Top 10 things to see and do in Innsbruck old town

The absolute highlights in the heart of the Capital of the Alps

The Innsbruck old town is full of historic and architectural gems within easy walking distance of each other. With the Inn River on one side and the Nordkette mountain towering behind, the Innsbruck old town has a character like no other. This is my list of the top 10 things to see and do in and around the historic old town of Innsbruck, including some insider tips.

1. Golden Roof (Goldenes Dachl)

A little balcony with a roof adorned with 2,657 fire-gilded copper tiles is the biggest attraction in the Innsbruck old town (known locally as the Altstadt). The Golden Roof in the heart of the historic centre was built around 1500 by Emperor Maximilian 1. Since then, it has become the symbol of Innsbruck.

Innsbruck Golden Roof
The Golden Roof with the Nordkette in the background.

Sightseeing in the Innsbruck old town is incomplete without a photo stop in front of the Golden Roof. For a picture that really captures the capital of the Alps, step back to include the Nordkette mountains in the background. If you have time, why not visit the Golden Roof Museum?

2. Innsbruck City Tower (Stadtturm)

The Innsbruck city tower is just a stone’s throw from the Golden Roof. First mentioned in 1450, the tower was manned by watchmen for many centuries. Their tasks included announcing the time every hour and warning the townsfolk about encroaching danger. In the middle ages, there was also a prison cell at the bottom of the Innsbruck city tower.

Views from Innsbruck city tower.
A taste of the views you can expect from the Innsbruck city tower. And this was on a late winter’s afternoon!

Why don’t you get some exercise and climb the 148 stairs to the viewing platform? From here you have a 360-degree view over Innsbruck and surroundings. The Nordkette mountains, Patscherkofel and the Bergisel ski jump are just some of the things you will see.

Insider tip: Climb the city tower when the Innsbruck Christmas market is on from mid-November to the end of December. You will be rewarded with views of the giant Christmas tree and Christmas market stalls from the top.  

Read more: Reach an Alpine Peak in 60 minutes with the Innsbruck cable car.

 3. Innsbruck Imperial Palace (Hofburg)

The Imperial Palace is about a 3-minute walk from the Golden Roof. I agree, there’s not much to it from the outside. But as the former residence of the Habsburg Dynasty, the interior of the Innsbruck Imperial Palace impresses with beautifully painted ceilings and portraits of illustrious imperial personalities, such as Empress Maria Theresa and Emperor Maximilian I.

Imperial Palace in Innsbruck old town.
The Imperial Palace in Innsbruck was a favourite residency of the reigning Habsburgs.

The palace was originally built by Archduke Sigmund the Rich in the mid-1400s. Highlights are the Giant’s Hall, the Guard Room, and the Hofburg Chapel.

Best insider tip: The Golden Roof, the Innsbruck City Tower, the Imperial Palace, and the Court Church are all included in the Innsbruck Card. Read when it is absolutely worth buying the Innsbruck Card

4. The Court Church (Hofkirche)

Diagonally opposite the Imperial Palace is a Gothic church that was built by Emperor Ferdinand I in memory of his grandfather, Maximilian I. Consecrated in 1553, the church is home to the famous Schwarze Mander (Black Men). They are 28 impressive statues of Habsburg relatives and heroes (also including some women despite the name). The statues stand around a black marble cenotaph for Maximilian I.

Innsbruck Court Church.
Inside the Innsbruck Court Church.

The Court Church, which is on the edge of the historic old town of Innsbruck, also holds the tomb of Andreas Hofer, Tyrol’s national hero.

Tip: The Innsbruck Court Church and the Museum of Tyrolean Folk Art share the same entrance. If you have time, it’s well worth taking a tour of the museum. Don’t let the Krampus near the entrance frighten you away!

5. Triumphal Arch (Triumphpforte)

Innsbruck’s Triumphal Arch spans the southern end of Maria-Theresa Street and tells the story of a wedding and a funeral.

Triumphal Arch in Innsbruck
Innsbruck’s own Triumphal Arch.

The Triumphal Arch was originally commissioned in 1765 by Empress Maria Theresa to commemorate the marriage of their son, the Duke of Tuscany (later to become Emperor Leopold II) to Spanish Princess Maria Ludovica.

Sadly, Maria Theresa’s husband Emperor Franz I died during the festivities. Thus the Triumphal Arch ended up depicting the wedding on its southern facade and the mourning of the Emperor on its northern facade. It remains a prominent landmark on the border of the Innsbruck old town.

6. Colourful houses along the Inn River

End your tour through the old town of Innsbruck with the perfect picture to remember the city by.

Colourful houses Innsbruck.
A winter’s take on the row of colourful houses opposite the Inn River from the market square.

One of my favourite things to see in Innsbruck is the row of colourful houses against a mountain backdrop along the Inn River on Mariahilstraße. They are best photographed from the Innbrücke (Inn Bridge) or the Marktplatz (Market Square). The Marktplatz is also a good place to sit down to quench your thirst after your walking tour.

Read more: If you’re planning on visiting more Austrian cities, these are the 13 things you must do in Graz

7. Audioversum

Something for a rainy day or when you’re visiting Innsbruck with kids. Audioversum is an interactive science centre or museum with the main focus on hearing. Kids love it because they are allowed to touch everything and play fun games without noticing the educational value.

Audioversum Innsbruck
Kids are fascinated by everything there is to listen to in Audioversum.

Apart from the permanent exhibitions and experiments, special exhibitions with a different theme change regularly. One of the most recent ones centred around the sense of smell, while the latest one contains some fascinating material about the human brain. Audioversum is opposite the Landhausplatz near the Triumphal Arch – not directly in the historic old town but not even a 5-minute walk away.

8. Horse-drawn carriage ride

Not everyone likes to indulge in things like carriage rides when travelling, but if you do the Fiaker carriage tours through the Innsbruck old town are very relaxed and informative. The guides relate many interesting facts that you won’t find in a guidebook. If it wasn’t for our Fiaker carriage tour, we would never have known that Dr Chris Barnard, the South African who did the world’s first heart transplant in Cape Town, spent some time working and teaching in the Innsbruck Hospital. 

Fiaker Carriage Tours Innsbruck
Guess what these people are looking at? Nothing other than the Golden Roof.

The horses and carriages are parked in front of the Hofgarten opposite the Congress station of the Nordkettenbahnen (just passed the Imperial Palace). We paid €20 for the horse and carriage with a guide, fitting 3 adults and 3 children into the carriage. That’s not too bad for 6 people.

9. Maria Theresa Street

A walk down Maria Theresa Street from the Triumphal Arch to the Golden Roof is compulsory to experience the essence of Innsbruck. Lined with well-preserved 17th- and 18th-century houses, it will only take you 10 minutes without stopping. But there is so much to see and do in between that you can easily allow half an hour for this. Even more, if you love shopping!

Innsbruck Maria Theresa Street.
The view down Maria Theresa Street to the Nordkette mountain.

Keep your eye on St. Anne’s Column where the pedestrian zone starts and the main shopping begins. This momument from 1706 was erected to commemorate the withdrawal of Bavarian troops on St. Anne’s Day in 1703. Two shopping centres, the Rathaus Gallerien and the Kaufhaus Tyrol are on either side of Maria Theresa Street.

10. Cathedral of St. James

The Cathedral of St. James got its name because it was once on the Way of St. James, an important medieval Christian pilgrimage route. The original cathedral, dating from the 1100s, was badly damaged by earthquakes before it was rebuilt in the early 1700s.

Cathedral of St. Joseph Innsbruck © TVB Innsbruck / Stadt Innsbruck
The two towers of the Cathedral of St. Joseph. © TVB Innsbruck / Stadt Innsbruck

Look out for the famous Maria Hilf painting by Lukas Cranach the Elder, a highlight of the interior. You will find the cathedral down Pfargasse behind the Golden Roof.

Where to find the Innsbruck old town attractions

 

Read more: Do you have time to discover more of Innsbruck? Also read my ultimate Innsbruck Sightseeing Guide with details about many more things to see and do in the area.

Practical tips for visiting the old town of Innsbruck

Where to stay

There are many great hotels with an old-world character in the Innsbruck old town. One with a very colourful history not even a minute from the Golden Roof is the Hotel Goldene Krone. If you stay here, you’ll be in the same company as famous historical figures such as Mozart, Goethe, and various royalty.

Hotel Goldener Adler in Innsbruck old town.
The Hotel Goldener Adler has a prime position in the Innsbruck old town.

Getting around

The best thing about discovering the Innsbruck old town is that you don’t need transport. All of the attractions and things to do listed above are within a 10-minute walk from each other. They are also walking distance from the main train station and the big inner city parking garages. There are many trains to Innsbruck arriving from Germany, Switzerland, Italy, and the rest of Austria. Check here for connections.

Disclosure: My content is intended to help you plan the best trip to Tyrol and Austria. Where appropriate, I include affiliate links in blog posts or pages to help you access relevant services and attractions. I may earn a small commission, at no additional cost to you, to help me maintain the blog if you click through and make a purchase. All support is appreciated!

Pin it for later!


Was this post helpful? Please share it!

Leave a Reply

avatar
  Subscribe  
Notify of
noel

I love all these historic attractions of Innsbruck, I really to revisit this again and see these magnificent places, thanks for sharing this. So many beautiful buildings in the city to enjoy and photograph

Medha

The best thing about Innsbruck, apart from the colourful houses along the river and the towering snow-laden mountains in the backdrop, is the fact that most of the amazing places are within walking distance from each other. I went to Innsbruck in winter and there were 3 main Christmas markets, one each in front of the major attractions. The Swarovski tree in the market next to the river was amazing! Also, it was snowing very heavily and just added to the charm. I loved Innsbruck (though not as much as Salzburg).

Carrie

Those colorful houses are so charming! I would love to sit in the Marktplaz and get a cup of coffee and just take it all in. And it’s so nice that you can see all of these things by walking — the best way to see a city, in my opinion

Indrani

I skipped Innsbruck and did Salzburg. That will remain my biggest miss. Love these historical buildings. The facades and houses are so charming. Wonderful photo opportunity.

Ghia Lorenzo

I love those colorful houses along Inn River from the market square. I love how beautiful Innsbruck is, everything is colorful and the city looks very happy and vibrant especially from view up in the Innsbruck city tower. I also love every piece of architecture. Thank you for sharing this post!

nicki

OH wow Innsbruck is such a stunning town! I had no idea how colorful it is. Its very whimsical!

Ash

It seems to me that Nordkette is indispensable to the beauty of the already gorgeous town of Innsbruck. A carriage ride would be lovely. Even the horse was looking at Golden Roof, I reckon.

Karla Ramos

Innsbruck is lovely!!! The colorful houses look really pretty and I love how the whole city is full of history and culture!

Lauren

Anywhere with colourful houses and I’m in – seriously! Innsbruck is definitely on my list as I adore mountain towns. Super beautiful place with lots to see and do!