Many visitors to Austria often bypass the streets of Innsbruck in favour of the swankier views of Vienna and Salzburg. And I totally get that. Imperial history, Sound of Music tours and links to Mozart – what more could you ask for, right?
But in opting for the more regal sights of Austria’s two best-known cities, you have to make sure you don’t neglect Innsbruck, the capital of the federal state of Tirol. With its majestic mountain views, bustling Old Town and drinking houses, Innsbruck is arguably one of the most picturesque and colourful cities in Europe. In fact, walking through the city is just like stepping onto the set of The Grand Budapest Hotel.
Before jetting off to Seefeld for a beginners ski holiday with Inghams, I knew I had a spare day to play around with. I was delighted when one of the company reps offered to show me around Innsbruck for an afternoon, seeing as it was just a 40-minute train ride away.
I found it a little hard to find many blog summaries of Innsbruck, so if you’re heading out there soon, hopefully this will give you a bit of an idea of the main sights!
Without a doubt, the Old Town is one place that should be high up on your list of places to visit. The narrow, winding Medieval streets exude charm and acres of history that we just weren’t able to scratch the surface of in a few short hours. One of the most iconic buildings you’ll find in this part is The Goldenes Dachl (i.e. The Golden Roof). Built in the early 15th century, the Golden Roof adorns the three-storey balcony in the Old Town’s central plaza.
It was originally built in honour of Emperor Maximilian I’s second marriage, and would also serve as an ideal point from which Maximilian could sit in luxury while watching ongoing tournaments in the square below.
Search for pictures of Innsbruck on Google, and you’ll be inundated with images of the Maria-Theresien Stasse. It’s the name given to the long street stretching down towards the Old Town, and which is home to various high-street shops as well as churches and cafes.
If you’re going to have any photos taken in Innsbruck, it’s more than likely going to be from here with the St. Anne’s Column, the aforementioned colourful buildings and the Nordkette mountain range in the background.
The Inn River
Innsbruck gets its name from the Inn River which flows through the city. For those postcard-esque shots it’s more than worth taking a short walk down to the river.
The Triumphal Arch was built in the 18th century by the Empress Maria Theresa to celebrate her son’s wedding. It’s easy to locate, at the south end of the Maria-Theresien Stasse.
With the city featuring dozens of churches, make sure you take a visit inside at least one of them. We took a short tour of the Cathedral of St. James, an 18th century Baroque cathedral down a narrow street from the Golden Roof.
Inside, heavy pillars are adorned with decorated gold designs, while an elaborate pulpit towers over the main congregation. The intricate frescos deserve a particular mention, with one in particular on the ceiling giving an optical illusion as if there were a skylight in place.
…From the Innsbruck Cathedral to the pub!
Our Inghams rep took us to the Stiftskeller pub for what he deemed the ‘best beer’ in Innsbruck. Beer is available in all sizes (including 0.2 litres for lightweights like me), while the pub itself is rustic and charming, as if it’s been carved into a cave. My boyfriend loved it here so much that he ended up having a few more pints while I went off to take some more photos around the city!
The City Tower
Unfortunately we didn’t get a chance to have a wander up the city tower (probably because of all that beer…) but the city tower is one of the main tourist attractions in Innsbruck. Built in the 15th century, the tower boasts a 31-metre viewing platform up 148 steps and, from what I’ve read, gives superb views over the city rooftops. We ducked our heads in to have a look round and I remember thinking the entry fee was rather cheap – just a few euros each at the most.
Have you been to Innsbruck? Is there anything you would add to this list of things to see?
For more information on Inghams Holidays, visit www.inghams.co.uk or contact 01483 791 114. For more information on the Austrian Tirol (including Innsbruck!) visit www.visittirol.co.uk.