Click above to listen. Descriptions, pictures, walking tour, maps and website links are below.
Innsbruck is one of Europe’s most picturesque cities and offers one of the only places where you can glide to the top of the Alps in about 30 minutes via a funicular and cable car that begins in the city center. This highlight post includes a walking tour that begins and ends at the main train station. So, even if you only have one day to visit Innsbruck via train, this tour would provide the opportunity to see most of the major sights. Many of the old town sights are located in the compact city center. Just walking around this area of beautiful buildings and cafes with the Alps looming above you is worth the trip! The ski jump, cable car, funicular, churches, and museums are icing on the cake!
Note: The maps are interactive on the website, www.walkli.com, if you would like more detail on the maps. On Walkli, search on Innsbruck to call up the map.
1 – A – Innsbruck Hauptbahnhof (Main Train Station)
Innsbruck is a great city to visit for several days or to use as a base for visiting nearby cities, but many people arrive at the Hauptbahnhof (the main train station) to visit for only one day. So, this walk begins and ends at the Hauptbahnhof.
A note about timing: The walk is designed to begin with a walk from the main train station directly to the funicular base station. From there, if you are interested, you can take the funicular and then the cable car to the top of the Alps in about 45 minutes at the beginning of the walk. If you want to go to the top of the mountains, it is probably best to begin this walk as early as possible in the morning in order to have the best views of the Alps when the weather is often best. Check the weather reports, though. If the weather is predicted to be better later, just reverse the direction of this roundtrip walk.
2 – B – Nordkette Cable Car Station – Congress (and funicular and cable car)
From the train station, walk on Bruneker Strasse toward the large intersection with Museumstrasse and turn left on Museumstrasse. Take the first right on Sillgasse and follow it to Universitatsstrasse where you will turn left. Turn right on Rennweg and look for the Nordkette Cable Car Station at Congress. It is one of four ultra-modern stations designed by the late architect Zaha Hadid, who also designed the Bergisel ski jump that we will see later on this walk. Before her death in 2016, Hadid won many prizes for her work. In 2004, she became the first woman to receive the Pritzker Architecture Prize. From the design of this and the other three base stations of the Nordkette, you will be able to tell that Hadid was inspired by Alpine glaciers and their ice formations.
From here, you can take the funicular to Hungerburgbahn and then a cable car to Seegrube and/or Hafelekar station at the very top. It takes about 45 minutes to make your way to the top, so plan on about 2 hours for the return and longer if you can stop for breakfast or lunch at the restaurant at Seegrube (see picture of view from the outdoor tables) and/or to stop and admire the amazing view from around the back of the Hafelekar station (see picture of the view). A roundtrip ticket from Innsbruck to Hafelekar is 33 Euros. There is a ticket office at the Congress station. One roundtrip is also included in the Innsbruck Card. A 24 hour Innsbruck Card is only 39 Euros and covers many more attractions in Innsbruck, so if you plan to take the roundtrip this is a great bargain.
If you can have time to take the funicular, and hopefully the cable car, too, follow these directions:
From the Nordkette station at Congress, you will be directed underground to Congress Hall where you will board a unique funicular that will take you to a cable car for the next leg of your journey. The funicular runs every fifteen minutes. Try to get seats near the front. Your ride will begin underground, but soon you will be above the Inn River and then climb into the Alps to the final stop of the funicular at the Hungerburg Station. The funicular runs from 7:15 am to 7:15 pm Monday to Friday and 8:00 am to 7:15 pm on weekends and public holidays.
From the Hungerburg Station, you will need to exit the funicular. If you only have time to take the funicular you will be rewarded with great views at Hungerburg, but hopefully you will have the time to take the cable car to Seegrube and/or Hafelekar.
The Nordkette website has all the information about tickets and options:
To take the cable car higher, look for the white building next to the restaurant on your left. The cable car runs every day from 8:30 am until 5:30 pm. When you get to the Seegrube station, there is a nice restaurant that serves breakfast and lunch indoors and outside on a patio. Even if you do not have a meal here, walk out to the patio to see the great view from there (see picture).
Special Event opportunity: On Friday evenings there is a “Ride & Dine” special event at Seegrube Restaurant. They offer a seasonal 4-course meal at the Seegrube Restaurant. The Seegrube Cable car runs every half hour from 6 – 11.30pm at reduced prices.
If possible, after visiting Seegrube, take the cable car higher to Hafelekar at 2334 meters above sea level. This cable car operates daily from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm.
When you get off the cable car at Hafelekar, you will have a great view. Be sure to walk behind the station to see the amazing landscape (see picture).
A roundtrip ticket from Innsbruck to Hafelekar is 33 Euros. There is a ticket office at the Congress station. One roundtrip is also included in the Innsbruck Card. A 24-hour Innsbruck Card is only 39 Euros and covers many more attractions in Innsbruck, so if you plan to take the roundtrip this is a great bargain.
Innsbruck Card website:
3 – C – Dom St. Jacob (Innsbruck Cathedral)
As you exit the funicular at Nordkette Station at Congress, walk back on Rennweg toward town and turn right on Herrengasse. Take the first left along side the church and you will soon be standing in the plaza in front of the spires of Dom St. Jacob. If you would like to enter the church, walk around to your left and enter the church from the side. The eighteenth-century Roman Catholic Innsbruck Cathedral is dedicated to the apostle Saint James (St. Jakob in German).
4 – D – Goldenes Dachl (Golden Roof)
From the plaza in front of the cathedral, continue walking toward town on Pfarrgasse until it ends and turn right. You will immediately see one of the most famous sights in Innsbruck, the Goldenes Dachl (Golden Roof). The roof was decorated in the year 1500 with these gold-fired copper tiles for the wedding of Emperor Maximilian I. He and his wife would use the balcony as they celebrated festivals and other events happening in the plaza below the balcony. Before you leave this plaza, note the Stadtturm watchtower with the onion dome of the Town Hall down the street to your left. This is a nice area to have a snack or a drink at one of the many cafes or restaurants.
5 – E – Hofburg (Imperial Palace)
Next, walk back toward Pfarrgasse but continue to Burggraben and turn left. When you reach the road, the Hofburg, the Imperial Palace of the Habsburgs in Innsbruck will be on your left. The Habsburg Dynasty existed in Europe from 1526 until 1803 and played an important role in the history of Innsbruck and Austria.
6 – F – Hofkirche
Turn back to your right and you will see the Hofkirche, the church of the Habsburgs, consecrated in 1553, that contains what was designed to be the tomb of Emperor Maximilian I, guarded by 28 bronze statues, in the nave. Instead the emperor was buried at his father’s castle in Wiener Neustadt. The beautiful tomb is empty. The church is open daily, so you may want to step inside and see the opulent interior.
7 – G – Annasäule (St. Anna’s Column)
Walk back to your left and turn left on Burggraben and left on Maria Theresien Strassen. You will see Annasäule (Anna’s Column) ahead of you on this beautiful wide street. This column was erected on St. Anne’s Day in July 1703 to commemorate the liberation of the region from Bavarian troops during the Spanish War of the Succession. St. Anne was the mother of the Virgin Mary.
8 – H – Triumphpforte
Keep walking in this same direction, and after the street changes names to Leopoldstrasse, you will arrive at the Triumphpforte (Triumphal Arch). This marble arch was erected in the 1700s in honor of the marriage of the son of Empress Maria Theresa.
9 – I – Glockenmuseum (Bell Museum)
Continue on Leopoldstrasse and you will arrive at Glockenmuseum (Bell Museum). At the Glockenmuseum, you can learn about the history of bells and bell-making at this museum and working foundry. Try out various bells in the sound studio. You may even be able to see bells being made if you are lucky!
Open Monday through Friday 10 am – 4 pm
Open Saturday 10 am – 4 pm in summer
Closed Sundays and holidays
Price – 8 Euros
10 – J – Basilika Wilten (Wilten Basilica)
From the Glockenmuseum, walk on Rotes Gaßl toward Haymongasse and take a slight left. Then, turn left at Oerleyweg and then take the pedestrian overpass to Basilika Wilten.
The large twin-towered basilica in front of you was completed in 1756, but it replaced an older one that was built 500 years earlier. The twin-towered façade has a white and buttery-yellow hue. The interior ceiling murals depict the life of the Virgin Mary. The high altar is surrounded by four pillars and capped by a large crown. The sandstone statue of the Madonna dates to the 14th century. It is free to enter the basilica when it is open. It is closed to visitors during Mass.
11 – K – Bergisel Ski Jump
Continue in the same direction on Prämonstratenserweg and take a slight right onto Pastorstraße/Pater-Reinisch-Weg. Turn left on Hohlweg and left on Bergiselweg. Continue on Bergiselweg to the Bergisel Ski Jump.
The Bergisel Ski Jump was designed by Zaha Hadid and completed by 2002 to replace the old 1926 ski jump that was used in the 1964 and 1976 Winter Olympics. The sleek, modern structure is 48 meters high and sits on a 7 x 7 meter base. There are two restaurants with views of Innsbruck and the Alps. It is 9.50 Euro to take the elevator to the panorama viewing area. From June to October, it is open from 9:00 am to 6:00 daily. From November to May, it is open from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm daily except it is closed on Tuesday.
12 – L – Hauptbahnhof (Main Train Station)
To return to the Hauptbahnhof (Main Train Station) walk back on Bergiselweg and turn right on Hohlweg. Turn right toward Pastorstraße/Pater-Reinisch-Weg and continue onto Prämonstratenserweg. Take the pedestrian overpass and then turn left onto Leopoldstraße/B182. Turn right onto Egger-Lienz-Straße/B174. Take a slight left onto Südbahnstraße, and then take the pedestrian tunnel to the Hauptbahnhof on the left.
On our last visit to Innsbruck, we visited on a day trip from Munich. Check out my Munich podcast and walking tour here:
I hope you love Innsbruck as much as I do! Please let me know (firstname.lastname@example.org) if this information and/or the podcast is helpful to you if you are planning a visit. Until next time, I hope all your travel days are just perfect.