Ambras Castle in Innsbruck | Is It Worth Visiting?

Ambras Castle or Schloss Ambras is one of Innsbruck’s most popular attractions and for a good reason. The medieval fortress turned into a Renaissance castle is not only in a beautiful setting but home to truly unique pieces of art. Some of the castle exhibitions are considered by many to be the first museum as we know them today. This post is all about spending a wonderful morning or afternoon at the Innsbruck castle.

Ambras Castle Guide

Ambras Castle Essential Information

Entrance Fee€12 (or €8 from Dec to March)
Opening HoursDaily, from 10:00 to 17:00
Public Transport ConnectionSightseer Bus or Bus 4134
Included in Innsbruck CardYes

Five Good Reasons To Visit Ambras Castle Innsbruck

  • The Chamber of Art and Wonders really is filled with weird and wonderful art and curiosities, such as the oldest preserved portrait of Count Vlad III, better known as Dracula.
  • You’ll see the suit of armour worn by a real-life giant, the legendary Bartlmä Bon, who was around 2,6 m tall.
  • The beautiful Spanish Hall is one of the best-preserved halls of the Rennaisance period. It features original frescoes and the largest self-supporting wood-inlay ceiling in Europe.
  • You’ll learn some interesting facts about one of the most colourful figures in Habsburg history – Archduke Ferdinand II.
  • The beautiful Innsbruck castle park and gardens offer the perfect escape to soak in nature in between a busy travel itinerary.

Must-see Highlights of Schloss Ambras

Ferdinand II’s Armoury

Ferdinand II is one of history’s most important collectors of art and armour. His armoury includes rare examples of 15th-century jousting armour from the collection of Emperor Maximilian I. There are also suits of armour of famous 16th-century commanders and weapons from the Thirty Years’ War to be seen.

Ferdinand's Armoury
Bartelmä Bon served as a court giant with Archduke Ferdinand II.

Chamber of Art and Wonders

This is the only Kunstkammer (art chamber) from the Renaissance, filled with rare and unusual objects, which has been preserved in its original location. In some circles, that makes it the oldest museum in the world.

Look out for the Figurine of Death, the oldest preserved portrait of Count Vlad III, a stuffed shark, and unique musical instruments.

Ambras Castle Chamber of Wonders
Ready to discover Ferdinand II’s collection of art and wonders.

The Spanish Hall

A beautiful hall built by Ferdinand II between 1529 and 1572 for balls and festivals at Ambras Castle. It features the largest self-supporting wood-inlay ceiling in Europe. The frescoes are original and the 27 full-figure portraits of Tyrolean leaders impressive.

Spanish Hall at Ambras Castle

Courtyard

The courtyard of the Upper Castle of Schloss Ambras is decorated with grisaille paintings from the 16th century. The unusual grey murals (done on still-wet plaster) tell different stories of princely virtues and muses and male and female heroes.

Ferdinand Cafe Ambras Castle
The courtyard is also where you can enjoy something to eat and drink from Ferdinand Café and Bistro.

Chapel of St Nicholas

First consecrated in 1330, the Chapel of St. Nicolas at Ambras Castle underwent various changes over the centuries. It’s a lovely quiet and cool space, with beautiful light flowing in through the magnificent stained glass windows. No wonder it has become a popular wedding venue.

St Nicholas Chapel Ambras Castle

Strasser Glass Collection

The Strasser Collection of Glass was collected by Professor Rudolf Strasser over a period of more than 50 years. It includes valuable pieces from Europe’s leading glass producing regions from the Renaissance and Baroque periods.

Strasser Collection of Glass

Habsburg Portrait Gallery

More than 200 portraits of members of one of Europe’s most famous families take up three floors at Ambras Castle. Some of the artists who immortalised the Habsburgs on canvas include van Dyck, Hans Burgkmair, Peter Paul Rubens, Anton Mor, Titian, and Giuseppe Arcimboldo.

Ambras Castle Self Portrait
Because we visited in January, we didn’t see the portrait gallery. Instead, we created our own “Habsburg portraits”.

The Habsburg Portrait Gallery is closed in winter. From April to October, you can view it daily between 10:00 and 17:00.

Park and Gardens

The English landscape garden within the greater Schloss Ambras park is a feast for the eye even in winter. We were lucky to encounter some peacocks in the Peacock Garden at the Upper Castle – a bird that has been roaming the Innsbruck castle grounds since the time of Ferdinand II.

Be on the lookout for the Bacchus Grotto while exploring the castle grounds. This is a manmade cave where Ferdinand II entertained his guests with drinking games.

Ambras Castle peacock garden
Peacocks have been a symbol of Ambras Castle for a long time.

Did you know?

The story of Ambras Castle is also the love story of Ferdinand II and Philippine Welser. Ferdinand, the son of Emperor Ferdinand I, fell in love with Philippine, the daughter of a merchant, while living in Prague as the governor of the kingdom of Bohemia in the mid-16th century.

Although their marriage was later recognized by the church, Philippine was still considered to be “below the Emperor’s station” and could therefore not live in the Hofburg palace in Innsbruck. That’s when Ferdinand had the medieval fortress at Ambras turned into a Renaissance castle for his wife.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Ambras Castle entrance fee?

The Ambras Castle entrance fee for adults is €12 in the high season between April and November. The ticket price is reduced to €8 from December to March. Children up to 19 years get free access. Note: The castle is closed to the public in November.

How do I get to Ambras Castle from Innsbruck?

Getting to Ambras Castle from Innsbruck is easy by bus. You can either take Bus 4134 which leaves from the main train station or the Innsbruck Sightseer Bus with various stops across the city. The easiest way to reach the castle by car is to take the Innsbruck Mitte exit from the N12 and follow the signs to Aldrans at the roundabout.

What hotels are near Ambras Castle?

The Hotel Bierwirt is within walking distance from Ambras Castle. You can reach the lower gate of the castle grounds within minutes from the hotel, but keep in mind it’s an uphill walk to get to the castle self (albeit in beautiful surroundings).

You can also opt to live in one of the quaint mountain villages above the castle. There’s the Aldranser Hof in Aldrans, or the Landgasthof Wilder Mann in Lans, which also has a superb restaurant.

Which other attractions are near Ambras Castle?

The Innsbruck old town with its Golden Roof and Imperial Palace is only a 10-minute drive from the castle. Other attractions to easily reach independently within 15 minutes are the Bergisel ski jump and Swarovski Crystal Worlds.

*Disclosure*

Dear Reader,

Having fun in Austria, and then writing about it is hard work 😆 . That’s why some links in this article are affiliate links. I may earn a small commission, at no additional cost to you, if you use any of them to make a purchase for your upcoming trip. It’s totally cool if you don’t use them. I love to help anyway. But if you do, we’ll probably blow it on another family excursion. Which really isn’t such a bad thing, because it will only result in another blog post for you to read.

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About Linda de Beer 89 Articles
Name: Linda de Beer Profession: Travel blogger and freelance writer
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Tania Muthusamy

What a stunning castle. The inlaid wood ceiling of the ballroom is gorgeous. Hope to visit Austria soon. Will be sure to visit Innsbruck.

Zoe

It was great to read your post! I’ve been to Innsbruck for a short weekend away and loved it, but spent most of the time in the mountains hiking! So next time to explore more of the city and this castle 🙂

Nell

I love a good castle, and this one looks beautiful! Thanks for sharing such an informative post.