, but the one that gets you to the city center is Innsbruck West.
Innsbruck has many parking options, most of them underground or standing parking garages. All cost about the same – strangely, they tend to charge per half hour instead of per hour. Nearly every garage cost 2.60€ per hour. The biggest variation I found was 10 cents.
We parked in InnenSTADT Garage Innsbruck, which was a perfect location – walkable to the entire city center and in the lively university area of the city.
If you are traveling in other parts of Austria and looking to do an Innsbruck day trip, you’ll find some organized day tour offerings like Salzburg to Innsbruck.
If you’re traveling around Europe, you may have options via Flixbus to reach Innsbruck in the cheapest way possible!
Good to know: There’s also an app in Austria called wegfinder that allows you to search all public transportation options for the best route along your trip!
How to Get Around Innsbruck
The best way to get around Innsbruck and the city center is on foot. The main things to do in the city are just a short walk away from each other, so you can see a lot in one day just by walking. That being said, wear comfy shoes – they may just be short walks, but they add up throughout the day!
To reach places on the outskirts of Innsbruck, like the Olympic ski jump or Ambras Castle, you can take public transportation like trams and buses. Consider purchasing the Innsbruck City Card if you’re trying to see lots of things with one day in Innsbruck – it includes rides on all public transportation as well as free or discounted entry to some attractions.
There are also funiculars and cable cars as I mentioned to reach viewpoints and hiking trails on the surrounding mountains.
You could also get around Innsbruck by renting a bike – it’s a super bike-friendly city. However, biking alongside the car/bus/tram/people traffic looked very hectic, so I wouldn’t recommend getting around by bike if you’re not used to biking in a city.
Travel Tips for Visiting Innsbruck in One Day
- Innsbruck is a very bike-friendly city! There are bike paths next to nearly every sidewalk. Be careful to not walk in the bike paths, or you’ll get run over!
- Along with that, if you are driving in Innsbruck, you must stay attentive. There are cyclists and pedestrians crossing the street at all times and wherever they wanted, as well as trams and buses going every which way! With the tram tracks, lines can be hard to see on the road! Check out detailed information about road tripping in my guide to driving in Austria.
- Bring cash. I noticed lots of areas in Tyrol took cash only and I was surprised we ran into several places in Innsbruck with the same rule!
- Many people speak English in Innsbruck – but I would brush up on your German for getting around! Almost no road signage or menu is translated (at least you’ll have to ask for an English menu).
I hope you have found at least a few things on this list of things to do in Innsbruck that have made it onto your itinerary! I’m a traveler who’s always trying to make the most of the short time I have to visit places and I understand how hectic it can feel planning a quick trip to or stopover in a city.
Luckily, Innsbruck is the perfect size to explore in one day and feel like you’ve accomplished seeing and doing the best there is on offer. I hope you have the perfect day in Innsbruck!
What are you most looking forward to seeing in Innsbruck? Tell me in a comment!
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Now you’re set to spend one day in Innsbruck that you’ll remember forever!