7 walks to (re-)discover Innsbruck

Last updated on 01.04.2019

Innsbruck is both a delightful student city and a great centre for outdoor enthusiasts, offering a unique combination of alpine joie de vivre and urban culture. The city not only has lots of very special sights which can be explored by following one of the seven perfectly planned walks – check out the “Walks to explore” booklet – but also walks that show Innsbruck from a slightly different angle.

Alpine & urban perspectives: city and mountain in one tour

From city to mountain summit in under half an hour? No problem at all in Innsbruck! Simply leave your heavy mountain climbing equipment at home and take the Nordkettenbahnen from the Congress station. This makes the ascent a piece of cake, and from the summit station it’s just a 15-minute walk to the Top of Innsbruck at Hafelekar summit. Not only that! You can also explore some real highlights at various stations along the way – such as the Path of Perspectives not far from the Seegrube station. This hiking trail, designed by Snøhetta, the renowned Norwegian architecture firm, is a true inspiration, not just with its magnificent views but also with the stimulating quotations from the Austrian philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein along the way. The diversity of animals in the alpine habitat can be explored in the Alpine Zoo, which is also a stop on the Nordkettenbahnen. From here, it’s an easy walk back to the Congress station along the River Inn, and you‘re back at your starting point after a total of four to six hours. Further information: https://www.innsbruck.info/en/sightseeing/tours/tour/stadt-und-berg.html

Huge tower, deep ravines: from ski jump to the Sill gorge

As soon as you set off from the Triumphal Arch, built by Maria Theresia, towards the Bergisel, you’re immediately aware of how impressive this walk is going to be in terms of history and architecture. You pass by the impressive Wilten Basilica and Wilten Abbey and, when you reach the Tirol Panorama car park, you head down into the Sill Gorge, Innsbruck’s very own “canyon”. The “Panoramarunde” circular walk takes you past the “Drachenfelsen”, a viewing platform with transparent floor, and the “Sonnendeck”, a challenging crag for climbers. You then come to the Bergisel ski jump, a true architectural highlight, designed by the internationally renowned architect Zaha Hadid. Both the jump and the nearby Tirol Panorama Museum are really worth a visit. The museum houses the Giant Panoramic Painting, a 1,000 m² canvas with a breath-taking 360° perspective, showing scenes from the Tyrolean freedom struggle of 1809 led by Andreas Hofer. It’s easy to get back into the city by catching the tram from the Bergisel stop opposite Wilten Abbey. You should allow half a day for the tour or, if you want to include the museum visits, a full day. Further information: https://www.innsbruck.info/en/sightseeing/tours/tour/zwischen-schanze-und-schlucht.html

Maximilian, Sisi & Co.: in the footsteps of the Habsburgs

Fancy a tour through the history of Innsbruck? This walk is perfect if you’re interested in exploring the city’s rich history. You should allow 90 minutes and, with museum visits, the whole day. You start at the well-known Golden Roof and then head east to St. James Cathedral, one of the most important Baroque churches in Tyrol, and past Innsbruck‘s Cultural Centre. You can’t fail to be impressed by the Tyrolean State Theatre – unmistakable with its iconic yellow Habsburg colour – but don’t forget to have a look at the impressive Leopold’s Fountain with its beautiful bronze figures. Opposite is the Imperial Palace, which even in 1500 was as large as it is today. Emperor Maximilian I loved his residence which looked out on a jousting field. Just around the corner is the Court Church, known for the “Schwarze Mander” (black men) flanking Maximilian’s imperial tomb. You can immerse yourself in the world of Maria Theresa by studying the Triumphal Arch, one side of which depicts the wedding of Maria Theresa’s son Leopold to the Spanish princess Maria Ludovica, and the other side portrays the death of Maria Theresa’s husband Franz Stephan. The Order of Noble Ladies, founded by Maria Theresia after his death, is also dedicated to him, and the task of the noble ladies was to pray for the deceased emperor. The institution still exists today and is inhabited by two collegiate ladies. The Stiftskeller restaurant is now located in the building where, at the end of the tour, you can enjoy some typical Tyrolean specialties in a traditional atmosphere imbued with a sense of history. Further information: https://www.innsbruck.info/en/sightseeing/tours/tour/habsburger.html

Young Innsbruck: bike tour of skating rink, climbing paradise and bathing lake

You can explore the students’ Innsbruck by taking a day trip by bike (stadtrad.ivb.at). There‘s a lending station, for example, at the SOWI, the University of Innsbruck’s Faculty of Social and Economic Sciences. From here you ride north through Saggen, a district with some amazing mansions, and past the viaduct arches which are transformed into a “party mile” at night. You then come to the Innsbruck Climbing Centre, one of the largest and most modern climbing facilities in Europe. A climbing area of 5,700 m² gives you every opportunity to test your strength and skill both indoors and out. After your exertions you can then enjoy a gentle ride along a shady bike path by the River Inn and then cool off at the Baggersee lake. This is an area of unspoilt nature with a large sunbathing lawn, bathing island and restaurants. Refreshed by the cool water, you now set off back to Innsbruck city centre, but now on the other side of the Inn. You pass through the St. Nikolaus and Mariahilf neighbourhoods and cross the Freiburg Bridge and come to the typical student Inn promenade, a popular meeting point, behind the university. You then head towards Eduard Wallnöfer Square where you might catch skaters and BMX riders showing off their tricks. You can then drop off your city bike just round the corner on Bozner Square. Further information: https://www.innsbruck.info/en/sightseeing/tours/tour/junges-innsbruck.html

Explore modern Innsbruck: world class architecture fused with Tyrolean artistry

You should allow two hours for a journey through Innsbruck’s architectural heritage. You start at the Congress, where you can marvel at the event centre itself and also the Hungerburgbahn valley station, designed by Zaha Hadid, the award-winning architect. Diagonally opposite is the new House of Music, a meeting place for all music lovers in Tyrol. From Maria-Theresien-Strasse, Innsbruck’s splendid main avenue, it’s just a short walk to the financial district where you can then admire the Sparkassenplatz, a lovely urban space, and BTV Stadtforum with its remarkable three-dimensional facade and corner tower. The IKB building, Innsbruck’s first skyscraper, was designed by Lois Welzenbacher and is reminiscent of the early years of the 20th century. The Former Federal State Parliament, built in 1938 in a sober style reduced to the essentials with allusions to the ancient world, recalls the National Socialist regime. By way of contrast, you can relax by the Eduard Wallnöfer Square in front of the parliament building and watch the skaters and BMX riders having fun. As you shop in Innsbruck you’re also surrounded by modern architecture. The Kaufhaus Tyrol department store, designed by the British master architect David Chipperfield and winner of several architectural prizes, and the Rathausgalerien, designed by Dominique Perrault, make it very difficult to resist temptation. The perfect way to end the tour is by calling in at the newly renovated Tourismus Information Innsbruck. The three-aisled hall with Renaissance vaults once served as the court stables for the Imperial Palace’s horses, but today it shows how appealingly contemporary architecture can be mixed with digital technology. Do drop in. It‘s well worth it! Further information: https://www.innsbruck.info/en/sightseeing/tours/tour/architektur.html

Authentic Innsbruck: escape the Old Town bustle, linger in the quiet historic surroundings

Take just a few steps from the Old Town and you can escape from the bustle of the city by setting off on a tour of St. Nikolaus, Mariahilf and Hötting, which takes about 3 hours, and immerse yourself in the original Innsbruck. You start at the market hall and go past the Ottoburg, one of the oldest buildings in the Old Town, and cross over the Inn Bridge heading west to the Mariahilfkirche church. This is a tour which will appeal especially to church lovers. The Old Hötting Parish Church, first documented in the 13th century, the neo-romantic New Hötting Parish Church and the St. Nikolaus Parish Church all feature on this walk. Other highlights include the Waltherpark, from where Albrecht Dürer painted the skyline of Innsbruck in 1496, and the Bäckerbühelgasse and St Nikolaus Gasse, two of the oldest alleyways in Innsbruck which have retained their original character. Returning to the other side of the River Inn, you then cross the Emile Bétouart Bridge, named after the general who, as commander-in-chief of the French occupying forces between 1945 and 1955, rendered outstanding service in promoting understanding and reconciliation with the Tyrolean population. You then head upstream past the Imperial Gardens, which have been open to the public since the 19th century, and conclude your tour outside the Golden Roof. Further information: https://www.innsbruck.info/en/sightseeing/tours/tour/urspruengliches-innsbruck.html

(Early) Christmas special:

With a unique blend of modern life and quiet reflection, the six Innsbruck Christmas markets are certainly something very special. This afternoon tour, which takes about three to four hours, is an absolute must in the run-up to Christmas. You start at the Congress station and take the Hungerburgbahn for the first stop on the Christmas tour, where you can enjoy not only mulled wine and “Kiachl”, traditional Austrian pastry made from yeast dough, but also amazing views of the city. You return on the funicular, get off at the Löwenhaus station and proceed to St. Nikolaus where, on Hans Brenner Square, you’ll encounter a place of true pre-Christmas reflection. As you relax next to a warming fire, you can sample home-baked Christmas biscuits. Then it’s a short walk through the Waltherpark and across the Inn Bridge to the Christmas market on Innsbruck‘s market square. This market offers fun and games especially for children, including an old-fashioned roundabout and Swarovski Christmas tree! You now continue to the classic: the Christmas market in the Old Town. With a magnificently lit fir tree outside the Golden Roof as well as the Fairy Tale and Giants’ Alley, the magical Christmas atmosphere is quite unmistakeable here. Classics such as snowball biscuits and original Zillertal doughnuts can be tasted at the stands. The next Christmas market is close by on Maria-Theresien-Strasse, Innsbruck’s splendid main boulevard. In an avenue of sparkling crystal trees you can rummage through the handmade wooden, knitted or felt goods at the stalls, before finally making your way to the last market on the tour on Wiltener Platzl. This market in Innsbruck’s trendiest district is a place for quiet contemplation with a bohemian and multicultural twist. But there’s one thing you can always count on: it’s typically Tyrolean! And if you’re in the city at the weekend, you should not miss the Kaiserweihnacht near the Bergisel Olympic ski jump. From Friday to Sunday arts and craft exhibitors display their wonderful creations at the small, but rather fine Christmas market above the rooftops of Innsbruck. Further information: https://www.innsbruck.info/en/sightseeing/tours/tour/the-christmas-markets