Before our trip we asked the online travel community on where to go, what to eat and the top things to do with kids when visiting Innsbruck, Austria. They came up with so many great ideas and we managed to fit quite a lot in when we had some time off from the ski slopes.
Here are some of our don’t miss suggestions for entertaining both the kids and adults when visiting Innsbruck and it turns out there are plenty of things to do here.
Tip – I would recommend downloading the free Innsbruck app when exploring the city. We used the map and GPS functionality of the app for finding attractions, shops and more.
Wander through Old Town Innsbruck
The winding cobbled streets and brightly painted historic buildings of the old town are well worth wandering through, it’s one of the most beautiful areas in a city we have visited there are plenty of photo opportunities.
Kids will love watching the street performers, trying on the products in the souvenir stores and finding the excellent sweet shop Barenland.
Look for the Triumphpforte, a victory arch that commemorates Archduke Leopold’s wedding in 1765 and the Stadtturm which offers terrific 360-degree panoramic views of the city after you have climbed the 148 steps to the top.
Other highlights include the Goldenes Dachl (Golden Roof) and Hofburg – see separate recommendations below.
Marvel at the Goldenes Dachl (Golden Roof)
In the Old Town try and spot the building with the golden roof – it’s one of the most famous and historic landmarks in the city, so it’s worth a photo stop. Covered in over 2,000 fire-gilded copper tiles it’s been here in Innsbruck since around 1500 after it was built by Emperor Maximilian 1.
Indulge in a little retail therapy
If you are like us we love a little retail therapy and we were really impressed with the variety of stores in Innsbruck.
The main shopping street Maria Theresien toward the medieval old town must be one of the world’s most beautiful shopping streets with the snow-capped backdrop of the majestic Nordkette mountain range.
When here it’s hard to resist taking a photo in front of the soaring Annasäule, a monument to a battle with the Bavarians 300 years ago.
From high street chains such as H&M, designer stores like Hugo Boss to independent stores and boutiques.
The girls were happy that they spotted their favourites Rituals, Lush and a chocoholics dream store Lindt – they had so many products here that you can’t find in the UK and the flagship Swarovski store in the old town is a shopping experience not to be missed.
Kids will love visiting the toy store ‘Kids World Tyrol’ at the Kaufhaus Tyrol shopping centre, it’s big and packed full of toys so it’s a dream shop for kids.
Experiment at the Audioversum Science Centre
Audioversum was one of the most unique and interesting science museums we have been to, in fact, there is nothing quite like it and you certainly put all your senses to the test.
We loved it here especially at the screaming room – which tests just how loud you can scream.
At this interactive museum, there were lots of interactive exhibits (translated in English) where we learned about the ear, nose and body through hands-on learning. At “Worlds of Smell’ exhibition you test just how good your sense of smell is testing everything from freshly cut flowers to the odour of smelly feet!
From learning and testing just how good your own hearing is, followed by an interactive journey through how we hear to understanding how your brain works, it’s so much fun that kids won’t realise that they are learning through play.
Step back in time at Schloss Ambras Castle Innsbruck
Another of our highlights was visiting the beautiful Ambras Castle. Perched on a rock overlooking the Inn Valley the castle is beautiful from the outside but its interiors are even more impressive especially the beautiful Spanish Hall, one of the most beautiful halls from the Rennaissance period in Europe.
We were lucky during our visit that we got the chance to explore this amazing room to ourselves. Built in the mid-15th century its walls are covered with 27 portraits of Tyrolean rulers over the years.
The girls, in particular, loved finding the numerous rooms in the castle, as each turn revealed something new.
The impressive armouries section will wow the kids with figures of knights on horseback clad in jousting armour and the collection of armour, curiosities, coins and portraits collected by Ferdinand II which is still on display at the castle is the first and oldest museum in the world.
Dazzle in crystal at Swarovski Crystal Worlds
Home of Swarovski, this is truly a place of fantasy and one of the best attractions we have visited across the world – I can’t recommend it highly enough it is that good and magical which kids, in particular, will love. (You can catch a bus here from Innsbruck – free if you have an Innsbruck Card)
From the iconic green giant standing guard to the amazing displays and treasures inside such as the magical crystal dome – one of our favourites to the biggest crystal in the world at 300,000 carats.
You know when you are somewhere unique when the clouds are made from Swarovski Crystal – the crystal cloud art installation contains 800,000 crystals over a lake which creates the most amazing reflections and effects especially against the backdrop of the snowy mountains.
The girl’s highlight was the play tower which we found after a delicious lunch at Daniels restaurant (highly recommended) each table had a beautiful centrepiece made out of a Swarovski crystal and the views over the gardens and the crystal clouds were fabulous.
The play tower, like the rest of the attraction, is impressive and unique. With climbing area, slides, rope climbs and trampolines across its five floors we had trouble coaxing Chloe and Holly out, they were enjoying so much.
Don’t forget the gigantic Swarovski store, if you thought the one in Innsbruck was good then this one will blow you away, I think they have every type of Swarovski product for sale – it was too hard to resist for us.
Before you leave the homemade cakes and pastries from the café are well worth tasting, the cupcakes, in particular, are some of the very best we have tasted.
Visit an Upside Down House
A short drive from Swarovski Crystal Worlds in a village called Terfens is a unique upside-down house. Kids will love exploring here, taking pictures as they walk on the ceilings or checking the car upside down in the garage at this fun and unique museum. In this cool house, all the furniture is stuck to the ceiling which lets you see the world from a totally different perspective.
Be a ski jumper at the Bergisel Ski Jump
It’s hard to miss this iconic structure designed by the late Zaha Hadid ( the iconic architect behind the Olympic Aquatic Centre in London and Riverside Museum in Glasgow) which has dominated the city skyline since 2002.
Take the lift to the top of the 50 metre tower and get the same vantage point of what a professional ski jumper has, I will never make fun of Eddie the Eagle again.
More bizarre was the graveyard at the end of the jump zone. It was a brilliant experience especially as we had just watched the ski jumping from the venue on TV several days before plus the views across the city and toward the Nordkette mountain range are magnificent.
As this was a winter Olympics Games venue in 1964 and 1976 you also get a chance to see the Olympic rings and torch up close.
Ice Skate like an Olympian
If your kids are like ours, they will love to ice skate at every opportunity. In Innsbruck, kids get the chance to ice skate at the ice rink built for the Winter Olympics.
Be like a Royal at the Imperial Palace
The Hofburg is a great way to learn about the history of Austria and see what the furnishings of a royal palace look like and it’s enormous. The Giant’s Hall, in particular, is impressive with portraits of who’s who of the royal family.
No photos are allowed inside the palace, but its elaborate interior and treasures inside its magnificent rooms were just as impressive as the outside. Kids and adults will enjoy exploring one of Austria’s most famous landmarks.
Experience a bobsleigh ride
A more extreme form of tobogganing can be found at the Olympic bobsleigh track next to the slopes at Pasckerkofel. Here a bobsleigh pilot and brakeman take you on a 110km ride down a 1,270 metre track with 14 turns.
My husband was set for his Olympic bobsleigh debut and had tickets but had to cancel at the last minute because our travel insurance wouldn’t cover this extreme form of winter sports activity, so it’s well worth checking your policy.
See the animals at Alpenzoo
Kids will love the Alpenzoo. This is Europe’s highest zoo and is located on the Nordkette mountain.
The fun starts on your journey to the zoo on the Hungerburgbahn funicular from the futuristic railway station at Congress in the old town.
The zoo is home to over 2000 animals (150 of which are or would have called the Alps their home) so expect to see bears, mountain goats, cows, golden eagles and other animals including my personal favourite the pine marten – the wolves even howl in sync with the church bells from the city below.
It’s a great little zoo and the girls loved it especially Holly. In the barnyard area we loved the alpine cows and you can stroll amongst the chickens and goats and get to pet the lambs and piglets. It’s well worth making the stop here.
Take a gondola to explore the Nordkette mountains
At the end of the Hungerberg, take the cable-car ride to the Seegrube which offered amazing views over the city below and is one of the city’s most popular ski slopes for the locals.
This is also a party stop for the many skiers which was great fun. Our girls made snow castles and danced to the resident DJ who was blasting out dance music from his booth at 1,900metres above the city whilst we took in the panoramic views from the deckchairs soaking up the sun in unusually warm temperatures.
Before we took our final cable car to the top vantage point Hafelekar we wandered through the amazing Cloud 9 igloo made completely from ice.
The view from the Hafelekar at 2300m high just takes your breath away, the views are amazing as are the ski routes from the top which are some of the steepest and most challenging in Europe.
If you are feeling really brave you can make the 15-minute hike to the Hafelekarspitze the actual summit 1t 2,334m which features a large cross.
Taste Apple Strudel or Sacher Torte
After all that exploring stop for some traditional Austrian favourites such as Sacher Torte or Apple Strudel – the dish made famous during the Habsburg period.
There are several great cafes to choose from around Innsbruck for a slice of these delicious Austrian treats, the girls, in particular, loved the Loacker cafe.
Even the McDonald’s in the Old Town of Innsbruck is an experience, some of the walls of the building are over 500 years old.
There is so much to see and do in the Innsbruck region for families that it’s impossible to do everything and below are other suggestions from our community of other things to see and do
The Aqua Dome will be one of the most beautiful places you will ever swim and is famous for its thermal waters.
It’s been made famous on Instagram because of its amazing pools and surroundings and kids will enjoy its expansive kid’s area with waterslides, which make it a unique experience. It’s in the town of Langenfield, less than an hour from Innsbruck.
The Ice Grotto at Stubai Glacier
45 minutes drive from Innsbruck is the largest glacier ski area in Austria with snow guaranteed from October until June.
Whilst the glacier attracts skiers, the ice grotto which takes you down 30 metres inside the glacier is a unique experience, it’s like something from the Disney Frozen movie.
Also at the glacier, you can enjoy breathtaking 360-degree views from the summit platform ‘Top of the Tyrol’ at 3,210 metres above sea level.
Also check out
And not forgetting the amazing skiing
Within the Innsbruck area, there are nine ski resorts which make up the Olympia Skiworld covering more than 260km of ski slopes catering for a range of abilities. (you can read our our ski experience here)
Our closest ski resort was Patscherkofel, a venue for the men’s 1976 downhill event at the winter Olympics and has recently been totally transformed; turning it into a modern ski resort that was perfect for skiers of all abilities including complete beginners like us.
Featuring great nursery slopes complete with magic carpet (a small conveyor belt transporting the smallest children and beginners up the small slope) along with several blue runs out of the eight runs available.
Getting to Patscherkofel each day was a five-minute journey away on the efficient complimentary ski bus service (J bus) which stopped across the street from our hotel every 10 minutes in Igls.
The bus ran between the Patscherkofel and Nordkette mountain ranges and was also a quick and convenient way of getting into the city of Innsbruck.
Getting here – Innsbruck’s airport is just four kilometres from the Old Town with flights from airports across the UK.
We booked a package ski holiday with Inghams who provided flights with Austrian Airways from Bristol. We had a private transfer to our hotel, the Sporthotel in Igls but the F bus from the airport is the easiest way to get into the city (2.30 euro).
The Innsbruck Card– It’s well worth purchasing a card which are valid for 24, 48 or 72 hours and will definitely save your family money.
The card provides free one-time admission to all of the cities attractions and museums. Also included are one upwards and downwards journey on Innsbruck’s cable cars plus free use of all buses and trams, the sightseeing bus and the shuttle bus to Swarovski Crystal Worlds.
Stay – We chose Igls a beautiful Tyrolean Village because its location offered the perfect balance of skiing and non-skiing activities. Innsbruck was just a 15-minute bus ride away (our hotel the Sporthotel Igls provided free bus tickets into Innsbruck each day as part of the Innsbruck Welcome Card) so we could enjoy the best of both worlds. Read our review
Getting around – Innsbruck has an excellent network of public transport options, including bus, tram and it’s unique funicular.
For more information, it’s well worth checking out the official online guide to Innsbruck
Inghams offers a seven-night Christmas 2019 ski holiday on a half board basis at the four-star superior Sporthotel Igls in Igls near Innsbruck, Austria, from £1,113 per person based on a family of four travelling. Price includes return flights and airport transfers. Lift passes, equipment hire and tuition can all be pre-booked through Inghams. To book, visit www.inghams.co.uk/ski-holidays or call 01483 791 114.