What to do in Innsbruck in winter

Tirol's capital, Innsbruck, is a picturesque old town with medieval colorful buildings, surrounded by the Austrian Alps. This was the last destination on my trip to Austria and it was the first time in a week that I saw the bright sunlight. Innsbruck in winter is gorgeous - the snow clad mountains in the backdrop, the freezing waters of the river flowing through the middle of the city, the cozy and cute Christmas markets and the iconic Swarovski Christmas Tree becoming a part of the skyline, are all that makes this lovely town the perfect place to visit.If you have rented a car, you will have the convenience to travel around the town and outside to explore the ski slopes, winter activities, and beautiful mountains. Innsbruck is well connected with buses and trains so you're good even if you haven't been able to rent a car and want to rely on the public transportation.

Suggested to stay: Aldranser Hof

Innsbruck in winter
Sunrise from Aldranser Hof

I found this really cute and cozy bed-and-breakfast in a small town located about 15 minutes away from the center of the city. As it was located at a height, the views from the room's balcony were amazing! I saw the best sunrise ever from here, over the snow-capped hills. It is located in Aldrans, which is connected by a half-hourly scheduled bus to the Old Town. Aldrans itself is quite laid back, so I suggest you stay here only if you want to be in a quiet place, with gorgeous views.


Old Town: Golden Roof, Hofburg Imperial Palace & Hofkirche (Court Church)

The Golden Roof in Old Town is one of the most popular places to visit in Innsbruck in winter. You will find a Christmas market right in front of the roof in the month of December. This is also where you will find the colorful buildings, made in the typical Austrian Late Gothic style, with decorated windows. With the snow-capped peaks in the backdrop and cobbled stone streets below, this famous roof is in a building that houses a museum which exhibits elements from the historical times, when this building was constructed.

Innsbruck in winter
Golden Roof, Old Town, Innsbruck

Not too far from the Golden Roof is the Hofburg Imperial Palace, yet another historical building in the Old Town. This majestic palace is only next to the Schonbrunn Palace in Vienna when it comes to the royalty and elegance reflected in its interiors. You can walk into the lavish living rooms, meeting rooms and bedrooms of the imperial Habsburg Dynasty in the 18th century. The ceiling painting and the portraits are worth admiring!

Innsbruck in winter
Hofburg Imperial Palace, Innsbruck

In the same area as the Hofburg Imperial Palace and the Golden Roof is yet another building of historical and religious significance in Innsbruck's Old Town - Hofkirche (court church). This is where the emperor Maximilian I was buried, in the watch of 28 statues lined up one after the other, forming quite an impressive sight. If you're visiting Innsbruck in winter, you will find another cute Christmas market right outside the church. This, however, is not one of the popular ones.

Innsbruck in winter
Hofkirch, Innsbruck

Innsbruck in winter

Visiting Salzburg? Read What to do in Salzburg in winter.


Schloss Ambras

This one is a located above the town center, as you ascend over the hills. If you're staying in Aldrans, this is not too far from you. This palace served as the home of Archduke Ferdinand II in the 16th century. A medieval fortress in the 10th century was turned into a Renaissance Castle in the 16th century which is today, one of the largest museums in Tyrol.

Innsbruck in winter

Innsbruck in winter
Schloss Ambras

One of the most impressive collections in Schloss Ambras is of the armors of warriors from several generations in the Spanish Hall. The lower castle displays some of the most amazing masterpieces from artists in the 16th century, whereas on the floor above, you'll find portraits of several rulers of Tyrol. If you're visiting Innsbruck in winter, you will love how the castle and its grounds are covered with a layer of snow, highlighting its majestic architecture and sober interiors.

The castle grounds are a great place to enjoy a stroll on a winter day.

Innsbruck in winter

Visiting Vienna? Read What to do in Vienna in winter.


Swarovski Crystal World

Swarovski Crystal World (or Kristallwelten, as they call it) is where you find the iconic water fountain oozing out of a giant figure's mouth. It is located outside the town, about 20 minutes away from the centre. Although you can find a very unique collection of crystals here, this place is more than a shop. It is an art and adventure park. There is, obviously, a fee to enter the crystal museum (EUR 20) and the interiors are quite mesmerising, with the highlight being the Crystal Cloud, comprising of over 500,000 crystals. If you're not interesting in shelling out money to go inside the museum, you can enjoy a nice walk in the garden outside where the water fountain is located.

If you're visiting Innsbruck in winter, you will find the lake surrounding the fountain frozen and also a massive Christmas tree located right next to the fountain, specially in December. After having seen several pictures of the fountain during summer, all lush green, I was very intrigued with the winter view, laden with snow.

Innsbruck in winter
Swarovski Crystal World

Innsbruck in winter


Stroll along the river

The name of Innsbruck is derived from river Inn which flows through the city. If you're visiting Innsbruck in winter, it's the perfect time to enjoy a quiet stroll along the river, with the snow-capped Alps in the backdrop and the colourful houses lining the riverside. This is where you will find one of the best Christmas Markets of the town in the month of December, with a massive Swarovski Christmas Tree in the centre, that comes alive at night with ambient lighting.

Innsbruck in winter
Walking along River Inn

Innsbruck in winter
Christmas Market in Market Square with Swarovski Crystals Christmas Tree


Funicular to Nordkette & Seegrube Ski Station

If you are visiting Innsbruck in winter, you must visit Nordkette via the Seegrube Ski Station! Begin your journey with a cable car from the city centre, next to the river Inn, at the Congress Station, to the first stop at Hungerburg. Here, you will find a very small Christmas Market if you're there in December, with unbelievable views of the city below. This is, however, not the end of your journey. From here, you must board the aerial tramway called Nordkette Cable Car, to Seegrube Ski Station. The cost for the cable car to Hungerburg is about €6.80 for a round trip for adults, and €24.30 further up, to Seegrube.

Innsbruck in winter
Cloud 9 igloo bar at Seegrube Ski Station

Even if you're not a skiing enthusiast, I urge you to go all the way up to Seegrube Ski Station. Here is where you will find the 'Highest Nightclub in the Alps' called Cloud 9, an igloo bar that can be experienced only during the winter months. Unfortunately, the bar had not yet opened at the time I travelled, they were still setting it up. It usually opens end of December.

Innsbruck in winter
Seegrube Ski Station


Maria-Theresien Strasse

Maria Theresien Strasse or Maria Theresa Street is a bustling street, right next to the Old Town, with lots of shops, boutiques, charming cafes and restaurants. The architecture here is a lot more modernised than the Old Town, however, the street is of historical significance too. Long ago, when the Old Town was protected by the fortified walls and could only be entered through  St. Jörgen gateway, people began to build their houses in the 'New Town', which is Maria Theresa Street today.

Innsbruck in winter

You will find ample places to sit and enjoy a meal or just shop around for souvenirs here. Global brands such as H&M & Northface also have stores in this area. If you're in Innsbruck in winter, specially in the month of December, you will find another one of the most popular Christmas Markets on the Maria Theresien Street - with twinkling trees and modern designs.

Innsbruck in winter
Maria Theresa Street Christmas Market


 Bergisel Ski Jump

The structure of this ski jump will catch your sight while you're driving around in Innsbruck. Even if you're not a skiing enthusiast, you might want to go to the top of this ski jump, only for the fantastic views of the city that you can be lucky to experience from the top, on a clear and sunny day. A viewing terrace and a restaurant at the top of the tower are the perfect places to enjoy unobstructed 360 degrees views and a glass of hot Gluhwein (if you're visiting in December, of course).

Innsbruck in winter
Bergisel Ski Jump


Olympia SkiWorld

If you're not into skiing like me but still want to enjoy some winter sports, there isn't a better place than Olympia SkiWorld near Innsbruck. Depending on what kind of winter activities you wish to experience, you can visit the specific area designated for those activities.

I visited two places - Oberperfuss Rangger Köpfl Ski Resort for tobogganing and Innsbruck-Igls for bobsleigh ride.

Innsbruck-igls is where Olympic level bobsleigh rides are available and if you're visiting Innsbruck in winter, you definitely want to be able to try the Guest Bobsleigh ride. However, you might need to book this is advance and these sell out very quickly! The bob sleigh track is 800-metre-long and the ride reaches speeds of up to 100 km/h. Extremely exhilarating!

Innsbruck-Igls is about 20 minutes away from the city centre of Innsbruck.

Innsbruck in winter
Guest Bob Sleigh Ride, Innsbruck-Igls

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Oberperfuss Rangger Köpfl Ski Resort

The ski resort is accessible by a shuttle bus from Innsbruck. However, since I had rented a car, it was an easy 30- minute drive away from the town centre. I specifically went here for tobogganing, something I really wanted to experience. The ski slope here is for beginners as well as pros and they have night skiing, on a flood-lit slope, available here.

You can rent a toboggan before you board the cable car to the beginning of the toboggan run or even walk (about 2 kms) to the top. The views from the top are absolutely breathtaking and the tobogganing experience was superb!

Try to catch the lovely sunset if you're here. I experienced one of the best sunsets I have ever seen here, with the clouds covering the entire city below and the sky turning orange over the snow-laden peaks. A bar and restaurant located right at the edge offers promising views, with a mug of hot chocolate.


 

93 thoughts on “What to do in Innsbruck in winter”

  1. Innsbruck in Austria is a must-visit. Absolutely stunning. Went there a few years back. I think I need to visit again. Cannot have enough of Innsbruck.

  2. I want to see Swarovski Crystal World. Swarovski does amazing work and would love to see what they came up with for Swarovski Crystal World.

  3. I love Innsbruck and Austria but to be honest as I dont ski or snowboard, I did find the place a bit boring in the snowy winter months as I love to hike. I prefer the city as a summer destination. I think I was in the bars most evening chatting to the locals. 🙂

    1. I don’t ski or snowboard either. But I did manage to experience other snow activities and I loved that, especially tobogganing and bobsleigh. Also, it was Christmas time so the vibe was pretty cool; despite the blistering cold, people were out and about, Christmas markets were lively and the hot wine, schnitzels & apple strudels just added to the lovely experience.

  4. Brrr it looks cold, but so beautiful! That view from your B&B Aldranser Hof is gorgeous, it is worth staying there for that view alone! I didn’t realise that the name Innsbruck comes from the River Inn, but it makes sense!

  5. Many years ago I spent a little bit of time in Innsbruck. We saw the Swarovsky Crystal Museum (which was so strange and fascinating) and the Olympic ski jump (where you can see a cemetery from the top…they covered it up under a tarp for the Olympics). Looks like I missed out on a lot of other charming and lovely things to see. Seems like a good excuse to go back to Austria. 🙂

  6. Even though I am not trying to think of Christmas, winter, or snow this place looks really pretty. You are right very picturesque. I don’t know about that ski jump, the bomb sledding looks cool. Reminds me of that movie Cool Runnings.

  7. Lovely town. It reminds me a lot of Salzburg, specially the castle. We have never travelled in wintry (snowy) weather, and I think I prefer autumn any day, because the colors are so much more striking and the architecture gets a softer backdrop. But it would be nice to go white for a change.

  8. Such beautiful photos and incredible list of things to do. I am a sucker for Christmas markets, personally. And that sure looks like some epic tobogganing 🙂

  9. I love European Christmas Markets! It hadn’t occurred to me that Innsbruck would have a spectacular Swarovski Christmas Tree. The Cloud 9 igloo bar sounds like a fun experience and I would love to see the views from the Bergisel Ski Jump

    1. The Cloud 9 igloo bar is a must-do when in Innsbruck. It opens only around the 26-27th of December though.

  10. 10 years ago i did an inter rail and stopped in Innsbruck 🙂 the city is amazing and in the hostel i stayed they recommend this free walking tour in the mountains. it was such a perfect way to discover the region. unforgetable 🙂 greetins from Lisbon, PedroL

  11. I missed Innsbruck for Salzburg. Wish I had more time! But then all I knew of Innsbruck then was that it is famous for Swarovzki crystals. The old town and Imperial Palace are worth a visit. The golden roof is indeed a worthy sight of framing.

    1. If you had limited time and had to make a choice between Salzburg and Innsbruck, then you made the right choice Innsbruck is amazing but Salzburg is even better, in my opinion 🙂

  12. We will be in Innsbruck in October. I guess none of these Christmas things are up at this time. I hope there is some snow in the mountains and the views already great to see and to take pictures of!

    1. I believe there will be snow up in the mountains though not in the town itself. It’ll be gorgeous nonetheless 🙂

  13. Tirol’s capital Innsbruck is a new place for me and I find it’s old town intriguing with its church and Golden Roof the Imperial palace. Church with 28 statues looks awesome. Castle grounds looks so enchanting to take a stroll. You seem to have enjoyed your stay there. Over all, I love the article on this gorgeous place. Thanks.

  14. Innsbruck looks gorgeous. I have been there…but I was 4 years old and I don’t remember a thing! I love the look of the old town – and a great recommendation to stay in Aldrans – especially as I generally hire a car when I am travelling in Europe

  15. That looks like a winter wonderland. I am totally loving this place after reading your post. There is so much to do in winter there. I wish I can visit Innsbruck in the future.

  16. Whoa! Innsbruck is quite a beauty! The architecture, the sceneries, it is all but mesmerizing! I really wish I could go there someday. I really like their architecture, it’s so “instagram-mable”. Each season at Innsbruck gives a different experience for a traveller, which I can say that this a destination that shouldn’t be missed.

  17. I love Christmas in Europe, the markets are so much fun! It’s so funny to me that something like a waterfall out of a giants mouth can become such a thing but it sure has and I will definitely be visiting Swarovski Crystal World

    1. Haha I know what you mean but I actually went to Swarovski World to see that waterfall, more than any displays and exhibitions of the crystals 😀

  18. First time I heard of Swarovkski world! What a fancy looking place based on the pictures! I totally love the winter activities that you suggested. I’ve always wanted to ride a toboggan!

    1. It was my first proper toboggan ride and I loved it. Such a thrill to go down the mountain at high speeds 😀

  19. Wow there really is so much to see and do. I love the colour of the water but equally fascinating is the crystal world. I love the ideas of the castles and palaces too

  20. Innsbruck really is a stunning town. Those snow capped mountains really to make it. Though I am sure summer is just as gorgeous.

    There are so many things to do and see. A stroll around the castle grounds would be so enjoyable without the summer crowds. Traveling off season is one of my greatest pleasures.

    1. I loved the off-season travel thing too, it wasn’t crowded as it usually is in the summer. But it was freezing!

  21. Ahhh Austria is so high on my bucket list but I had never really given Innsbruck a second thought! But it looks stunning! Now I would love to visit the Christmas markets, the Swarovski Crystal World and the waterfront! Looks like such a fun place in the winter!

  22. I tried to get to Innsbruck on my winter trip to Europe in 2011, but it just didn’t work out, unfortunately. However, I can see I truly missed out and need to get there! I think I would have to stroll along the river everyday. It just looks so beautiful! Plus, checking out a Christmas market is a must!

  23. I have visited Innsbruck in Spring and loved it. I love that small town vibes with people just strolling around the squares or cycling around there. Winter just adds a different charm to the place. I would love to visit it then. I even like the idea of watching a sleigh race. something different!

  24. Innsbruck seems so mesmerising and a perfect winter destination, Medha. Your pictures made my mouth drop and I’d love to explore this winter wonderland. How many days would you recommend staying there?

  25. I want to try the bobsled! Innsbruck just looks picture-perfect and, given that I am an avid skier, like my ideal winter destination. I love that there is so much else to do as well if you don’t like skiing. I think the Christmas Market and the Cyrstal World would be my first stops.

  26. Wow! Innsbruck looks like such a charming place to visit! I’m sure its fun in the summer but it looks so postcard perfect in the winter with the snowcapped mountains serving as an ideal backdrop. There seems to be a lot to do and I hope to experience all but top of my list would definitely have to be the Swarovski Crystal World! I didn’t even know it existed but it sounds and looks amazing!

  27. Innsbruck Old Town looks gorgeous, such a range of interesting buildings and architecture styles. I would not have thought about the Swarovski Crystal World, as I’m not into their products, but can see from your photos that it’s more of a magical garden of sorts! Heading up to the ski jump is interesting too for the beautiful snowy landscapes.

    1. They have an entire exhibition and shop, with crystal arrangements and products (Swarovski Crystal Worlds), it’s quite magical and intriguing. Personally, the garden was my favourite part too 🙂

  28. There’s clearly so much to see and do in Innsbruck in winter. It looks so pretty in the snow, and I’d really like to go to the top to see those views. The old town is very traditional, and seeing Hofburg would be a must for me. I’ve only been to Vienna in early spring, so would really like to explore Innsbruck the next time we return. I’m not a clubbing person so would leave out the cloud nine for the real party-goers 😀

  29. Snow is something I am terribly missing right now. In this Delhi heat. This post makes me crave for it. Will plan something Innsbruck in winter for sure.

  30. Oh my, how beautiful Innsbruck is in the winter! I absolutely love the medieval colorful buildings that you get to explore here. And the sunrise from your bed & breakfast looks amazing, how magical. I so totally would love to go in December when they have the Christmas Markets. Never been in the winter, but this has totally changed my mind, I so want to go!

    1. The sunrise was really gorgeous! And since it happens late during winter, you don’t need to wake up early to catch it 😉

  31. We missed so much on our recent trip to Austria and Switzerland. It means we need to go back. Your post about Innsbruck in winter has tempted me to plan a return trip in the winter. We would definitely be looking to take trains in the winter. Visiting during the Christmas Market season would be magical. It was fascinating to see so many different castles (schloss) in this area. Seeing the Swarovksi Crystal World would be high on my list of things to do. Thanks for the tip about going to the top of the Bergisel Ski Jump for the views.

    1. I would love to go back to Austria and explore whatever I missed in my last trip, and this time maybe in the summer, to see how different it is!

  32. Innsbruck looks stunning! It sounds like a perfect winter getaway. The snow-capped alps, free flowing rivers, colourful houses, iconic buildings and the Christmas decorations – everything about this city is quite impressive. The vistas of Innsbruck are to die for. The layer of sparkling snow and the sunrise with snow-capped mountains at the backdrops is a sight to behold. The historical buildings of the city are equally fascinating. I like the architecture of Schloss Ambras. Swarovski Crystal World looks beautiful. Thanks for sharing such a lovely post!

  33. what a wonderful selection of winter sports – I’d definitely be up for the guest bobsleigh. I’d really like to visit Innsbruck in Winter – I also think the Christmas market sounds something special…

  34. Innsbruck really looks like a winter wonderland. The Christmas market and crystal shops seem to celebrate the gift-giving season while. The ski mountain with a bobsled run looks like a great way to celebrate the outdoors and snow. What a beautiful wintertime destination.

  35. I had been to Innsbruck last summer, I totally lovely this charming city. Now I feel winters are even better there. It looks so gorgeous, especially the Swarovski World which looks completely different!

    1. I had seen pictures of Swarovski World in summer and the fountain looks lovely. But it was so much prettier with the snow and frozen lake!

  36. I have been wanting to go to Innsbruck for so long, as I have heard only amazing things! This post just convinces me even more… I would love to visit the old city center and Schloss Ambras – the architecture seems right up my alley 🙂 🙂 Of course, those mountain views are not to miss either! Amazing photos, by the way 😛

  37. Still can’t believe how nice Innsbruck is! Thanks for the walk through it 🙂
    I’m totally in love with Austria and I would like to live there one day 😀

  38. Wow, Innsbruck is truly as beautiful as I heard, during my trip to Vienna, I missed out on Innsbruck and chose Prague instead. I sometimes regret that decision though, sometimes not 😉 Innsbruck is a perfect destination for history & snow lover like me. Apart from the monuments, I’d love to visit Innsbruck Igles for the winter activities. Gorgeous pictures too!

    1. I love Prague as well so I guess you made the right choice if it had to be one between the two 🙂 You can always go back to Austria and visit Innsbruck.

  39. Innsbruck is my favorite town of Austria though I did not had a night stay here. I did just a short day trip to this place from Salzburg. The colorful buildings/houses along the river is very stunning. Innsbruck with snow look like a fairy town. I missed that cable car ride to ski-point as it was not operating that day. I would love to do that Tobaggun ride at ski-resort. I must say, though this town is small but it is very beautiful and have many things to do.

    1. The town sure is small and that’s why, it makes sense to explore the surrounding areas such as the ski resort, especially in winter 🙂

  40. What a beautiful photogenic place, with such colourful buildings! I would love to visit in winter.. I find there’s always such a nice cheerful vibe in European cities in the winter – plus I love a good Christmas market.

  41. So glad to read that there’s more than just skiing/snowboarding to do in Innsbruck! I have only been to Austria once, and that was for Snowbombing Festival back in April 2015 – I did my first (and last) attempt at skiing, and haven’t been back to Austria since. Love the look of the old town though, so may have to revisit – maybe this winter! X

  42. OMG Bobsleigh ride? I’m sold already. Where do I sign? I love Europe, especially in the snow but not yet visited Innsbruck. I find there’s so much about skiing etc but never anything for those that can’t, which is why I love this article. Thank you for sharing.

  43. This is such a detailed tour throughout Innsbruck and I can’t believe how beautiful all the buildings and churches are!
    You must have had the best time!
    Where I’m from in Canada, the Swarovski family opened up a mountain resort just across the lake from me. Its called Sparkling Hill and over 10,000,000 of their crystals are infused into the building. It’s very neat!

  44. Aaaw, Innsbruck is so charming! I went there ages ago, I think it’s time to think of going back 🙂 The old town is a gem and I wouldn’t miss the Ski Jump, I bet the views are incredible from up there!

  45. I absolutely love Europe in the winter. Just the old town colours against the snow for me is so beautiful. And I love a good Chrstmas market too. I have no self control in those markets and always go overboard but its so hard not too!

  46. Innsbruck is absolutely stunning. I have visited it in summer didn’t know it would look so heavenly in winters too. Would love to a winter visit if I can bear the cold.

  47. I’ve been to Innsbruck in the summer a couple of times, but never visited in the winter. Your pictures in the snow are lovely — really makes me want to do a winter trip there 🙂 . I would particularly love to try the toboggan run at the Oberperfuss Rangger Köpfl Ski Resort — and be there for sunset.

    1. It was my first time tobogganing (ok, I did something of a toboggan run in Switzerland but that was nothing like this!). Such an adrenaline rush, going down the mountain at a high speed, on a toboggan.

      1. I’ve never done it — being from Texas — no snow here 🙂 , but I’ve always thought I’d love it. The bobsled ride also sounds like an amazing experience. After watching so many Winter Olympics, to have a chance to do that would be something you’d remember every time the Olympics happened again.

  48. This is beautiful! All of these activities and snowy photos had me wishing away summer for the snow (temporarily). I still haven’t been… but need to!

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