Summer in Innsbruck – Yay or Nay? Totally yay! Many think Innsbruck isn’t worth their time in the “non-ski” season. Trust me; the city is an excellent mixture of history, stunning landscape, beautiful river bank and adventurous hiking trails.
So this is your perfect two-day Innsbruck itinerary for summer with the 13 best things to do here.
1. Watch Tyrolean show to indulge in cheerful folk culture.
Once I learnt about Kirchberg’s local events related to cows and horses, I wanted to know more about Tyrol culture. A mortal with two days in Innsbruck couldn’t get a better choice than attending a Tyrolean show in Innsbruck.
What is Tyrol’s culture?
In a nutshell, Tyrol is everything related to mountains, nature and animals. Their traditions are influenced by their lives in the hills and cattle. For example, yodelling.
What is yodelling used for?
Yodeling evolved in the rural Alpine communities as a form of communication used to call cow flocks. But more importantly, it communicated from village to village and mountain to mountain for communities separated by deep Alpine valleys and rugged terrain. Tyrol’s is the region where Switzerland, Italy and Austria meet. So yodelling is common in Austrian Tyrol too.
Where to experience Tyrol culture?
Nothing is better than spending a few days in the mountains and watch Tyrolean daily life. But a show run by the Gundolf family since 1964 gives you a glimpse of their culture. The show felt authentic, and the family running the show are genuinely invested in their art. It pours out of their personalities and performances.
Are Tyrolean Evenings with the Gundolf Family worth it?
Yes. The performers dance to tyrolean music. They use a variety of traditionally unique instruments like – Alpine horns and even cowbells. The shoe-tapping and slapping dance is the most entertaining one. The hammers and saws are part of Tyrolean’s life in the mountains. They created a music piece including that too!
I enjoyed Mozart’s show in Vienna. That is classical music and very serious. Even when the performer’s involved funny scenes in their acts, hardly any people laughed (except a few of us). But this family show is great fun – People enjoy, clap, and some even dance! The performer’s energy is high, and so is the crowd’s.
Good to know before going-
- The performance location is around a 15-minute walk from the Old City of Innsbruck.
- Innsbruck travel card gets you a 25% discount on the show’s entrance fees.
- The regular ticket includes one beverage – either beer or juice.
- You can opt for show+traditional dinner if you want to.
- Don’t forget to mention your origin country at the entrance. There will be a surprise for you at the show’s end.
2. Gaze at infinity from the Top of Innsbruck
After the Zwoelferhorn top, we knew Austria’s beauty hides vertically. But the top of Innsbruck surprised us with how the landscape varies within 185km! The sharp, rugged grey mountains, partially covered with green and slight snow here, didn’t have lakes like Salzkammergut. The Inns river looked like a giant anaconda with brown skin. Those Gothic and Baroque churches looked like needles jetting out of a fine carpet from the top.
Innsbruck Valleys were perfect for alpine cows and sheep. It is even perfect for hikes too. We all know how the density of the forest is reducing. But when you are here, you feel the earth is only green.
You have more surprises at Innsbruck top in Summer.
Not only do you see the town Innsbruck on a sunny summer day, but you see 777m long Europa bridge built in the 1970s. It is the mainland connection across the Alps from western Austria to South Tyrol in Italy. And also the main route between southeastern Germany and northern Italy. When you admire this, the fact that 23 men died while constructing this haunts you. But the cold breeze and baa of sheep make you forget the irony.
How do I get to the top of Innsbruck in summer?
If you hike up from the city, you need one whole day. There is a funicular railway+cable car for people like us to get to the top. Hungerburg funicular takes you from Innsbruck city to Nordkette Cable Car starting point. Then a 20-minute gondola ride with stunning views of alpine mountains takes you to the top.
Things to know before you go-
- Going there on a cloudy day is a waste of time. Check their live webcam before taking the ride.
- One time to-and-fro ticket is included in your Innsbruck card.
- Cycles and pets are allowed in the cable car and funicular.
- You can either hike from Innsbruck to the top. Or go horizontally across the mountains once you reach there.
- There is an expensive cafe on top if you want to have coffee with a view.
3. Wander in Altstadt von Innsbruck (Old town)
I enjoyed strolling aimlessly and having coffee/ice creams breaks at Innsbruck in summer. These breaks come with add-ons – Street busker’s performance, those funny tourists clicking photos with various poses and tik-tokers in their own zone. Because tourist who comes to Innsbruck will never miss this.
So is it touristy – Yes? Does that mean it is bad? Nope!
That is what makes the place lively. But don’t forget to wander here early in the morning to see how different the place feels with few people.
Is Innsbruck a beautiful city?
Yes. You may realize it here. I expected more traditional tyrolean wooden houses here because it is Tyrol’s capital. But the baroque and gothic buildings lined the street. There were even some glass-cladded buildings designed by British architects too. The alley is historical. But the vibe is contemporary. The buskers neither sing a tyrolean song nor hold an alpine horn. The cyclists zoom through, and trams pass by. Famous brands allure you, and thrift stores show you a cheaper way of shopping.
What makes Innsbruck Old Town special?
Altstadt is the heart of Innsbruck. Maria Teresa streets, Markgraben are the artery which ends at the famous landmark Golden roof (It is copper, not real gold). Mom and I feel it isn’t worth the hype. Indeed it is rare of its kind. But the whole thing people are going Gaga about it is a little too much when you compare it to its awesome surroundings.
Luftelmalerei (Alpine murals) cover some facades in this area. The others are rich with Baroque decors. Cast iron signboards adore the space above your eye level. All this happens with a backdrop of Innsbruck mountains. After a mild shower, the clouds and fog pass, and the brightly coloured buildings stand out. This is where you realize the city within the mountains.
4. Hike to Ambras castle.
We can very well argue that this is a castle or a palace. It is a castle because it was fortified. But the structure is not as grandeur as what you generally expect a castle to be.
The place surprised me with many things. Firstly, the beautiful hike with amazing views from the Scholls Ambrass bus stop. The mild hike goes through the forest. You don’t even know that a castle exists at the top. The nearby pond is an excellent place to rest your foot watching black swans.
Secondly, their gardens – The courtyard that looks like the youngest child of Versailles Garden surrounded with humble yet palatial structures.
Thirdly – The love story behind the castle.
Archduke Ferdinand II is a son of the Holy Roman empire. Unlike most of the marriages in his royal family, whose agenda was to extend the kingdom, Ferdinand 2 married a commoner, Philippine Welser. So the forbidden love was permitted, and his father ordered him to keep it a secret.
However, Ferdinand wanted the best for the love of his life. So he extended/renovated the existing Scholls Ambrass with gardens and bathhouses. She was called mistress, and he was referred to as his guest for a long time. Once she died, he brought the place from his sons and converted it into his business place!
The last thing: This place is weirdly beautiful. The gardens and surroundings are soothing, but the buildings aren’t that appealing if you compare them to Hofburg. So I expected little sober interiors, and I was wrong. The Spanish hall is the most exciting, with extensively carved wooden ceilings and patterned floors.
There is a huge collection of armouries from the 15th century and an incredibly unseen glassware collection.
When is Schloss Ambras Innsbruck open?
- The place is closed in winter.
- Reaching by bus is the best option, and the Innsbruck card is valid in this role.
- 2.5-3 hours is ample time to explore the area, including hiking time.
5. Devour Tyrol’s food
I may have lived in Austria for half a month, but I am certain Tyrol’s milk and food are the best in Austria. You see cattle and sheep herd often in the mountains of Tyrol. An omen tells you, “You are in for a cheese treat.” Innsbruck being the Tirol capital presents you with zillions of food options.
What food is Innsbruck known for?
I was worried about the food I was about to get in Innsbruck. Being multicultural is great. But what if the city’s food is totally influenced by tourists and has lost its originality? Fortunately, Innsbruck balances both in the nicest way possible. Kababs, Indian paratha, and Italian PIzza may be common. Then comes Viennese Schnitzel, Salaburg’s cake shops.
But you are never away from real Tyrolean food heaven in Innsbruck. Like most parts of Austria, Innsbruck outsources products locally. Plus, they are the “King of dairy products.” Locally sourced, fine dairy products and people proud of their Tyrolean heritage create a Gastronomical gala in Innsbruck.
What is Tyrolean food?
Bacon, Kasspatzln and Cheese dumplings are Tirolean signature food. As a vegetarian, I ignored the first and floated in heaven with the next two. When in Austria, don’t forget to add Gutter wiener wine or apricot juice with any of the dinner
What are the most popular restaurants in Innsbruck?
Restaurant Goldener Adler – I have many favourite restaurants in Austria. This one is a top contender. Everything was perfect, be it the vaulted hallway for seating or their freshly cooked food. The cheese dumpling came with some fryums too. The fragrance and texture of melted butter proved that it is fresh and locally resourced.
Manna delikat – A vegetarian paradise in Maraia treresa street. Other than just salads, they have multiple options for vegetarians.
Mis Kebap & Doner: If you want a bite of Turkish delicacy in Innsbruck, head to Mis Kebap in Innstrabe. The small shop has sidewalk seating and is run by a lady from Avanos. As a vegetarian, I get plenty of options in Turkish food joints. The halloumi and falafel wraps were great and super cheap.
6. Experience the grandeur of the Imperial palace at Innsbruck
I am not mazeophobic. But I love when the place is smaller. The Hofburg palace and Schonbrunn palace are great – But they are too vast to explore. It feels burned out walking from hall to hall. However, Innsbruck palace is beautiful and gives you a glimpse of the royal Hogburg lifestyle. I found it easier and more satisfying to observe the grandeur here than in any other famous Hofburg palace in Vienna.
Did the Habsburgs live in Innsbruck?
They considered Innsbruck as one of their lodging places during their journey. It is unbelievable how much grandeur is needed for a royal to rest while travelling. Later, it was used for temporary stays for Hofburg statesmen and other royal families.
Is the Hofburg palace worth it?
Yes. Empress Maria Theresa built Imperial Palace in Innsbruck. And she called it – “Little Schönbrunn of the Alps.” The most interesting couple of the Hofburg family, Sisi and Frans Joseph, celebrated their wedding here too. So you will find a grand hall with impressive ceiling frescos and portraits of the imperial family.
The apartment rooms are what fascinated me most. The gold bling was common in all rooms. But the wallpaper kept changing from Emerald green to cyan and pink! So Sisi’s apartment was like a mini salon with pink background and super luxurious furniture.
Don’t forget to observe the 500-year-old carpets and the funny signboards that say, “Don’t walk on old carpets.”
7. Wonder why Swarovski Kristallwelten is awesome.
Forced, plastic, touristy, good for kids only – This is what I thought before going there. Very unusual, diverse, exciting and relaxing – is what I say about Swarovski Kristallwelten after visiting it in summer.
Is Swarovski Kristallwelten worth it?
Honestly, I went here because mom wanted to shop. As a jewellery lover, I could buy beautiful things. But also, it was a nice time to observe how the family holiday in Austria works. I was reluctant to come here, but once there, I felt like sitting on the grass and watching the world pass by, especially kids who made the place liveliest.
The gardens had unique illustrations. You have to take your time to absorb the various installations in peace. So for people who have nothing to do with “glitter,” the gardens are the best place.
It is enticing how a synthetic crystal can be so beautiful on everything. Whether you window shop or buy, staff people are helpful and remind you to attend any show happening in the garden.
Every summer, they set up events. For example, there was a scarily beautiful aerial performance by two ladies doing acrobats and contemporary dance on a tall glass facade in July 2022. Then there was another lady’s water bowl act, which was again dangerously gorgeous.
Things to know before Swarovski Kristallwelten near Innsbruck in Summer
- Entry to Kristallwelten is included in your Innsbruck card.
- Take a post bus from Innsbruck and don’t wait for free shuttle buses. Those shuttle buses may/not arrive on time and often get crowded.
- Spend 2-3 hours here. I recommend the evening time in summer. The weather is cooler, and you get to see more shows.
- The cafe here is expensive, but their cakes are good.
- The “green giant” is every tourist’s favourite. So expect a waiting line for 10 minutes to take your photo.
8. Go shopping till you drop in Innsbruck.
Of all the cities I visited in Austria, Innsbruck is the best place for shopping. Salzburg was expensive, and Vienna was a bit tacky. But Innsbruck comes with bling, classy, expensive and cheap stuff.
Tyrolean honey and grey cheese are what I recommend (I bought them at Kirchberg, though). The Christmas decorations, leather goods, dirndls, Swarovski jewels – you can make a huge list. You find a lot of Turkish-influenced food and Turkish things there – Like turkey towels!
9. Explore Neighbourhoods beyond tourist interest areas.
I always loved getting out of the areas with tourist attractions to explore other neighbourhoods in cities like Innsbruck. The local residents may only appreciate your presence if you get quiet. So the quaint streets full of bungalows and mansions with 360* views of mountains are a must-visit.
It is always good to be away from the crowd to enjoy the mountain view in solitude. Trust me, the moment you exit the old town of Innsbruck, you don’t see many people. The neighbourhoods which I enjoyed most are –
On the east side of the river Inn
- University street – Super hip and multicultural
- The area around Hofgastein – Historical architecture with less crowd
- Herzog otto street – That “signature view” of Innsbruck with colourful tall buildings with mountains behind. The square here has lovely seating and is the best place to people-watch. Usually, the crowd takes a photo and heads to the old town from here. So mornings and evenings after the rain is the best time to chill here.
- Bundesbahndirektion area – The old OBB building dominates the skyling. If you walk 5 minutes ahead, you are on the street with a series of similar-looking buildings in bright colours. This series feels like a pack of crayons!
- Beinerstrabe – Near the OBB building, this neighbourhood is perhaps the city’s wealthiest. The wider road is lined with luxurious individual mansions and bungalows with vast gardens.
On the west side of the river Inn
- Innate – there is a small park and stretch of the green patch on the Inns’ bank here. Perfect place for morning jogging.
- Innstrabe: A parallel street to Innalle is neither full of locals nor all touristy. They have small and affordable bakeries and cafes. So jog in Innalle and hog in Innstrabe.
- Hungerburg- The area is closer to the mountains and gives you a good view of the city. It is weird how a few degrees of altitude difference bring in the traditional alpine village vibe while it’s super urban in Innsbruck city.
10. Wander in the mountains.
Once you have soaked enough with tyrolean folk culture and the mild party vibe of Innsbruck, go hiking in the summer. That typical or ideal sight you see on the internet when you type Tyrol is just an hour’s hike from the city. If you want to keep it a leisurely and fairly easy walk, choose the ones with blue dots on the signboard. If you are fit enough and up for an adventure, there are kilometres of difficult terrain waiting for you.
Kemater Alm Hike is one of the easiest and prettiest trails for all kinds of travellers of Innsbruck in summer,
11. Sit by the Inns River
Inns river is lined with Baroque and gothic buildings to suit your every “mood of the day”. The foliage hides the city, creating a hide-and-seek play of landscape and urban silhouette. The river hugs the town in V-shape. So if you walk around 10km along the path, you are blessed with a combo of the city with rivers often dotted with pastures.
When the sun is hot, it is good to take a dip. But remember, the river is fed with glacial water too. So heavy rain in the mountains leads to an overnight increase in water level. By this, I find Inns less safe to swim like the Danube. And more exciting to sit by and watch the world pass by.
12. Make Day trips from Innsbruck
The day trip options are plenty, which is another reason it is good to stay in Innsbruck for four days in summer. Other countries like Vaduz, Liechtenstein, and Verona -Italy, are a 3-hour train ride away from Innsbruck. If you still want more Austrian charm, Hall in Tirol is your best choice.
13. Visit the weird-looking Bergisel Ski Jump
You have seen churches and cathedrals sitting quietly and humbly in the Austrian alps. Then, at Innsbruck, you spot a weird building that strikes you strongly. There is an open pasture on the Bergisel, and a tower with a cantilever glass capsule sits on it 250m above the ground. This gigantic structure was built in 2011 by the famous architect Zaha Hadid.
So my interest in visiting this place was because of her – I will write a 6000-word essay on her ideologies of architecture that makes her buildings stand out violently instead of merging with the context. Or her bold sense of design to break the traditional barrier. But let us stick to whether you should visit the place.
How high is the ski jump in Innsbruck?
The stadium at Bergisel was built in 2001 on the same ground where the old stadium was located 250m above the ground. The land has historical significance too. Tyroleans, led by an Austrian patriot, fought on the hill for their country’s freedom against the Napoleons of France and the Bavarians of Germany. This sports facility has hosted Olympic events: The Olympic flame was burned on the Bergisel at the Olympic Games in 1964 and 1976. In 1988 Pope conducted a mass for 60k devotees!
But what is there for tourists?
A nice view with coffee and an opportunity to observe one of the witty/wacky contemporary architecture should be why a non-architect tourist must visit this place. I don’t consider this a must-visit, but if you go, I am sure you will come back with several questions, including – Why does this building look like this?
What would you like to do in summer at Innsbruck? Let us know in the comment section below.