It was the cusp of Autumn. A couple of leaves of some trees here and there had starting changing colour. This was undeniably the best time to visit the Tyorlean capital. Only a few weeks back Innsbruck found its way into our schedule in deference to suggestions by both personal and social media friends. As usual we began with a self guided walking tour of Innsbruck and we strongly recommend starting with it as part of things to do in Innsbruck.
This article has been republished with updated content
Pin ! Walking Tour of Innsbruck!
Innsbruck Walking Tour
We began the tour from Innsbruck Tourism office. Why? There were a lot of tourism books, information booklets, maps and also staff available to help plan our day and is located in the city centre. One could also buy souvenirs at reasonable rates here.
History of Innsbruck in short
The name Innsbruck means Bridge on the river Inn and is derived from the original Latin name (Yes, Romans were here before and so were Stone Age people), Oeni Pontum, meaning Oenus (Roman name for Inn) Bridge. Innsbruck was always in the hub of things because of the bridge, a major connection for trade and communication between the North and the South.
Our guide informed us that the city’s coat of arms is the aerial view of this famous bridge and has been so for almost 800 years.
Major boost to its economic and social activities began with the arrival of Maximilian I, in the second half of 15th century, the ruler who made Austro Hungarian Empire and the house of Habsburg possible. He also built the beautiful building with an incredible roof made of golden shingles, which exist to this dazzling the tourists further.
Innsbruck became the capital of Tyrol first and then became the heart of European culture, economics and politics under Maximilian I.
One more thing, many buildings are more than 500 years old in the old city.
Rest as they say is history!
Goldenes Dachl or the Golden Roof Innsbruck
Let’s start with the landmark of Innsbruck, built by Kaiser Maximilian I. This was a unique structure with a roof made of gold-plated shingles was built so that it would be visible from afar and also as a mark of affluence of the Kingdom but primarily to mark his wedding to his second wife Bianca Maria Sforza.
The façade is very well decorated with murals and paintings of various members of the royalty, courtiers including the court jester, and 8 coats-of-arms of all the areas ruled by Maximilian I.
If you are in Innsbruck
Imperial palace and garden
A quick detour and in & out of a tunnel full of souvenir shops will get us to the Imperial Hofburg Palace. It is almost as important as the Hofburg Palace in Vienna and was built around 1460 CE or so. This impressive structure now houses several museums. As this was just a walking tour we had to wait for another day to enter the museums.
Next to Hofburg palace is the Court Church or Hofkirche which also serves as an elaborate cenotaph for Maximilian I with a hall full of larger than life statues of 28 popular kings and queens of till that time including King Arthur! This was planned by Maximilian himself when he was alive but constructed by his grandson. After the walking tour of Innsbruck, we went in and spent more than an hour inside. It is also home to Tyrolean Folk Arts Museum.
Just opposite the Hofburg is the Imperial garden or the Hofgarten spread over 10 hectares. There are fountains, stunning landscape, a sunbathing section and children’s section too. The credit for this garden goes to none other than Empress Maria Theresa. It is said that the garden was originally built as a playground for her children! Yes sir, you are in her kingdom now. And we will hear more of her.
St. James Cathedral or The Innsbruck Cathedral
A lane by the side of Goldenes Dachl got us to the new St James Cathedral. Comparatively this is quite new but still more than 300 years old and it was built on the site of an 800-year-old church also dedicated to St James. The works of art inside the Cathedral is very beautiful and you need to drop a one Euro coin if you plan to click pictures but it is more than worth it. Wait for noon time for the bells, weighing a total of over 4 tonnes, to peal.
Stadtturm or the City Tower
This was a manned watchtower to alert people and the King of any impending danger from enemies, fire or weather. It is older than Goldenes Dachl by a few decades. The lookout gallery offers a 360-degree sweeping view of the Old city of Innsbruck, with most of the building maintaining their antiquity, and the new.
As per our guide there was a tower warden staying under the cupola which was her home, till as recent as 1960s!
Right opposite to the City tower lies the extravagantly decorated Helbling house. No marks for guess the year of construction. It is 15th century. However, the current levels of decorations were carried out in early 18th century. It looks like one of those elaborate cakes!
We could not gather any more information from the guide than that it used to belong a wealthy merchant but was named after a Café owner, Sebastian Helbling.
Goldener Adler (Golden eagle) Inn
This is perhaps one of the oldest hotels in Innsbruck, probably also in Europe. Operating since late 14th century. The claim to fame is that any one who was someone has stayed here during their visit to Innsbruck.
There is a board which highlights visits by Mozart, Maria Von Trapp (Sound of Music fame), Jean Paul Sartre and many members of European Royalty.
Girls’ School by Maria Theresa
We were following the guide like an automaton, when she suddenly opened a door on the side of the street and entered, beckoning us to do so. From the outside it was looking very clean and beautiful but inside it was a wooden structure of multiple floors which was dingy but appeared solid.
As part of Maria Theresa’s education reforms all over Austria, she also built a girls’ school right here. At this point of time nothing was here and it was conjectured that it will be redeveloped into something modern. Maybe shops?
More Gorgeous Buildings
There are several other interesting buildings close by which are almost as old and historically relevant too like the Claudiana Palace, Ottoburg, Kolbernturm, Hospital Church on Maria Theresa Street and many more. We are sharing the pictures here for you to appreciate.
Inn Riverfront and Marktplatz (Market square)
After crossing the Ottoburg palace, we were at the Inn River front and got the spectacular view of the Alps, up close. We spent a lot of time enjoying this part of Alps called the Nordekette range that rose to an impressive 2600 metres. Soon we were on the very bridge that gave this city its name, Innsbruck. We wondered how many times this bridge would have been destroyed and rebuilt!
A short walk on the south bank brought us to the Marktplatz. From here there is a beautiful view of colourful townhouses of the North bank. What was once an open-air farmer’s market is now full of restaurants having river view tables. The original market is now shifted indoors into Markthalle which now sells fruits, vegetables, meats etc.
If you like your fish then this is the place to eat in Innsbruck!
Maria Theresa Street and St. Anne’s Column (Annasäule)
At the border of the old town is the new town which has one long street named after Maria Theresa. This is a pedestrian only street with lots of old statues, buildings and restaurants. At about 100M from the beginning of the street is the St. Anne’s Column, the statue on top looking in the direction of the old town and the mountains behind. It was erected as a victory monument when Tyrol was freed from Bavarian troops.
However, the statue on the top is of St. Mary. It got its name because it was commemorated on St. Anne’s day.
Triumphpforte or the Triumphal Arch
A nice walk of about 10-15 minutes on Maria Theresa Street brought us to very end of the street and to the Triumphal Arch (the name reminded us of Paris, somehow 😊 😊).
It has a happy and a sad occasion attached to it all in a span of few days. Maria Theresa built this on the occasion of the marriage of her son, who would later be the Emperor Leopold II. The Arch has bas relief of all the family members including the bride, the Spanish princess. However, during multi-day celebrations Maria’s husband, Francis Stephen died which completely shattered Maria Theresa and it is said she was never the same again.
A motif was later engraved on the other side of the Arch in memory of Francis Stephen.
This brings us to the end of the amazing walking tour of Innsbruck.
1. Walking tour of Innsbruck is free with 24H, 48H or 72H Innsbruck card. There are two tours to choose from. Not everything written here is covered in their walking tour of Innsbruck. We had explored on our own too and those have been added above. That’s the advantage of self guided tours.
2. You could buy Innsbruck cards which, apart from the free local transportation, gives you free entries to museums and attractions.
3. If you plan to climb the 133 steps to the top of city tower, then do it just before sunset. It gives super views and you can stay till lights come on which illuminates Goldenes Dachl (Golden roof) and other buildings in the vicinity.
Where to Stay
Although it is not be a big city, Innsbruck offers a wide range of accommodation to its visitors, suitable for all pockets.
We stayed at the excellent Hotel Sailer right opposite Innsbruck railway station
Ref : #lmnix_at_001
USEFUL INFORMATION ABOUT INNSBRUCK
Where to Stay?
Although it is not a big city, Innsbruck offers wide range of accommodation to its visitors, suitable to all pockets. Click here for the hotel options in Innsbruck.
How to get around in Innsbruck?
Buy Innsbruck Card valid for 24, 48 or 72 hours. All public transport is included during the period of validity and also gives free access to several premium attractions. More about Innsbruck cards here.
What to buy in Innsbruck?
* The internationally acclaimed Swarowski Crystal products are available at their show room near Golden Roof and one can also buy them at the Museum Shop at Swarowski Crystal World, Wattens.
* Innsbruck souvenirs may be bought at the market near Golden Roof. The prices are reasonable.
* Tyrolean Honey may be bought at the riverside Markthalle.
* Don’t forget to pickup a bottle of Schnapps, a fruity alcohol.
How to get to Innsbruck?
By Air. Innsbruck Kranebitten Airport is well connected within Europe and is just 5KM from the city centre. Click here to book flight tickets.
By Train. Innsbruck Railway station is right in the middle of the city and is located just 1KM from the old city. There are direct trains to and from most major cities of Austria and Germany too. Munich to Innsbruck is easier than Vienna to Innsbruck or even Salzburg to Innsbruck, by train. OBB Austria or other European Railways serve Innsbruck.
By Bus. One can also use the network of several European bus services. They are comfortable if the distance is not too large. Our own preference is Flix bus. Click here to explore the options on Flix bus.
By Road. European road network is one of the best and is a pleasurable driving experience.
Distance between Vienna to Innsbruck is 477 KM
Distance between Munich to Innsbruck is just 160 KM
What is the weather like in Innsbruck?
The annual temperature ranges between -4 degrees Celsius (lowest in January) to a maximum of 25 degrees Celsius in Summer.
Innsbruck gets about 110 cm of Snowfall every year.
All the photographs used in this article belong to the owners of this website www.lemonicks.com. Copying or using them without explicit permission is prohibited and will amount to copyright infringement.
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Almabtrieb, the Alpine cow festival at Westerndorf, is just few hours journey from Innsbruck. It is held in the beginning of Autumn every year
If self guided walking tours do not interest you then checkout these awesome options
Innsbruck Tours, Tickets and Activities
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Coming Soon! Complete Things to do and places to visit in and around Innsbruck
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