Travel: 24 hours in Innsbruck

September 30, 2011

Find yourself with time to spare on a business trip? Innsbruck is a fabulous, medieval city with a stunning mountain backdrop and plenty to do and see. Travel Editor ANNE GORRINGE has the lowdown on what to see and do on a budget – including free trips and how to explore this picturesque city on the cheap.

CITY FACTS: With a population of around 130,000 (including 30,000 students) Innsbruck, which is the capital of the Tirol region in the West of Austria has a compact, interesting centre that’s easy to explore.

 If you’re a ski buff and visit in winter – it offers 8 great resorts within an hour of the city, so plan in advance and head for the hills! You can also catch the winter Youth Olympics there too in January 2012.

Above: Wander the streets of the old town

In summer it’s a fabulous place to wander around and enjoy the cafe culture – grab a map from the tourist office and start at the Maria-Theresien-Strasse. At one end this long street leads into the historical centre (Altstadt) of the city. It’s full of beautiful buildings, has lots of cafes, and when you look up you see the wonderful mountains that surround the city.

GETTING THERE: Easyjet operate direct flights available from Bristol from December to April. This year April return flights, with hand-luggage, cost me around £67. They also fly all year round from London Gatwick – see

Right: The beautiful airport setting

FROM THE AIRPORT: The city centre is just 4k from the airport – so a taxi costs a bargain fair of around €uro 10. Better still, the Bus F runs from the airport every 15 minutes and takes about 18 min to reach the city centre for just €uro 1.5.

MY MONEY-SAVING TIP:  Snap up a 24-hour Innsbruck Card from the Tourist Office. It costs €uro 29 – but provides free entrance to Innsbruck sights, museums and some transport.  You get free tram rides to explore the city and, included in the cost, is one free return trip on a cable car to the top of the mountain for panoramic stunning views. Buy it in advance from Innsbruck Tourist Office

LOCAL’S TOP TIP: My taxi driver said, “Look out for ‘2 for 1 offers’ in bars where student areas of the city. Tuesday nights are said to be particularly good. In Maria Theresien-Strasse the Maria Theresien bar brew their own beer, which is good.”

DON’T MISS: One of the key attractions is the 16th century Hofkirche, home of Emperor Maximillian I. His gigantic black marble tomb is surrounded by 28 larger than life bronze statues of his ancestors. Use your Innsbruck Card to get in.

Left: The Hofkirche – worth a look!

It’s actually a church, but is a main attraction in the city. The story behind each of the statues is fascinating – many died tragically and the faces of the statues are actually cast from their death masks. One died when he fell off his horse and, because he was wearing heavy armour, couldn’t get up so drowned in a swamp.
     The Emperor himself died in 1519 and is actually buried in Vienna but his enormous black tomb remains in the Hofkirche. He also built the city’s most famous landmark, the Golden Roof, which is actually now a museum with a glittering roof, made from 2,657 copper tiles.


  • The stunning architecture! If you love architecture – watch out for the Ski ramp in the centre of Innsbruck and the train station, designed by Zaha Hadid, designer of London’s new Aquatics Centre in the Olympic Park, the venue for next year’s Olympic Games. She also designed the entrance to the one of the train stations above Innsbruck.

Right: Futuristic entrance to one of the train stations on the hillside above Innsbruck designed by Zaha Hadid.

  • Go on one of the fabulous daily walks organised by the local tourist office. City walks are free with the Innsbruck Card. Details from the Tourist Office in advance Innsbruck or tel (00) 43 512 53560
  • For the more adventurous… if you’re there on a Sunday take the Nordkettenbahnan cable car up from the city centre. Stunning views (and a free trip with your Innsbruck Card). Once at there, buy a Sunday brunch at the cafe – enjoy the free jazz show PLUS a free ride on the flying fox across the valley!

  Left: Be brave! Try a flying fox ride across the valley.

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